At is at this point a legitimate covenant was made between Abram and the Lord. Until now there had been promises and Abram’s response. No covenant had been made until this point. The covenant answered Abram’s questions and fears where the promises did not. There is a difference between the promises of the Lord and the covenants of the Lord.

ABRAHAM – THE FRIEND OF GOD
by Delbert Young

The Covenant, Abraham Believed In The Lord

The Covenant, Abraham Believed In The Lord

The Covenant, Abraham Believed In The Lord

Scriptures: Genesis 15:1, Genesis 12:7, Genesis 13:14, Genesis 17:1, Genesis 18:1, Genesis 22:11, Genesis 15:2-3, Genesis 15:4-6, Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23, Genesis 15:8-16, Genesis 6:18, Genesis 9:9, Genesis 15:18, Genesis 17:7-19, Genesis 17:10, Genesis 17:19, Exodus 2:24, Exodus 31:16, Genesis 15:17-18, 2 Samuel 8:3, 1 Kings 4:21, 2 Chronicles 9:26

After these things
After the bread and wine and tithe a wonderful event was recorded. The Lord visited Abram in a vision. This is the first mention of a vision in the Scriptures (the word vision or visions is found over 90 times in the King James). Visions are not uncommon even in the New Testament where there are 17 references to vision(s). Abraham had walked with the Lord. He loved his neighbor. He received communion, gave his tithe, and was blessed by Melchizedek. “After these things” the Lord gave Abram a vision.2. the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying
This is extremely interesting wording. Abram has had and will have many visitations from the Lord. None are worded this way. Even visits from the angel of the Lord to Abraham are not worded this way.
GENESIS 12:7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said,
GENESIS 13:14 And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated
GENESIS 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram,
GENESIS 18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre:
GENESIS 22:11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham,
The Lord had appeared and spoken to Abraham prior. Here the scripture says, “the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying….” It was not only a vision of the Lord. It was a vision of the word of the Lord. The word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision. Abram had a vision of the Word. That of course is Jesus Christ (Joh 1:1, 14). “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” This vision of the Word will calm Abram’s fears and answer Abram’s questions.
Often we find ourselves in fear, doubt, and question our purposes. That does not upset the Lord. He will give us a vision of His Word and calm our fears and answer our questions. All we need to do is place ourselves into a position where He can come unto us.

3. Fear not, Abram
 The Lord told Abram, “Fear not.” What was Abram’s fear? He obviously had at least one for the Lord told Abram to stop fearing. We all have some fear. It is in a visitation of the Word of the Lord that fear can be quieted and questions answered. We need the Word of the Lord to appear to us in a vision.

Genesis 15:2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

4. Behold, to me thou hast given no seed
In 15:1 the Lord said, “Fear not Abram.” Abram’s fear was his age. Time was running out. Abram was now 83 and he had no seed to continue his lineage. Abram was mighty in that he was “very rich” (13:2). He had all the wealth a person could imagine and will acquire more. Abram had at least 318 grown men who would had families serving Abram. Abram was a mighty man and was as a king. However, he had a mighty fear. That fear was he would die and leave no seed. Abram wanted an heir to continue his part of the kingdom purpose.
Abram obviously had a wonderful relationship with “one born in” his house named Eliezer. Abram explained that the person taking care of his house was Eliezer. Eliezer was a good man, but not a son. One would have to wonder if it would not have been Lot taking care of Abram’s possessions had Lot not greedily looked toward and went to Sodom. The decisions we make are so often irrevocable and so devastating. At the same time we see the Lord working all things together. Lot nor Eliezer could be the heir. Abram’s fear was he did not have a seed to remain in the earth.
What are we leaving for the work of the kingdom and for the purposes of God? Hopefully we are leaving much. That was Abram’s largest concern and should be ours.

Genesis 15:4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 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. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

5. he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir
 Abram was given another promise. He had not yet had this promise. This promise was a son from his own body. He had been told he would see the land. He had been told he would be blessed, be a blessing, and be great. He had been told on two separate occasions that his seed would inherit the land (Genesis 12:7; 13:15-16). The Lord had never specifically told Abram that he would have a son from his own body. 

6. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Did Abram really believe his promises? Did he believe what he had been told about his seed inheriting the land? We read that the Lord took Abram and showed him the stars of heaven. The innumerable stars would be the number of Abram’s seed. As the dust could not be numbered (13:16) the stars cannot be numbered. Did Abram believe? Until this point Abram was just as you or I are about the promises of God given us. We are given a promise. Okay, wonderful, that will be nice we say. We keep walking and being blessed and worshiping. Finally something quickens to us. It is the Word of the Lord in a vision. Suddenly we know that the promise will happen. Finally, we as did Abram, believe in the Lord.
For a person to say they simply instantly believed in the Lord God after praying some sinner’s prayer, or whatever, is not Biblical. People may say believe that instant, but in actually it takes time. It took Abram eight years to believe.
Is it not interesting that it is after Abram walked with God eight years that he came to the place of belief? Abram had left all. Had followed the Lord to a strange land. Abram had visitations from the Lord and built altars and worshiped the Lord. Yet it was at this point that Abram was counted righteous. Most commentators say this is not the point of Abram’s conversion. They say it is rather the place that Abram needed to come to make covenant. This is not the place of covenant. The covenant does not begin until verse 8. What is happening here is another promise. Genesis 15:6 is quoted by the New Testament writers in three places. According to them this is when Abram experienced salvation through faith.
Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Galatians 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

The point is simply this. We must keep walking before we come to a place of absolute belief. It is when we truly walk with the Lord that we are counted righteous. We can go through all the motions. We can leave everything. We can build altars. We can even have visitations. However a relationship is necessary to be counted righteous.
We want to believe immediately. We strain to believe immediately. The truth is that to really believe we must walk. It takes years before we come to total trust and belief. Even the disciples doubted after seeing all the miracles and wonders Jesus showed them. Absolute trust and belief in any relationship, even with the Lord God, takes years. For some, even years is not enough. They still do not believe.

When studying the covenant in Genesis 15 and comparing it to the covenant in Genesis 17 an interesting aspect is seen. This covenant (Genesis 15) is for the natural land and natural seed. The covenant in Genesis 17 is for the spiritual. After the covenant in Genesis 15 Ishmael will come. In the covenant in Genesis 17 Isaac is promised, named and comes after that covenant. In Genesis 15 Abram remains Abram and Sarai remains Sarai. In Genesis 17 Abram becomes Abraham and Sarai becomes Sarah. The sacrifice in Genesis 15 is natural animal sacrifices. The sacrifice in Genesis 17 in spiritual–circumcision. The circumcision is activated in Genesis 17 which is in truth the heart even in the Old Covenant (Deu 10:16; 30:6; Jer 4:4; Rom 2:29).

Genesis 15:8 And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? 9 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 turtledove, and a young pigeon. 10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. 11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. 12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. 13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

7. whereby shall I know
It is at this point a legitimate covenant was made between Abram and the Lord. Until now there had been promises and Abram’s response. No covenant had been made until this point. The covenant answered Abram’s questions and fears where the promises did not. There is a difference between the promises of the Lord and the covenants of the Lord. Promises of the Lord are between an individual and the Lord. Covenants of the Lord reach out to Generations and millennia. 

Noah
Genesis 6:18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.
Genesis 9:9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

Abram
Genesis 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

Abraham
Genesis 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their Generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
Genesis 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
Genesis 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
Exodus 2:24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
Moses
Exodus 31:16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their Generations, for a perpetual covenant.

A promise, contract, or a covenant requires no less than two individuals. A promise is verbal. A contract is written and usually covers a period of time usually years. A covenant is life long and will affect Generations to come. A marriage is a covenant. It does not only affect two individuals as does a promise or a contract. It affects first two people, then a family, then families, then Generations. This is seen in the covenant between Jonathan and David. That covenant affected many and actually was made to protect each man’s children.
In all agreements people expect something from the agreement. We understand a contract to purchase some item such as an automobile. Both parties are expecting something from the covenant. The individual with the automobile will give the automobile, warranty, included warranties, perhaps a tank of gas, etc. The individual wanting the automobile will give money and make necessary agreements. Often today the person wanting the automobile will enter another contract with a finance company or banking institute to acquire the money to purchase the automobile. The institute has the money for the automobile. Their want is interest. The person receiving the money contracts to repay the money plus the interest. Agreements are mutually beneficial and mutually productive. We enter marriage covenants. Both parties agree to vows–love, honor, cherish, etc. until death does part. Both parties benefit and become productive in this relationship.
Until now Abram had many promises from the Lord. Abram now is desiring something more in depth form the Lord, something that would include his coming Generations. A man can tell a woman we will get married one day. The woman says, “How do I know we will be married?” He gives her an engagement ring. It is more than a promise. It now enters covenant.

8. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall….
Abram’s part was to bring the sacrifices for covenant and to properly prepare each piece. He must also keep the fowls away from the covenant pieces. The Lord’s part was to one day give Abram a son and give Abram’s seed the land. The covenant did little if anything for Abram personally. Abram was making a covenant with God for his son and for the distant future Generations that would come from him.
Someplace along the walk we must get beyond “self-ish-ness” and talk to the Lord about our children and future Generations coming from us. Obviously we can do that and make a covenant with God concerning our children, our grandchildren, and Generations to come. What will they possess? What will God do with them? What do I need to bring to the table to sacrifice to “Know of a surety that” my seed shall be blessed? That is only answered by a vision from the Word of God.

Genesis 15:17 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. 18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

9. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land
Abram’s part of the covenant was to provide a three year old heifer, a female goat also three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon (15:9). I am sure there are all sorts of spiritual truths to these sacrifices. The point is it cost Abram. Covenants cost. Abram provided the cost and prepared the animals. He drove away the fowls that came to defile the covenant pieces. We too must drive away every fowl thing that attempts to defile our covenant.
The time of the day when this visitation began in Genesis 15:1 must have been very early morning. Abram was able to count the stars (15:5). We read “when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram” (15:12). We have noted how the Lord would appear to Abram and then Abram would build an altar and visit the Lord (12:7, 8; 13:4; 14, 18). Visits between Abram and the Lord were long and unhurried. They obviously stayed together all day from early morning before sunrise (stars) until night (sun went down). Abram was in no hurry. A man and his friend spend quality time together.
The covenant was made by the Lord. A smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed between those pieces of animals and birds. The covenant land had been given to Abram’s seed complete with defined. The future for the next several hundred years concerning Abram’s Generations were revealed to Abram. The natural seed would go into bondage and come out wealthy. They would then possess the land that was given them by this covenant. That is exactly what happened.
The boundaries of this land was here set. It would be from the river Euphrates to the river of Egypt. Dispensational teaching teaches that this land was never acquired. They say it will not be acquired until the second advent of Christ. That is not true as the following scriptures prove.
2 Samuel 8:3 David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates.
1 Kings 4:21 And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life.
2 Chronicles 9:26 And he reigned over all the kings from the river even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt.

David recovered the northern boundary to the Euphrates. Solomon ruled to the great sea and to Egypt. Also the Maccabees reestablished these boundaries in their day.

10. What can we learn and apply to our lives from this lesson?

a. There will always be an “after these things” in our lives. Things we do always reap a harvest. If we sow to the flesh we reap corruption of the flesh. If we sow to the spirit we reap life of the spirit. Abraham had just sown to the spirit. He helped rescue his brother Lot, experienced communion served by Melchizedek, blessing, and paying of his tithes. “After these things” Abraham was given a vision by the Word of God. This gave him the covenant promise which calmed his deepest fear–not leaving a son. As we sow we too will reap good covenant things.

b. As we continue walking with the Lord our belief will grow stronger until it is absolute belief. Abram walked 8 years with the Lord before the scriptures say Abraham “believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” The Lord desires that we overcome all doubt. He also understands that it takes time. It took time for the disciples who walked with and observed Him. Thomas had to see the scars to believe. The Lord understands that we want to believe and will help our unbelief. The point is that if we keep walking one day soon we will absolutely believer.

c. Contracts are not the same as a covenant. Covenants are made for a lifetime and affect Generations in the future. We must be careful of the covenants we make for they will affect our children, grandchildren, and future Generations.

d. If the Lord made a covenant with Abram concerning his son and future Generations not yet born then He will do the same for you and I. He is no respecter of persons (Act 10:34). We can have a guarantee and “know of a surety” that the Lord will provide for and be with our future Generations. We must remember that it cost. It could be your service or something that the Lord desires from you. The Lord told Abraham what the cost was and what to do. He will do the same for you and me. Our Generations are worth it.

Other Related Sermons:

When The Heathen (Pharaoh) Rebuke The Righteous – sermon series notes

This Passover! video audio notes Luke 22:14-20

Create Your World – sermon audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young