In Chapter 15 of Genesis, we have Three Major Parts:
Part A. God’s Promise (verses 1, 4-5, 7)
First comes God’s Command to Abram, “Fear not, Abram.” In the rest of verse 1, we see God’s Consolation, “I am thy shield (or protector), and thy exceeding great reward (or inheritance).”
To understand God’s Promise of the Land, look at Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-18; 15:1-7; also see Acts 7:1-5.
God tells Abram, “Fear not” (also see Exodus 14:13). Why not?
First: God says, “I am thy shield” (also see Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalms 3:3; 28:7; 33:20; 84:9, 11; 91:4; 115:9, 10, 11; 119:114; 144:2). God is saying – I am thy Protector, or Defence (Job 22:25; Psalms 7:10; 18:2; 31:2; 59:9, 16-17; 62:2, 6, 29:18; 94:22; Ecclesiastes 7:12).
The word “shield” (#4043) means a shield (the small one or buckler); figuratively, a protector, defence. It is also used for the scaly hide of the crocodile. So God is telling Abram not to fear – because God is his Protector.
Second: God says, I am thy “reward”; or inheritance, the land; “to give thee this land to inherit it” (15:7).
The word “reward” (#7939) means payment of contract; concretely salary, fare, maintenance; by implication compensation, benefit. It is also translated as hire, price, reward, rewarded, wages, and worth.
Part B. Abram’s Questions (verses 2, 3, 8)
Abram’s first question is, “…what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless…?” (Genesis 15:2). To this, Abram adds, “…to me thou hast given no seed…” (Genesis 15:3). Abram is asking, How can this be, since “no seed” (no children) have been given to me?
Abram’s second question is, “…whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (Genesis 15:8). Abram is asking God, How can I know for sure?
Part C. God’s Answer (verses 4, 7)
In verse 4, God promised Abram an heir, “that shall come forth out of thine own bowels.” As proof, God showed Abram the stars, “So shall thy seed be” (verse 5).
Abram believed (or trusted) in the Lord, “and he (the Lord) counted it (or reckoned, or placed on his account) to him for righteousness” (verse 6). Abram believed – not to become righteous – but he believed because he was righteous. He had faith before he left the Ur of the Chaldees. (See Hebrews 11:8-17.)
God promised Abram the land; “…to give thee this land to inherit it” (verse 7b). (Also see verses 18-21.) (For the Spiritual application, see Hebrews 11:10-16; “a city… whose builder and maker is God.”)
God proved this by verses 9-18a; God made a Covenant with Abram and Ratified (or secured) this Covenant by Himself (pointing to Christ, the Atonement). (See Romans 3:24-25; 5:1-21; Hebrews 9:12-26; 10:1-22; Ephesians 1:7.)
Abram was placed in a deep sleep (verse 12); and “behold a smoking furnace (the Atonement of Christ), and a burning lamp (Christ, the Light) that passed between those pieces” (verse 17). This revealed that the conditions of this Covenant were ratified, not by both parties, but by only One, God Himself. (See Hebrews 6:14-18.)
(See Ephesians 2:8-9; Jonah 2:9; Romans 3:24-25; 5:1-2; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-20; 2:24.)
The Seed of Abram was to be Christ (Galatians 3:14-16); and was Christ. The land was the City of God, or the Kingdom of God, or His Church, His Bride, and His Body. See all of Galatians 3, especially Galatians 3:14-18; the Blessing of Abram is the Regeneration:
“That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14)
God revealed Himself to Abram in a progressive manner. It started in the Ur of the Chaldees. See Genesis 12:1-3; Acts 7:1-6. Also see Hebrews 11:8:
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
God preached to Abram:
“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8)
Therefore, Abram had faith before Genesis 15:1-6. You cannot discern Spiritual things unless you have Faith (or Christ, who is The Faith; Galatians 2:20). (Also see 1 Corinthians 2:9-16.)
In Genesis 15:6, Abram already had the capacity to understand God’s Word, because he had faith (Hebrews 11:1, 6). You must be quickened out of the spiritually dead position you are in (Ephesians 2:1-5; John 6:63; Romans 1:17; 10:17), hearing by the Rhēma of God (or the spoken Command of God); without which you are dead, spiritually dead, and have not the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:9-16).
Therefore, when God spoke to Abram in verses 4 and 7, Abram believed God’s Word about an heir from his own bowels, and he believed that God would give him an inheritance (the land); which was confirmed by a Covenant ratified by God, based on the Sacrifice of the Innocent for the guilty.
Chapter 15 of Genesis is a Mountain Peak of Revelation to Abram concerning his position in Christ. God’s calling him out of the Ur of the Chaldees, giving him grace and faith and an inheritance – based solely on God’s Sovereign Choice; and not on anything or any merit on Abram’s part. God chose Abram, not because of who Abram was, but because of God’s own Purpose and Will and good Pleasure.
Also, verse 6 is a very great proof of Abram having faith prior to God’s Word of Promise. By Abram having the ability to believe (or trust) God’s Word, it revealed that he was righteous in Christ. For Christ is our Righteousness (Romans 10:4).
We, God’s Children, were declared righteous in the Atonement of Christ on the Cross (Romans 3:24-25), and not on our merits:
“For by grace are ye saved through (the) faith (or through Christ’s Work of Atonement, and not on the individual’s faith; Faith is a gift, not works; Faith is Christ); and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8)
“Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:9)
Notice Romans 3:24:
“Being justified (or declared righteous) freely by his grace (His Eternal Purpose) through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”
Not in man, but in the God/man, Jesus, God in the flesh.
Read the following verses:
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30)
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7)
“Whom (Jesus) God hath set forth to be a propitiation (that which appeases or satisfies) through (the) faith (not the believers’ faith, but in The Faith, Christ Himself) in his blood (or in His Atonement on the Cross), to declare his righteousness (that is, to declare God’s Righteousness, or Christ’s Righteousness, who was God in the flesh) for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” (Romans 3:25)
“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)
“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” (Romans 3:27)
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28)
These verses prove without a doubt that Righteousness (or a right standing with God) is not by the law, or by works of man; “Nay: but by the law of faith,” or by the Work of Christ (who is The Faith; Galatians 2:16, 20) on the Cross as the Sacrifice, Substitute, and Savior.
Christ, in His Body on the Cross, was the Place of Propitiation (the Mercy Seat); and He was the High Priest that propitiated God by the offering of Himself as the Sacrifice for our sin debt:
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
(See Isaiah 53:1-12; especially verses 10-11.)
In Genesis 15, Abram learned the beginning of the truth that his Seed – not seeds plural, but one Seed, even Christ – is the heir (Galatians 3:14-16); and the Inheritance was the Land, or the City of God, the Lamb’s Wife. This all was secured by Christ Himself in His Atonement for sin on the Cross – not His sin; for he was God, without sin – but for the sins of the many.
Thank God for His Progressive Revelation of Himself in the Book of Genesis from Adam to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. Then in the Book of Exodus to Moses and His Chosen People (Israel).
Also God revealed that Abram’s seed (Israel) would be in Egyptian bondage 400 years; and God would judge the Nation of Egypt for enslaving His People (verses 13-16).
Chapter 15:1-21; is a Giant Step in God’s Revelation of His Plan of Redemption for His Chosen People – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Israel.
Today, there are many people who have faith, but seem to know nothing of the Inheritance in Christ; therefore, in His People. The Land needs to be preached and taught in light of Hebrews 11:8-17 and Galatians 3:1-29; based on the Results of the Atonement of Christ (Hebrews 2:14; 8 – 9 – 10) and His Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-57).