This study of Genesis highlights various episodes in the patriarch Abraham’s life following God’s promise to make a great nation of his descendants.
In tracing the life of Abraham, we have arrived in our study of Genesis at chapter 15 and the fourth time God made contact with him. Previously God had stated that he would become a great nation and receive Canaan as the Land of Promise (12:1–7; 13:14–17).
Now the encounter was to reconfirm the promise of an heir and descendants. In the aftermath of the battle with the four invading kings, God reminded Abram that he should not be afraid, because He was his shield or protector. For the first time Abram addressed God as Adonai Yahweh (“Lord God,” 15:2), and he reminded Him that several years after the initial promise he still had no child. He brought this to God, noting that at this point his heir could only be Eliezer of Damascus, a servant born in his house. God replied that Abram would indeed have his own natural heir and that his descendants would be as innumerable as the stars (verse 5). This is one of God’s three ways of describing the expansion of the patriarch’s progeny. Others are as “dust” (13:16) and “sand” (22:17).