Genesis 15: 8-21: The end from the beginning.
“8 But Abram said, ‘Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I shall 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 for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and ill-treated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterwards they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors 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 brazier with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates – 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.’ ” NIV UK
God knows the end from the beginning. Today’s reading contains a remarkable prophecy (13-16). It is a breathtakingly accurate prediction of events to take place at a much later date. It’s interesting that this revelation came to Abram in the context of ‘’a deep sleep’’ (12). I’m not saying ‘this is that’, but I just mention the fact that it has been a recurring feature of revivals that people have sometimes fallen into trance-like states in which God has spoken to them and shown them things they would not otherwise have learned. Just recently I heard a talk given by Duncan Campbell about the Isle of Lewis revival. These sort of things were happening there, and I couldn’t help but think about it as I read this part of Abram’s story.
It’s also appropriate to remember the passage in Hebrews 6:13-20. The thirteenth verse says: ‘’When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no-one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself…’’
In those days, when someone made a covenant with someone else, they would walk between the pieces of the sacrifice. In fact, both parties in the covenant would. But here, only God did it. He can be trusted. He is deeply committed to His people, to His Word and to His promises.