Theme: Faith (Part 7)
(Key verses: Gen 15:7-21)
The generation of “the first man Adam” is God’s crown of this physical creation as He is in the process to make all in this Adam to be conformed to His spiritual image in “the last Adam”, Christ Jesus (Gen 1:26; 1Co 15:22-50; Eph 1:7-10):
Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make [Hebrew imperfect tense of this verb is pointing to an action which is incomplete] man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Heb 2:6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Heb 2:7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
Heb 2:8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
“But now we see not yet all things put under him” is showing us that physical man was never perfect and will never inherit the spiritual kingdom of God in its flesh and blood creation (1Co 15:50). Jesus, the God and Creator of this physical creation, was appointed by the Father to bring everyone in Adam through a process of evil and suffering, to spiritual maturity and perfection (Ecc 1:13; 1Ti 2:3-6; 1Ti 4:9-10; 1Jn 2:2). For this salvation process to be effective for all in the first Adam, Jesus Himself had to “taste death” in the same way as the whole human race (Heb 2:14-18; Gal 4:4). To “taste death” is what this whole evil experience in the flesh is, from birth to the cessation of earthly life. That is why Jesus was “made sin” to come in “a body of sin”, yet He never committed any transgression or disobeyed His Father, even while He was subjected to the same fleshly temptations we experience (2Co 5:21; Rom 6:6; Jer 18:4; Psa 51:5):
Heb 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for [Greek: “huper” = above] every man.
Heb 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons [“all in Adam”: 1Co 15:22] unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Heb 2:11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.
Christ’s death is not a substitutionary death as many have twisted this important truth. His “tast[ing of] death” gives us the very reason to endure this life and die with Him because of the assurance of a resurrection from the dead (1Co 15:12-22; 2Co 1:5; Php 1:29). He also promised spirit life in full at that resurrection if we follow Him and take up our own cross in this life (Mat 10:38-39; 1Jn 5:11-12):
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
This resurrected life of Christ, also known as “eternal life” or eonian life, is indeed also given now, although only in “earnest” (as a pledge or downpayment) through “the faith of the Son of God” (2Co 1:22; 2Co 5:5; Eph 1:14). This “faith of the son of God” is typified for us in the life of a man called Abram (later called Abraham) who is also called “faithful Abraham” in the scriptures:
Gal 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Gal 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
Gal 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Gal 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
It is through the undeserved “faith of the Son of God” that a few can now receive this pledge or promise of spirit life, which all in the first Adam will receive eventually to inherit the spiritual kingdom of God (Eph 2:8-10; 1Co 15:22). All these things that happened and are written in the Old Testament are all spiritual types by which we live, especially as far as the growth of our faith is concerned to obtain what God has promised (Mat 4:4; 1Co 3:21-23):
Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
The faith displayed in Abram’s life typifies how the faith of Christ causes those to whom it is given in this age to endure and be faithful to God. Abram was called out of Ur of the Chaldees by God to inherit a physical land called Canaan:
Gen 15:7 And he [God] said unto him [Abram], I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
“The faith of the Son of God” connects us directly with our spiritual inheritance, and this is the aspect we will discuss in this part of this foundational theme of faith (Rom 4:16; Heb 6:12):
Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
This faithful obedience and diligence of Abram was “counted…to him for righteousness” pointing to our inheritance of spiritual righteousness through “the faith of the Son of God” (Gen 15:6):
Rom 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Psa 37:29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
Abram enquired of God concerning this specific promise of a land, and this brings us to the focus of how this promise will be fulfilled spiritually in our lives as this “land” is where the righteous in Christ will dwell:
Gen 15:8 And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
The word “whereby” indicates Abram’s desire to know the process and also what is involved within that process through which the land will be inherited. To ask (questions) is for sure one way God ordained that we show a desire to get His spiritual knowledge:
Mat 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Mat 7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
The land which was promised to Abram was indeed a physical land, and we know that God fulfilled this promise to Abram. Abram’s offspring, the physical Jews, dwelled in the land at a much later stage when Joshua led them to victory over all their enemies:
Jos 21:43 And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.
Jos 21:44 And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
Jos 21:45 There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.
God indeed is faithful, but this physical application can never be the spiritual fulfillment of that promise because that land only knew peace and rest for “a little while”:
Isa 63:17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.
Isa 63:18 The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary.
God is not concerned with that physical land and its people the way some still advocate. The true peaceful land and spiritual rest is only found and inherit by those who are given “the faith of the Son of God” to hear His voice and see beyond physical things. The true chosen and holy nation of God in spirit want to know “whereby shall [we] know that [we] shall inherit” the spiritual land? (Rom 2:28-29; Gal 6:16; 1Pe 2:9):
Heb 4:1 (MKJV) Therefore, a promise being left to enter into His rest, let us fear lest any of you should seem to come short of it.
Heb 4:2 For also we have had the gospel preached, as well as them. But the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
Heb 4:3 For we who have believed do enter into the rest, as He said, “I have sworn in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest;” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Heb 4:4 For He spoke in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested the seventh day from all His works.”
Heb 4:5 And in this place again, “They shall not enter into My rest.”
Heb 4:6 Since then it remains that some must enter into it, and since they to whom it was first preached did not enter in because of unbelief,
Heb 4:7 He again marks out a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” (after so long a time). Even as it is said, “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
Heb 4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.
Physical Canaan was filled with evil nations when Abram arrived there (Gen 10:15-19; 1Ch 1:13-16; Gen 13:7; Gen 12:6). It took many, many years before physical Israel eventually inherited the land and subdued all these nations in the land under Joshua’s leadership – for “a little while”. This helps us to see that to inherit the spiritual land is indeed through much tribulation and a long process (Act 14:22). God does not bless an inheritance that is “gotten hastily”, as is the inheritance which is promised by those who advocate a quick sinner’s prayer to get instant salvation and heaven:
Pro 20:21 An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
It is always through a “strange work” of God, even in God’s reply to Abram’s question, that we start to appreciate and understand how he (and we) will inherit the true land of spiritual rest (Isa 28:21):
Gen 15:9 And he [God] 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.
Gen 15:10 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.
This is the first time in the scriptures that the sacrifice of animals is explained with so much detail, as we also understand this better in the book of Leviticus concerning the laws of offerings in Israel at a later stage. All these animals were killed and “laid each piece one against another” in a specified order. Killing involves the giving up on a life which also spiritually relates to what the preaching of the cross is concerned with why the world regards it as foolishness (Mat 10:38-39; 1Co 15:31):
1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
The power and glory of God is what is received in us as we give up on what we see as right and worthwhile:
1Co 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
We also learn through the law of the offerings that all these animals can be categorised into three basic groups: animals of the herd, animals of the flock, and that of the fowl (Lev 1:3; 10, 14). In all of these we see that the number three plays an important role. The number three is a spiritual symbol to indeed confirm that this inheritance of our spiritual land will take a patient process of judgment which involves the removal of our old mind and the building of the new spiritual temple in us, little by little (Exo 23:30; Luk 21:19;Rev 14:9-12). The three groups of animals also relate to the measure of faith we are given to endure the chastening grace of God at various stages of this process. The grace of God chastens us to deny the lusts and pride in our present physical life or eon:
Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Tit 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world [Greek: aion].
All these animal sacrifices point to Christ in one way or another. The one heifer represents the offering of the herd and also its high value, which signifies the highest sacrifice God made in Christ. In the time of Israel’s physical sacrifices the heifer was fully burned outside the camp (not on an altar) and its ashes were used in the “water of separation” for purification purposes, which typifies the deep spiritual work of Christ in our conscience (Num 19:1-10):
Heb 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
In this case with Abram, the flock is represented by the sacrificing of a ram and a she goat which also indicates the male and female part of the Christ respectively – the Head (Christ Himself) and His body of believers who also are to “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” (Gen 1:27; Gen 22:13; 1Co 11:3; Eph 5:25-26; Eph 4:15-16; Col 1:24):
Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all thingshe might have the preeminence.
When we are new and immature in the faith, we can only sacrifice what the turtledove and pigeon typify. Whenever birds are sacrificed, they were never “divide[d]…asunder”, as was also in the case with Abram(Exo 23:19; Lev 1:17; 2Co 2:13; Deu 17:6; Mat 18:16). The spiritually immature in Christ is “unskillful in the word of righteousness” and cannot divide the word of truth (2Ti 2:15; Heb 5:13). Jesus is the fulfillment of everything in scripture even as typified in these animals which Abram had to bring to God. Jesus also grew in grace during His time in the flesh:
Luk 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Luk 2:22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
Luk 2:23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
Luk 2:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Luk 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
As we mature in faith we are enabled to witness the testimony of Christ in us as the dividing of the other animals by Abram also typifies (Heb 5:14). As God works all things in our hearts, even our level of faith, so we work accordingly to do His commandments (Php 2:12-13; Eph 6:16; Jer 34:18-20):
Gen 15:11 And when the fowls [Hebrew: “ayiṭ” = birds of prey] came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
The faith of Christ is our shield against the fiery darts of the wicked one as Abram also had to drive away the fowls from the carcases. According to the scriptures fowls of the air also symbolize either the spirit of God or evil spirits (Gen 1:21; Mat 3:16-17; Mat 13:4; Mat 13:19). Birds which prey on dead bodies refer to evil spirits as death also attracts carnal spirits and evil doctrines:
Mat 24:28 (CLV) Wheresoever the corpse may be, there will the vultures be gathered.
Rom 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
The faith of Christ in us surrenders to God’s way of doing things, even knowing that all those who either are asleep or awake, are God’s (1Th 5:1-11):
Gen 15:12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
Our first experience of God, and His word is symbolized by a “horror of great darkness” before we can appreciate Him and His word as a light to our path and a lamp to our feet (Psa 119:105). God ordained that this learning and growth process of our faith is worked through opposites. We first have the darkness of this world and are humbled through an evil experience of flesh before we can truly appreciate and inherit the light of His wonderful spiritual kingdom (Gen 1:2-3; 2Pe 1:19; Ecc 1:13). We will always be strangers and sojourners in this flesh as this was never God’s ultimate fulfillment for mankind:
Gen 15:13 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
Gen 15:14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
Gen 15:15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.
We shall be enslaved in this flesh for a symbolic four hundred years as typified by the offspring of Abram, the physical nation of Israel, when they were enslaved in the land of Egypt. But our release from this prison house will bring “great [spiritual] substance” to all in the generation of the first Adam. Egypt is indeed where the negative application of iron, referring to our fleshly lusts and pride, is controlling us – no one in Adam escapes this for one minute, until the appointed time:
Deu 4:20 But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.
The rule with the rod of iron of God’s Word is what brings the iron or flesh into subjection until the day we are finally released from this wretched body of death to inherit our spiritual land which Abram was looking forward to (Rom 7:18-25):
Gen 15:16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
The number four is the symbol of wholeness or entirety, as Israel only came out of slavery in the fourth generation. When we think we stand and are self-fulfilled to look down on others, these lustful and proud Amorites in us are not yet fully revealed to us (Luk 18:10-14; 1Co 10:12). The sin that enslaves us will have to perform its full and complete work in us to our own shame, as ordained by God (2Sa 11:1-12:19). The revelation of Jesus in the spirit indeed is given with a deep sense of sorrow and shame as we see much more of our own sinful beast each day through His fiery trials. The smoking furnace of God precedes the burning lamp of God’s enlightening Word as God works all things after the counsel of His will – the darkness and the light, the evil and the good (Isa 45:7; Amo 3:6; Job 2:10; Pro 16:4; Lam 3:37-38; Exo 14:20; Eph 1:11):
Gen 15:17 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.
The Greek word in the Septuagint translation for “smoking” is “kapēleuō” which relates to being corrupt (2Co 2:17). This relates to our time when we adulterate the word of God when the sun is darkened and goes down, which also indicates our lack of spiritual knowledge of the Father and His Son (Rev 9:1-3; Isa 9:15; Joh 17:3). This is also our time of judgment when we are in torment and we see more smoke and darkness than the light of God (2Th 2:11; Eze 14:1-9):
Isa 9:18 For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.
Isa 9:19 Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.
The revelation of Jesus starts with the unveiling of all our inward sinfulness and our need for having the fiery judgment on us (Act 2:17-21; Rev 1:1-3). It is only on the Lord’s day (the time of spiritual enlightenment) that we are able to hear behind us His “great voice, as of a trumpet” when we can receive with joy the destruction of these lies through the judgment (Rev 1:10; Eph 1:18; Gal 5:22). God’s judgment brings His true light and righteousness as Abram was shown the burning lamp that passed between those pieces – it is all of God through Christ (Col 1:12-13):
Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
Isa 26:9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
The land of promise relates to the spirit of promise as Abram himself never actually inherited that land in the physical. It is only in the spiritual seed of Abram which is Christ, at the first resurrection, that we will finally inherit the spirit and life of Christ in full. And only then we will finally have complete rule which the ten nations of flesh now occupy (Deu 4:13; Exo 26:1; Heb 10:20; Rev 2:10):
Gen 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
Gen 15:19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
Gen 15:20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
Gen 15:21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.