He said to him, "Bring Me a three year old heifer,
and a three year old female goat, and a three year
old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon." Then
he brought all these to Him and
cut them in
two, and laid each half opposite the other;
but he did not cut the birds...And it came about
when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and
behold, there appeared a
and a flaming torch which passed between these
pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant
with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have
given this land..." Genesis 15:9-10, 17-18a
A Solemn Promise
Beginning thousands of years before Christ,
covenants or promises were made by having one or
both parties to the covenant touch blood or come in
contact with blood. Later, phrases such as
"sealed in blood" came from these historical
methods of making promises. In those days the
parties to a covenant would walk together between
carcasses of animals, or to otherwise come in
contact with the blood of those animals, to show
their commitment to enter into that covenant or
promise. In one sense, it was as if each party
was saying...'if you don't live up to the terms
of the covenant, what happened to these animals
will happen to you.'
In this scripture in Genesis 15, a smoking oven
and flaming torch passed between these carcasses of
animals and the related blood.
it came about when the sun had set, that
it was very dark, and behold, there
appeared a smoking oven and a flaming
torch which passed between these
pieces." Genesis 15:17
Was this to
symbolize God himself passing between
the carcasses and blood?
does not say.
However, through this series of events...God demonstrated His
commitment to the covenants made with Abraham.
Abram's Child Through Hagar
God had promised to Abram that he would have an
innumerable amount of descendants (Genesis 15:5).
However, Abram's wife Sarai at this point could not
bear children. Not understanding how God would
provide children to Abram, Sarai gave her handmaiden
Hagar to Abram (see Genesis chapter 16). Hagar
bore a child to Abram when he was 86 years old...a
boy named Ishmael.
But Ishmael was not the son with whom God would
establish an everlasting covenant. Ishmael
would later cause a great deal of problems to the
other descendants of Abram (see Genesis 16:12).
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