Genesis  ◦   Chapter 15

1After this, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said, “Abram, you don’t need to be fear-filled. I am your deliverer – your Remedy – here to free you from fear and selfishness and give you a very great reward.”

2But Abram questioned, “O Lord God, what great reward could you possibly give me since I have no child? Any reward will simply become part of my estate and ultimately go to Eliezer of Damascus, who will be my heir.” 3Then Abram added, “Since you have not given me a child of my own, a servant born in my household will inherit what is mine.”

4Then the Lord spoke to Abram and said, “No! Eliezer will not inherit what is yours, but a son produced from your own body will inherit what is yours.” 5Then the Lord led Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you can; that’s how many descendants you will have.”

6Abram let go of his fear and self-concern and trusted the Lord; and the Lord regarded his trust as evidence that his heart was now set right with God.

7The Lord told him, “I am the Lord, who led you out of Ur in Babylonia, and as part of my plan to save the earth from sin, I am giving you this land to possess.”

8But Abram asked, “O Creator God, I don’t understand… How can I know the future – that I will come to possess this land?”

9So the Lord said to Abram, “I will give you this reassurance – I will certify this promise with a ceremony that is customary to your people: Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, and a dove and a young pigeon.”

10Abram brought all of these for him, cut them down the middle and arranged the halves across from each other; but he didn’t cut the birds in half. 11When vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12When the sun had set, Abram fell into a deep sleep and dreamed of being covered by the dark and terrible sense of the unknown. 13Then the Lord enlightened him, saying, “Know this with certainty: Your descendants through Sarai will be aliens living in a country that is not their own, and they will be enslaved and abused. The slavery will end in four hundred years. 14But know that I will contend with the nation that enslaves them, and your descendants will depart from that nation with great wealth. 15You, however, after living to a good old age, will die peacefully and be buried with your ancestors. 16In the fourth generation your descendants will return to this land, for the sin of the Amorites and others living here has not yet completely seared their consciences and hardened their hearts beyond healing.”

17After the sun had set and darkness had set in, the fiery presence of the Lord appeared like a blazing torch or a smoking oven and passed between the pieces. 18On that day, the Lord ceremonially certified that his promise to save humanity would be through Abram, and said, “Your descendants will be my helpers and I will give them this land from the border of Egypt to the great river Euphrates – 19the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”