Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.CHAPTER 15 The Fourth Communication and the Covenant and the Vision
1. The fourth communication (Genesis 15:1)
2. Abram’s answer (Genesis 15:2-3)
3. The promised seed (Genesis 15:4-5)
4. Abram counted righteous (Genesis 15:6)
5. Continued communication (Genesis 15:7-8)
6. The divided animals (Genesis 15:9-11)
7. The vision (Genesis 15:12-17)
8. The covenant made (Genesis 15:18-21)
The connection with the previous chapter is extremely precious. Abram had honored the Lord and now the Lord honored him. Then the seed is promised. That seed promised is Isaac; Christ is typified by him. “Abram believed in the Lord and He counted it to him for righteousness.” The fourth chapter of Romans must be closely studied at this point for it is the commentary to the promise given and Abram’s faith. He is commanded to take the different animals and to divide them.
All these animals are mentioned later in the book of Leviticus and as sacrifices are typical of Christ, while the fowls which came down upon the carcasses and which Abraham drove away (Genesis 15:11) are types of evil. (See Matthew 13, the birds which pick up the seed; the fowls which make nests in the tree.) But the divided pieces and the turtledove and pigeon, exposed to the fowls, are also typical of Israel, divided and cut through, while the fowls may be taken as types of nations who feast upon Israel. The deep sleep which fell upon Abraham, signifying death, and the horror of a great darkness, are likewise types of what was to come upon the seed of Abraham. After God had spoken of the coming affliction of the children of Abraham and announcing the judgment of their troubles, a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed between the pieces. The smoking furnace, the spectacle of a fire and the dark smoke from it, showed to the eye, what God had spoken to the heart of His servant. The smoking furnace is the type of Egypt and the tribulation through which the sons of Jacob and their seed had to pass. The burning lamp is the type of God’s presence with them. Thus we read: “But the Lord hath taken you and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt to be unto Him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day” (Deuteronomy 4:20; 1Kings 8:51). In Egypt the fire burned, as in the furnace, and the great darkness settled upon Abraham’s seed.