SynopsisIn this chapter, the LORD makes His covenant with Abram, promising him the land that will one day become Israel. However, it’s not a straightforward “here’s the covenant, and you’ll live happily ever after” thing; God doesn’t just promise Abram the land, He also gives Abram a taste of what the future holds for his descendants, and it’s not all rosy.
But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”However, this is not the LORD’s solution:
The rest of the chapter, from verses 7–21, are what I consider making the covenant “official”. God has Abram present a sacrifice, and then he spends some time trying to keep the wild animals away from the carcasses (verse 11). Eventually, Abram falls into a “deep sleep”, and “a thick and dreadful darkness [comes] over him” (verse 12). Then the LORD tells Abram how His covenant will be carried out:
Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” 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.”
Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
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. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” (verses 13–16)God then spells out for Abram, in the final couple of verses, exactly which land will be his (and his descendants’).