In the hushed calm of twilight, Abram contemplated his life in this new country where the Lord had led. His call out of Ur of the Chaldeans with the promise of many children was years ago, and today he remains childless. As leader of his wife, Sarai, and a multitude of servants numbering many more than three hundred, the weight of responsibility crushed his shoulders. Questions swirled in his mind and fear for their future gripped his heart. He had not heard the Lord’s voice in a very long time and this night, he was desperate for reassurance.
In his dimly lit tent, Abram prayed.
Out of the silence, a still small voice resounded like thunder. “Do not be afraid Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
The Lord saw Abram’s need, heard his heart’s cry and answered.
But what about His promise of children? Since nephew Lot’s departure, Abram had no heir except, Eliezer, his servant.
So God brought Abram out of his tent into the velvety blackness of night. “Look now,” said the Lord, “toward heaven. Try to count the stars and see their multitude. Abram, not Eliezer, but from your own body shall come descendants more in number. I brought you out of Ur to give you this land to inherit.”
Reassured, Abram believed God.
When morning came, to validate this covenant and give Abram courage and an understanding of the future, God used a familiar custom. He instructed him to bring five animals. The heifer, goat, and ram Abram split in half, laying each piece opposite the other, but the turtledove and young pigeon he kept whole. At sundown, a deep sleep with horror and great dread fell upon Abram.
The Lord spoke, “Know for sure your descendants will be strangers in a land not theirs. They will be afflicted by the inhabitants and serve them four hundred years. But in the fourth generation, I will judge that nation and bring your children out with great wealth.”
At nightfall, Abram witnessed a smoking firepot and flaming torch pass between the carcasses. This was his confirmation. Now Abram knew. All the Lord prophesied would indeed take place and His children’s children will possess this Promised Land.
Our next lesson begins at the conclusion of this four-hundred year prophecy.
For more study: Genesis chapters 12 through 15, Exodus chapters 1 and 12.