7 And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 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.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”
Thousands of years before the Lord incarnate came to us, His fate was sealed.
Abraham entered a covenant with God. In those days, covenants were entered into by the king and his people. The servant of the king would cut animals in half and walk between the parts, his feet in the blood and sand, binding to him and binding his promise. If the servant failed the king, the servant saw visibly what would happen to him. He would be executed.
Abraham entered the covenant with his Lord. Abraham cut up the animals. Abraham intended to walk between the animal parts. But instead, the Lord sent Abraham into sleep and dream. In that sleep, Abraham had a vision of God as a smoking fire pot and flaming torch. That fire passed between the animals instead of Abraham. The king took on the burden of the servant. The king pledged, not that if the king failed the king would die, but that if Abraham failed the king himself would die.
Think of that image. The Master assigns you a duty and tells you that if you fail, the master hiimself will take your place and stand in judgment and punishment for you. Thousands of years before Jesus was born, God himself did that. The Messiah would have to die to fulfill God’s own commitment to Abraham.
Jesus was born to die that we might be spared his fate. God is sovereign, his plans know no end, and we are part of his plan if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.