Bountiful Spirit - February 25, 2021
As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[a] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—
Reflection by Mickey Swart
I'm sure most of us have occasionally fallen into a profound sleep followed by very intense dreams. In these verses, Abram (Abraham) experiences one such dream, in which God reveals an unexpected future for Abram and his currently unborn lineage. God makes a promise that Abram's line will continue and grow for generations. A significant point God makes in this covenant is that Abram's people will suffer, enslaved, by the Egyptians, but that they will prevail four hundred years later once they return to their promised land “with great possessions.” Asleep, Abram receives God's vision for him and his descendants.
Although, to me, these verses read as a bit of the “fire-and-brimstone” prose of the Old Testament, I take courage from God's message even in the face of Abram's initial uncertainty; after all, Sarai (Sarah) has not yet conceived, despite God's earlier declaration. Yet, God keeps His promises, a great theme of the Bible! Life may bring disappointments and hardships; we may question the direction of our lives, but God is always in our corner. We can take heart from Abram's vivid dream—even with its predictions of dire circumstances—and believe! When God makes a deal, He keeps His word.