As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and suddenly great terror and darkness overwhelmed 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.
An horror of great darkness fell upon him.
Abram's condition here may be looked upon in two aspects.
1. As indicating the chequered experience of the good.
2. As suggesting solemn facts in man's existence.
I. MAN HAS A SOUL.
II. MAN'S SOUL IS IN A FALLEN CONDITION.
III. MAN'S SOUL, THOUGH IN A FALLEN CONDITION, IS STILL ACCESSIBLE TO ITS MAKER. In His communication now to Abram, God must have impressed the patriarch with four things concerning Himself.
1. His infinite intelligence.
2. His righteous control.
3. His special regard for His people.
4. That he, individually, should be taken care of.
What was the meaning of that vision of fire?
I. IT INDICATED THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE OFFERINGS.
II. The furnace may be taken also as referring to PURIFICATION, and the lamp to DIVINE LIGHT AND GUIDANCE.
1. Significant of the Divine treatment of the descendants of Abraham.
2. Illustrating the course of the spiritual descendants of Abraham — the true Israel — the Christian Church.
3. The life and work of Christ were shadowed forth in that "smoking furnace and burning lamp." Abraham "rejoiced to see Christ's day."
4. An illustration of the character of the life of individual believers. In life, trial and joy must be intermingled.
I. WHAT ABRAM HEARD.
1. The word of the Lord. Revelation, commandment
2. Mode of communication. In a vision. The word of the Lord needs now no vision. How little of the word of the Lord Abram had. But here was a word addressed to him personally.
3. Time. Immediately after the record of Abraham's courage, etc.
4. Subject of the communication.(1) Encouragement: "Fear not," "shield," "reward."(2) Promise: "A son." Numerous posterity, Fulfilled in the Jews, but more particularly in believers — the spiritual "seed of Abram." Though not addressed to us by name, as this" word" to Abram, the word of the Lord is for us. Of salvation, comfort, precept, promise, doctrine. A more sure word of prophecy. Do we prize the word of the Lord? seek to understand? practise it?
II. WHAT ABRAM DID.
1. He believed God. Some men need much evidence and argument before they give mental assent to the word they hear. Abram had little evidence. God spoke, and Abram believed.
2. He prepared the animals and birds (see Jeremiah 34:18-20). The passing between the divided parts of sacrificial offerings, the most solemn confirmation of words and covenants (see especially Hebrews 6:13-17).
3. He watched and guarded the victims thus dedicated. Would not suffer unclean birds to alight near them. The profound reverence with which he regarded this act and command of God. His faith thoroughly practical.
4. He slept. It was in a vision he had heard the word, now in a vision he should behold its solemn ratification. Did not sleep until he had discharged his duty.
III. WHAT ABRAM SAW. A horror of great darkness had fallen upon him. The hour, the work the circumstances, filled him with awe. He expected he hardly knew what. The profound darkness would make the light that appeared more visible.
1. He saw a lamp of fire. The sacred symbol of the Divine presence. The Shekinah.
2. He saw the fire pass between the victims. He knew no more solemn confirmation of words than this. God in His infinite condescension adopted the method of ratifying His word, which Abram, adopting to confirm his own promise, would have regarded as a most solemn oath.
3. This solemn assurance was combined with the repetition of the promise not only as previously given, but with detail and enlargement (15-21). Learn —
I. To regard with thankfulness this record of the Divine word which has come to us.
II. Christ is the true and final sin offering. The Divine presence was in that sacrifice.
III. God was in Christ, as the lamp was among these victims. And speaking merciful words of promise and pardon to us.
IV. Christ Jesus is the Word of God. Henceforth we hear no man, save Jesus only.
PeopleAbram, Amorites, Canaanites, Eliezer, Girgashite, Girgashites, Hittites, Jebusites, Kadmonites, Kenites, Kenizzites, Perizzites, Rephaites
PlacesDamascus, Egypt, Euphrates River, Ur, Valley of Shaveh
TopicsAbram, Behold, Cloud, Dark, Darkness, Deep, Dread, Dreadful, Fallen, Falling, Fear, Fell, Horror, Pass, Sleep, Terror, Thick
Outline1. 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 ThemesGenesis 15:12
5533 sleep, physical
5076 Abraham, life of
7258 promised land, early history
1346 covenants, nature of
1348 covenant, with Abraham
5467 promises, divine
LibraryGod'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
"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
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
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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