And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and, see, an horror of great darkness fell on him.
What was the meaning of that vision of fire?
I. IT INDICATED THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE OFFERINGS.
II. The furnace may be taken also as referring to PURIFICATION, and the lamp to DIVINE LIGHT AND GUIDANCE.
1. Significant of the Divine treatment of the descendants of Abraham.
2. Illustrating the course of the spiritual descendants of Abraham — the true Israel — the Christian Church.
3. The life and work of Christ were shadowed forth in that "smoking furnace and burning lamp." Abraham "rejoiced to see Christ's day."
4. An illustration of the character of the life of individual believers. In life, trial and joy must be intermingled.
I. WHAT ABRAM HEARD.
1. The word of the Lord. Revelation, commandment
2. Mode of communication. In a vision. The word of the Lord needs now no vision. How little of the word of the Lord Abram had. But here was a word addressed to him personally.
3. Time. Immediately after the record of Abraham's courage, etc.
4. Subject of the communication.
(1) Encouragement: "Fear not," "shield," "reward."(2) Promise: "A son." Numerous posterity, Fulfilled in the Jews, but more particularly in believers — the spiritual "seed of Abram." Though not addressed to us by name, as this" word" to Abram, the word of the Lord is for us. Of salvation, comfort, precept, promise, doctrine. A more sure word of prophecy. Do we prize the word of the Lord? seek to understand? practise it?
II. WHAT ABRAM DID.
1. He believed God. Some men need much evidence and argument before they give mental assent to the word they hear. Abram had little evidence. God spoke, and Abram believed.
2. He prepared the animals and birds (see Jeremiah 34:18-20). The passing between the divided parts of sacrificial offerings, the most solemn confirmation of words and covenants (see especially Hebrews 6:13-17).
3. He watched and guarded the victims thus dedicated. Would not suffer unclean birds to alight near them. The profound reverence with which he regarded this act and command of God. His faith thoroughly practical.
4. He slept. It was in a vision he had heard the word, now in a vision he should behold its solemn ratification. Did not sleep until he had discharged his duty.
III. WHAT ABRAM SAW. A horror of great darkness had fallen upon him. The hour, the work the circumstances, filled him with awe. He expected he hardly knew what. The profound darkness would make the light that appeared more visible.
1. He saw a lamp of fire. The sacred symbol of the Divine presence. The Shekinah.
2. He saw the fire pass between the victims. He knew no more solemn confirmation of words than this. God in His infinite condescension adopted the method of ratifying His word, which Abram, adopting to confirm his own promise, would have regarded as a most solemn oath.
3. This solemn assurance was combined with the repetition of the promise not only as previously given, but with detail and enlargement (15-21). Learn —
I. To regard with thankfulness this record of the Divine word which has come to us.
II. Christ is the true and final sin offering. The Divine presence was in that sacrifice.
III. God was in Christ, as the lamp was among these victims. And speaking merciful words of promise and pardon to us.
IV. Christ Jesus is the Word of God. Henceforth we hear no man, save Jesus only.
(J. C. Gray.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.