Tuesday, 26 October 2010
The Covenant of Grace and Christ's Mighty Sacrifice; Genesis 15
In the two former chapters we find many tokens of God's gracious intention towards Abram.
In this chapter God confirms the same by the solemn treaty of a Covenant.
Abram had the most delightful assurances given to him by a faithful God; and all folded up within a covenant of promise. A bountiful God not only pledged Himself to give the Patriarch an extensive estate, but an extensive issue to enjoy it.
And as these blessings of the promised seed and the promised land, spiritually considered, were types of better things to come, even the Lord Jesus Christ as the seed of the woman and the heavenly possession through Him which Canaan represented; they serve to teach us, under the Gospel estate, the greater privilege of those who are blessed with faithful Abram.
"After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, 'Fear not, Abram: I am thy Shield, and thy exceeding great Reward'." (Genesis 15:1).
Several precious things are contained in this verse.
• Observe the expression how the Lord communed with Abram.
Is not Jesus the uncreated Word? Might not this vision be some manifestation of the Shekinah?
• Observe also, the Lord called Abram by name: so Jesus speaks to His sheep; cf. John 10:3.
• Observe also, the sweetness of divine communications, "Fear not."
God's people are peculiarly exposed to fears. And if they had no fears to encounter, many precious promises in the covenant would have no place for exercise.
• Observe also, what the Lord promiseth - not only to defend, but to bless; not simply to reward, but Himself to be the reward, and that exceeding great; Psalm 16:5; 84:11.
"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 three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle dove, and a young pigeon.' And he took unto Him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece once against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away" (Genesis 15:8-11).
It is not altogether fanciful to trace even the minute circumstances of sacrifice, somewhat referring to Him unto whom all the sacrifices referred?
• Is not the three years of age a type of the Redeemer's three years ministry?
• And what do those birds of prey which came down upon Abram's sacrifice intimate, but the vain thoughts which hover over our minds in our holy seasons?
"And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces" (Genesis 15:17).
• Smoking furnace; cf. Deuteronomy 4:20; Isaiah 48:10.
• Burning lamp; cf. Isaiah 62:1; Exodus 3:2.
The former intimating affliction; the latter comfort.
But do not both mean, in passing between the pieces of sacrifices, that Jesus is the one all-sufficient offering by which acceptance is found? cf. Psalm 50:5; Judges 13:23.
Passing between the parts of the sacrifice was an ancient form of confirming the most solemn covenants; Jeremiah 34:18-19.
The burning lamp (or lamp of fire) was a symbol of the Divine Presence, and by this probably the sacrifice was consumed; Leviticus 9:24, Judges 6:21; 13:20, 1 Kings 18:38.
Oh! Thou Almighty giver of faith, increase our faith, and enable us to walk by faith, and not by sight, until we realise the Divine Presence in all the glories of eternity, and receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.