Genesis 15:11


1. Divine in its appointment.

2. Simple in its ritual.

3. Sacrificial in its character.

4. Believing in its spirit.

5. Patient in its continuance.

6. Expectant in its attitude.


1. What they were. The descent of the fowls may be regarded as emblematic of those obstructions to communion with God which arise from -

(1) The principalities and powers of the air.

(2) The persecutions and oppressions (or, where these are absent, the pleasures and engagements) of the world.

(3) The disturbances and distractions of vain thoughts and sinful motions in the heart.

2. How they were removed.

(1) By watchfulness.

(2) By opposition.

(3) By perseverance.

(4) By Divine help - the breath of Abram's mouth being probably accompanied by a wind from God.


1. By the approach of God at night-fall towards the scene.

2. By the supernatural revelation accorded to the patriarch.

3. By the passage of the symbol of Jehovah's presence between the divided victims.

4. By the announcement that God had taken him into covenant with himself.

5. By the vision of the land which was granted to him. Learn -

1. The sinfulness and worthlessness of all forms of worship except that which God has appointed.

2. The need for self-examination and Divine assistance when engaged in serving God.

3. The certain acceptance and spiritual enrichment of those who worship God in spirit and in truth. - W.

When the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.

1. Wicked thoughts — the sons of Satan.

2. Worldly thoughts, which spring from the force of habit.

3. Anxious thoughts, the fruits of our unbelief.

4. Annoying thoughts, the offspring of our vanity.

5. Ecclesiastical anxieties. Church business, or Church differences.


1. For your own sake. No human brain can bear the perpetual toil of business, except it knows how to pause and oil the machinery by turning the mind in some other direction.

2. You will find, if you are able to take a perfect rest, by driving away these evil thoughts when you are worshipping God, that you will do your work during the other days of the week far better. It was an old Popish folly to try and tell what kind of weather there would be by the weather on Sunday — "If it rain before mess; rain all the week more or less." Now, we do not believe that literally; but we do believe it in a spiritual sense. If you have a bad Sabbath day, you will have a bad week; but if you have a good day of rest, you will find it good with your souls the whole week long; not that you will be without trouble all the week, that would not be good for you, but you shall never be without grace during the week; nor if you have peace on the Sunday shall you be without peace on the Monday.

3. And then let me remind you, in the next place, that the character of this day demands that you should get rid of these thoughts. Now, it is inconsistent with such a day — the day of light — for us to be in darkness. It is inconsistent with the day of resurrection for us to be raking in this grave of the world. It is inconsistent with this day of descent of the Spirit for us to be thinking of carnal things, and forgetting the things which are above.

4. The indulging of vain or anxious thoughts, when we are engaged in the worship of God, must be striven against, because it must be grievous to the Holy Spirit. How can we expect that we shall have His presence and His assistance if we give Him not our hearts?

5. These thoughts and cares must be driven away, for if you do not strive against them they will increase and multiply. This is a growing habit. The force of habit is like the velocity of a falling stone, it increases in ever multiplying proportions. If I have indulged one unbelieving thought, there has always been another to follow it; if I have allowed some little disturbance in the congregation to cast me down, and distract my thoughts, there has been another, and another, and another, till I have been in the pitiable condition of a minister who has been half afraid of his congregation.

III. I am now to show you HOW TO DO IT.

1. And we begin by saying, first of all, set your heart upon it; for when the soul is set upon a thing, then it is likely to accomplish it. Go up to God's house, saying, "I must give up my soul to eternal matters today, and I will."

2. But when you have this done, remember next — let the preparation of your heart before coming to the sacrifice assist you when you shall be there. We are told men ought not to preach without preparation. Granted. But, we add, men ought not to hear without preparation.

3. But, this done, above all, cry to the Spirit of God for help to make your spirit rest.

4. Then, when you have thus done, and you come up to the house of God, still seek to continue in the same frame of mind, remembering in whose immediate presence you are. A Spartan youth was holding the censer at a sacrifice, when Alexander was offering a victim. It chanced that while he held the censer a hot coal fell upon his hand. The youth stood still, and never flinched, lest by any utterance or cry the sacrifice should be disturbed; for he said he was in the presence of Alexander, and he would not have the sacrifice interrupted for him; and he bore the pain of the burning coal. Let us remember that Spartan youth, adding to what he said, "We are in the presence of the Almighty God." Then, if there be something which annoys us, let us bear it unflinchingly, for we stand before Him for whom it is blessed to suffer, and who will surely reward them that seek Him in spirit and in truth.

5. Another means I will give you. Take care that your faith be in active exercise, or else you cannot chase away those thoughts. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Be still, and know that He is God.

6. Take care also that thou attend a ministry which draws thee from earth, for there are some dead ministries which make the Sabbath day more intolerable than any of the other days of the week.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. First, with regard to THE GREAT SACRIFICE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. This has been, and always will be, the great object of attack by the enemies of God.

1. Note well that the sacrifice which Abram guarded was of Divine ordination. So with the sacrifice of Christ.

2. Next, we see a further reason for guarding the sacrifice in the fact that it is of most solemn import. A covenant. We cannot let the vultures tear this sacrifice, for it is to us the token of the covenant; and if there be no covenant of grace, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain, and we are still under the curse of the broken law. If ye are still out of covenant with God, what hope, what safety, what peace, what joy is there for you?

3. And, next, we must guard this sacrifice, because there God most fully displays His grace.

4. We will do this all the more because this is the chief point of attack. Every doctrine of revelation has been assailed, but the order of battle passed by the black prince at this hour runs as follows: "Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the crucified King of Israel." If they carry the bastion of substitution, if they can throw down the great truth of atonement, then all the rest will go as a matter of course. The cross taken away, indeed, there is nothing left worth defending. Therefore let us gather up our strength, that we may vigorously chase the vultures from the altar of the living God.

5. "How are we to do it?" says one. Well, we can all of us help in this struggle.(1) First, by a constant, immovable faith in Jesus Christ our crucified Saviour for ourselves.(2) Let your own confidence be strong, and then very frequently make an open declaration of your faith in the atoning Sacrifice.

II. But now let us apply this example of Abram to ourselves in the matter of THE GRATEFUL SACRIFICE OF OUR LIVES. It is our reasonable service, that we present ourselves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God by our Lord Jesus Christ, and we must guard our consecration against the temptations which will assail it. I am addressing many of you who feel that you have entered into covenant with God by Jesus Christ. "What sort of vultures will there be?" says one. Well, there will come doubts as to eternal things. There will be questions about your own wisdom in giving yourself up to God. I hope you have been strangers to such birds of prey, but some of us have not been: doubts as to whether there be a God to serve; doubts as to whether there be a heaven, an eternal future, a blessed reward; doubts as to whether it is well to give up this world for the next, or not, Drive them away! They may come in other forms, such as dreams of ambition, the cares of life, temptations to sin, idleness, etc. In whatever guise they come, drive them away.

III. GUARD ALL THE SACRIFICES OF YOUR DEVOTION. When the fowls come down upon your sacrifices of prayer, and praise, and meditation, drive them away. A little boy, who was accustomed to spend a time every day in prayer, went up into a hayloft, and when he climbed into the hayloft, he always pulled the ladder up after him. Someone asked him why he did so. He answered, "As there is no door, I pull up the ladder." Oh, that we could always in some way cut the connection between our soul and the intruding things which lurk below! There is a story told of me and of some person, I never knew who it was, who desired to see me on a Saturday night, when I had shut myself up to make ready for the Sabbath. He was very great and important, and so the maid came to say that someone desired to see me. I bade her say that it was my rule to see no one at that time. Then he was more important and impressive still, and said, "Tell Mr. Spurgeon that a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ desires to see him immediately." The frightened servant brought the message; but the sender gained little by it, for my answer was, "Tell him I am busy with his Master, and cannot see servants now." Sometimes you must use strong measures. Did not our Lord tell His messengers, on one occasion, to salute no man by the way? Courtesy must give place to devotion. It is incumbent on you that you should be alone with your Lord, and if intruders force an entrance, they must be sent about their business.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)



1. Unbelieving thoughts.

2. Evil passions.

3. Worldly thoughts.

4. Satanic influence.


1. A devotional preparation.

2. A firm hold on the truth.

3. Earnestness in the service.

4. Unshaken confidence in the aid of the Holy Spirit.

(J. G. Hewlett, D. D.)

If we would prevent wandering thoughts, we should seek warm affections. Flies will not so readily light on a boiling pot on the fire, as when it stands cold in the window, Nor will vain thoughts so easily light on thy sacrifice, when burning on the altar of a fervent heart, as when offered up with a cold, dull spirit.

( W. Gurnall..)

I have heard of some men who were called walking libraries, because they carried all that they read in their memories wherever they went. And have we not too many walking shops, barns, warehouses, etc., that is, persons who carry this lumber to bed and board, church and closet? How can such pray with a united heart, who have so many sharers in their thoughts?

( W. Gurnall..)

Abram, Amorites, Canaanites, Eliezer, Girgashite, Girgashites, Hittites, Jebusites, Kadmonites, Kenites, Kenizzites, Perizzites, Rephaites
Damascus, Egypt, Euphrates River, Ur, Valley of Shaveh
Abram, Birds, Bodies, Carcases, Carcasses, Causeth, Drove, Evil, Fowls, Prey, Ravenous, Scared, Turn
1. God encourages Abram, who asks for an heir.
4. God promises him a son, and a multiplying of his seed.
6. Abram is justified by faith.
7. Canaan is promised again,
9. and confirmed by a sign, and a vision,
18. prophetic of the condition of his posterity till brought out of Egypt.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 15:1-21

     5076   Abraham, life of

Genesis 15:7-21

     7258   promised land, early history

Genesis 15:9-18

     1346   covenants, nature of

Genesis 15:9-21

     1348   covenant, with Abraham
     5467   promises, divine

God's Covenant with Abram
'And He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness. And He said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And He said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Justification by Faith --Illustrated by Abram's Righteousness
Referring to the chapter before us for a preface to our subject, note that after Abram's calling his faith proved to be of the most practical kind. Being called to separate himself from his kindred and from his country, he did not therefore become a recluse, a man of ascetic habits, or a sentimentalist, unfit for the battles of ordinary life--no; but in the noblest style of true manliness he showed himself able to endure the household trouble and the public trial which awaited him. Lot's herdsmen
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 14: 1868

Our Status.
"And he believed in the Lord: and he counted it to him for righteousness." --Gen. xv. 6. The right touches a man's status. So long as the law has not proven him guilty, has not convicted and sentenced him, his legal status is that of a free and law-abiding citizen. But as soon as his guilt is proven in court and the jury has convicted him, he passes from that into the status of the bound and law-breaking citizen. The same applies to our relation to God. Our status before God is that either of the
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Kate Lee's Secret
Of Kate Lee General Bramwell Booth writes, 'She was one of those conquering souls who seldom look like a conqueror. She presented an extraordinary contrast. She was weak, and yet she was strong. She was poor, and yet she was one of the richest. She was intensely human, with many of the most marked limitations which belong to the human, and yet she was in an extraordinary degree spiritual, yes, even divine.' These contrasts were clear to all and puzzling to many. Not a few people both in and outside
Minnie L. Carpenter—The Angel Adjutant of "Twice Born Men"

God's People in the Furnace
And the first observation I shall make will be this: all persons in the furnace of affliction are not chosen. The text says, "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction," and it implies that there may be, and there doubtless are, some in the furnace who are not chosen. How many persons there are who suppose that because they are tried, afflicted, and tempted, therefore they are the children of God, whereas they are no such thing. It is a great truth that every child of God is afflicted; but
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 1: 1855

Evil Thoughts.
19th Sunday after Trinity. S. Matt. ix. 4. "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?" INTRODUCTION.--Thoughts are only thoughts! who is to beheld accountable for them? They are clouds blown about by fancy, taking various shapes. God is not so hard as to judge us for our thoughts; He will try us by what we have done, not by what we have dreamed. No garden is without weeds; there are tares in every cornfield. Who speak thus? Is it those who are conscientious and scrupulous to drive away evil thoughts?
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent

The Purification of the virgin and the Presentation in the Temple
FOREMOST amongst those who, wondering, had heard what the shepherds told, was she whom most it concerned, who laid it up deepest in her heart, and brought to it treasured stores of memory. It was the Mother of Jesus. These many months, all connected with this Child could never have been far away form her thoughts. And now that He was hers yet not hers - belonged, yet did not seem to belong, to her - He would be the more dear to her Mother-heart for what made Him so near, and yet parted Him so far
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Covenanting Performed in Former Ages with Approbation from Above.
That the Lord gave special token of his approbation of the exercise of Covenanting, it belongs to this place to show. His approval of the duty was seen when he unfolded the promises of the Everlasting Covenant to his people, while they endeavoured to perform it; and his approval thereof is continually seen in his fulfilment to them of these promises. The special manifestations of his regard, made to them while attending to the service before him, belonged to one or other, or both, of those exhibitions
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

Letter xxxv. From Pope Damasus.
Damasus addresses five questions to Jerome with a request for information concerning them. They are: 1. What is the meaning of the words "Whosoever slayeth Cain vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold"? (Gen. iv. 5.) 2. If God has made all things good, how comes it that He gives charge to Noah concerning unclean animals, and says to Peter, "What God hath cleansed that call not thou common"? (Acts x. 15.) 3. How is Gen. xv. 16, "in the fourth generation they shall come hither again," to be reconciled
St. Jerome—The Principal Works of St. Jerome

Letter xxxvi. To Pope Damasus.
Jerome's reply to the foregoing. For the second and fourth questions he refers Damasus to the writings of Tertullian, Novatian, and Origen. The remaining three he deals with in detail. Gen. iv. 15, he understands to mean "the slayer of Cain shall complete the sevenfold vengeance which is to be wreaked upon him." Exodus xiii. 18, he proposes to reconcile with Gen. xv. 16, by supposing that in the one place the tribe of Levi is referred to, in the other the tribe of Judah. He suggests, however, that
St. Jerome—The Principal Works of St. Jerome

Palestine Eighteen Centuries Ago
Eighteen and a half centuries ago, and the land which now lies desolate--its bare, grey hills looking into ill-tilled or neglected valleys, its timber cut down, its olive- and vine-clad terraces crumbled into dust, its villages stricken with poverty and squalor, its thoroughfares insecure and deserted, its native population well-nigh gone, and with them its industry, wealth, and strength--presented a scene of beauty, richness, and busy life almost unsurpassed in the then known world. The Rabbis never
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

A Sight of the Crowned Christ
(Revelation, Chapter i.) "Since mine eyes were fixed on Jesus, I've lost sight of all beside, So enchained my spirit's vision, Looking at the Crucified." "The Lord Christ passed my humble cot: I knew him, yet I knew him not; But as I oft had done before, I hurried through my narrow door To touch His garment's hem. "He drew me to a place apart From curious crowd and noisy mart; And as I sat there at His feet I caught the thrill of His heart-beat Beyond His garment's hem. "Rare was the bread He broke
by S. D. Gordon—Quiet Talks on the Crowned Christ of Revelation

He Severely Reproves Abaelard for Scrutinizing Rashly and Impiously, and Extenuating the Power Of, the Secret Things of God.
He severely reproves Abaelard for scrutinizing rashly and impiously, and extenuating the power of, the secret things of God. 17. This is the righteousness of man in the blood of the Redeemer: which this son of perdition, by his scoffs and insinuations, is attempting to render vain; so much so, that he thinks and argues that the whole fact that the Lord of Glory emptied Himself, that He was made lower than the angels, that He was born of a woman, that He lived in the world, that He made trial of our
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

Parable of the Importunate Widow.
^C Luke XVIII. 1-8. ^c 1 And he spake a parable unto them to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 saying, There was in a city a judge, who feared not God, and regarded not man [an utterly abandoned character]: 3 and there was a widow in that city; and she came oft unto him, saying, Avenge me of [rather, Do justice to me as to] mine adversary. [In Scripture language widowhood is symbolic of defenselessness (Ex. xxii. 22-24; Deut. x. 18; xxvii. 19; Mal. iii. 5; Mark xii. 40),
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Meditations to Stir us up to Morning Prayer.
1. If, when thou art about to pray, Satan shall suggest that thy prayers are too long, and that therefore it were better either to omit prayers, or else to cut them shorter, meditate that prayer is thy spiritual sacrifice, wherewith God is well pleased (Heb. xiii. 15, 16;) and therefore it is so displeasing to the devil, and so irksome to the flesh. Bend therefore thy affections (will they, nill they) to so holy an exercise; assuring thyself, that it doth by so much the more please God, by how much
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

The Blessings of Noah Upon Shem and Japheth. (Gen. Ix. 18-27. )
Ver. 20. "And Noah began and became an husbandman, and planted vineyards."--This does not imply that Noah was the first who began to till the ground, and, more especially, to cultivate the vine; for Cain, too, was a tiller of the ground, Gen. iv. 2. The sense rather is, that Noah, after the flood, again took up this calling. Moreover, the remark has not an independent import; it serves only to prepare the way for the communication of the subsequent account of Noah's drunkenness. By this remark,
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Meditations for Household Piety.
1. If thou be called to the government of a family, thou must not hold it sufficient to serve God and live uprightly in thy own person, unless thou cause all under thy charge to do the same with thee. For the performance of this duty God was so well pleased with Abraham, that he would not hide from him his counsel: "For," saith God, "I know him that he will command his sons and his household after him that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

The First Chaldaean Empire and the Hyksos in Egypt
Syria: the part played by it in the ancient world--Babylon and the first Chaldaean empire--The dominion of the Hyksos: Ahmosis. Some countries seem destined from their origin to become the battle-fields of the contending nations which environ them. Into such regions, and to their cost, neighbouring peoples come from century to century to settle their quarrels and bring to an issue the questions of supremacy which disturb their little corner of the world. The nations around are eager for the possession
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 4

The Prophet Joel.
PRELIMINARY REMARKS. The position which has been assigned to Joel in the collection of the Minor Prophets, furnishes an external argument for the determination of the time at which Joel wrote. There cannot be any doubt that the Collectors were guided by a consideration of the chronology. The circumstance, that they placed the prophecies of Joel just between the two prophets who, according to the inscriptions and contents of their prophecies, belonged to the time of Jeroboam and Uzziah, is
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Its Evidence
In Romans 3:28 the Apostle Paul declared "that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," and then produces the case of Abraham to prove his assertion. But the Apostle James, from the case of the same Abraham, draws quite another conclusion, saying, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24). This is one of the "contradictions in the Bible" to which infidels appeal in support of their unbelief. But the Christian, however difficult he finds
Arthur W. Pink—The Doctrine of Justification

Moses and his Writings
[Illustration: (drop cap W) Clay letter tablet of Moses' time.] We now begin to understand a little of the very beginning of God's Book--of the times in which it was written, the materials used by its first author, and the different kinds of writing from which he had to choose; but we must go a step farther. How much did Moses know about the history of his forefathers, Abraham and Jacob, and of all the old nations and kings mentioned in Genesis, before God called him to the great work of writing
Mildred Duff—The Bible in its Making

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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