At this point in his life I sense that Abraham is struggling. What do we see in the dark, the horror, and the lamp? These go together. Night is a necessary part of the days of our year. If God didn’t send the earth around on its axis, one side would be too cold and one side would be too hot. This rotation has stopped only when God stopped it. At night things change. First thing we do is turn on a light. Even the worst of times can be the best of times. You can believe in the Lord and still struggle. It’s only natural in this old body.
Genesis 15: 9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram….
Abraham was showed the big picture, the dark and the light side. One of the oldest fears of man is the fear of the dark. As brave and grown up as we are, any one of us who is in the dark and hears a noise will get a little afraid. Darkness takes away what we can see in the light. It can’t take away the presence of the Lord. In the darkest times of our life, God is still there.
Abraham was struggling. He had gone through the separation of Lot from his family as he chose to pitch his tent toward Sodom. Abraham wanted the family together but Lot had a divided heart. He wasn’t as committed as he should be. There were struggles and wars throughout the land. Lot was kidnapped. Abraham went after him using some stealthy tactics in the rescue. He probably thought Lot would return and live with him again but instead he went right back to Sodom. Abraham then ran into the King of Sodom and the King of Salem. He was pulled in two directions but he chose the right way and chose the king/priest of Salem. He found himself here in the middle of nowhere. He was still childless and getting older and older. How could his descendants be as the sands of the sea without a child? He still pitched his tent from place to place.
God reminded Abraham not to go by what he saw but what he had been told by God. We walk by faith not by sight. Keep believing God and acting on that trust and faith. In verse 8 Abraham asked how he would know that he would inherit it all. Remember it’s not what the media says. It’s not what is on the radio. It’s not what the public at large says. Regardless of how it looks, if you trust God, he has your heart and life. He will see you through. God could have opened up the heavens with a bright light but he let it get darker and darker. Things can get worse than they are in a hurry. If God allows things to get darker, don’t worry. Just hold on.
God asked for three animals to be offered. That reminds me of the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are also a trinity of body, soul, and spirit. We need the Lord wholly and we need to give ourselves wholly to him. Before there could be a resurrection, there had to be two other things—a death and burial. Sometimes before the brand new day arrives there may be great darkness. Abraham kept doing what God told him to do. When he got the animals prepared the buzzards tried to get them. That’s just like the devil. Don’t let him steal what you have in the Lord. Abraham swung his staff and scared the buzzards away. In the darkness God shut everything out. Sometimes God allows much darkness so that even the devil can’t see in. Keep believing. God is in the darkness. He sees where we are. Wait on him. Trust in him. Don’t worry about what you can’t see because God sees all.
God told Abraham things would get worse but it would get better. He told him he’d live to a ripe old age. God then sent a smoking furnace and a burning lamp. It wasn’t a bright search light like we’d desire in the dark. It was a lamp and that glow was enough. God affirmed his covenant with Abraham.
Let the darkness come. Let the horror settle in. If that’s what God wants to send us, let it be. In that darkness we can renew our covenant and be renewed for a better, brighter day.