Genesis 15:1-21

 |  April 9, 2018

Gen. 15:1-21

  1. Locate the passage

Since God’s Covenant with Abram was first established in 12:1-3, Abram has failed miserably by lacking faith and succeeded greatly by acting in faith. Throughout, God has been faithful, but Abram still does not have an heir. This passage is another restatement of the Covenant and it begins with God’s call to Abram to trust Him. He dismisses the fear that led Abram into sin (12:12), He reminds Abram of his protection (14:15-16), and his true source of blessing (12:2; cf. 12:16).

  1. Genre

The passage is narrative and records the conversation between the Lord and Abram as God’s Covenant with Abram is restated and ratified.

  1. Determine the structure of the passage


15:1 – God’s Promise

15:2 – Abram’s Question

15:3-5 – God’s Sign

15:6 – Abram’s Response


15:7 – God’s Promise

15:8 – Abram’s Question

15:9-21 – God’s Sign

15:9-12 – Part One – Circumstances of God’s Promise

15:13-16 – Part One – Specifics of God’s Promise

15:17 – Part Two – Circumstances of God’s Promise

15:18-21 – Part Two – Specifics of God’s Promise

  1. Exegete the passage

The passage has two cycles of conversations between the Lord and Abram that follow a similar structure (promise – question – sign). The second cycle is told into two parts which are each introduced with the sun going down

Abram’s two questions are substantial questions of faith today:

Even in believing in God, Abram twice questions Him in this pericope (15:3, 8)

15:1 – After Abram’s courageous rescue of Lot and faithful exchange with Melchizedek, the Lord appeared to him again in a vision.

15:1 – “Do not be afraid”

15:1 – “I am your shield”

15:1 – I am … your reward”

15:2 – Despite Abram’s great wealth (13:2), he does not perceive himself to be “blessed” because he has no heir.

15:2 – “Lord God”

15:2 – “Eliezer”

15:5 – “Count the stars”

15:6 – “He believed God”

15:6 – God “accounted it to him”

15:7 – This is a frequent Divine self-description. The phrase occurs 188 times in the OT.  This is the first occurrence. It anticipates the Covenant Name disclosure to Moses  in Ex. 3:13-14.

15:8 – Abram’s second question of the Lord

15:12 – A “deep sleep”

15:13 – “Know with certainty”

15:15 – You will go to your fathers in peace

15:17 – This begins the 2nd explanation of the Lord’s Covenant Promise to Abram

  1. Let the structure of the text drive the sermon

Exp. There is an obvious structure of the text that should drive the structure of a sermon

Exp. At the heart of the message: Honest questions do not always mean doubt in God


  • What will you give me? (2)
    • God wants us to trust him in our fear, with our security, and for our provision (1)
      • Rather than try to provide for these on our own
      • Abraham had tried to provide for each of these three things on his own (fear with Pharaoh, security with Lot, provision with Pharaoh)
    • Belief in God makes possible what our sin made impossible (righteousness before God)

What did God give Abram? He gave him: His presence (vision), His assurance, His provision, His Promise, His Name, His Covenant – sealed with a sign

  • How will I know?

Exp. This is a question of assurance; certainty

Exp. God wanted Abram to know with certainty (15:13)

To “know with knowledge”

Exp. The Covenant ritual was intended for Abram’s assurance

Exp. The structure of the passage, with the two-fold explanation of the Covenant demonstrates the reliability of God’s promise

App. God’s Covenant is the seal of His Promise – I know because He said it!

Exp. I know it because I know Him. I know His name (Yahweh), His faithfulness to  His Word; and His faithfulness to His people

How will Abram know it? Abram will know what God said is true because God said it, God sealed it, and because Abram believed it!


Category: Sermon Structure
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