The Bible says there was thick darkness and the birds came. They knew that what Abraham did was a covenant to break the covenants of their fathers over the land.
Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. (Isaiah 51:1-2.)
And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee
(Genesis 17: 3-6.)
The Bible says there was thick darkness and the birds came. They knew that what Abraham did was a covenant to break the covenants of their fathers over the land. That is important. That is why you see the word covenant coming in. In the same Genesis 15, the Lord said to Abraham that his descendants would go into a nation and would be slaves there but He promised that they would come out with great substance. Something happened in that place of the covenant that from that point on the Lord began to speak about children coming from Abraham’s loins having great substance.
It is good to have a promise but we must walk with God in such a way that the promise will bring us into a covenant. I see many people of God carrying promises without journeying with them to enter into a covenant. Covenant requires sacrifice. When Abraham offered the animals, he was not just offering the animals, but he was also offering himself.
Then in Genesis 17 God said to Abraham, I am bringing you into a place of establishing the covenant between Me and you. Note the gap between Genesis 15 when Abraham first entered into a covenant with God and Genesis 17 when the covenant was now established. This covenant requires that you will be circumcised. That also was important. It was after that circumcision that Isaac was given to him. That means without that circumcision Isaac would not have come. Without the covenant he entered into in Chapter 15 the land would not have been given to him. Without the covenant being established in Chapter 17 Isaac would not have been given. Genesis 17 is about the covenant of circumcision. We are the Circumcision that worships God in the Spirit. It is a circumcision of the heart. Remember that the circumcision was on the reproductive organ of Abraham to bring forth Isaac. I am saying this to show us the issue of the covenant of circumcision of our hearts from which we produce spiritual fruits.
In entering that covenant, Isaac, being the child of promise, was born a spiritual seed. Giving up of Isaac as a sacrifice was another test of obedience and a stepping up of Abraham’s covenant with God. When Abraham obeyed God and gave up Isaac on the altar, the Bible says it was a figure of death and resurrection. That was a seal and confirmation of the fact that Messiah would come through Abraham. God used a different word here. He said, By Myself I swear to you Abraham, in blessing I will bless you. Abraham moved from Promise to a Covenant and then to an Oath. When Abraham got to the point where the word of God became an oath it became irrevocable. He said, In blessing I will bless you; it could never be changed anymore. That is how Abraham journeyed from a promise to covenant and finally to an oath. It was in the place of oath that the mantle of never ending fatherhood was finally given to him for individuals and nations.
God does not just give the mantle immediately. That is not His way. Elisha was not given the mantle at the beginning. He followed Elijah for twenty years. Elijah even said to him, Until you see me. Elisha needed to see Elijah not just as a prophet but also as a father. Fatherhood is a revelation.