“Abram believed God, and God credited it to him as righteousness.”
I know I said this before but I’m going to say it again.
Grace is NOT a New Testament promise and this verse proves it.
The definition of grace is if we trust God to save us, God will credit it to us as righteousness.
Salvation by grace was Adam’s hope.
It was Noah’s hope.
And it was Abram’s hope.
The ancient Hebrews did NOT believe they could work their way to heaven.
I really want to make sure you get this drilled into your head.
Grace began in the Garden of Eden!
However, it is obvious that Abram still had not not completely overcome his doubts.
He then asks God, “How am I to know that I will possess the land?“
Abram in his fear wanted a sign from God.
He wanted some visible and tangible evidence that God would indeed do what He promised.
In Abram’s mind, his request may not have been all that unreasonable because based on the traditions and customs of that era, promises had structure just like we have contracts in our day.
There were certain established protocol that was done by and for the sake of the parties entering into an agreement.
Although we may not be aware of it, we all carry the expectation and assumption that God will deal with us on our cultural terms.
Many times in Scripture we see examples of God communicating to people within the confines of their own unique culture and language.
Come to think of it, God has to.
If God spoke to me in Chinese, I wouldn’t understand what the heck he was talking about unless he gave me the supernatural ability to all of a sudden speak Chinese.
God in His infinite wisdom I would say is a master at meeting people where they are spiritually and within their own culture and language.
So God agrees to enter into a covenant via the common procedures normally done in Avram’s time to reassure and give him peace of mind.
Verses 9 and 10 explain the details of the ceremonial protocol common in that time.
Certain “clean” animals are cut up and split into two groups on the ground.
Again, the Hebrew word for covenant, Brit, means “to cut” or “to divide”.
Now under normal circumstances, what would happen next is that the two parties would walk between the animal parts with the understanding that if they did not live up to their part of the bargain, they themselves would end up like the slaughtered animal parts they had just walked through.
However, if you read carefully, only a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch representing God passed through the animal pieces.
Smoke and fire usually represents the presence of God in the Bible.
God walked between the pieces signifying His agreement and word to keep the terms of the covenant.
But notice that Abram did NOT walk between the animal pieces.
This was to be a unilateral agreement!
As far as Abram was concerned, there were no conditions that he had to fulfill.
It was all on God.
There are two things I would like to say to those who wish to invalidate Israel’s claim to the land.
We have just read that it was an unconditional covenant.
Thus, it is eternal!
Second, the specific boundaries of the land have been defined in this passage.
The truth is throughout all of Israel’s history to this present day, the Jewish people have never fully occupied the areas specified in Genesis chapter 15.
However, as long as God lives, in the near future, the land of Israel, and I mean ALL the land of Israel will be returned to Abram’s descendants, the Jewish people.