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Are terrible—or are they?

Genesis 15:7–12 (ESV)

And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.

Why the dreadful and great darkness in verse 12? God’s covenant with Abram will be anything but dark and dreadful. Why set such a gloomy scene?

The Bible doesn’t say, but there’s one way this makes sense. Remember, Abram is in a deep sleep; the covenant is being delivered in a dream.

Ever wake up from a dream and try to remember it? You usually can’t; it just dissolves into chaos.

But not nightmares. For some reason, nightmares stick. The dream that Joseph interpreted for Pharaoh was a nightmare. The dreams that Daniel interpreted were nightmares. Nightmares get remembered. So, since Abram’s dream is one for the ages, it makes perfect sense for it to be a nightmare.

The dreadful and great darkness is a memory stick.

If the LORD is my lord 168 (24x7) hours per week, he’s the lord of the 56 hours I’m asleep. Modern Christians tend to ignore that part. Is there a way we can use this time more wisely?

Distraction is one of the greatest impediments to our relationship with God. The action and noise of life commands our attention. Our focus on Him is all too often disrupted. There’s a reason quiet time is called quiet time. We want to minimize distraction and focus on God.

But sleep is a time of no distraction. It’s an ideal quiet time. Maybe there’s more to children’s bedtime prayers than we realize.

Consecrate your sleep time to the Lord. Give thanks for the day and ask Him to bless your sleep and to use it to rejuvenate you for His service.

God has just blessed Abram and promised him that his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and that they will possess the land where he is now. When Abram asks, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” God asks him to prepare the sacrifice of a covenant.

Then a deep sleep fell on Abram.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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