Genesis 15* God encourages Abram. (1) The Divine promise, Abraham isjustified by faith. (2-6) God promises Canaan to Abraham for aninheritance. (7-11) The promise confirmed in a vision. (12-16)The promise confirmed by a sign. (17-21)1 God assured Abram of safety and happiness; that he should forever be safe. I am thy shield; or, I am a shield to thee,present with thee, actually caring for thee. The considerationthat God himself is, and will be a shield to his people, tosecure them from all evils, a shield ready to them, and a shieldround about them, should silence all perplexing, tormentingfears. 2-6 Though we must never complain of God, yet we have leave tocomplain to him; and to state all our grievances. It is ease toa burdened spirit, to open its case to a faithful andcompassionate friend. Abram's complaint is, that he had nochild; that he was never likely to have any; that the want of ason was so great a trouble to him, that it took away all hiscomfort. If we suppose that Abram looked no further than outwardcomfort, this complaint was to be blamed. But if we suppose thatAbram herein had reference to the promised Seed, his desire wasvery commendable. Till we have evidence of our interest inChrist, we should not rest satisfied; what will all avail me, ifI go Christless? If we continue instant in prayer, yet pray withhumble submission to the Divine will, we shall not seek in vain.God gave Abram an express promise of a son. Christians maybelieve in God with respect to the common concerns of this life;but the faith by which they are justified, always has respect tothe person and work of Christ. Abram believed in God aspromising Christ; they believe in him as having raised him fromthe dead, #Ro 4:24|. Through faith in his blood they obtainforgiveness of sins. 7-11 Assurance was given to Abram of the land of Canaan for aninheritance. God never promises more than he is able to perform,as men often do. Abram did as God commanded him. He divided thebeasts in the midst, according to the ceremony used inconfirming covenants, #Jer 34:18,19|. Having prepared accordingto God's appointment, he set himself to wait for the sign Godmight give him. A watch must be kept upon our spiritualsacrifices. When vain thoughts, like these fowls, come down uponour sacrifices, we must drive them away, and seek to attend onGod without distraction. 12-16 A deep sleep fell upon Abram; with this sleep a horror ofgreat darkness fell upon him: a sudden change. The children oflight do not always walk in the light. Several things were thenforetold. 1. The suffering state of Abram's seed for a longtime. They shall be strangers. The heirs of heaven are strangerson earth. They shall be servants; but Canaanites serve under acurse, the Hebrews under a blessing. They shall be suffers.Those that are blessed and beloved of God, are often sorelyafflicted by wicked men. 2. The judgment of the enemies ofAbram's seed. Though God may allow persecutors and oppressors totrample upon his people a great while, he will certainly reckonwith them at last. 3. That great event, the deliverance ofAbram's seed out of Egypt, is here foretold. 4. Their happysettlement in Canaan. They shall come hither again. The measureof sin fills gradually. Some people's measure of sin fillsslowly. The knowledge of future events would seldom add to ourcomfort. In the most favoured families, and most happy lives,there are so many afflictions, that it is merciful in God toconceal what will befall us and ours. 17-21 The smoking furnace and the burning lamp, probablyrepresented the Israelites' severe trials and joyfuldeliverance, with their gracious supports in the mean time. Itis probable that this furnace and lamp, which passed between thepieces, burned and consumed them, and so completed thesacrifice, and testified God's acceptance of it. So it intimatesthat God's covenants with man are made by sacrifice, #Ps 50:5|.And we may know that he accepts our sacrifices, if he kindles inour souls pious and devout affections. The bounds of the landgranted are stated. Several nations, or tribes, are spoken of,that must be cast out to make room for the seed of Abram. Inthis chapter we perceive in Abram faith struggling against, andtriumphing over, unbelief. Wonder not, believers, if you meetwith seasons of darkness and distress. But it is not the will ofGod that you should be cast down: fear not; for all that he wasto Abram he will be to you.
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