Genesis Chapter 15

Abram (later Abraham) has by this point, been promised great blessings of the Lord, led from a land of wicked traditions to what would be the promised land for his posterity, and now received a priesthood blessing from Melchizedek. This chapter begins:

1 After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
2 And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

Abram had a vision of the Lord, and knowing that he had been promised a great posterity who would gain the land of promise, he asked if he would have children. At this point, Abram had servants who had children and I think he wondered if these were to become the heirs of what he had to give.

4 And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

Abram was promised by the Lord, that he would have his own child and that his seed would be like the number of stars in the sky. What a great promise to receive, when he had not been able to have any children. I think that the Lord often used the sand and stars to represent a number so large that we could not understand it with our mortal minds. The idea that he would have seed of that magnitude was surely something to marvel at and only possible through a miracle from God. This is a reminder to us, that we are nothing when compared to the power and majesty of God and His works.

6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

I think with a vision like this, someone who was not as good a man as Abram was, might have doubted this possibility. Abram was a man of faith, and he trusted the Lord and knew that he could make miracles happen.

In the Joseph Smith translation of this chapter, it explains it further as we read the following:

9 And Abram said, Lord God, how wilt thou give me this land for an everlasting inheritance?
10 And the Lord said, Though thou wast dead, yet am I not able to give it thee?
11 And if thou shalt die, yet thou shalt possess it, for the day cometh, that the Son of Man shall live; but how can he live if he be not dead? he must first be quickened.
12 And it came to pass, that Abram looked forth and saw the days of the Son of Man, and was glad, and his soul found rest, and he believed in the Lord; and the Lord counted it unto him for righteousness.

I think that the Lord was telling Abram that he could still receive the promised blessings after his death. This is something that as Latter-day Saints, we believe is part of the plan for us. Those who receive the highest glory after this life, will have the opportunity for an eternal posterity and seed without number. I love that Abram’s soul found rest when he had a vision of the Savior. I imagine that he saw the life of the Savior and saw that he would bring salvation to all men through his atonement. This is the one eternal reason for rest to our souls.

7 And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
8 And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.
10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.
11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.
16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.
18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

The Lord promised that the land would become his inheritance. Abram asked God how he should know this. I think that Abram was asking for some kind of sign of this inheritance. I think that Abram was told to make a sacrifice of these animals to God. He did as he was commanded and then he had another experience when he was overcome with a deep sleep. I think that Satan may have brought the darkness upon Abram, and with it a horror, since the Lord does not use darkness as a way to reveal things to us, but rather light. I think that this experience was a lot like the experience of both Moses and Joseph Smith. They both had experiences of darkness from Satan just before they received great revelations from the Lord. Satan will do whatever he can to stop the work of the Lord from moving forward, but he will never overcome the work of the Lord. The Lord continues his revelation to Abram. He was told that his people would be afflicted in bondage for hundreds of years, but that the Lord would lead them out of bondage. He is told that he would live to old age and die in peace. Also that after four generations of his posterity being in captivity, they would return to the land of their inheritance. Abram was promised again, that all the land in that area would be the inheritance and the land of promise. This was a part of the Abrahamic Covenant which the Lord made with Abram. Then, I think that verse 17 is saying that Abram was then able to complete the ritual of the sacrifice which God had commanded of him, as they typically did in that time.

Abram was a great prophet and had the amazing blessings of visions and promises from the Lord. His promised blessings can be passed on to each of us who comes before the Lord with a humble heart. When we make covenants with God, just as Abram did in his day, we can enjoy these blessings.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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