Genesis, Typically Considered. Chapter 15

Genesis 15  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 12
We now come to other points—the seed and heirs—and the covenants—the flesh and spirit—and the principle of justifying faith.
God the Lord declares—after this deliverance and refusal of anything from Sodom—" I am thy shield and exceeding great reward." This was the great, the blessed—how blessed—infinitely blessed—and forever beyond all our thoughts in communion with Him—and glorious truth, our own too in some measure, as He is the Father of all them that believe. Such then was—if such was—God to him—the deep resting place of all brethren—an anxiety on his soul, the occasion of an instruction—the manner of it; he had no end but "the word of the Lord," for this was by "the word of the Lord" quod nota.
The Lord appeared, chapter 12:7; but here we have the word brought in—to him saying he should have an heir out of his own bowels—his body now dead, it was a resurrection, and Sarah in the same way. Here he exercised faith, i.e., in God raising the dead, giving him a numerous seed—compare Rom. 4 Thus the promise of an heir—faith in the word of the Lord—and God raising the dead—all are now introduced as concurrent principles, faith now being first mentioned—the word—the heir—and resurrection, though all had been true actually, or in hope before. There is also the principle of a covenant dealing—God's entering into the minutest detail of the interests of His people, and all their history, knowing their path, blessed be God, even in sorrow—their enemies all before Him—their deliverance all arranged for good—and binds Himself in the same covenant, whether of a lamp to guide or a furnace to prove. And if the horror of a great darkness—the power of the destruction of the flesh—the shadow of death in the midst of Abram's care for the sacrifice against corrupters, or the power of evil—the weight of God's judgment on the flesh fall on Abram's soul, He who covenanted with him passed through the power of death for him, to secure a covenant which He only could make—He only sustain—He only secure thus to such, as to any sinner.
Here we have faith counted for righteousness; before, it was "thee only have I seen." Enoch walked with God—Abel’s works were righteous, though we all know all these were by faith—but the principle is here first introduced.
Note—the Lord does not appear to him here—it is a new kind of revelation, and as to the manner, an inferior one—prophetic—not the revelation of Himself. But it was first about Himself, only relatively to Abram; hence here we have the plans and purposes of God, and faith. Heretofore God's appearing, and personal relationship—great principles, and promises—now, the world having been judged, overcome, refused, the earthly purpose of God in the heirs (people) and inheritance is prophetically brought out, and secured by a covenant, full of mystery. The proper founding of an earthly covenant, on the revelation of a name of God, is only in chapter 17—He was revealed there on this patriarchal ground of God Almighty. All this chapter is Jehovah.
In verse 2, does mah-titten-li (what wilt Thou give me?) refer at all to s'kar'ka (thy reward)? At any rate take notice of the connection of the previous chapter; unless a son is born, and an inheritance, the destruction of enemies is of no avail—the refusal of Sodom's goods is not all, without the possession of the Lord's inheritance, and here also comes in the recognition of character in chapter 22—without an heir, gift is naught. In Adam, first inheritance, then head—now, in redemption, first the heir—(the inheritance subsisting, but being ruined), then the inheritance. So then here in promise " what give—seeing I go childless, and my heir," etc.; for herein God must have an Heir—as well as he an heir of misery—in redemption; and Heir of Worlds as a servant, ven-bethi (the son of my house, v. 3), but not so, there is an Heir of promise, One who indeed is Heir of God, and resurrection Heir, and herein declared Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, and not herein a servant, but a Son, though herein a Servant in love. But He was the Heir of the Church—also in another sense, of Abraham's promises, as object of promise.
Note also, this comes out of "I am thy shield, and exceeding great reward." So the millennial glory, which is the heir and the inheritance, is the gift of God, as all in all, to the Church—Christ is all in all, quod now, for it opens much the two things, for they are in one sense two, yet one, for He is the first and the last, yet the Man of intermediate inheritance in which the Church, etc., learns this great thing—it is the lesson of it, and by indwelling. The inheritance was a former—unrevealed—one to Adam, but in act it follows on the heir, and that as a voluntary promise; the covenant was a necessity, without it we may say bammah eda (whereby shall I know)?
Note—on the inquiry as to the heir, which was necessary for any promise, the word of promise is given, and believed—the inheritance, voluntarily promised, is matter of covenant " whereby shall I know? " quod nota; the answer primarily to mah-titten-li is the heir. The covenant and the inheritance includes however sorrow with it; in this sense Joshua is a most important character. But surely it was a sad word mah-titten-li when God had said anokhi (1); but God directed Abram's attention to Himself in saying "a shield to thee." Yet God meets this with the promise of the heir (seed, in an earthly sense) and inheritance—we must look out, I do not doubt, upon this (Abraham) as the image of our Lord's faith (in weakness), as well as Father of the faithful, but I speak in a general sense—it was a sad picture of the weakness of the human heart, sustained (to learn God) by intermediate witness of blessing, till all was accomplished, for this is God's way—for what could be so great, so blessed as anokhi—the end, center and substance of blessing—all blessing. " I am thy shield," yet he says " what wilt Thou give me?" now this was title in Christ, and here it is justified—but wretched weakness in us, for what blessing but is in God? Yet He has met this weakness in the righteousness of that title, for so Abraham represents both—it is a most important sentence, whether in principle or in type as to us.
It seems to me that, in verse 6, he-emin ba-hovah is more justly "he believed Jehovah," than "in" Him—he put his Amen to what Jehovah said—it is not trusting, because it is confiding, or trust in His word, which is believing Him.
In verse 12 there was the covenant security of death, but the power of death—it rested on redemption ground. God came down on man in darkness, but bound Himself by death, and sacrifice, to the gift. Trial and guiding light were the character in which He secured it, but death was on the creature, and God bound Himself. It is not exactly our place, because we come in after it is accomplished—Christ having gone through it for us, and we are entitled to reckon ourselves dead; still there must be the death of the nature, and we often pass through it to arrive at liberty.
In verse 17, alatah (thick darkness), I apprehend is "thick darkness"—quite dark; so in the other places in Ezek. 12 where it is translated "twilight." It must mean obscurity—thick darkness, of which He was to profit—to be hid.
NOTE.—Paul counts from the confirmation of the promise to law, 430 years (Gal. 3), that was some 14 years after this, perhaps more—14 or 15 years from chapter 16 (see beginning and end); but he takes evidently Ex. 12:4040Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. (Exodus 12:40), as a general statement. I apprehend the statement here need not be a captivity and servitude of 400 (or 430) years, for at first the Israelites were not enslaved—it was when Joseph was forgotten—and this makes it easy to believe that the 400 years is the terminus of the period, given in round numbers. The Samaritan and Septuagint, in Ex. 12:4040Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. (Exodus 12:40), would be an interpretation, and it looks like a gloss; the computation from Kohath, and Amram is of no weight. That the 400 years is a terminus, from the then present time, seems borne out by this, that it is given as a reason, that the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full—it would be in 400 years—they would be, in Egypt as to the 400th year; 400 years is an absolute sentence—afflict them—400 years. There is the difficulty of the sojourning of the children of Israel—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not there—but the text may be occupied with them, as if they were. On the other hand, it may be said, that Paul in Gal. 3 takes the whole patriarchal time in Canaan, as the time of promise, and the 430 years from Jacob's descent into Egypt.
We have hitherto had the calling and history of Abram, father of the faithful, depositary of the promises, and the great principles connected with it. Now we have the heir and the inheritance—first then sought in a carnal way—the promise of faith and the carnal way of getting it.
As to details, we have God his shield and exceeding great reward—the promise, on his plaint, of the heir—faith, by which he was counted righteous. The same God that called him to this land to inherit it—the definition of the inheritance by Covenant to an oppressed and delivered seed—God, binding Himself to them, for this, as a burning lamp and smoking furnace. The heir was promised generally, and then seed as the stars of heaven; being promised generally to him, he seeks it then in the way of the flesh, instead of waiting on the Lord, and the bondwoman, being cast out, becomes yet the object of providential care and promise, but not in the house of Abram in the promise, but of supreme promise—God living and seeing.
After the heir, the detail of promise here was the land and the numerous seed. In this way chapters is and 16 make another division of the Book.
Note, in Eden it was judgment on the serpent, and the setting up of the woman's seed not properly a promise; it was a grand dealing of God, according to His own mind—and nature too—announcing the destruction of evil by that which here had its source in the feeble and failing woman, the first Adam quite set aside—unless he came under it.
In Abram promise begins, and he is called by that which is temporal—but of faith, "which I will show"—but brought into the place of promise, here he has nothing, and thereon he begins to look for the city which has foundations; the land is promised to his seed, while he enjoyed communion. The nations were to be blessed in him, chapter 12—in his seed, chapter 22; the special promise—to wit, of the seed to come—was then narrowed to David's seed, while established and confirmed.
It is clear then that Abram must enjoy the inheritance after a heavenly manner, i.e., he being in a heavenly position, for this was the position of his own faith. Then he is an heir according to promise, that is, he will so have the inheritance in a heavenly manner.
Christ Himself, come according to all these promises according to the flesh, takes nothing, but becomes heir, after a heavenly manner, by the power of resurrection; and Abraham will no doubt inherit the world thus in Christ.
This seems plain—that that which Abraham came to and had not—and Christ came to and took nothing—he who saw the day of Christ will surely enjoy after a true and heavenly manner, according to the glory of the Seed of promise, who shall possess it, and as taking it under Him—this I think presents no difficulty. But then another point comes in—Christ, who came thus according to promise, was, in that nature in which He came, above all promise—He was one with His Father, this could form no part of promise. The question then arises, what is the Church's place in this?
By the Holy Ghost's dwelling in us, we are brought into a marvelous unity with Him who possesses this nature—who is in it, one with the Father—we are one in Them; this unity being by the Holy Ghost, is applicable only to those in whom—to wit the Church—the Holy Ghost dwells; if Christ is in the Father we are in Him, and He in us, hence though the blessing comes upon the Gentiles, the present means of an election of Gentiles was not revealed to the ages—it was a mystery hidden—the day which Abraham desired to see, when the promises will be fully accomplished, is not yet come; and this will be the spouse of Christ, in a word, though the elect among the Gentiles come into blessing (as had been promised to Abraham) they come in now, by a means which rises far above promise, in Him who was loved before the foundation of the world, and according to a purpose formed, as to them, before it too, and which was not revealed by promise, but is based on the Person and work of Christ actually come, and union with Him before the world, is what is peculiar to the Church, see John 1 and 17, our union is with Him who was so—it is at Christ, as revealed by John specially, we are to look—its administrative accomplishment in Ephesians.
However, I do not think we can say that Abraham was properly of the aionon (of his heavenly inheritance I have already spoken) but I doubt that Election, Calling and Promise is properly an aion. Noah's then existed and contracted itself, so to speak, into Israel for the time; nor do I exactly see, on the other hand, that looking for a city makes him the city. It seems clear that there is blessing without the city, for the nations of the saved shall walk in the light of it (Rev. 21:2424And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. (Revelation 21:24))that he will enjoy it, I doubt not at all—that he will be in it, remains yet not shown to me. A grave question connects itself with this—that special privilege here bears no distinctive result above; for God had reserved some better thing for us—does this cease with this earth? By one Spirit we are all baptized into one Body, compare Eph. 5 and I at the end; also the Church displays to the principalities and powers in the heavenlies a new thing.