Continuing lessons from Joel Beeke's book Parenting By God's Promises.
Highly recommend the book and anything by Joel Beeke. He walks his talk!
Abram grew weary of protecting the sacrifices, of driving away the attacking birds. He could not sustain the vigil. After an entire day of watching and working, he fell asleep. Verse 12 says, “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and , low a horror of great darkness fell upon him.
In one sense, we who are believers can identify painfully with this experience. When God delays fulfilling His promises, we are prone to slacken our watchfulness. Our prayers lose their power; we become less active in using the means of grace. We become weary in seeking , weary of fighting against enemies, weary even of praying. Do you ever feel that way? You have tried and tried, and at night, when you put your head on the pillow, you are so tired. Your spouse is tired. You fall asleep, exhausted. Where is the covenant- keeping God?
We must understand that this sleep was not an ordinary sleep. We must liken it as the sleep that fell upon Adam when God took the rib and formed Eve.
As Abram slept he could hear God and see what was happening.
Let’s look first at what happens and then at its significance.
- God had come!
· He is faithful!! He will always come! He will always do what He says He will do. Not in our timing and not how we think it should be but He will come and will do what He has said He would do.
When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,
- A smoking fire pot passed between the pieces.
· The smoking furnace is a symbolic representation of the furnaces in Egypt in which the people of Israel would burn bricks. Elsewhere, God explained what He meant – that Egypt was like this iron smoking furnace (Duet. 4:20). Thus, the smoking furnace appeared as a confirmation of the prophecy that Abram’s offspring would suffer affliction as slaves in Egypt (Gen. 15:13).
· We likewise will suffer trials too! Mr. Beeke put it this way, “What Egypt would do to destroy Israel, the Lord would do to refine Israel”. This is true in our lives as well: trials are not for our harm but rather for our good, to conform us to the image of Christ.
· There truly is a hell from which we must be delivered from.
3. The burning lamp passed between the pieces.
· The burning lamp symbolized the presence of God in Christ, who is the light and salvation of His people. Later, that burning light, as a pillar of fire, would appear in the night to give light to Israel in the wilderness God caused this burning lamp to pass between the pieces of the heifer, the goat, the ram, and the birds that Abram had divided, because the covenant of grace is made on His sole divine initiative, and only in Christ.
· With this interpretation, the added significance was that the Lord would actually be present with His people in Egypt and would be the secret to their continued existence despite all the forces working for their destruction. What Egypt would do to destroy Israel, the Lord would do to refine Israel. He would be with His people, knowing their sufferings and afflictions (Ex. 3:7) to such an extent that they, like the burning bush, would burn and yet not be consumed (see Ex. 3:2). That was confirmed by what the Lord said in Genesis 46:4: “I will go down with thee into Egypt.” In other words, God said to Abram: “In My Son, I will go down with you into Egypt. May I Myself, and My own beloved Son, suffer utter death and destruction if I fail to keep My promises to you.”
So, God came while Abram slept, showing that the fulfillment of the covenant promises did not depend on Abram, who was beset by failures and weaknesses as a father. I find that enormously comforting. All that was required of Abram was to be “fully persuaded that, what [God] had promised, he was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:21).
As I was discussing this passage with Seth several good points came out for both of us.
1. We must take God at His Word even in the mist of trials.
2. We must be faithful to do all that God has commanded us to do.
3. We must rest and trust in the Work of Christ for the out come.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.