Genesis 062 – The Condescension of God

Genesis 062 – The Condescension of God
Genesis 15:7-14 • Dr. Andy Woods • December 12, 2021 • Genesis


Genesis 062 – The Condescension of God

By Dr. Andy Woods – 12/12/2021

Gen 15:7-14

Well, good morning everyone! Let’s take our Bibles if we could this morning and open them to the book of Genesis chapter 15 and verse 7 (Gen 15:7). The title of our message this morning is “The Condescension of God” and we’re going to see if we can get through verse 16 today, although I highly doubt it and as you’re turning there, just keep in mind some important dates: Tonight our Christmas Play for the children and kids, Christmas Eve service coming up, six o’clock, Christmas eve. How is this for a marketing approach? You’ll be in and out in under an hour (laughs) and I personally guarantee that (laughs) and then of course this Wednesday is the Gingerbread House, what did Jim say about it? Competition? What do you call it? Whatever you call it, it’s much better phraseology than mine and this is kind of a unique time because we’re actually revamping the SLBC website and when we made the decision to do that we didn’t want these kinds of cheesy pictures that other churches have, Boy! That’s a terrible thing to say, isn’t it? (laughs) where they’ve got all of these pictures and it has nothing to do with the people in the church so we wanted, like real pictures. So, consequently, these guys are here for about fifteen minutes. They are going to be roaming to and fro taking pictures and probably the thing not to do is to pose for the camera (laughs). Just look your normal studious self and then when they’re gone you could go back to normal, I guess. Alright! So just a warning on that. It’s one of those things you just kind of block it out of your mind and you’ll forget they’re even there. 2:23

The condescension of God. We are as you know in our Bible Study in the book of Genesis, already having covered chapters 1 through 11 which relates to four events: creation, fall, flood, national dispersion and all the way through that section a promise is developed of a coming Messiah.


    1. Beginning of the Human race (Gen. 1‒11)
    2. Beginning of the Hebrew race (Gen. 12‒50)
    1. Genesis 1-11 (four events)
      1. Creation (1-2)
      2. Fall (3-5)
      3. Flood (6-9)
      4. National dispersion (10-11)
    1. Genesis 12-50 (four people)
      1. Abraham (12:1–25:11)
      2. Isaac (25:12–26:35)
      3. Jacob (27–36)
      4. Joseph (37–50)

You see that in Genesis, 3, verse 15 (Gen 3:15) and then the question becomes when you move into chapters 12 through 50 is through which nation is the Messiah’s going to come and this is where we see the development if you will of the nation of Israel beginning through the life of a man named Abram.

Genesis, 12‒14 – Abram’s Early Journeys

    1. Unconditional promises (Gen 12:1-3)
    2. From Haran to Canaan (Gen 12:4-5)
    3. In Canaan (Gen 12:6-9)
    4. In Egypt (Gen 12:10-20)
    5. Abram and Lot Separate (Gen 13:1-13)
    6. Reaffirmation of Abram’s promises (Gen 13:14-18)
    7. Abram Rescues Lot (Gen 14:1-24)
    8. Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 15:1-21)

So Abram who will later become Abraham moves into centerstage as God begins to deal with him because it’s through him that this Messiah is going to come into the world. So we have been diligently studying the early life and journeys of this man Abram and we are at now a very pivotal chapter, not only in the life of Abram but in the whole Bible. In fact, it was my professor in seminary J. Dwight Pentecost, who basically said: If you can understand Genesis, 15, you can understand the Bible. God obligates Himself to act in Genesis, 15 through something called the Abrahamic Covenant and the entire rest of the Bible all God is doing is making good on what He said He would do in Genesis, 15.

So Genesis, 15, if you don’t have it in the Bible, the actions of God in the rest of the Bible really don’t make a lot of sense, but if you understand Genesis, 15, the rest of the Bible, very nicely falls into place and so last time we were together, we saw the initial part of Genesis, 15, where the seed promise is clarified.

Genesis 15:1‒21 – Abrahamic Covenant

      1. Seed Promise Clarified (15:1-6)
      2. Land Promise Ratified (15:7-21)

Seed Promise Clarified – Genesis 15:1-6

      1. God’s Promise (Gen 15:1)
      2. Abram’s misunderstanding (Gen 15:2-3)
      3. God’s clarification (Gen 15:4-5)
      4. Abram’s response (Gen 15:6)

Abram is promised a seed or a child, Genesis chapter, 15, verses 1 through 6 (Gen 15:1-6) and he mistakenly believed that this seed promise was going to come through someone who was not his natural son, and you can see why he thought that, given his advanced age and the age of his wife. He reasoned logically that this child is not coming from me or my wife Sarai but it’s coming through a person that’s just a common servant in my house and God is very clear there in verses 1 through 6 that no, this child that is going to be born, we’ll later learn that he is Isaac, through Isaac will be the continuation of the line becoming the nation of Israel, leading to Jesus Christ, this Isaac is going to be born as your natural son. It was a promise that made no sense logically, but Abram believed the promise, verse 6 (Gen 15:6) and the Lord credited to him for righteousness. So that is sort of the prototype if you will of how we are saved today. 6:06

We similarly trust in the promises of God and God transfers His righteousness to us. It’s a foundational verse and if you didn’t have a chance to hear that study last week, I recommend that you go back and give it a good listen or a good viewing. And now we move away from the seed promises being clarified and now we move into the land promise that God has already given to Abram being ratified, verses 7 through 21 (Gen 15:7-21).

Genesis 15:1‒21 – Abrahamic Covenant

  1. Seed Promise Clarified (15:1-6)
  2. Land Promise Ratified (15:7-21)

Land Promise Ratified – Genesis 15:7-21

      1. God’s Promise (Gen 15:7)
      2. Abram’s Question (Gen 15:8)
      3. Preparation of the Animal pieces (Gen 15:9-11)
      4. Prophecy of redemption from Egyptian bondage (Gen 15:12-16)
      5. Covenant ratification ritual (Gen 15:17-21)

So we have God’s promise verse 7, Abram’s question verse 8, the preparation of the animal pieces verses 9 through 11, the prophecy of redemption from Egypt verses 12 through 16 and then there’s a covenant ritual verses 17 through 21 and we’re going to cover all of that in the next 40 minutes. No, we won’t get too far in this but that’s the big picture of the second part of Genesis, 15, but notice if you will, Genesis, 15, verse 7 (Gen 15:7) where God reiterates a promise. He says in Genesis, 15, verse 7: And He said to him, I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess… Notice the first part of that, God reminds Abram that He had brought him out of the land of the Chaldeans, He reminds him that he has been brought out of bondage and he has been brought out of a life of bondage and godlessness for a reason. About six centuries later, the same thing is going to happen as God in Exodus, 20 and verse 2 (Exod 20:2), it’s going to remind the nation of Israel as they are on the verge of receiving the Mosaic Law: I am the Lord God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery… In both cases, God reminds them that I brought you out of this bondage to give you something very special. In Abram’s case it was the Abrahamic Covenant, in the case of the generation that came out of the Egyptian bondage it was to give them the Mosaic Covenant and in both cases, God reminds them that I didn’t redeem you just so you could just go and live how you want. I redeemed you for a purpose, I redeemed you for something very special, I redeemed you for something very significant. 9:07

(And) I bring this up because a lot of Christians have this mindset that Ok, I’m a believer, I’ve got my fire insurance paid up, I’m not going to hell, which is a good thing, amen? And that’s about as deep as it goes with them. They forget the fact that yes, having God’s gift of eternal life is extremely important and it’s probably the most important issue for us, from our perspective, but God has a much bigger plan in mind. God did not save you just so you could sit on the bench. God saved you so that you’d become a member of the starting five. God saved you so that you would be His Michael Jordan, if you can believe that, because when God saved you and He led you to Christ, He had in mind not just your individual salvation but He had in mind all of the people that were going to be blessed through your life as God is now at work in your life. Salvation is not just about, Okay! I’m saved, now I can live how I want. No, it’s about pressing into the purposes of God, because God shed his blood for us, for a reason. Certainly, it is salvation from hell, but there is a much bigger purpose in mind and that bigger purpose is He blessed you to be a blessing to other people. The truth of the matter is God wants to use your life more than you want to be used, and in fact that’s the purpose for which your life was redeemed. 10:53

So what is that purpose? Notice if you will the second part of verse 7 (Gen 15:7), it says: And He said to him, I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess… I have saved you to give you a particular tract of real estate, I saved you to give you land. Now, this of course is not the first time that the land promises have been mentioned to Abram, you’ll find that promise first articulated as early as Genesis, 12, verse 7 (Gen 12:7), you’ll find it in Genesis, 13, verse 17 (Gen 13:17) where Abram was told to walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you… Genesis, 12, verse 7 (Gen 12:7) says: To your descendants I will give you this land… And so here God reminds Abram of this incredible land promise that has been given to him. The land promise, ultimately, is not coming through a common servant in your house but it’s coming from, ultimately in terms of its fulfillment, an heir from your own body. That’s the promise back in Genesis, 15, verses 4 and 5 (Gen 15:4-5) that we saw last week where God says: This man, Eliezer of Damascus will not be your heir but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir… and in fact, from that heir, is going to come descendants that are as innumerable as the stars. It’s the beginning of the nation of Israel, and of course, a nation and a population needs a piece of land and God here is reaffirming the land promise. This is the beginning of what we would call the Abrahamic Covenant.

We’re not going to see the word covenant till we get to verse 18 (Gen 15:18). At this point, all it is, is promises. I’ll explain the significance of the covenant as we progress but God is promising to Abram three things: (1) Land, right here in verse 7 (Gen 15:7); (2) Seed or descendants, right there in verse 5 (Gen 15:5) and (3) Personal blessing, I’ll be a shield to you, I’ll be a great reward to you and you see that back in verse 1 (Gen 15:1). Land, seed and blessing. It’s a pretty easy formula to remember and all God is doing subsequently in the Bible and the Bible is a very big book, isn’t it? I mean, we’re just barely into it, but all God is doing subsequently in the Bible is He’s amplifying and building upon those three promises of land, seed and blessing. The land will receive greater articulation in what’s called the Land Covenant, Deuteronomy, 29 and 30 (Deut 29-30), the seed or the descendants will receive greater articulation in what is called the Davidic Covenant, 2nd Samuel, 7, verses 12 through 16 (2 Sam 7:12-16) and the blessing is going to be given greater articulation and clarification in what is called the New Covenant, Jeremiah, 31, verses 31 through 34 (Jer 31:31-34) but in the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant, God is not saying, here’s some brand new promises… These aren’t new, they are simply being clarified in what God already said He would do, going all the way back to Genesis, 15. That’s one of the reasons Dr. Pentecost said: Genesis, 15 is the most important chapter in the Bible. It lays the foundation for the structure that it will be built upon… Anybody in, you know, construction, building projects, knows that the foundation is critical. If the foundation is off or crooked, the whole rest of the building suffers. Just ask me, we owned a house in the Dallas area and we would wake up in the morning and we would find a crack going right through our wall that wasn’t there the day before and it had nothing to do with the color of the drapes or the wallpaper or the carpet, it had to do with the house and many people that live in that part of our country have houses built on shaky foundations. It had to do with a problem with the foundation. If you don’t have the foundation laid correctly, if you don’t have the foundation laid properly, then the whole rest of the structure suffers, that’s why the Bible is going into all this detail and all of this information concerning the foundation. 16:13

Land Promise Ratified – Genesis 15:7-21

  1. God’s Promise (Gen 15:7)
  2. Abram’s Question (Gen 15:8)
  3. Preparation of the Animal pieces (Gen 15:9-11)
  4. Prophecy of redemption from Egyptian bondage (Gen 15:12-16)
  5. Covenant ratification ritual (Gen 15:17-21)

So with that in mind, Abram then asks a question. Notice if you will verse 8 (Gen 15:8) and I love how realistic Abram is. He says: O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will possess it?… I mean, God, you’re making me all of these promises, I need some kind of authentication. I need some kind of verification and it’s very interesting that God doesn’t slap Abram down here and say, how dare you ask a question like that? Don’t you have any faith?… A promise from God should be enough, shouldn’t it? For the simple reason that it is impossible for God to what? To lie. A few verses on that: Numbers, 23, verse 19 (Num 23:19): Is God a man, that He should lie?; Titus, 1, verse 2 (Titus 1:2): God cannot lie; Hebrews, 6 and verse 18 (Heb 6:18): It’s impossible for God to lie and it would be very easy for Abram to just get slapped on the back side of the head by God and saying, I promised you this, isn’t that enough? But it’s interesting that when Abram asks this question, I mean, how do I really know I’m going to possess it? God does something here that’s absolutely fascinating and it takes the whole rest of the chapter to develop it. God condescends, hence the title of this sermon “The Condescension of God”, God comes down and He condescends to Abram’s level and shows him practically, the authentication and the verification that he is seeking by entering into a common way that parties, all the way back in 2000 BC, entered into covenants. God says, here’s how you’ll know, I’m going to enter a covenant with you which is, I’ll show you, is another way of saying a contract and I’m going to cut this deal not based on heavenly style but on earthly style and this is how God is. God is not so high up and high above that we can’t understand Him but He condescends to our level. If Christmas is about anything, it’s about that. It’s about Jesus who did not retain His position in heaven but actually added to, at the point of the virgin conception, humanity to pre-existing deity. He became a man, He became a human being, He became one of us, He came exactly down to our level so that we can see what God is like. God does this all the way through the Bible and you’re about to see it spelled out here two thousand years before the time of Christ. 19:27

This is actually a very good tip for teaching and parenting, because the truth of the matter is I have a fifteen year old daughter and we don’t live in the same world (laughs). I mean, my world is the world of theology and academics and reading commentaries and she’s not into that, she’s into Jesus but not into that that I’m into and so the question is, well then, how can I have a relationship with her? How can I relate to her? Well, actually it is not that difficult to do when you start to study the things she’s interested in. I mean, she’s got all of these games, she’s got all these characters, she’s got all of these costumes, which to me, I mean, kind of look a little weird, I mean, I wouldn’t be involved in something like that, maybe I was way back when but not now and it’s a matter of just taking the time and watching what she’s doing and watching what she’s interested in and saying, pointing to a certain character, Oh, what’s that character’s name? Oh, why does that character have that color dress on? And you wouldn’t believe how she opens up. I mean, her eyes light up, suddenly she’s spilling all this information when formerly I couldn’t get two words out of her and I don’t call her and say, Okay, we’re going to read the book of Romans today in Greek, ready? (laughs) I mean, what kind of teaching is that? There’s a point where you have to actually get down to where she is, get down to her level and engage her and find out the things that she’s interested in, discover the world that she’s living in and the goal of parenting and good teaching is to relate spiritual truths to those things, then all of a sudden she understands, it’s not a… it’s not a lecture, it’s not a monologue, suddenly it becomes a dialogue and I think God has given us this ability to condescend to the level of children because that’s what He’s done with us. He’s entered into here, brokered an agreement not based on anything other than how humans normally operate and we will unpack that as we progress. 21:51

So Abram asks a question and God doesn’t slap Abram in the head and say, how dare you ask this question? He condescends to Abram’s level which is the nature of God and He gives Abram the verification and the authentication that he is looking for and this involves verses 9 through 11 (Gen 15:9-11), the preparation of the animal pieces.

Land Promise Ratified – Genesis 15:7-21

  1. God’s Promise (Gen 15:7)
  2. Abram’s Question (Gen 15:8)
  3. Preparation of the Animal pieces (Gen 15:9-11)
  4. Prophecy of redemption from Egyptian bondage (Gen 15:12-16)
  5. Covenant ratification ritual (Gen 15:17-21)

It’s not until the animal pieces are prepared in two parallel rows and the parties pass through the animal pieces that there will be a formal covenant. The only thing Abram has at this point in time are promises,

  1. 8 New Promises – Genesis 12:1-3
      1. Land (Gen 12:1b)
      2. Great nation (Gen 12:2a)
      3. Personal blessing (Gen 12:2b)
      4. Great name (Gen 12:2c)
      5. Blessing to others (Gen 12:2d)
      6. Blessing to blessers (Gen 12:3a)
      7. Cursing to cursers (Gen 12:3b)
      8. Blessing to the world (Gen 12:3c)

but by the time you finish Genesis chapter 15, you’ll learn that Abram doesn’t just have promises, those would be enough since God can’t lie but he has a contract. He has a contract from God almighty Himself. Now, you might remember that this is exactly how God dealt with Noah. Genesis chapter 6, verse 18 (Gen 6:18) you have a reference to a future covenant, but at this point it wasn’t a covenant as I showed you when we were back in Genesis, 6, about 17 years ago (laughs) we were in that chapter, but those promises of Genesis, 6, verse 18 became an actual covenant. That’s the first time the word covenant is used in the Bible, it’s the Hebrew word “Berith”. It’s used in Genesis, 9, verse 9 and verse 11 (Gen 9:9,11) as promises turned into covenants. That’s what Abram had, that’s what Noah had, that’s what Abram is about to have and if you can understand what God is obligating Himself to do in Genesis chapter 15 then the rest of the Bible is easy to understand because God is just making good on what He has covenanted Himself to do. So Abram’s question now moves into the preparation of the animal pieces and notice if you will Genesis, 15 and notice if you will verse 9 (Gen 15:9): So He said to him… that’s God speaking to Abram… 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… So grab these animals, Abram and round them up and bring them over, God is not giving a suggestion here, He’s giving a command and very intelligently and smartly Abram does exactly what God says. You see his obedience there in verse 10 (Gen 15:10) where it says: Then he… that’s Abram… brought all these to Him… and then it says… and cut them in two… and then it says also in verse 10… and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds… Now, what is being described here is an actual covenant of that time period and what is being described here is an actual ancient Near East covenant ratification ceremony. The closest analogy I could give you is entering into a contract today. They didn’t enter into contracts today like they did back then because law student’s know that a contract involves an offer, an acceptance, some kind of bargain for exchange, sometimes called a “quid pro quo”, now affectionately called “quid pro Joe”, sorry about that (laughs) and then there can’t be any defenses to the contract and once that happens the parties have bound themselves to act. Essentially what is happening is God is entering into a contract with Abram and He’s telling him to take animals, cut them in two and put the severed pieces in two parallel rows because the way they entered into contracts back then is the two parties passed through the animal pieces and when they’ve passed through the animal pieces what they were saying is if we don’t do what we’ve obligated ourselves to do under the contract, or under the covenant then let us also be cut in two. So when you entered into those animal pieces you were as good as dead, because you no longer live for yourself, you lived to fulfill what you have obligated yourself to do under the covenant and if you wouldn’t do it, then you were basically bringing upon yourself a curse of being severed in two. God almighty is saying to Abram, if I don’t do exactly what I said I would do in this covenant, then let me be torn asunder. It’s the… the technical name is the Covenant of Malediction, where you’re wishing on yourself something awful, something wicked, a severing, if you don’t do exactly what you said you would do under the covenant. This is how it worked. This is what God gave to Abram. This is how God condescended to Abram’s level and validated and gave him verification of the earlier promises that God has made. 27:56

Arnold Fruchtenbaum describes this covenant ratification ceremony as follows,

Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum – The Book of Genesis, 279

“The nature of a blood covenant is spelled out in Jeremiah 34:8–11 and 17–20. A blood covenant pledged the lives of the ones making the covenant to the covenant: If one failed, his blood was to be poured out just as the blood of the animal had been poured out. In other words, he would invoke upon himself the death penalty. The animal sacrificed was the substitute in death for the two making the covenant. Once the covenant was made and once both parties walked between the pieces of the animal, the terms of the covenant could not be changed.”

“The exception is that while he divided the three animals, he did not divide the birds. This was all in keeping with the ancient methods of making a blood covenant. For example, in the Mari Tablets, to make a covenant was ‘to slay an animal.’ Normally, when two men made a blood covenant, only one animal was used.”

He says: The nature of a blood covenant is spelled out in Jeremiah, 34… and we’ll reference those verses probably next week, he says: A blood covenant pledged the lives of the ones making the covenant to the covenant: If one failed, his blood was poured out just as the blood of the animal had been poured out. In other words, he would invoke upon himself the death penalty. The animal sacrificed was the substitute in death for the two making the covenant. Once the covenant was made and once both parties passed through the pieces of the animal, the terms of the covenant could not be changed… Once you understand this chapter you understand very clearly why God cannot and will not get rid of the nation of Israel. It’s an impossibility for God to get rid of the nation of Israel. Most Christians by way of denominational affiliation are sitting in churches that tell them that God is finished with Israel and He’s replaced Israel with the church, it’s called “supersessionism” or the idea that the church supersedes Israel’s place, replacement theology. I’m here to tell you that the whole thing is completely untrue, it’s completely bogus. In fact, it’s impossible, because if God could cast aside Israel, He could somehow unbind Himself from this covenant structure which cannot be done and so Abram brings these animal pieces, they’re cut, two parallel rows are orchestrated and you’ll notice also in verse 10 (Gen 15:10) but he did not cut the birds. Why didn’t he cut the birds? Because it’s common in this covenant structure to have some animals uncut, this is how they operated back then. You severed most of the animals but not all of them. 30:14

Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes: The exception is that while he divided the three animals, he did not divide the birds. That was all in keeping with the ancient methods of making a blood covenant. For example, in the Mari Tablets, to make a covenant was ‘to slay an animal.’ Normally, when two men made a blood covenant, only one animal was used… So the exact procedures of everything we know about this covenant ratification ceremony are being followed right here in Genesis chapter 15. Notice if you will verse 11 (Gen 15:11): The birds of prey… Now, these are other birds coming, because they want to gorge on the corpses of these severed animals, it says: The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away… Birds of prey in the Bible are typically negative. For example, over in the book of Daniel, chapter 4 and verse 12 it’s an analogy of Babylon, a very wicked empire, analogized to a tree and birds in the sky rested in its branches. Babylon is, Revelation, 18, verse 2 (Rev 18:2) it’s called a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. In fact, when Jesus comes back to this earth and He will, by the way, did you know that? Do you believe that? When He comes back to the earth at the end of the tribulation period, I’m not talking here about the rapture, I’m talking here about His second advent at the end of the tribulation period, there would be so many dead people. Why are there dead people? Because these people went out to do something that is incomprehensibly stupid. It’s described in Revelation, 19, they went out to fight Jesus Christ himself. Now, how smart is that? Jesus we like this world the way it is and we don’t want your interference and when you’re coming back in your second advent we’re going to go out and try to oppose you. That’s like trying to hold back the ocean with a broom (laughs) and Jesus is going to speak and all of these opposing forces of God are going to die and their corpses are going to be strewn everywhere in the Valley of Armageddon and the birds of prey are going to come and feast on the corpses. So the birds of prey, largely, are negative entities and these birds of prey come and they try to feast on these severed animals and Abram has to drive them away. 33:05

Now, why does it mention birds of prey? Because something negative is going to happen too in the Abrahamic Covenant. It’s not all just fun and games, it’s not all just the blessings of God. There’s going to be a season where the nation of Israel is going to go through severe duress and it’s going to start not long after Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph pass off the scene, where the nation of Israel is actually going to go into bondage for four hundred years. Four hundred years is  an awful long time, that’s roughly the United States of America divided by two. I mean, practically two times, obviously, the math is not precise there. Math was not my greatest subject, but you get the idea. It’s a length of time that’s astronomical from the human perspective. So, it’s not going to be all just fun and games, it’s not going to be all just receiving the blessings of God. There’s going to be a time of distress and duress beforehand which is going to last for four hundred years and we start to see a description of that in verses 12 through 16 (Gen 15:12-16) for we have a prophecy of redemption from Egyptian bondage:

Land Promise Ratified – Genesis 15:7-21

  1. God’s Promise (Gen 15:7)
  2. Abram’s Question (Gen 15:8)
  3. Preparation of the Animal pieces (Gen 15:9-11)
  4. Prophecy of redemption from Egyptian bondage (Gen 15:12-16)
  5. Covenant ratification ritual (Gen 15:17-21)

and notice what God does to Abram, and if you miss verse 12, you miss the point of the Bible, that’s how significant verse 12 is. It says there in verse 12 (Gen 15:12): Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and behold, terror and great distress came upon him… What does it mean here when it says he fell into a deep sleep? Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes:

Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum – The Book of Genesis, 280

“The Hebrew word for deep sleep is tardeimah; it was a supernatural deep sleep that fell upon Abram. It was the same deep sleep that fell upon Adam (Gen. 2:21) in preparation for the creation of Eve. It also fell upon Saul (I Sam. 26:12 and Dan. 8:18; 10:9). It is also mentioned in Job 4:13 and 33:15.”

The Hebrew word for deep sleep is… Let’s see, I don’t know, my pronunciation is not the greatest… “Tardeimah”… something to that effect… It was a supernatural deep sleep that fell on Abram… Watch this now… It was the same deep sleep that fell upon Adam in Genesis, 2, verse 21 (Gen 2:21) in preparation for the creation of Eve… It’s the same sleep that fell upon Saul… several Scriptures are mentioned there… (1 Sam 26:12 and Dan. 8:18; 10:9) And it is also mentioned in the book of Job (Job 4:13 and Job 33:15) What God does to Abram is He does not allow him to pass through the animal pieces. He puts him into a deep sleep where God alone as represented by an oven and a torch, that we’ll read about later on in the chapter, God alone passes through the animal pieces. Why is that such a big deal? Because it proves that this covenant that’s being entered into is unconditional and you need to learn the difference between a conditional and an unconditional promise. 36:37

Some of the promises that God has given you are conditioned on you doing something. Such as in Proverbs, 3, verses 5 and 6 (Prov 3:5-6): Trust the LORD with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight… Lord I’m upset because you’re not making my paths straight and God says, well, have you done your part? Have you done the first three things? Have you trusted in me with all your heart? Are you not leaning on your own understanding? In all your ways are you acknowledging me? And if you’re not doing those three things then God says don’t complain that I’m not making your paths straight, conditional promise. What you have here is not a conditional promise. It is something that God Himself doesn’t just promise to do but covenants Himself to do because Abram according to the normal covenant ratification ceremony should have passed through those animal pieces with God, but God didn’t allow that to happen. God put Abram to sleep. This covenant is about as unconditional as you can get, it doesn’t rest on the performance of Abram or his descendants, it totally rests on the shoulders of God because Abram is put to sleep. Beyond that there’s no conditions for obedience mentioned in this whole chapter.

Evidence of Abrahamic Covenant’s Unconditional Nature

  • ANE covenant ratification ceremony (Gen 15)
  • Lack of stated conditions for Israel’s obedience (Gen 15)
  • Covenant’s eternality (Gen 17:7, 13, 19; Ps. 90:2)
  • Covenant’s immutability (Heb 6:13-18; Mal. 3:6)
  • Trans-generational reaffirmation despite perpetual national disobedience (Jer 31:35-37)

Beyond that the covenant, and I have all of the Scriptures there on the screen, is called the eternal and immutable, meaning unchangeable, which means it can only rest on God not on fickle man and the interesting thing about this covenant is no matter how wicked the nation of Israel gets, and they get very wicked. In fact, there in Jeremiah, 31, verses 35 through 37 (Jer 31:35-37), it gets so bad that they begin to offer their children into a fire to satisfy the god of Moloch, the god of prosperity and yet in that very chapter, Jeremiah, 31, verses 35 through 37, God reaffirms the covenant. God put Abram to sleep, God alone as we will see pass through these animal pieces and the oven and the torch together represent God. One doesn’t represent Abram and one represents God, they both represent God cause Abram himself is asleep. 39:17

This covenant is so profound that God reaffirms it to Abram in spite of his disobedience. Abram is going to drop the football again. He’s going to fumble and later on in the book of Genesis and yet God will reaffirm the covenant promise to Abram.

Trans-generational reaffirmation despite perpetual national disobedience

  • Covenant continuously reaffirmed to Abraham (Gen 13:14-17; Rev. 22:17-18) despite his perpetual disobedience (Gen 12:10-20; 20; 12:1, 4-5, 10; Acts 7:3-4)
  • Covenant continuously reaffirmed to Jacob (Gen 28:14-15) despite his perpetual disobedience (Gen 27; meaning of “Jacob”)
  • Covenant continuously reaffirmed to the nation of Israel (Jer 31:35-37) despite her perpetual disobedience (Jer 7:18; 44:17-18)

Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, 149-52

Why does God do that? Because it’s unconditional, not conditional and God is going to reaffirm it to Jacob, despite his perpetual disobedience. In fact, Jacob’s very name means deceiver and in spite of his shenanigans, Jacob receives the covenant reaffirmed to him and God as I have tried to explain will reaffirm the covenant to the nation of Israel on the eve of the Babylonian captivity as the children of Israel are doing something so despicable such as to sacrifice their own children into a fire to satisfy a pagan deity and right in the midst of that chapter, Jeremiah, 31, the end of the chapter God reaffirms the covenant. Why does God keep doing that? Because it’s not based on conditions. If it was based on conditions it would have lapsed, it would have evaporated a long time ago and God, watch this very carefully, does His greatest work when Abram is asleep. God did His greatest work for Adam in bringing Eve to Adam when Adam was asleep and I understand that there are people in the sound of my voice that are single and they don’t understand why they are single and they’re just filled with this desire, I’ve got to find someone, I’ve got to get married, I’ve got to get on all of these dating apps and dating websites and I’ve got to shake the bushes and I’ve got to do this and I’ve got to do that and I’m here to tell you that’s a losing approach, because if Adam had went out and done that, you know what he would have ended up with? He would have ended up with a gorilla (laughs), cause that’s the animal closest to the body of a human being, a gorilla. A lot of people are married to gorillas. They have no understanding why that happened (laughs). I mean, the absolute smartest thing you can do if you’re in that condition is to go to sleep (laughs) and let God handle it. 41:52

Do you know where I met my wife? We weren’t at some swinging singles bar. I met her at a Bible Study, because when you’re yourself, you kind of have a tendency to attract the person that’s interested in the same stuff you’re in and so I was basically, I had basically given up on the whole thing, dating, marriage, losing cause, so I just went to sleep and God brought someone into my life that matches me perfectly. I mean, my name is Andy and her name is Anne, how much more perfect can you get than that? And it’s sort of a tough pill to swallow cause we think we need to get out there and we have to make things happen. You know, we need to start this business or start this venture and if I don’t get out there, the culture screams this at us, if you don’t get out there and make this happen, then it won’t happen. If it’s going to be, it’s up to me. I’ve heard preachers say that and I’m here to tell you that isn’t true. God will do the greatest work in your life when you’re sound asleep, when you trust whatever situation it is unto the Lord and this of course is a prototype of salvation itself, because your contribution to salvation is absolutely nothing. Jesus did it all before you ever existed, two thousand years ago. All you did is receive it as a free gift. You see, the world of religion which tailors its messages around the pride of people, wants you to think that you’ve got to get out and do all this stuff for God to accept you. None of it is true. God did everything. Everything was done before you were born. You can’t contribute to it even if you wanted to. Go to sleep, receive the things of God as a free gift, do that in your business, do that in your future marriage and my goodness, you wouldn’t believe what God will do when we quit striving all the time in the flesh and entrust our circumstances onto the Lord. 44:17

The first marriage, Adam is asleep. The Abrahamic Covenant, the foundation of the whole Bible, Abram is asleep and then you move to verse 13 (Gen 15:13) and you have this short term prediction before the long term predictions are developed. God said to Abram, actually backing up to verse 12 (Gen 15:12): Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him… Why did great terror and darkness fall upon him while he was asleep? It’s the same reason he drove away the birds of prey. This is a tremendous covenantal promise he’s about to get but it’s not always going to be fun. There’s going to be some difficulty in the working out of God’s purposes. One of the things that’s going to happen is four hundred years of bondage before your nation receives anything from God and then you move down to verse 13 (Gen 15:13) and you start to get a description of this four hundred years of bondage, it says: God said to Abram, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years… That’s why a moment of darkness and terror overcomes Abram in his dreamlike state, that’s why these birds of prey are coming and have to be sort of shooed away by Abram, verse 11 (Gen 15:11) and what it’s a prediction of is the coming Egyptian bondage, where the nation of Israel will be in Goshen and they will be enslaved because ultimately, Exodus 1, verses 8 through 11 (Exod 1:8-11), there’s going to arise a Pharaoh in Egypt that did not know Joseph and he’s going to begin to oppress the Hebrews.

In fact, in Genesis, 46, the nation will leave Canaan and go to Egypt to find grain in the midst of famine because God, Genesis, 37 through 50 will have worked providentially in the life of Joseph, elevating him to second in command in all of Egypt. That’s how God gets the nation out of Canaan into Egypt but there’s going to arise, Exodus, 1, 8 through 11 (Exod 1:8-11), a Pharaoh that did not know Joseph and he will begin to oppress the nation of Israel. They’re going to be strangers in the land that’s not theirs, that’s Egypt. They’re going to be enslaved, they’re going to be oppressed and then it says here, as clearly as it can be said, that they’re going to be in that condition for four hundred years. 47:26

What you have developing here are short term predictions. If the short term predictions happened,  then the rest of the covenant, which still from our vantage point is yet future, the rest of it will be fulfilled as well. You sort of have to put yourself in the shoes of the audience that is receiving the book of Genesis. The audience that is receiving it is that group that is destined to go into the land of Canaan and drive out the inhabitants under Joshua and take possession of the land. Think of the strength and the courage that they needed to pull that off. Think of the trust that they needed in God’s word to pull that off, and they had that strength and trust because God built into the covenant a short term prediction that they saw fulfilled in their own life. I mean, they came out of Egypt with many possessions and they would read this and they would say to themselves, you know if God has been faithful with the short term predictions, I can certainly trust him with the long term predictions. It’s like me at the free throw line and I make, and this never happened by the way, but I make nine free throws in a row and I say to you, Can I make the tenth one? And you… my coaches would probably say no, but you would say yes because you’re very nice people and you would say yes because you can see a track record, well, if you made nine you can make the tenth. That is what God is building in here to this covenant. The four hundred years happen exactly like God said so you can trust me with the rest. Jesus did this kind of thing with the disciples in the upper room, who were being sent off to die as martyrs and He said this in the upper room (John 13:19): From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He… then a chapter later in John, 14, verse 29 (John 14:29), he says: Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe… And what He’s saying is right now in the upper room, I’m going to start giving you a series of short term predictions concerning my betrayal, concerning my death, concerning my resurrection, concerning my ascension, I’m going to tell you how I’m going to die, I’m going to tell you where I’m going to die and within the next few days it’s going to start happening like clockwork and when you see it happen, you’re going to remember what I told you in the upper room, John, 13, John, 14 and you will know who I am and you will go out under my power and do exactly what I told you to do. You’ll have the courage to do it because of the reality of short term predictions that happened. 50:47

Did you know that the eleven that heard this, most of them went to martyr’s deaths?

James the son of Alphaeus was clubbed to death, Simon the Zealot was martyred, James the son of Zebedee was executed, Thaddeus was beaten to death, Peter was crucified upside down, Matthew was beheaded, John was fried in boiling oil, Philip was tortured and crucified. I mean, this kind of stuff doesn’t show up in books like “Your Best Life Now”, does it? (laughs) Thomas was speared to death, Bartholomew was flayed, you know what flayed is? Your skin is torn off, and crucified. Andrew was hanged and they went to their graves, faithful to Jesus Christ. Do you think any of them would have done that if Christ’s short term predictions were fulfilled 75%, 60%? They knew exactly who Jesus was, because they could see His omniscience through His short term predictions that happened before their very eyes and they were willing to do whatever it took to expand the message of Jesus Christ into a pagan world. Incredible, fruitful ministries, most of which ending in martyrdom and it was the power of the short term prediction that gave them this impetus.

You continue on and you go to verse 14 of Genesis chapter 15 (Gen 15:14) and it says: But I will judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions… So, yes, this short term prediction is… your people Abram are going into four hundred years of bondage, but you know what? Every moment they are under the task masters whip and abuse as slaves for four hundred years, I’m keeping a record of that and when the time comes for them to come out of Egypt in the great exodus event, I’m going to take the nation of Israel, excuse me, the nation of Egypt, a worldwide oppressing power and I’m going to judge it, I’m going to bring it to its knees. Why would God say that? Because of what He promised in Genesis, 12, verse 3 (Gen 12:3): I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse… That’s a promise from God. It’s a promise of an in kind curse. It is very interesting to study how God dealt with Egypt and how He killed, all over Egypt, in plague number ten, the first born of the Egyptians. All of their firstborn died, the Hebrews of course were exempted from that when they applied the blood of the Passover lamb to the doorpost, but in plague number ten, the last plague, God killed all of the firstborn all over Egypt and you ask yourself why did God do that? The answer is very simple. Exodus, 4, verse 22 (Exod 4:22) God says to Israel, You are my firstborn son. What God is saying is you mess Egypt with my firstborn?, I’m coming after your firstborn. Does that interpretation surprise you? Doesn’t surprise me, cause that’s what God said would happen, Genesis, 12, verse 3 (Gen 12:3). 54:51

By the way, when the Egyptians pursued the Hebrews through the Red Sea and you know the story and how God closed the water on the Egyptians and they were drowned, why would God drown the Egyptians? Why not just send, I don’t know, an earthquake? A tornado? The answer is very simple. When you go back to Exodus chapter 1, it was Egypt that was drowning the Hebrew males, you remember? The boys, the infants in the Nile. God says to Egypt: You drown My people? I’m going to drown you. It’s interesting that Haman in the book of Esther was hanged on the identical gallows that he had prepared for an Israeli, why would God work that way? It’s related to Genesis, 12, verse 3 (Gen 12:3) You want to hang my people? I’m going to hang you. I don’t mean to get off into politics and foreign policy but one of the things in this country that absolutely scares me to death is the gradual turning away of the United States of America from Israel. You better start rethinking that, because I don’t see a statute of limitations on this. I’ve try to bring this up with people and they say, Oh, that’s just the Old Testament. Well, why do we have an Old Testament then if nothing in it matters? I see nothing in the church age where this has been vitiated I see nothing where it’s lapsed. I see no statute of limitations here. In fact, if I’m understanding Bible prophecy correctly, that’s largely what Jesus is doing when He returns as he’s dealing with the nations that have mistreated the nation of Israel and you’re going to come out of that situation little Israel and you’re going to be rich. Look at verse 14 (Gen 15:14): I will also… I didn’t do it… I will also judge the nation whom they serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions… Beloved, that’s exactly what happened. Exodus, 3, verses 21 and 22 (Exod 3:21-22) talks about the wealth of the nation as they came out of Egypt and it says: …Thus you will plunder the Egyptians… Exodus, 12, verses 35 and 36 (Exod 12:35-36): …Thus they plundered the Egyptians… You know what they brought out of the nation of Israel? They even brought out their musical instruments. They used pagan musical instruments to glorify God in one of the greatest worship songs in the Bible, following what God did to the Egyptians at the Red Sea in Exodus, 15, verse 20: Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing… There’s a lot of people, folks, that are very, very uptight about this instrument or that instrument. We need to be real careful about this and read what the Bible actually says. The Bible says to worship the Lord in spirit and truth. They even did it in the book of Exodus with pagan instruments. Where do these instruments come from? I mean they obviously came from the four hundred years of bondage, that they had just spent in Egypt and what I’m trying to communicate here is everything God said that would happen concerning the nation of Israel, over a four hundred year cycle, happened. And of course, the Christian educators look at this and they say, Ahh, they plundered the Egyptians. What does that mean? Well, it’s okay to take pagan philosophy and mix it with the Bible to teach the truth, because all truth, the Christian educators say, is God’s truth. After all, Genesis, 1 through 11, reveals how everything came into existence but I can supplement that with Darwin. Why do they think that? Well, Israel plundered the Egyptians. They look at the Bible as a piece of Swiss cheese that has to be filled up with pagan truth. This is what they do with origins, this is what they do with so-called Christian marketing, so-called Christian counseling, it’s absolutely filled with this mentality. Yeah, the Bible is nice to counsel people with but don’t you know brother that you need Skinner, Freud and Jung as well? Godless individual to counsel God’s people. Why are you mixing the two together? Well, don’t you understand that Israel plundered the Egyptians? 1:00:44

I know a little something about this because I spent some time at a school on the West Coast that had a school for theology and a school for psychology and they were taking the two disciplines and trying to put them together and the example that they used over and over again is plundering the Egyptians. When people want to mix Creationism with Darwinism, the excuse that’s given is they plundered the Egyptians. When people want to build Christ’s church, not on the Pauline epistles, but on the thinking of Abraham Maslow, the excuse that’s given is after all, Israel plundered the Egyptians. It’s an attack on the sufficiency of Scripture. That’s why at Chafer Seminary we have this in our doctrinal statement:

Chafer Theological Seminary Distinctives

Sufficiency of the Scriptures

“We believe in the complete adequacy of Scripture, for in it God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. We hold, therefore, that the Word of God by itself is sufficient to prepare a person for a lifetime of effective ministry.”

We believe in the complete adequacy of Scripture, for in it God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. We hold, therefore, that the Word of God by itself is sufficient to prepare a person for a lifetime of effective ministry… When God has spoken something in his word, that’s the authority in any area of life. Yeah, but Pastor, I just broke my arm. Well, go to the doctor, get an X-ray. The Bible doesn’t deal with that, but when you get into the realm of the soul, the psuché, origin, church government, in areas that God has said something? You better be standing on this book. The sufficiency of the Word of God, which is capable of equipping us for how many good works? Every good work. By these precious promises, God has given us everything that we need for all matters of faith and practice (2 Pet 1:3-4), but Pastor, they plundered the Egyptians. Yeah, they plundered the Egyptians but you know what they took? They took their metal. They didn’t take their philosophies. They took their metal, and by the way that didn’t end so well, cause what did they do with that metal? Oh, they built a golden calf out of it. But it’s interesting how the Bible is used, these passages that I’m talking about, to teach a doctrine of integration. See, it’s very easy to find churches and schools that believe in inerrancy. It’s harder to find a church or a school that believes in sufficiency. You’re shopping around for Christmas schools, I was just talking to a gentleman who’s looking at this school or that school for his kids. What a great question to ask, what it’s your position on inerrancy but I also want to know, what is your position on sufficiency. In other words, when God has spoken on something, is that the final authority that you use in creation, in church government, in counseling. This is one of the most divisive polarizing issues within Christianity today and so look at that, we’ve moved all the way to verse 14. So we’ll stop there, Amen? Some of you are saying, we need to stop, I’m tired and I get tired too. 1:04:29

So let’s pray. Father, we are grateful for your truth, we are grateful for your word, we are grateful for the things that it speak into our lives. Help us to be people in these last days that stand on the authority of your word completely and totally in areas and realms where you have spoken. If there’s anyone here Father that does not know Christ personally, I do pray that the spirit would convict them of sin, righteousness and judgement as I speak, I pray that the spirit would make them so uncomfortable through conviction and persuasion, by persuading them of the offence that they are now committing against a Holy God which is unbelief. The only sin that sends someone into the lake of fire, failing to believe, failing to trust, failing to receive what Jesus has done for us. We know that you are the same today, yesterday, today and forever. We know that Jesus says, it is finished and yet the Spirit seeks to persuade us of that so that we might place our trust alone in Christ alone for salvation. I pray that anyone listening to the sound of my voice, as I try to articulate this, would respond to that convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit by trusting in Christ and Christ alone. If anyone also, Father we pray to, has questions about it, I pray that they come afterwards when I’m available to talk further about it. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory, we ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said, Amen.