Day 75: Abram and the Birds

Genesis 15:8-15

He said, “Lord Yahweh, how will I know that I will inherit it?”

He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” He brought him all of these, and divided them in the middle, and laid each half opposite the other; but he didn’t divide the birds. The birds of prey came down on the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. Now terror and great darkness fell on him. He said to Abram, “Know for sure that your seed will live as foreigners in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them. They will afflict them four hundred years. I will also judge that nation, whom they will serve. Afterward they will come out with great wealth, but you will go to your fathers in peace. You will be buried in a good old age.

Have you ever gotten to the place in your life that you wish that God would give you some kind of a physical sign that what He said was true? I think that this is exactly where we find Abram in this passage. God had told him that he was to have a lot of kids, but he was completely childless. There wasn’t any outward indication that what God said was going happen. Abraham was asking God to make it real for him and God decided to help him.

I am told by those who have studied more about the customs of this time, that it was normal to make agreements between two people in the way that is described here. Animals would be divided and the two parties making an agreement would walk through the middle of the two halves of animal. It sounds quite strange to us, but I am told that it was a formal way of “signing on the dotted line” in those days. In this light, God was telling Abram that He wanted to make a formal agreement. So Abram got all the stuff ready and waited, and waited, and waited. The birds realized that there was dead animal laying there and they decided to participate too but Abram denied them access. That’s interesting because that’s exactly what was about to happen to Abram.

God waited until the sun was going down, and then after Abram fell into a deep sleep, terror and darkness came over him. In this “terror and great darkness,” God told Abram his future and the future of his descendants. He said that they would have to serve as foreigners in some other land and be afflicted for 400 years. Looking back we see that this is exactly what happened in Egypt. When God predicts the future, it will happen. In fact, we should pay very close attention to everything that God says because everything He says is important and true.

Even though this horrible thing was to happen to Abram’s children, Abram himself would live to be old and die in peace.

This is what the God we serve is like. He knows everything about everything and He can be terrifying if He needs to be and in this case, just like the birds, Abram was not allowed to participate in this agreement ceremony.