Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A Smoking Fire Pot and a Flaming Torch

By David R. Ferguson

    In one of the most beautiful, as well as one of the most significant chapters in all of God’s word, a wonderful scene is pictured. God, Who is portrayed so vividly in this chapter as the wonderful, loving Father He is, appears to Abram in a vision of a cutting rite ceremony, and assures the aging Abram that He, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, will be the guaranty that His promises will be fulfilled. After having Abram cut the sacrificed animals in two and placed the pieces facing each other, and “behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces” (Genesis 15:17 [RSV]). Just as God would appear to the descendants of Abram centuries later as a pillar of fire to light their way in the darkness, God chose these forms of fire and light to offer Himself as the guarantor to Abram during his time of “dread and great darkness” (Genesis 15:12 [RSV]). The full significance of what God did for Abram is not really seen until we reach the New Testament. There, in Christ, the covenant of grace reaches its highest expression. In Christ, God keeps the covenant promises and suffers the covenant penalties. For it is Christ Who perfectly obeyed the law in our place (Philippians 2:8) and it is Christ Who also bore the curse of the law in our place (Galatians 3:13).
    Certainly, there is an application in all of this for the Christian. God will fulfill all His promises to us: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why we utter the Amen through Him, to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20 [RSV])! God's covenant promises to us were confirmed by the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. All the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament, including those in this covenant ceremony in Genesis 15, pointed forward to the one great sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Those who place their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior are "qualified . . . to share in the inheritance" with Him (Colossians 1:12 [RSV]). God has given us “an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4 [RSV]). More of God's wonderful promises to us are listed in Ephesians 1:3-14, and these promises are guaranteed to us by the Holy Spirit Himself!
    Just as Abraham and Sarah were, we, too, are called to leave our attachments to home and family, to our ideas of what religion is or should be, to make God our only loyalty. We are to seek His approval, rather than the approval of those around us. We are called to be a family of God through Whose name nations will bless themselves. We are called to live the intensity of life, as well as the peace of life. We can have the harmony of life when we live with God awareness. We are called to be salt and light to the world, a leaven of peace, through the saving love of God.
    Yes, indeed, we are called to a journey of faith. And our faith is and will be reckoned to us as righteousness, just as it was with Abraham, when we rest in the fact that His promises are sure, and His promises are true.

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation'sFacebook page: or 

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