Genesis 065 – The Ultimate Real Estate Deal, Pt. 3Genesis 15:18b-21 • Dr. Andy Woods • January 9, 2022 • Genesis
Alright! Well, good morning everybody. Let’s take our Bibles, if we could and open them to Genesis chapter 15 and verse 18 (Gen 15:18) and we will finish Genesis, 15 today, guaranteed or your money back (laughs) That’s right.
As you know, we’ve been moving through the book of Genesis ever so slowly. I’m glad God created the world faster than we’re studying how He created the world (laughs); but we have completed Genesis 1 through 11 as you know, features four events: Creation, fall, flood, national dispersion and what is being traced all the way through chapters 1 through 11 is a promise that God is going to bring a Messiah into the world to fix what went wrong with the fall of man. The issue, though, is which nation will God use to bring forth His Messiah and the answer is He can’t use an existing nation, He’s got to create a new one; and so by the time you get to chapter 12 through the end of the book, it’s all about the creation and the miraculous preservation of this nation and in part one of the book that featured four events, part two of the book, chapters 12 through 50 are going to feature four people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph and we are been studying the life of Abraham. So he becomes a very central figure in the outworking of God’s purposes and not the least of which and probably the most important thing in the whole life of Abraham is this chapter that we’re looking at here, chapter 15, really a foundational chapter and that’s why we are taking our time completing this very, very important chapter. 2:59
The chapter Genesis 15 has two parts. First, a seed promise is clarified. Abram was already promised from God innumerable descendants. He just didn’t know that those descendants, given his advanced age, were going to come from his and his wife, his body and his wife’s womb; and so he thought that Eliezer of Damascus, a common servant in his household, he would be the one that would bring forth these innumerable descendants; and God in the first six verses of Genesis, 15, clarifies it and says, no, this promise that I’m giving you is not coming through Eliezer of Damascus, It’s coming… It’s going to come through you and your wife Sarai; and then when you move into verses 7 through 21 (Gen 15:7-21) which is the second part of the chapter, the land promise that God had given to Abram gets clarified as well. God promises Abram land in promissory form, verse 7 (Gen 15:7), Abram asked the question, verse 8 (Gen 15:8) how do I know I’m going to inherit this land? And so God at this time, verses 9 through 11 (Gen 15:9-11) makes preparation for a Covenant that God himself will enter into. A Covenant is a binding contractual agreement and this Covenant is not coming from Abram to God. It’s the opposite. It’s coming from God to Abram and it has to do with the division of the animal pieces. Abram was told to take severed animal pieces and organize them and arrange them in two parallel rows. This is how covenants of the ancient world were entered into as the parties to the Covenant passed through the various animal pieces; and as those parties passed through the animal pieces, the parties were basically saying, we are as good as dead. Let what’s happened to these animals being severed, let it happen to us if we don’t fulfill our obligations under the Covenant. So it was a very solemn ceremony that’s happening here in Genesis, 15. The only catch that’s different is God puts Abram to sleep and God alone, as represented by an oven and a torch passes through those animal pieces and God is saying now, the whole thing is on my shoulders. If I don’t do exactly what I promised to do in the Abrahamic Covenant, then let me be torn asunder; and this is the answer to Abraham’s question in verse 8 (Gen 15:8) How do I know I’m going to receive this land? This is how you’ll know; and then in verses 12 through 16 (Gen 15:12-16) God makes a short term prediction. A prediction that would happen in the next four hundred years immediate from the time of Abram, where the nation of Israel would go into Egyptian bondage, they would be there for four hundred years and God would bring them out again with many possessions and God’s point to Abram and God’s point to all of us is, if I can be trusted to keep my short term predictions, then all of the long term predictions, many of which have never been fulfilled even from our time frame, you can trust God to keep those prophecies and predictions as well; and then you move into verses 17 through 21 (Gen 15:17-21) and you have the actual Covenant ritual where we have a ceremony verse 17 (Gen 15:17); God alone is passing through these animal pieces and that turns into a Covenant verse 18 (Gen 15:18). This is the first time you see the word Covenant in the Bible other than God’s Covenant with Noah. God’s Covenant with Noah is to the whole world. God’s Covenant to Abram is a specific nation and the Covenant is given verse 18 because of the ceremony in verse 17 and now it’s in verses 18 through 21 (Gen 15:18-21) that we get clarification of the land. 7:46
So notice if you will, Genesis chapter 15. Notice if you will verse 18 (Gen 15:18): On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram… You should underline in your Bible, if you’re an underliner, that word “Covenant”. It’s a translation from the Hebrew word “Berith”, which in essence is saying that God is obligating himself to act. A promise from God would be enough but Abram doesn’t just have a promise from God, he has an actual contract, he has an actual Covenant; and as we mentioned at the very end of our study last week, you’ll notice that this is a one way Covenant coming from God to Abram, not the other way around. On that day, the Lord made a Covenant with Abram and part of that Covenant is not just innumerable descendants, but it’s a tract of real estate called “the land”… On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, To your descendants I have given this land… Now this is not the first time that Abram has been promised from God land. You might recall back in Genesis, 12, verse 7 (Gen 12:7), as God was first dealing with Abram, God said: The Lord appeared to Abram and said, To your descendants, I will give this land… And then in the next chapter, Genesis, 13 and verse 15 (Gen 13:15), it says: For all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever… And then if you look at our chapter, Genesis, 15 and verse 7 (Gen 15:7), it’s repeated and it says: He said to him, I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it… So over and over again Abram is promised land three times and now what happens is God actually gives the dimensions of the land. 10:05
Now, the question is, what do you do with the land? What does the land mean? Well, here is the big secret: Land means land. It doesn’t mean heaven. It’s not talking about people sitting up in heaven, you know, playing harps dressed in white robes. There’s… There’s absolutely no basis to take this and spiritualize it away. It’s actual real estate and you know it’s real estate because back in Genesis, 13 around verse 17 (Gen 13:17), Abram was told to take the very first Holy Land Tour in the Bible: Walk through the land… Where was Abram walking? He was walking on real estate on planet earth located off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. You’ll notice here as we move through the passage a little bit later it mentions rivers. It mentions the Euphrates, that’s an actual river that we can look at and document today. So it’s obviously talking about actual real estate on planet earth and then it goes on and it mentions the occupiers of the land. God in His timing is going to remove these occupiers, the Canaanite, the Kadmonite, the electric lights and the out of sights and the termites and the mosquito bites and all of that. So these were actual people groups that were settling in the land of Israel. So there’s absolutely no logical basis for saying this is talking about heaven or something else. This is talking about actual real estate. 11:47
Now, what are the dimensions of the land? (Gen 15:18) On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, To your descendants I have given this land… From where to where? Well, here is the answer: …From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates…
So it is a piece of real estate that literally goes from modern day Iraq to modern day Egypt. From the Euphrates to the river of Egypt. It’s a tract of real estate that even today the nation of Israel does not fully possess. Now, the Euphrates river, that’s easy to figure out where that is. We know where the Euphrates river is but what does it mean here when He talks about the river of Egypt? What river exactly is He speaking of? There’s a lot of discussion and disagreement about it. H. C. Leupold in his commentary on Genesis says:
“‘The River of Egypt’ could hardly be the Wady el ‘Arish (Rhinocolura), for that insignificant winter torrent could hardly be set in contrast to the ‘Great River, the River Euphrates.’ Consequently, ‘the River of Egypt’ is the Nile.”
“The River of Egypt’ could hardly be the Wady el ‘Arish… Wadi just means a little creek or something of that nature. You’ll notice this map here makes the river of Egypt the Wady el Arish. Leupold says: The River of Egypt could hardly be Wady el Arish, for that insignificant winter torrent could hardly be set in contrast to the ‘Great River, the River Euphrates.’ Consequently, ‘the River of Egypt’ is the Nile… So one view, and you’ve seen on this map here, is that the River of Egypt is just the Wady el Arish. Leupold’s view is, no, it goes further east to the Nile. But I’m of the view, and I’ve got this from Arnold Fruchtenbaum, surprise, surprise, that the river is neither the Wady el Arish and it’s neither the Nile but it is the eastern branch of the Nile Delta. So you’ll notice what Fruchtenbaum says here and you notice how the Nile flows and it goes into the Mediterranean Sea and it breaks into different branches as it goes into the Mediterranean Sea, that’s called the Nile Delta. Arnold Fruchtenbaum is of the perspective that the River of Egypt is the easternmost branch of the Nile Delta. Very interesting what he says here. Fruchtenbaum says:
“The southern border of the Land is from the river of Egypt. The river of Egypt is not the Nile, as has often been misinterpreted; for if it was the Nile, the Jews were already in the Promised Land before they ever left Egypt. Nor is the River of Egypt the Wadi el-Arish, the wadi that runs through the center of the Sinai Peninsula, because that was referred to in the Bible as the Brook (nachal) of Egypt, not the River (nahar) of Egypt. The river of Egypt refers to the most eastern branch of the Nile Delta. As the Nile River flows from south to north before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea, it breaks up into various branches flowing through the Nile Delta, and the most eastern branch was known as the River of Egypt. This is known today as the Pelogiac branch of the Nile Delta, which flows into Lake Sironbis. It is also known as the River Shihor, the fourteenth nome of Egypt.”
The southern border of the Land is from the river of Egypt. The river of Egypt is not the Nile, as has often been misinterpreted; for if it was the Nile, the Jews already would have been in the Promised Land before they left Egypt… Interesting… Nor is the River… The River of Egypt the Wadi el-Arish, the wadi that runs through the center of the Sinai Peninsula, because that was referred to in the Bible as the Brook of Egypt, not the River of Egypt… The Bible is very clear, it’s not a brook, not a wadi but it’s an actual river… The river of Egypt… He says… refers to the most eastern branch of the Nile Delta. As the Nile flows from south to north before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea, it breaks up into various branches… And you can see that from this map here. Fruchtenbaum goes on: …it breaks up into various branches flowing through the Nile Delta and the most eastern branch was known as the River of Egypt. This is known today… Here are some words that are hard to pronounce… the Pelogiac… I think it’s how you say that… branch of the Nile Delta, which flows into… a particular lake, it is known as the River of Shihor, the fourteenth name of Egypt. So, what is the River of Egypt that we’re talking about? The options are: Wadi el Arish, that’s an option. Thomas Constable seems to reflect that in this map here. No, it’s the Nile and that’s Leupold’s position. No, it’s the easternmost branch of the Nile Delta, which is Fruchtenbaum’s position. I really don’t know if this is an issue worth starting a new church over but I have to lean more in the direction of Arnold Fruchtenbaum, I think he answers the most questions but whatever that river is, it’s important. Can we agree on that? And it is the easternmost boundary of Israel’s real estate that she has never occupied in world history. 16:54
The two things to understand about this Covenant that’s just been entered into is two words and if you understand these two words, you’ll understand the rest of the Bible because all God is doing in this Covenant, because He can’t lie, is making good on His promises. These two words are “unconditional” and the second word beginning with the letter U is “unfulfilled”. If you understand “unconditional” and you understand “unfulfilled”, then your understanding of God’s end time program will fit exactly into place, but because people misconstrue this and they make it a conditional promise or they argue that’s it’s already been fulfilled in the past, they are wrong on the future. See? Your study and understanding of Genesis is going to drive your understanding of the end times because in the end times God is making good on what He promised He would do in Genesis. So if I get Genesis, 15 wrong, then suddenly your study of the end times is wrong. This is why people think that to study the doctrine of eschatology, the study of the end in other words. Eschatos, end. Ology, study of. They think it only involves the study of the book of Revelation and the fact to the matter is nothing could be further from the truth. Your eschatology begins in the book of Genesis. If you mishandle the book of Genesis, you will mishandle eschatology. Your beliefs of what God’s is going to do in the end, actually should be very well shaped long before you get to the book of Revelation because all God is doing in the book of Revelation is fulfilling what He said He would do in the book of Genesis and we think the way that we do about this because this Covenant is unconditional and unfulfilled. 19:07
Now, why is it unconditional? Several reasons.
One reason is because of the ceremony itself that God just entered into. If this covenant was conditional meaning God will act only if Abram and his descendants do something first, then why did God put Abram asleep? Why did only God by Himself pass through the animal pieces? Why didn’t Abram pass through the animal pieces? If it was conditional, Abram would have passed through the animal pieces but only God passed through the animal pieces. Number two, there is no conditions anywhere in this chapter. I mean, if this was a conditional covenant, Abram, you do X and God says I’ll do Y, then there should be a conditional phrase in here somewhere, shouldn’t there? But read Genesis, 15, for yourself and you won’t find it. These were all things that God Himself has obligated Himself to do. When you go to Genesis, 17, for example, look at just at verse 7 (Gen 17:7) if you could , He says: I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants throughout your generations for an everlasting covenant… Genesis, 7, verse 13 (Gen 7:13) everlasting covenant. Genesis, 17, verse 19 (Gen 17:19) eternal covenant, everlasting covenant. Psalm, 90, verse 2 (Psalm 90:2) everlasting is used to describe God. How could a covenant which is eternal rest on Abram’s shoulders when Abram is going to mess things up? As we’re going to see in the very next chapter.
Beyond that and I have the verses on the screen, second bullet point from the bottom, this covenant is called immutable, unchangeable. It’s called that in Hebrews, 6, and if it’s unchangeable it can only rest on God’s shoulders because He is the only one that doesn’t change. Malachi, 3, verse 6 (Mal 3:6) of God says: I am the LORD thy God, I change not… So the covenant wouldn’t be called eternal and it wouldn’t be called immutable if somehow Abram’s performance was needed for God to act; and it’ll become obvious as we move through the book of Genesis, the more naughty, if I can use that expression, the more disobedient Abram’s descendants become and they become very disobedient, God keeps coming along at the points, the highest pinnacles of disobedience and He keeps reaffirming the Covenant. This is why you cannot have an eschatology that excludes Israel, many Christians do. Many Christians are sitting in churches that say nothing about Israel, but it is an impossibility because of the unconditional nature of the covenantal structure that God Himself has entered into here in Genesis, 15. So the first letter that begins with U is “unconditional”. The second letter or word I should say, that begins with the letter U is “unfulfilled.” Never in world history have all of the new nuances and details of this Covenant ever been fulfilled. 22:51
Now, if you don’t care about details, then you could make the Bible say whatever you want it to say but the more concerned you are about details, the more you see, as God has fulfilled parts of it at different times but He’s never fulfilled exactly what’s mentioned here in Genesis chapter 15. The standard line from those that deny Israel has a place in God’s program is, nothing to see here folks, move right along. What about the Abrahamic Covenant, you say? Oh, that was fulfilled already. That was fulfilled in the days of Joshua. That was fulfilled in the days of Solomon. God has already kept His word to the Jews. Therefore everything God has promised He would do in and through Israel is a done deal and now we’re in the church age and we all know that the church is the new Israel and has permanently replaced God’s promises to Israel in the outworking of God’s program, a doctrine called Replacement Theology. It sometimes goes by the name Supersessionism, meaning that the church permanently supersedes Israel and you say what about the Abrahamic Covenant? Ah… fulfilled already; and we’re here to say no. Not only is the Covenant unconditional, it is unfulfilled. It was not fulfilled in the days of Joshua. In fact, the Joshua generation, as you can see from this map here, received a very small fraction of everything that God has promised.
When you study Joshua, 13, verses 1 through 7 (Josh 13:1-7) and then you study Judges chapter 1, it keeps talking about land yet to be conquered. So how could the lamb promises be fulfilled in the days of Joshua when the book of Joshua itself keeps talking about land yet to be conquered? The land gained in Solomon’s time period and that was probably the time period when the borders of Israel became the largest and the nation became the most prosperous, Solomon of course being the third king of the United Kingdom, Israel at its heights. But even in that time period, the land gained was only a fraction of what was promised. You say, well, how do you know that? I know that because of 1st Kings chapter 4 and verse 21. 1st Kings chapter 4, verse 21 (1 Kings 4:21) says: Now Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms, from the River to the land of the Philistines and to the… What’s the next word? I’ve got it underlined in case you’re confused… the border of Egypt… Well, isn’t that interesting? God never promised Israel a tract of real estate to the border of Egypt but rather to the River of Egypt. Oh! Details matter. Solomon received land to the border but God told Abram you’re going to get it to the river. So all of this boring discussion I just did earlier, about which river it is we’re talking about suddenly starts to… you start to see why we went into that. Now look at this, 1st Kings 4:21, this is the height of the Solomonic empire. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life. Solomon never annexed the surrounding countries. They were… surrounding countries were tributary, they brought taxes and the moment Solomon left the throne all of those nations east of the Euphrates, for example… not east of the Euphrates but east of the Jordan I should say… west of the Jordan there we go. No east of the Jordan sorry, I need a little geography lesson here. They all went right back to their normal business. Solomon didn’t annex those countries, they were tributaries; and by the way, Solomon only occupied territory to the border of Egypt and not the river of Egypt. 27:26
Words mean things, Amen? When God speaks He speaks in a way that’s specific but these are the passages that people use frequently to say, God has already kept His word to the Jewish nation. He has kept his word but He’s going to keep keeping His word because Israel is the gift that keeps on giving. They have never entered into completely everything that God said that they would receive. How could the land have been fulfilled in the days of Joshua, when in the days of Joshua, Joshua, 15, verse 63 (Josh 15:63) the nation of Israel didn’t have control of Jerusalem yet? They wouldn’t get control of Jerusalem until the time of David. four hundred years later; and as I mentioned before, Solomon’s reign extended to the border of Egypt and not the river of Egypt… Solomon’s reign was only tributary and by the way, God said to the nation of Israel, once you get everything, you’re going to have it for how long? Forever. How could that have been fulfilled in the days of Solomon when Solomon left the throne and down the road the nation of Israel was kicked out of their land. The forever dimension. The forever requirement has never been fulfilled; and by the way, what in the world is the prophet Amos talking about? Who prophesied long after the days of Joshua, long after the days of Solomon and in Amos, 9, verses 11 through 15 (Amos 9:11-15) He reaffirmed the promises. Why would He reaffirm those if they were already fulfilled in the days of Joshua and Solomon? The point I’m trying to make is the land promises have never been fulfilled. Unfulfilled. Unconditional, unfulfilled. In fact, when you study the life of the nation of Israel, as you move into… let’s say 1st kings, 2nd Kings, the Chronicles books… What you’ll discover over and over again is this expression here from Dan to Beersheba. 1st Kings, 4 and verse 25 (1 Kings 4:25) says: So Judah and Israel lived securely, everyone under his vine and fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon… Now, have you ever looked at the map and said well where’s Dan and where’s Beersheba?
Well there’s Dan in red, north of the country and there’s Beersheba down south. What did the nation of Israel occupied for eight hundred years? From Dan to Beersheba. Well that’s different than what God promised. When God entered into the Abraham Covenant, He didn’t say you’re going to have real estate from Dan to Beersheba. He says you’re going to have it from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt, which obviously is a tract of real estate that’s much broader and much bigger than anything Israel has ever occupied in her history. Dan and Beersheba does not equal from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt. That’s why paying attention to these geographical markers early on in the Bible starts to pay dividends because your end time belief system is starting to be informed. 31:16
The truth to the matter is God’s promises and Covenant to Israel remain literal, isn’t this literal here? I mean, it mentions rivers and occupiers.
God’s promises and Covenant to Israel remain literal, reliable because they come from the mouth of God and God can’t lie. They are, here’s our two words beginning with the letter U “unconditional” and “unfulfilled”. In fact, when the patriarch Abraham died Genesis, 23, he had received nothing that God promised, received no land at all. The only land that he had, at the point of his death, was a burial site for his wife and he was buried there too in Hebron, a little tiny burial site in the land of Israel, which of course is minuscule compared to everything that God said He would do, in and through the nation of Israel; and the basis of God’s intervention in history is to fulfill what he said. This is why the exodus transpired and it’s why the end time re-gathering of God of Israel into their own land will happen. If God doesn’t do what He said He would do in the terms of the Covenant which is literal, reliable, unconditional and unfulfilled then at the end, it’s not just a promise but it’s a covenant itself where God says, I’m going to be torn apart if I don’t do this, if God doesn’t do everything that He said that He would do, then He’s the one at the end of the day with egg on His face. He is the one that looks bad and God will move heaven and earth to fulfill every detail that’s mentioned here in Genesis, 15. 33:19
Now that ought to make you very happy as a Christian because there’s promises God has made to you also and if God is this concerned about executing human history so that His word is fulfilled then, why do you doubt your salvation? You’re doubting your salvation, also a promise from God, not understanding the character of God and the nature of God who cannot lie. So therefore if the covenant is literal, reliable, unconditional, unfulfilled and if it’s the basis for God’s actions in history, then God once again has to reach out His hand in history to fulfill exactly what He said He would do and this of course forms the expectation of a future earthly kingdom.
Jesus is going to come back at the end of the seven year tribulation period, not speaking here of the rapture but the second advent of Christ and what will be launched on the earth is a one thousand year kingdom which will then pave into, roll into eventually the eternal state; and that time period has to exist, because if it doesn’t exist, when in history is God going to do what He said He would do in Genesis chapter 15. I mean, if the Covenant is unconditional and unfulfilled, God has to move His hand and this is why we are, here at this church, premillennialist. What does that even mean? Well, people are confused about it. I think it has something to do with the return of Christ. Well, that’s a start but it’s the return of Christ to keep God’s word of fulfilling what He’s obligated Himself to do in Genesis 15. Do you see now why my professor J. Dwight Pentecost called Genesis, 15, the most important chapter of the Bible? If you understand Genesis, 15, you’ll understand everything that God is going to do in the end times. You know, taking eschatology from J. Dwight Pentecost, Dallas Seminary, that was sort of a frustrating experience because you go into the classroom and you’d expect to hear all of this cool stuff about the mark of the beast and, you know, all that neat stuff that we like talking about and we would say, great we’re going to study the book of Revelations, not understanding that it’s the book of Revelation. I mean we wanted to hear all the details of the end, I want to hear about the antichrist and I want to hear about this and that and he wouldn’t even touch the book of Revelation. He would spend all his time in… in these kinds of chapters, Genesis, 15; and what is this? Is this misrepresentation Dr. Pentecost? I want my money back, I thought I signed up for eschatology and you’re talking about the book of Genesis and the response was, all of that stuff will fit into place if you understand Genesis, 15. Genesis, 15 understood unconditional, unfulfilled, reliable, literal… In fact, Pentecost would spend most of the first semester talking about why the Bible should be interpreted literally. I want to hear about the mark of the beast, not a word about it. Literal interpretation, the Covenants of God, because if you understand literal interpretation in the Covenant of God, all the end time stuff that’ll just fall right neatly into place. Those are just details. They’re just things that are involved in the story but here’s why the story exists. Here’s why the story has to happen. 37:41
So when you study Genesis, 15, not only do you need to know unconditional and unfulfilled but you need three other words. Are you ready for these? These are just as fundamental, just as foundational.
Word number one: Land. Word number two: Seed. Word number three: Blessing. So you’re going to sit down at lunch today with your family and some of them weren’t here and they’re going to ask you how was church? And you’re going to say, unconditional and unfulfilled (laughs) And then you’re going to say, land, seed and blessing; and they’re going to say, what kind of church is that that you’re going to? But if you understand unconditional, unfulfilled, land, seed and blessing the whole Bible falls into place because what God has promised to do and not just in promissory form, covenantal form, is to give to Israel these three things: Land, seed and blessing. Where is Land? You see it right there in verse 7 (Gen 15:7):He said to him, I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land… But the Covenant doesn’t just involve Land, it involves seed or descendants. Where do we see descendants or seed? It’s right there in verse 5 (Gen 15:5): He… that’s God… took him… Abram… outside and said, Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So shall your descendants… coming forth from your own body… be… And then, what about Blessing? Look at verse 1 (Gen 15:1): After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; and your reward will be very great… Reward is a blessing. Abram, I’m giving you three things. Number one: Land. Number two: Seed. Number three: Blessing. Unconditional, unfulfilled; but those are the three ingredients of this contract that you’re receiving from Me, which if goes unfulfilled, let me be torn asunder. 40:18
What’s so interesting, is as you go through the Bible, God makes other covenants with Israel. We call those the sub-covenants. They’re not the most important covenant. What you’re reading about here in Genesis, 15, is the most important covenant but in the sub-covenants all God does, later on in biblical history, is He adds clarity, He adds specificity to three things: Land, Seed, Blessing. The Land Covenant receives further clarity in the book of Deuteronomy chapters 29 through 30, which would be about six centuries later as God is dealing with Moses and He gives to Moses the Land Covenant. What is going on in the Land Covenant? Deuteronomy 29 and 30, a lot of really fascinating stuff but it’s simply an amplification of the Land as already spoken of in the Abrahamic Covenant; and then, a thousand years later in the time of David, 2nd Samuel, 7, verses 12 through 16 (2 Sam 7:12-16) is God takes the Seed promise and He gives clarity to it, in what’s called the Davidic Covenant, where we learned that Abram is not just going to have innumerable seed but there’s one seed, singular, that’s very important because that seed is going to bring in a forever throne. That’s something that God spoke to David a thousand years later in 2nd Samuel, 7, verses 12 through 16 (2 Sam 7:12-16); and then Blessing. When you go about one thousand four hundred years, give or take, later in time, the 6th Century BC, you come to another covenant called the New Covenant, that God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah, where He promised that the Holy Spirit would come into the Jewish people and they would be regenerated nationally. They wouldn’t have an outer compulsion to obey anymore by looking at the ten commandments because after all, God was going to take the ten commandments and put them on to the Jewish hearts. That is an amplification of the blessings already articulated in the Abrahamic Covenant. You see how the whole thing, the whole structure flows from what we’re studying here in Genesis, 15. So the Land Covenant given to Moses amplifies the lamb promises. That’s why when you go to Deuteronomy, 29 and verse 1 (Deut 29:1), God enters into another covenant. He says: These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which I had made with them at Horeb… We haven’t even talked about that covenant, that’s the Mosaic Covenant. Put that out of your mind for now. But there is something called the Land Covenant, the Land Covenant beginning in Deuteronomy, 29, is the same Hebrew word covenant, is not new information. It’s clarity, it’s specificity, but it’s amplifying what God already said He would do through the patriarch Abram, Genesis, 15. Then the Lord will restore you from captivity, have compassion on you and regather you again from the peoples where the Lord God has scattered you… There’s going to be a worldwide regathering of the Jewish nation back into their own land, the Land Covenant, an amplification of the land promise in Genesis, 15. You say well, Gee pastor, you interpret restore and regather very literally. Can I ask you a question? How do you interpret the word scatter there? Did that actually happen in history? Well, of course, it did. No one denies that. So if the scattering happened exactly like God said, certainly the restoration and regathering will happen exactly like God said. You can’t play this little game folks, of taking the scattering literally, and writing out of the picture through allegorization or whatever, the restoration. That’s why Jeremiah in his book of Lamentations, after the temple was finally destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar said, Great is thy faithfulness, His mercies are new every morning… He says that right in the middle of the book. How could you say something like that when your whole temple has been destroyed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar? You can say it because if God scattered and destroyed exactly like you said would happen, then all the rest of the promises regarding restoration have to happen as well; and then the seed promises is amplified a thousand years later in what’s called the Davidic covenant. 46:04
2nd Samuel, 7, verses 12 through 16 (2 Sam 7:12-16), now God is speaking to David: When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendants after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me… etc., etc., but my loving kindness shall not depart from him as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed before you… here’s the key line… Your house… God is speaking to David a thousand years after the time of Abraham… Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever. In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David…. Wow! David, you’re going to have a kid down the road, from your loins and your lineage, that’s going to bring in an eternal dynasty. So what you’re starting to see is the seed promises are being given greater clarity in God’s covenant with David, because the seed that’s spoken of here, has to come through David’s line. Hey! That’s why Matthew chapter 1, on your one year Bible reading program, right? It’s the new year, we’re on our one year Bible reading program. If you’re not, you can confess your sins to me afterwards (laughs) But you’re going to get to Matthew chapter one and you’re going to read his genealogy and it’s going to bore you out of your mind. Name after name, after name, after name. But what will excite you, is understanding that Jesus is connected in that genealogy first to David and then to Abraham. In other words, Jesus is the guy. He is the fulfillment of the Davidic dynasty promises, most of which haven’t been fulfilled yet; and only He could occupy, one day, this forever throne because of His unique genealogy. Davidic Covenant, amplifying the seed promises; and then you go all the way to the 6th Century, six hundred years before the time of Christ. Jeremiah says (Jer 31:31-34): Behold the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant… And Covenant is that Hebrew word “Berith” that keeps being used over and over again, a contract. Behold the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… Sounds kind of Jewish to me… Not like the covenant which I made with their forefathers in the day which I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant, which they broke but I was a husband to them, declares the Lord but this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord… Here’s the covenant in the New Covenant. Jeremiah: I will put my law… where? Within them, on their heart I will write it, I will be their God and they shall be my people. They will not teach again each man to his neighbor and each man to his brother saying know the lord for they will all know me… No need for Jewish evangelism when this covenant is fulfilled. From the least, even to the greatest of them, declares the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more… six hundred years before the time of Christ, God made another covenant, this is the third sub-covenant through Jeremiah to the nation of Israel, because it says Israel and the house of Judah, that He would take His laws, which they have transgressed and put them in their hearts and they would have an internal motivation to obey. What is that? It’s the New Covenant and it’s an outworking of the blessings, promises given all the way back in Genesis, 15. 51:01
What an amazing structure this is. Land, seed and blessing. Unconditional, unfulfilled and then the later covenants are just crystallizing or adding details to a structure that God already gave unconditionally to the patriarch Abraham. Land fulfilled in the Land Covenant, crystallized in the time of Moses. Seed, given greater clarity in the Davidic Covenant in the time of David. Blessing, given greater clarity through the prophet Jeremiah in the New Covenant; and I realize that most people listening to this have never heard this before. I quote a lot as you know Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum and I heard him sort of bemoaning one time that when he goes into a church like this, a Bible church and gives this type of teaching, the people say, Wow! This is so deep, but then he told me, if you go back to the beginning of my ministry 1960’s, 1970’s even earlier, he said this is what was standard in every Bible Church. Every person in a Bible Church in the world knew this material and because we have become so infatuated and intoxicated with any number of subjects, this kind of material isn’t even taught, to the point where when people hear it for the first time, they’re shocked; and yet this is basic Bible study method, this is basic theology. Land, seed and blessing. Unconditional, unfulfilled and we haven’t even studied the book of Revelations (laughs) And yet we know how everything is going to end up because of these covenants. I mean, it’s amazing what is being unfolded here in Genesis, 15. 53:34
So we have the land, we have the dimensions of the land and let’s end here with the current occupiers of the land. Notice verses 19 through 21 (Gen 15:19-21) as it describes ten groups here: the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites… Now usually, when the Canaanites are listed it’s only about six to seven names. Here you have ten names mentioned. So this is probably, if you’re looking in your Bible for the fullest description of the Canaanites that were occupying the land at the time these promises were given, this would be probably the most comprehensive treatment that we have. Where do these people come from?
Well, Noah, as we’ve studied, had three sons. One of those sons was named Ham, through Ham came Canaan, from Canaan came the Canaanites.
There’s all of their names, I won’t re-do them all and where did those people go? Following the global deluge they went into what then was not known as the land of Israel but the land of Canaan.
So we have a little problem here, don’t we? From the human perspective, as God is entering into this covenant with Abram. Where Abram is promised this tract of real estate and if Abram were awake, and I’m not even sure at what time he wakes up, he might ask… he might raise his hand and say, God I have a question. My question is, you’ve given me this land but it’s occupied. What are we going to do with these occupiers? God’s response would be, that’s not your problem, that’s not your issue, that’s my problem. What I’m going to do in the rest of the Bible is move my hand to make sure that these promises are fulfilled. All you have to do is trust what I just told you. Leave the details to me. Isn’t that kind of like how God works in our lives? I mean, as a Christian, you have incredible promises from God. You don’t exactly know how they’re going to be executed, how they’re going to come to pass, but the truth to the matter is you don’t need to know. All you have to do is trust in the character of the one who made the promises. If his character is pure and upright and just, which it is, then you really don’t have to know all the particulars and how these promises are going to take place. You’ll notice that God is calling Abram to believe something that’s impossible. 56:54
Kind of sounds like how He dealt with Noah, remember? For God said get busy with an ark. There’s going to be a global deluge and according to Genesis, 2, verses 5 and 6 (Gen 2:5-6) if I’m understanding that correctly, Noah didn’t even know what rain was because Genesis, 2, verses 5 and 6 (Gen 2:5-6) talks about before the flood a mist used to arise from the ground and watered the garden and Noah, I guess could have sat there and argued with God and said deluge, ark? This is ridiculous, this doesn’t make any sense; and God brought Noah into this walk of faith, for Noah without understanding everything, was trusting in the character of the One that made the promises. This is exactly what’s happening with Abram. He needs to trust in what God said and the occupiers aren’t going to be a problem. I’ll take care of it. By the way, did you know he doesn’t even have children yet, Abram? And from worldly standards, he’s too old to have children and his wife is too old to get pregnant? You’re talking about innumerable seed? I mean, none of this made sense to him but he asked the question, how do I know I’m going to possess it? God gave him a covenant and God says that’s enough. Trust in what I’ve said. Trust in the character of the one who made the promise. This is why the book of Romans chapter 4 and verse 18 (Rom 4:18) in describing Abram says: In hope, against hope, he believed, so that he might become the father of many nations, to that which he had spoken, So shall your descendants be… It made no sense, it was in fact irrational; but when you walk with God and you understand that He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent you don’t have to know every little detail in advance, if you trust the character of the one that made the promise, because there’s going to be an answer given in Genesis, 18, verse 14 (Gen 18:14) and that answer is this: Is there anything too difficult for the Lord?… I mean, think about that. Is there anything too hard for God? I mean, you’re going to have a kid when you’re old. God, it can’t happen. Oh! Is there anything too hard for God? You’re going to possess a land that’s occupied by very wicked people. 59:56
Is there anything too hard for the Lord? And you know, some of you are in 2022, and finances perhaps could be an issue and yet God has made a promise to you, that He will supply all of your needs through His riches and His glory in Christ Jesus; but God, how are you going to do that? I just lost my job. How are you going to do it, Lord? They’re making me pick between the jab and the job. God says, I didn’t ask you to figure out how I’m going to do it. The only thing I asked you to do, is to trust in the promise, because the character of the one making the promise cannot lie. This is why the book of Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 6 (Heb 11:6) says: Without… What?… faith it is… Watch this now… impossible to please Him… God deals with every one of these characters, Noah, Abraham, your life, on the basis of the walk of faith. God is not going to sit there and tell you exactly what He’s going to do. What He’s going to do is tell you to trust Him in the circumstances and stand on the promise. It’s like you get picked up at the airport and you’re being shuttled or driven somewhere in a city you’ve never been in before. I don’t have to sit there in the backseat and know exactly what the map is. I don’t have to know what the next left turn is or the next right turn. I really don’t have to know anything if I trust the person driving. They have the information, they have the details, I trust their character. So, relax and enjoy the ride. That’s your walk with God in 2022. You don’t know every detail, but you can trust in the one that made you the promise. So relax and enjoy the ride. Gee, this sure takes a lot of stress out of life, doesn’t it? I understand that some of you are thinking, well, what about personal choices, responsibility? I get all that, but at the end of the day God has deliberately put you in circumstances where you’re just going to have to trust him. Well, I don’t want to trust God. I understand that. That’s contrary to our natures, our sin nature, cause we want to be in charge, we want to be in control and God is saying, control is a myth, it’s a myth. I’m God, you’re not, trust me; and by the way, these Canaanites are going to be wiped out… I don’t know if Abram understood this… under General Joshua about six hundred years later. That’s how that land is going to be purged of the wicked Canaanites so it could be given to the nation of Israel. 1:03:19
Well, why in the world would God wipe out this entire group, the Canaanites? And the answers in Genesis 9:25 where Ham disrespected his father Noah and uncovered his nakedness and Genesis 9:25 says: So he said, Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He will be to his brothers… In other words, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Ham disrespected the principles and rules of God and the children learned that they also could live lives in disrespect to the principles of God and they went into the land of Canaan and they kept disrespecting God for four hundred years; And God gave these people four hundred years to repent. In fact, that four hundred years is mentioned there in Genesis, 15, verse 16 (Gen 15:16) it says: Then in the fourth generation they… That’s Israel after the Egyptian bondage… will return here, for the wrongdoing of the Amorite… That’s one of the Ites… is not yet complete. So God waited and waited and waited and waited and waited for the Canaanites to change their ways, they did not. They did not change their ways in spite of the fact that they had a knowledge of God. You say, well how do you know they had a knowledge of God? Watch what Rahab, the harlot, says in Joshua, 2, I think it is, when the nation of Israel under Joshua enters the land. Rahab the harlot says we know about you, we know about your God, we know about the miracles that He’s done in the past going all the way back to Egypt. So there was a general understanding of who God was and the Canaanites lived their lives as if God didn’t exist, imitating the character of their forebear Ham and God waits and waits and waits and waits and waits and waits and waits for four hundred years and then finally God says, that’s enough. Judgment came. Kind of sounds like just before the flood, doesn’t it? God waits and waits and waits and waits for a hundred and twenty years and finally the world gets to a point where God can’t ignore judgment anymore and the global deluge happens. 1:06:00
I would say the exact same thing is happening right now. God is looking at the world, He is looking at the United States of America and He’s waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting through long suffering and forbearance and warning and patience but there reaches a point where God says that’s enough and judgment… judgment happens. I read a lot of people that are mad at God because of what He did in the flood; and they’re mad at God as to what He did to the Canaanites and almost to a man, they never acknowledge what preceded judgment, which was patience. So when you construct your understanding of God don’t just camp on a verse or two which speaks of judgment. Factor in his patience as well; and by the way, the book of Genesis, this is really important information to the Joshua generation. That’s the audience. I mean, they would need to know why they’re supposed to go into Canaan and eradicate The Canaanites. Genesis, 15, is their explanation, Genesis 9:25 (Gen 9:25) is their explanation, as well.
So certainly, an amazing chapter where not only is the seed promise clarified but the land promise is ratified.
We’ve seen a ceremony, a covenant and a land and that fills out the basis for the future; and so what could possibly go wrong? Chapter 16, something goes wrong because in chapter 16, Abram and Sarai get tired of waiting on God.
Have you ever been there? And they decide to help God out. Poor God needs some help in executing these promises and they enter into a bungling here of human philosophy creating Ishmael and the Ishmaelites, that are still harassing the nation of Israel to the present hour. Helping God. Helping God can bring some terrible consequences and so we’ll see that next time. By the way, in terms of helping God I hope you understand that in your salvation with God, God doesn’t need your help. It’s not… God bought lunch, now I need to leave the tip. In fact, I believe this… this may sound a little harsh, but I believe hell itself is filled with people that made the error of trying to help God in salvation, by mixing faith plus works for justification. Jesus, two thousand years ago says, it is finished. If it’s finished there’s nothing for me to add other than to receive it as a gift and you receive a gift from God by trusting in what Jesus did for us two thousand years ago. I hope if there’s anyone here that has never done that, that even in the privacy of their own hearts and minds that they would place their faith or their trust in the person of Jesus Christ for their salvation and the safekeeping of their souls. It’s not something you have to walk an aisle to do, fill out a card to do, join a church to do, it has nothing to do with New Year’s resolutions. It has to do with the reception of the gift and that can only be done by trusting in that gift. 1:10:15
If it’s something that you need more explanation on. I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray? Father, we are grateful for this chapter and how it speaks into our lives and how lays the foundation for everything that you are going to do in the future and have revealed in the Bible. Make us good stewards of your word, particularly in these foundational chapters. 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.