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Summary: This was one of the most significant moments in all human history, when God signed His name on the dotted line of salvation, at least, from our perspective. What is a covenant? What parts of this account are covenantal? What is the smoking firepot and the

ABRAM’S SMOKING FIREPOT & BLAZING TORCH

Gen. 15:5-17

INTRODUCTION

A. HUMOR

1. An elderly wife said to her husband, "Why don't we eat something sweet. Get us both a bowl of ice cream."

2. The husband said, "We only have a little ice cream, but I don't want to eat it without chocolate syrup.” So he volunteered to run to the store and buy some ice cream and syrup.

3. The wife said, "You need to write that down; you know how forgetful you are." "No,” he said, “it's only two things; there's no way I’m going to forget that!”

4. Later, the husband came home from the store with a can of soup. The wife said, "I told you! I told you that you would forget to buy both items! You forgot the crackers!"

B. TEXT

5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. 7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” 8 But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” 9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” 10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” 17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.

C. THESIS

1. This strange scene was one of the most hallowed and significant moments in all human history. This was the moment God signed His name on the dotted line of salvation, at least, from our perspective.

2. We’re going to look tonight at what a covenant is, what aspects of this account are parts of the covenant, and what is the meaning of the smoking firepot and the blazing torch.

I. WHAT IS A COVENANT?

A. DEFINITION

1. The Hebrew word, ‘B rith’ is translated "covenant," but it's root meanings are "to bind" (Acadian ‘baru’) and "to cut" (Hebrew).

2. A covenant is a legal compact or agreement between two parties in which each binds himself to fulfill certain conditions and is promised certain advantages.

3. In making covenants, God was solemnly invoked as a witness (Gen. 31:50) and the breach of a covenant was regarded as a heinous sin (Ezek. 17:12-20).

B. EXAMPLES OF COVENANTS

1. COVENANTS BETWEEN GOD AND MEN

a. With Adam, Hosea 6:7.

b. With Noah, Gen. 9:8-17.

c. With Abraham, Gen. 15:9-21; Isaac, 17:21.

d. With the Israelites at Sinai, Ex. 19-24.

e. Levi, Mal. 2:4; Aaron, Nm. 18:19; Phineas, 25:10-

31.

f. With David, 2 Samuel 7:5-16.

g. The New Covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-34.

2. COVENANTS BETWEEN MEN -- there are at least 13 covenants mentioned as between people in the Bible.

3. OTHER TYPES OF COVENANTS

a. Marriage is a covenant, Prov. 2:17, Ezek. 16:8, Malachi 2:14.

b. Covenant of Brotherhood, Amos 1:9

C. WHY COVENANTS ARE VALUED

1. What good is it? Does a covenant strengthen one's position with the covenanting party? Does it give an additional basis of appeal? Yes!

2. In our passage tonight, God promised Abraham that he would inherit the land of Palestine. Yet Abraham still questioned whether God's promise was binding. “O Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” (vs. 8).

3. In answer, God tells Abraham to prepare the elements necessary for a covenant to be performed. By means of a covenant God makes his promise certain.

4. Later, when Moses was trying to dissuade God from destroying Israel, Moses quoted the covenant that God made with Abraham and was able to turn back God from destroying them (Exodus 32:13). See also 2 Kings 13:23. Clearly, covenants have a strengthening effect on later decision-making, even by God.

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