Sunday, April 30, 2017

Genesis 15:1-21

Awhile later the Lord spoke to Abram in vision: “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am the shield protecting you. I am also the one who will give you a great reward.”

2 But Abram responded, “O sovereign Lord, anything you give me will be meaningless because I’m still childless, and my servant, Eliezer of Damascus, is in line to inherit everything!” 3 Abram added, “Look! Since you haven't given me children, a servant born in my household will inherit my estate.”

4 The Lord gave Abram an immediate reply: “No, your servant is not going to be your heir. A son from your own body will have that honor.” 5 The Lord then took Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars -- if you can.” Then he added, “You’ll have so many descendants that they will be likewise uncountable.”

6 Abram believed the Lord. And the Lord, pleased with his faith, included him as among those who are right-living.

7 The Lord said to him, “I am the Lord, who led you out of Ur in Babylonia, in order to give you this land.” 8 But Abram asked, “O sovereign Lord, how am I supposed to know that it is really mine?” 9 Then the Lord said to him, “Go get a heifer, a goat, and a ram for me. Each animal should be three years old. Also fetch a dove and a young pigeon.”

Abram did what he was told to do for the Lord. He took all these animals, and following the protocol for the traditional covenant-making ceremony he cut them in two, placing each half opposite the other. He did this for all the animals except the birds. 11 Vultures swooped down on the carcasses but Abram scared them away.

12 At sunset Abram drifted off into a deep sleep. And while he was napping he was filled with a horrible sense of terror. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know this: your descendants will live as immigrants -- never fully accepted -- in a land not their own. Eventually they will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. 14 But I will punish their slave masters, judging the nation they will be forced to serve. After that your descendants will escape loaded with plunder. 15 (But as for you, you will live a long life and then die peacefully.) 16 Four generations after their exodus, your offspring will return to this place and purge the sin-filled Amorites from the land. By then the Amorites will be ready for judgment.”

17 In the darkness, after the sun was down, a smoking firepot with a flaming torch, passed between the split animal parts. 18 That’s how the Lord formalized his covenant with Abram. The Lord summarized his part saying, “I’m giving all this land to your descendants -- the land between the Nile River in Egypt to the great Euphrates River in Assyria -- 19 the land currently occupied by the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”