New International Reader's Version

Genesis 15

God Makes a Covenant With Abram

1Some time later, Abram had a vision. The Lord said to him,

“Abram, do not be afraid.
    I am like a shield to you.
    I am your very great reward.”

But Abram said, “Lord and King, what can you give me? I still don’t have any children. My servant Eliezer comes from Damascus. When I die, he will get everything I own.” Abram continued, “You haven’t given me any children. So this servant of mine will get everything I own.”

Then a message from the Lord came to Abram. The Lord said, “When you die, what you have will not go to this man. You will have a son of your own. He will get everything you have.” The Lord took Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky. Count the stars, if you can.” Then he said to him, “That’s how many children will be born into your family.”

Abram believed the Lord. The Lord was pleased with Abram because he believed. So Abram’s faith made him right with the Lord.

He also said to Abram, “I am the Lord. I brought you out of Ur in the land of Babylon. I will give you this land to have as your very own.”

But Abram said, “Lord and King, how can I know I will have this land as my own?”

So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a young cow, a goat and a ram. Each must be three years old. Bring a dove and a young pigeon along with them.”

10 Abram brought all of them to the Lord. Abram cut them in two and placed the halves opposite each other. But he didn’t cut the birds in half. 11 Then large birds came down to eat the dead bodies of the animals and birds. But Abram chased the large birds away.

12 As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep. A thick and scary darkness covered him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “You can be sure of what I am about to tell you. For 400 years, your family who comes after you will be strangers in another country. They will become slaves there and will be treated badly. 14 But I will punish the nation that makes them slaves. After that, they will leave with many possessions. 15 But you will die in peace. You will join the members of your family who have already died. And you will be buried when you are very old. 16 Your children’s grandchildren will come back here. That’s because the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached the point where I must punish them.”

17 The sun set and it became dark. Then a burning torch and a pot filled with smoking coals appeared. They passed between the pieces of the animals that had been cut in two. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram. He said, “I am giving this land to your family who comes after you. It reaches from the River of Egypt to the great Euphrates River. 19 It includes the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites and Rephaites. 21 The Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites also live there.”

The Message

Genesis 15

1After all these things, this word of God came to Abram in a vision: “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I’m your shield. Your reward will be grand!”

2-3 Abram said, “God, Master, what use are your gifts as long as I’m childless and Eliezer of Damascus is going to inherit everything?” Abram continued, “See, you’ve given me no children, and now a mere house servant is going to get it all.”

Then God’s Message came: “Don’t worry, he won’t be your heir; a son from your body will be your heir.”

Then he took him outside and said, “Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!”

And he believed! Believed God! God declared him “Set-Right-with-God.”

God continued, “I’m the same God who brought you from Ur of the Chaldees and gave you this land to own.”

Abram said, “Master God, how am I to know this, that it will all be mine?”

God said, “Bring me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, and a dove and a young pigeon.”

10-12 He brought all these animals to him, split them down the middle, and laid the halves opposite each other. But he didn’t split the birds. Vultures swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram scared them off. As the sun went down a deep sleep overcame Abram and then a sense of dread, dark and heavy.

13-16 God said to Abram, “Know this: your descendants will live as outsiders in a land not theirs; they’ll be enslaved and beaten down for 400 years. Then I’ll punish their slave masters; your offspring will march out of there loaded with plunder. But not you; you’ll have a long and full life and die a good and peaceful death. Not until the fourth generation will your descendants return here; sin is still a thriving business among the Amorites.”

17-21 When the sun was down and it was dark, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch moved between the split carcasses. That’s when God made a covenant with Abram: “I’m giving this land to your children, from the Nile River in Egypt to the River Euphrates in Assyria—the country of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”