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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land . . .’”—Genesis 15:17-18 (NIV)
Have you ever made a pact with someone? A contract? A covenant? If you’re married, you made a covenant with your spouse. If you’ve ever signed up for a loan, insurance, or service of any kind, you have.
In almost every case, pacts involve both parties fulfilling certain terms. That’s why today’s passage stands out so much! Looking back a few verses, in Genesis 15:5, God says to Abram, “Look up at the sky and count the stars . . . So shall your offspring be.” Even further back in Genesis 12, God promises to bless the whole world through Abraham, through his lineage, through his seed.
And guess what? Genesis 15:6 (NLT) says, “Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” After this, God also promises to give Abram’s descendants the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, to which Abram asks, “O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?” (Genesis 15:8 NLT). So, God decides to seal His promises to Abram with a covenant, make it totally official. He instructs Abram to get a few animals for a blood covenant, a common ritual of the ancient world. Usually, both parties involved would state their part in the covenant, as well as their terms. Then, they’d walk the path between the slaughtered animals and state what would happen to them if they didn’t uphold their end.
But look at what happens: The Lord causes Abram to fall asleep, makes the covenant oath without Abram, and passes through the flames between the sacrifices on His own. He makes the promise and seals it without Abram. Why? Because nothing of the promises of God to Abram relating to his descendants, the land, or the blessings that would come through his seed (Galatians 3:16) depends on anything Abram does. It’s not based on his works. Everything depends on God, who promises to be faithful to His covenant. And in turn, Abraham and his descendants can trust, count on, and believe in everything God promises them.
Likewise, our salvation, the covenant of grace through Jesus, who “redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13) is not dependent upon us. It has everything to do with Jesus, who walked across the flames of crucifixion and passed through death. Jesus did this so we could receive the promise of faith, Him into our hearts, and so that the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead could live in us. All we have to do is believe and receive it. Isn’t that amazing? I pray we never forget this and always rest on His work and not our own!
DIG: What was unique about this covenant? Why did God cause Abram to fall asleep?
DISCOVER: What does it mean for us that our covenant with God through grace doesn’t depend on us? How does this impact the way we live?
DO: Spend time in worship today for all that God has done for you, for His work to save us and bring us into relationship with Him.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.