I’m not sure the magnitude or awesomeness of this chapter has ever hit me the way it did when I read it this week. There are so many incredible things going on in these 21 verses. I can only cover a few, but I hope you will sit and explore this chapter all week.
Let’s start at the top.
After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. (v. 1)
The first two words are “after this”. Let’s not forget last week in chapter 14 we saw the first war recorded in scripture. Abram had just been through a real battle and saved Lot’s life. I wonder if his heart was still pounding with fear and adrenaline when the Lord came in a vision and gently said, “Don’t be afraid. I am your shield.”? This is the fourth time God has appeared to Abram, but the first time He has proclaimed He will be His shield. This image of God being our shield may start in Genesis 15, but is an incredibly powerful image that is carried all the way into the New Testament through Ephesians and 1 Peter.
who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5
I encourage you to take time this week and do a search through the Bible for the word shield and explore all the scriptures and promises of God being our protector and shield. We may not just be coming out of a literal war zone, but every day is a battle.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
There is one more incredible thing I wanted to point out. In verses 12-21 we see two important things happen. First, God shows Abram what is going to happen to his people. And not just next week, but in generations to come. I find it interesting that it says, “as the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him (v. 12)”. As much as we think we want to know the future, I think if we were told what was coming, it could be horrifying and certainly a great burden to carry knowing what we, and those we love, will face. I wonder if that knowledge was the darkness that overcame Abram?
Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward, they shall come out with great possessions. (v. 13-14)
Lastly, we see God create a covenant with Abram. Certainly, this helped lift some of the heaviness that Abram may have been feeling knowing about the struggles his offspring would face. I believe Abram awoke trusting God would not just be his shield, but a shield for his descendants as well. I pray we all wake up daily clinging to that truth that every step we take and obstacle we face, we go into battle with Mighty protection.
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, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.” (v. 17-21)