Welcome back friends! Yesterday we examined the birthing call God placed upon Israel, through the Abrahamic Covenant. But the call was not only a birthing one, it was also a suffering call. So let’s dig into that idea today.
Following God’s introduction of the covenant to Abraham in Genesis 12, we are given a clear description of exactly how that covenant was made in Genesis 15:7-12. We know that God gave Abraham instructions to bring certain animals to Him, cut all but birds in half, and lay them opposite one another. Abraham did exactly as God said, then birds of prey came down and Abraham drove them away. As the sun went down, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham and a “dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.”
Focus with me on two ideas presented in those verses:
- The driving away of the birds of prey, and
- The dreadful and great darkness that fell upon him.
Understand that the birds of prey were likely huge vultures with 10′ wingspans. They hunted in flocks and had talons and beaks like steak knives. According to historical experts, these birds of prey were known to attack lions!
Thus, one can imagine that the event with the vultures was a bit more intense than simply shooing away a pesky bird or two. These birds of prey were attacking what was transpiring between God and Abraham! In fact, could it be that Abraham was fighting for his very life? After all, if those birds would attack lions and other wild animals, what would keep them from assuming Abraham was part of their dinner?
Vultures are symbolic of evil, and the evil perpetrated against Abraham and his descendants has, throughout history, been predatory and aggressive. Vultures hover to this very day, awaiting to devour the people of God!
Now, regarding the dreadful and great darkness Abraham experienced during the deep sleep that overtook him. Why was it dreadful and dark?
Scripture doesn’t give us the answer to that question, though perhaps we can imagine a possible explanation. Could it be that God threw open the curtains to reveal the future to Abraham? Could it be that Abraham was given a glimpse of all that the Jewish people would suffer at the hands of “vultures” and those seeking to derail God’s plan of world redemption through the Jewish people? Perhaps God was giving Abraham insight into the cost to be paid in being the father of the Jewish people.
We don’t know those things for sure, but given hindsight, we know that the powers of darkness have consistently attempted to thwart God’s plan by liquidating the Jewish people.
God’s call upon Israel, through Abraham, is both a birthing call and a suffering call. However, it is also a priestly call…and we will delve into that tomorrow. So, consider all that Abraham experienced as God cut covenant with him, and we’ll tie it all together tomorrow!