Thursday, February 5, 2009
Abram's nightmare vision
Good afternoon Master Cohen, how are you today?
< = = = I am a bit tired to be honest, didn't sleep so well, I had a number of bad dreams.
Yes, I imagine you did, there is a bit of a war going on around you and to some extent in you. We will keep today's lesson short and I will try to spice it up just a bit.
Abram believed the promise of the LORD, that he would have an heir. Then the LORD told him, "I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land." But Abram replied, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure that you will give it to me?"
<= = = Wait, wait, that does not compute. Yesterday, Abram is Mr. Faith himself, now he wants proof, and what kind of proof can God possibly give him other than a pregnant Sarai?
Quite an insight young Cohen. More than one person has struggled with this turn of events. Keep in mind that Abram doesn't know God all that well. He didn't have any scripture to read, the oral tradition took quite a blow in the flood and ensuing years of silence. However, Abram is learning fast. How many people have a full on dialog with the LORD, they are having a conversation. And the LORD is revealing things to Abram for the first time in the Biblical record. But to be straight with you, this is a bit of a pageant. Let's see how it unfolds.
In response to his question, the LORD told Abram, "Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." Abram took all these and killed them. He cut each one down the middle and laid the halves side by side. He did not, however, divide the birds in half.
< = = = Oh boy, here we go sacrificing animals again.
Indeed. The LORD chooses to meet Abram where he is. When two chieftains established a pact, they scarified an animal or several to commemorate the occasion. Abram took all these and killed them. He cut each one down the middle and laid the halves side by side, the sign of a continuing covenant. Abram's doing his best, God will more fully explain the ordinances of sacrifice to His servant Moses. Abram did not, however, divide the birds in half.
Now check this out, some vultures came down to eat the carcasses, this is a symbol of the adversary trying to steal what is meant for the people of God, but Abram chased them away. The vultures don't just come once of course, they come again and again like the slanted news on CNN. Abram gets weary defending the sacrifice. So just like you will sleep well tonight Master Cohen, that evening, as the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep. He saw a terrifying vision of darkness and horror.
< = = = Like my nightmares?
Similar, this vision was essentially the history of four generations of the captivity of the Jews in Egypt especially towards the end of the period, when Pharaoh ordered all Hebrew male babies killed and how they were worked so hard. Abram saw the plagues and especially the plague that killed every first born except in the houses that followed the ordinance of Passover so that the angel of death did not judge them, but passed over them instead.
Abram struggled to get to the surface from this deep sleep and then the LORD told Abram, "You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, and they will be oppressed as slaves for four hundred years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. This was a lot to take in, so the LORD added, "but you will die in peace, at a ripe old age. After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, when the sin of the Amorites has run its course."
<= = = What was the sin of the Amorites?
Ummm, that falls into the category of TMI ( Too Much Information), but let's suffice to say that our word for love, Amour stems from their name and say they were exceedingly pagan and turn our thoughts back to the end of this story. Abram has had a big day with the LORD, he has seen a lot and has a lot to ponder, but there is more to come. As the sun went down and it became dark, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses.
So the LORD made a covenant with Abram that day, a covenant that Abram could identify with and understand and the LORD said, "I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River-- the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites."
Abram, who didn't even have a descendant at eighty five years of age would one day sire a people that would have the power and opportunity to drive all of these peoples from the land, if they were courageous, stayed focused and listened to the Word of the LORD. Now I am off Master Cohen, time for you to eat, shower and sleep. Pleasant dreams.