After Abram’s conquest and victory over the king of Elam, he stirred sleeplessly in the night, fearing retaliation.
“Don’t be frightened, Abram.” God appeared in a vision and spoke as if in the flesh. “I’m your protection, and your reward will be significant.”
Abram remembered the promise God had made when he called Abram out of Ur, so he answered, “But what will you give me? I’m childless, and my heir is my adopted son and servant Eliezer of Damascus.”
God’s voice was clear. “Eliezer won’t be your heir. Your own flesh and blood will pave the way of my promise.”
God led Abram outside of his tent and said, “Count the stars if you can. Your sons and daughters will be as many.”
Abram believed God’s promise, so God declared him righteous.
“I’m God. I took you from Ur to give you everything as far as the eye can see.”
Abram faltered. “How can I be sure it’ll be mine?”
God answered, “We’ll make a pact. Bring me a heifer, a female goat, and a ram, all of them three years old. Also bring a turtledove and a pigeon.”
Abram did as he was instructed, bisected them, and stacked each half onto the other. The birds he left whole. Abram guarded the sign of God’s promise against birds of prey, driving them from the pyre until he grew weary.
At sunset, Abram fell asleep and descended into a terrifying nightmare. The vultures circling overhead turned into captors of his future offspring, and he saw them carried off to a strange land for four hundred years. God said, “Your descendants will be slaves, poorly treated and beaten down, but I will punish the nation responsible. In the end, they will be adorned with great riches.” Then he said, “Abram, you’ll die at a ripe old age and will be buried in peace.”
Abram’s night terrors subsided, and he began to breathe easier. God appeared once more and said, “Your offspring will come back here and take the land in the fourth generation. That’s when the Amorites will have come to ruin because of their evil practices.”
The sky was black when a vision of a smoking firepot and a lighted torch passed between the carcass halves. He said, “I give this land to your blood relations, from the Nile to the Euphrates.”
The embers smoldered and the presence of God lingered into the next morning.
Inspiration: Genesis 15