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Abram Sees God Pivot Scripture     From Nothing but the Blood Audio
It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram . . . —Genesis 15

You’re not going to believe this, but the entirety of Scripture pivots on this story that we never even talk about. Why? Well, because it’s weird and we don’t really have a context for it today.

But I guarantee you’ll never forget this story again.

Standing at this point in time, humanity would be pretty worried. I mean, if blood is the way, well, I kind of like my blood. If there’s a heart piece, then I’ll try and be good enough. I’ll try really hard to keep my blood, but then Noah comes around, showing me that even the best isn’t close to being good enough and I’ve got a problem.

Abram (soon to become Abraham) kind of saw this problem. After Noah, humanity continued to grow. At the Tower of Babel, humanity was confused with language and began to spread out. Generations passed and Abram was called out of his homeland (Ur) to go to Canaan with his nephew Lot. After a time, Abram and Lot split up because their livestock was too rich. Abram gave Lot a choice to take the valley of the Jordan where Sodom and Gomorrah were or Canaan. Lot moved to Sodom, but soon four kings came and sacked Sodom, stealing its treasure, Lot and his family.

Abram pursues and defeats the four kings, and returns everything to Sodom after making a tithe to the mysterious priest king Melchizedek. It is a pretty dramatic victory for Abram to defeat four kings with the men of his household and there’s something to the tithe given and blessing received from Melchizedek. But upon returning, God promised Abram great reward.

And Abram asks the question we all have: How can I know that?

What follows is the story that we never talk about. God responds by telling Abram to “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.

We have no context for this, but Abram knew exactly what was going to happen. In these days, when a vassal wanted to make a pledge to a lord, the vassal would split animals such as these in half and walk between the carcasses. This was a way of saying, “If I fail to fulfill my pledge to you, may I be torn apart like these animals.

Abram was preparing to pledge whatever God requested when he split the heifer, goat and ram. His very life was on the line, but his preparation of this sacrifice shows a willingness to be obedient—even in this. Scripture doesn’t detail whether Abram was waiting on instructions (“What do you want me to pledge, Lord?”) or preparing to walk through the pieces, but as night falls, Abram never makes it through the pieces. “A deep sleep fell upon Abram . . .”

It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram . . .

And the ceremony is over.

We don’t have a context for what just happened, but Abram must have been shocked. Doubly shocked.

First, a lord never made a covenant with a vassal. In this representation of God (the torch), God is making a covenant with Abram, saying, “I will bless you, and if I do not, may I be torn to pieces as these animals.

But second, because God never asked Abram to walk through the pieces, and because of Who God is (His holiness), God said, “You will serve me, and if YOU do not, may I be torn to pieces as these animals.

In this one act, God changes the course of Scripture. God affirms that He stands in the gap for His own actions and mine. His love is so great that He will take His own non-negotiable to task AND mine.

But how? Abram couldn’t know. I’m not sure we even fully know, but almost immediately, God has something that He needs to tell you urgently and it’s so important, He’s sending His Son. Not in the New Testament. In Genesis 18. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Stick around. This one’s a big one.

I love you.                                                                                  

This is the seventh part in a multi-part post expanding on an exceptional talk Billy Graham gave at the University of Cambridge in 1955 with influences from Tim Keller's sermon series Christ: Our Treasury (The Book of Hebrews). To hear an overview of this material, consider listening to the original Nothing but the Blood audio, linked here (it'll stream from a mobile device), read all the posts to date by clicking #nothingbuttheblood, or hear the most recent version of the Nothing but the Blood talk by streaming it on the player, below. If you'd like to get these posts sent to you via email (and you're not already), click here to register and make sure to tell us that you're a Back Porch Friend.

The next in this series, Part 8. One, The Right One is available by clicking here.

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