Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Saturday after the First Sunday after the Epiphany of our Lord

Posted on January 19, 2019 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: Genesis 15:1-21 (NKJV)
15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying,
“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
2 But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
7 Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.”
8 And he said, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?”
9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
17 And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. 18 On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
“There appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.”
The Lord was making a covenant with Abram. In the original language the idea was to “cut a covenant,” and that’s important. To do this, animals would be divided, and the two parties to the covenant would pass back and forth between the divided animals, the implication being “may it be so to either of us if one of us breaks the terms of this agreement.”
As Abram passes into a deep and dreadful darkness as the sun went down, he sees this “smoking oven and burning torch” pass between these divided animals, and God promises that Abram will live to a good old age, and that his descendants would inherit the land. But Abram himself does not pass between the animals!
Thus it is with us and the Lord. There is only the gift and promise of God. In Christ He binds Himself to save us, to forgive our sins, and give us life. It all depends on Him, upon His grace and mercy; not at all upon our works. Salvation is given to us through the faith God Himself creates in us. Nothing is left for us but to say “Amen” and “thank you.”
We pray: Lord Jesus Christ, I give You thanks that You have purchased forgiveness of sins and eternal life for me. Strengthen my faith in this great gift, and grant me to say “thank you” with my life today, and with all the days You give me. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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