In this lesson, we will study the righteousness that was imputed to Abram because he believed God, the promise that Abram’s seed would be afflicted, and the promise and timing of the land grant.
God promised Abram a seed that would come forth from his own bowels. His offspring would be eventually as numerous as the stars of heaven. Without wavering, Abram believed God’s promise. As a result, God imputed righteousness to him. This set up a very important example for our New Testament salvation. It showed that Abraham was justified by faith and not by works (Rom. 4: 1-5).
Abram’s Seed Afflicted
After Abram sacrificed, God spoke to him. There are several things that God said:
- The seed will be a stranger in another nation. This nation was Egypt (Genesis 21: 9-12; Exodus 1: 7-14).
- The seed will end up serving in Egypt (Exodus 1:13-14).
- The seed will be afflicted by the Egyptians 400 years.
The period of affliction began in Genesis 21: 9-12, when Ishmael mocked Isaac, the promised seed. Ishmael was of Egyptian descent, through Hagar. Stephen described this 400 year affliction in Acts 7: 5-7 as bondage. So, in Galatians 4: 22-31, Hagar and Ishmael typify the bondage of the law.
Scholars have cited the 400 years as a contradiction in the Bible. That’s because Exodus 12:40 and Galatians 3:17 referred to a 430 year period. However, this 430 year period is not dated from the affliction which began in Genesis 21. Rather, it is dated from the sojourning that followed the promise in Genesis 12:1-4. The context of Galatians 3:17 is the confirmation of the promise in Christ (Genesis 12: 7, where the Lord appeared to Abram). The context of Exodus 12:40-41 is the sojourning that took Abram out of Haran into Egypt (Genesis 12). Abram was 75 when he left Haran, so he would have been 105 when Ishmael mocked Isaac, following his weaning as a child (Gen. 21:8).
- God will judge Egypt (Exodus 7:4).
- The seed will leave Egypt with great substance (Exodus 3: 22; 11: 2; 12: 35-36).
- The seed will return to Canaan (Joshua 1: 2-4; 14: 1).
Abram’s Land Grant
The land promised to the seed in Genesis 13 was the land of Canaan (Genesis 13:12-15). However, in Genesis 15, the land grant was increased to include all of the land of Canaan plus everything from the Nile River to the Euphrates River and north to Haran.
When God made this covenant with Abram, he signified it by passing a smoking furnace and a burning lamp between the pieces of the sacrifice. The smoking furnace typified the appearance of the Lord on Mount Sinai before the giving of the law (Exodus 19:18-20), and the burning lamp typified the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (Judges 5:4-5; Mal. 4:1; Psalm 68:2,16-17). These two types show the first possession of the land of Canaan by the Jews following the giving of the law on Sinai and their wilderness journey, and the final possession of the land of Canaan following the second coming of Jesus Christ.