And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and, see, an horror of great darkness fell on him.…
And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep, &c. The great blessings promised are still afar off. As yet Abraham has no son to hand down his name to posterity. By means of a vision God strengthened his faith. Weird is the picture in this fifteenth chapter. See the solitary sheik in the desert offering his varied sacrifice, then watching until the sun goes down to drive off the vultures from the slain offerings. His arms become weary with waving and his eyes with their vigils. As the sun sinks below the widespread horizon, and night quickly steals over the desert, a horror of great darkness creeps over his spirit. Then a deep sleep falls upon him, and in that sleep come visions and a voice. The vision was of a furnace and a shining lamp moving steadily between the divided emblems. Look at the meaning of that vision.
I. It indicated the ACCEPTANCE OF THE OFFERINGS. Fire in the East is generally understood to be a solemn witness to any engagement. To confirm an oath some Orientals will point to the lamp and say, "It is witness." Nuptial ceremonies are sometimes solemnized by walking round a fire three times, and the parties uttering certain words meanwhile.
II. The furnace may have referred to THE NEED FOR PURIFICATION, AND THE LAMP TO THE CERTAINTY OF DIVINE GUIDANCE.
1. Both the Israel after the flesh and that after the spirit had to pass through the fire of persecution; but the lamp of truth had always been kept alight by the prophets, apostles, martyrs, and confessors of the Church.
2. The life and work of Christ may also have been shadowed forth in that furnace and lamp. Christ knew the bitterness of betrayal, denial, and death; but he knew also the joy of conscious sinlessness, complete self-sacrifice, and unending power of salvation.
3. They illustrated the character of the life of many believers. Trial and joy must be intermingled. As Abraham saw the vision in connection with sacrifice, so on Calvary shall we best learn the meaning of the smoking furnace and burning lamp. - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.