If you miss Genesis 15, you miss the point of the entire Old Testament!
15:1-24 – This chapter contains the mysterious and absolutely essential account of the covenant God makes with Abram (who gets a new name, Abraham, as a result). The entire rest of the Bible is a consequence of this covenant. So, why is this important?
Forgive me for quoting myself, but I wrote a blog post about this on my personal blog 2 years ago that I’d like you to read: http://andrewforrest.org/2015/01/23/take-the-abraham-quiz/.
Here’s the point. Note that God, in making the covenant with Abraham, promises to also uphold Abraham’s side of the agreement! God is committing to be cut in half if the covenant is violated. Jesus is God’s response to the failure of humanity to keep the covenant, and Jesus was crucified–cut in half–because humanity couldn’t keep the covenant. The entire scripture is about the covenant God made with Abraham, and how God uses Abraham’s family to bring salvation to the entire world.
See below for other brief glosses on today’s reading.
13:18 – “The oaks of Mamre.” This description will occur throughout the rest of Genesis, and I always find it interesting to think about how striking these trees must have been to be used as a place designation.
14:14 – “318 of them.” Abraham is extremely wealthy–he has 318 trained fighting men working for him.
14:17-24 – Melchizedek has long puzzled commentators:
“Who is the mysterious king-priest Melchizedek? He is not mentioned in the genealogies of Genesis. Announced as a priest of God most high, he appears out of nowhere to officiate over Abraham’s victory celebrations, and he disappears just as suddenly. As Calvin observes, ‘This Melchizedek, whoever he was, is presented before us, without any origin, as if he had dropped from the clouds, and . . . his name is buried without any mention of death.'” -R.R. Reno, Genesis
The author of Hebrews in the New Testament sees Melchizedek as a Christ figure, but we’ll wait until we get to Hebrews to discuss him.