Gilbert House Fellowship #258: Genesis 15-17

God didn’t just promise Abram lots of descendants–it was about resurrection.

ABRAHAM’S DISTRESS at being childless was caused by his concept of the afterlife. In the Amorite culture that dominated his world, it was believed that one’s quality of life after death depended on your descendants performing a monthly ritual to provide your food and drink.

We explain the Amorite kispum ritual and why Abraham’s servant Eliezer was not necessarily from Damascus. According to scholar Nicolas Wyatt, the Hebrew phrase hû dammešeq was “a scribal gloss, explaining what was felt to be a damaged text, since the meaning of mešeq was lost until the Ugaritic texts were found [in 1922]. It may be translated ‘that is, Damascus,’ but is an ill-directed attempt to explain an obscure term, and should be omitted. Ben mešeq, ‘son of the cup,’ alludes to the elder son’s ritual duties at the obsequies [funeral rites] of his father.” 

We also discuss God’s covenant with Abraham, which was sealed with a ritual that’s strange to our modern eyes: Abraham cut in half a heifer, a female goat, and a ram, added a dove and a pigeon, and waited for God to send a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch between the pieces of the sacrificed animals. In Abraham’s day, this ritual would have been a common thing (although the pagan Amorites would have sacrificed a donkey).

Finally, we discuss God’s promise in Genesis 15:5 that Abraham’s descendants would be as the stars of heaven, and why that didn’t just mean “numerous,” but that they would someday be restored to the divine council alongside the angels.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

1 Cor. 15:51-52, ESV

[T]hose who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

Luke 20:35-36, ESV

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  1. Like the stars – Angels – messengers – the word in Hebrew. We, his spiritual descendants, shine like stars and are His messengers.

  2. The idea of westerners being immoral and wasting their lives isn’t new. It was promoted by the CCP from the start. I was last there 30 years ago and since then the country has become ‘rich’ with all the same things as us. This is the first major incident since Tiananmen and the changes in lifestyle there. Nothing new and try not to rush in there, pray for an opening and God will give it. I saw too many people going in and just trampling all over. We westerners are not very subtle, listen to that still small voice. Not good to keep using the word ‘missionary’ either. Messenger.

  3. In Jesus’s time, only kings rode on a donkey. Was this true in Avram’s time?

    1. Author

      Absolutely. Documented by a letter found at the ancient city of Mari to its Amorite king, Zimri-Lim, who was a contemporary of Hammurabi the Great of Babylon and thus probably a contemporary of Abraham, too.

  4. Was Elieazer a type of the Holy Spirit?
    A commentary mentioned the land animals were divided; that Jesus on land was divided (spirit, soul, body); that birds were not (represented Heaven) and God in Heaven is not divisible(He is one…His 3 parts were parts of one).

  5. Looking ahead: I don’t think that Avram probably told Sarai she would be pregnant…see Genesis 18:9

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