Genesis 12:7a The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”
Genesis 13:15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.
Genesis 15:18 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.
When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
At a first read, this seems a little confusing. Why did God put Abram in a deep sleep (last I recall he made Eve from his rib)? Why were their animals cut in half laid in some sort of aisle? After Abram fell in a deep sleep, God prophesied over Abram. To understand this, we have to look into the culture at that time. My final question is why would God ask for a pigeon and a dove? He didn't use them, at least at first sight it seems that way.
First, Abram wanted a visible sign of what He had promised him. So this unconditional covenant between God and Abram was a one sided covenant. That's why God puts Abram in a deep sleep. This is God's promise, not an exchangeable, conditional agreement or contract. The cutting of the animals were a visible sign of God's promise. The part that gets confusing is the cutting of the animals.
In those days, when two men made a contract/covenant between each other, they would do just this. They would cut the animals laying on opposite sides as if to make an aisle. Each person would pass through the aisle as if to say, "if you don't keep your end of the bargain, then you will end up like these animals." This is why it was called a blood covenant. This was a human, conditional, bargain between two people. So now do you see why God put Abram in a deep sleep? This was a one-sided, unconditional covenant that God made with Abram. The only one to pass through the divided animals was God, hence the "smoking firepot with a blazing torch." God would be the one to hold to the promise, and He would be the one to bring the prophecy to fruition.
Finally, why would God ask for a dove and pigeon? This one tripped me up. My first thought is that the dove is represented as the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, so I got that. But I was confused about the pigeon. So I did some research on them. And what do you know, the pigeon and dove names are used interchangeable. They actually represent 310 species! Now that may have not been the same in Abram's day, but it doesn't matter. What I see here is that God is showing the Holy Spirit there. My question is if there's two, does that mean the other represents Jesus? I'm thinking maybe it's a Christophany. Regardless, God wanted the dove and pigeon to be there. This is the first mention of the dove and pigeon in Scripture. Later in the Levitical law, it says that if one is too poor to offer another animal, then they could sacrifice a young pigeon or dove. I see God's hand reaching down to love and care for the poor. Sometimes God's word contains portions of passages that are difficult; I've tried reading through some commentaries. It seems that theologians steer clear of this, but maybe I didn't read enough.
Has God made a promise to you, but have yet to see the fruition of the prophecy? Well this is where Abram was, and he asked God 3 times, how can he know. Abram already said that he believed God, and God credited it to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). So belief is not what's in question here, as it may seem. To ask and to doubt are not the same. Let's take a look at James 1:6: But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Abram did not doubt, but he did ask. James 1:6 tells us not to doubt, but at the same time, it says "when" you ask.
God complies with a visible sign. Do you feel like you want a visible sign of His promise? Ask Him. Ask Him to confirm His promise, without doubting. Now He may not bring about His promise right now just because you ask. It will not be in your timing or on your terms. God will make it happen in a miraculous way, because He is not going to share His glory. Don't worry, and have faith that the Lord is working in your favor. But I do believe that God will give you a visible sign if you ask him and keep asking as Abram did 3 times, on 3 different occasions.
Ask and believe
Lord, Holy One of Israel, Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, my Abba Father, you are the Perfect One. There is none like you. God I pray that you would show us or speak to us as you guide each step. Help us to be like Abram, as he has walked and trusted you each step of the way. I pray that you would take away our anxiety's that are not from you, they are from the devil. We trust your words God. Fear is placed by the enemy, so we stand firm and resist him. We love you Lord and we will continue in faith, love and trust.
In your Holy Righteous Name, Jesus Christ