Genesis 15:1-6 & English Standard Version October 1, 2017

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1 Genesis 15:1-6 & English Standard Version October 1, 2017 The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, October 1, 2017, is from Genesis 15:1-6 & Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary. Study Hints for Discussion and Thinking Further will help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion: these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website along with the International Bible Lesson that you may want to read to your class as part of your Bible study. You can discuss each week s commentary and lesson at the International Bible Lesson Forum. (Genesis 15:1) After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great. Abram demonstrated his faith in God when he left Haran for the Promised Land. Abram demonstrated mature character traits and trust in God when he allowed Lot to choose the best land when their flocks became too large and they needed to separate from one another, when he rescued Lot from some evil kings who had captured him, and when he gave a tithe to Melchizedek. Afterward, God appeared to Abram and told him not to be afraid of anyone or anything, for He Himself would protect him and reward him. Abram s great reward was a happy relationship with God and receiving the fulfillment of the promises of God. (Genesis 15:2) But Abram said, O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? Possessions did not mean as much to Abram as the birth of a son and the fulfillment of God s promise to give him a son (a promise made in Genesis 12). For Abram, the promise God made to him earlier of having a family with children meant more to him than anything else God could give him. He bravely and immediately expressed his deepest desire to God. At that time, if a child was not available to inherit, then the inheritance could go to a family slave.

2 Page 2 (Genesis 15:3) And Abram said, Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir. Abram told God explicitly what he wanted, and that became an example of how those who have Abram s faith can pray. God made a promise to Abram when He called him to leave his home and go to the land of Canaan. Abram respectfully reminded God of His promise to him. He also acknowledged the fact that God had the power to give him children. In prayer, we can ask God to fulfill His promises made to believers in the Bible. (Genesis 15:4) And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir. God promised that this man, Eliezer, would not be his heir. Abram would have a son in fulfillment of God s promise to him. Abram learned patience and practiced that virtue when he finally received Isaac, the son of God s promise, after twenty-five years of waiting. God may seem slow to us, but God does keep His promises. (Genesis 15:5) And he brought him outside and said, Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. Then he said to him, So shall your offspring be. God appeared to Abram at night and showed him the stars of heaven. God s promise was fulfilled literally when we think of the descendants of Ishmael (see Genesis 16:15-16) and Isaac (see Genesis 21:3-5) even to this day; and especially when we think of the number of Jews and Gentiles who have come into God s family through faith in Abram s descendant, Jesus the Messiah (see Matthew 1:17; John 8:56-58; Romans 4:16). Abram would live to be 175 years old, but it would take centuries and many generations to fulfill God s promises. Even today we see the evidence in believers that God keeps His promises. (Genesis 15:6) And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Abram demonstrated his faith in God and belief in the Word of God. He demonstrated his belief every time he obeyed God and acted with trust in God s commands and promises. God knew of Abram s past failures and sins, and that Abram would fail and sin again, but Abram trusted God, and only by his faith could God consider Abram righteous. God did not reckon or hold Abram s sins against him because Abram believed

3 Page 3 what God said (see also Romans 4:3, 9; and read the entire chapter 4 in Romans.) Jesus death on the cross as a sacrifice for Abram s sins and for the sins all who believe in Jesus the Messiah and His redeeming work proves that God is righteous when He forgives sins and considers believers righteous on the condition of faith (see Romans 3:21-31). (Genesis 15:17) When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. The fire represents God himself. God is Holy Fire. God is Spirit and Truth. God is Righteous. He is the Light of the world and in Him is no darkness at all. God passed through these animals in a way that Abram would remember and be able to tell others. He would tell his descendants the terms of the covenant and how God made the covenant. The fire pot and the flaming torch represent God in His holiness. Later, God would appear to Moses as a fire in a burning bush and the Holy Spirit would descend on Jesus disciples as flames of fire on the Day of Pentecost. The symbolism represents the one making the covenant as though he were saying, May I be cut in half (or killed) like these animals if I do not keep my promise, or contract and covenant (see Jeremiah 34:18). Perhaps the Father and the Son are making this promise and covenant with Abram as symbolized by the flaming torch and the smoking fire pot. (Genesis 15:18) 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, This covenant or contract was binding on God and He fulfilled the contract when Joshua entered the Promised Land and during the time of the Judges and the Kings. Later, the Hebrews lost possession of their land as punishment for their sins and they were carried off into captivity in Babylon. Just as God justly punished the Amorites before them, God justly punished the Hebrews after them. God gave this promise to Abram and it was an unconditional covenant or promise; which means Abram and his descendants did not need to do anything to earn their possession of the Promised Land. However, because the Israelites God freed from slavery in Egypt would not believe and obey God, only their children were allowed to enter and possess the Promised Land. Furthermore, God s people would need to obey God in order to keep possession of the Promised Land (because they disobeyed God, the Kingdom of Israel lost possession of their land and the Kingdom of Judah spent 70 years in exile). Abram was counted righteous because he believed God, and he expressed his belief by trusting and obeying God. The Israelites entered to possess the land in the time of Joshua, but they did not acquire control over

4 Page 4 the entire promised area until the time of King David. They began to lose control over the entire Promised Land after King Solomon led them into idolatry. (Genesis 15:19) the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, The people groups listed in Genesis 15: forfeited their land slowly in the time of Joshua, the Judges, and King David. Moses saw the land, but he could not enter the Promised Land because he sinned against God as a leader of His people. Later, Moses would appear with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, so we know Moses repented and lived spiritually with God after his physical death (Matthew 17:1-8). Joshua s experiences in conquering the land through various battles show that their success depended on their obedience, and people were conquered or evicted from their land as punishment for their sins. (Genesis 15:20) the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, The Canaanites may have been metalworkers of some kind, perhaps in copper, since only the Philistines worked iron. There may have been a close relationship between the Canaanites and the Midianites. They were never totally removed from the Promised Land, but lost control of their land. Caleb s father was a Kenizzite and they were eventually absorbed into the tribes of Israel (Numbers 32:12). We know very little about the Perizzites, but King Solomon enslaved them. The Rephaim were probably giants who lived in the land (see Deuteronomy 3:11). (Genesis 15:21) the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites. When God gave the Amorites over to Israel, God made the sun stand still so Joshua s army could defeat them (Joshua 10:12). Canaanites is a general name for all or most of the people who lived west of the Jordan River in the land of Canaan. The Girgashites were a tribe of people who lived in the land of Canaan. The Jebusites inhabited the City of Jerusalem and they were not conquered by the Israelites until King David defeated them. Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further 1. What did Abram do to show that he believed God? 2. What is the difference between God being your shield and God providing you with a

5 Page 5 shield? Which would you prefer? Why? 3. What shield are believers supposed to take? Why do believers need this shield in addition to the protection God provides? 4. What reward did God promise Abram? Compare different translations of Genesis 15:1 (see especially the King James Version) for your answer. 5. Why do you think God made a covenant or contract with Abram the way He did? Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. Visit the International Bible Lessons Forum for Teachers and Students. Copyright 2017 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use. Contact: P.O. Box 1052, Edmond, Oklahoma, and

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