On that 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 Euphrates--
I. It indicated the ACCEPTANCE OF THE OFFERINGS. Fire in the East is generally understood to be a solemn witness to any engagement. To confirm an oath some Orientals will point to the lamp and say, "It is witness." Nuptial ceremonies are sometimes solemnized by walking round a fire three times, and the parties uttering certain words meanwhile.
II. The furnace may have referred to THE NEED FOR PURIFICATION, AND THE LAMP TO THE CERTAINTY OF DIVINE GUIDANCE.
1. Both the Israel after the flesh and that after the spirit had to pass through the fire of persecution; but the lamp of truth had always been kept alight by the prophets, apostles, martyrs, and confessors of the Church.
2. The life and work of Christ may also have been shadowed forth in that furnace and lamp. Christ knew the bitterness of betrayal, denial, and death; but he knew also the joy of conscious sinlessness, complete self-sacrifice, and unending power of salvation.
3. They illustrated the character of the life of many believers. Trial and joy must be intermingled. As Abraham saw the vision in connection with sacrifice, so on Calvary shall we best learn the meaning of the smoking furnace and burning lamp. - H.
The Lord made a covenant with Abram.1. The time of saints' sacrifice amidst their troubles may be the season of God's making covenant with them.
2. Not only promise but covenant hath God made to His Church for their consolation.
3. Word and sign, promise and pledge, make up God's covenant.
4. God's promise of good to come is as sure as if done already.
5. Lower mercies God may give as tokens of greater blessings — this land.
6. The Church hath had its place and portion designed in this world, for being here (ver. 18).
7. God's bounds to His Church were large under the law, much more under the gospel. The ends of the earth now (ver. 19).
8. All peoples shall be driven out to make room for the Church of God. Multitudes can be no hindrance of making good God's covenant to them (vers. 20, 21).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(P. H. Gosse.).
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