Monday, March 6, 2023

Genesis The Beginning Of Heroes 3: Abraham The Hero Who Believed God Genesis 12-25


Genesis The Beginning Of Heroes 3: Abraham The Hero Who Believed God - Genesis 12-25

We began this series with Enoch, the hero who walked with God. His story was just 4 verses in Genesis 5. Next, we went to the story of Noah, the hero who obeyed God. His story is much bigger and affects the entire world up to his time. Noah’s story runs from Genesis 6 to Genesis 10, five full chapters.  

Now this Sunday we come to the story of Abraham which runs from Genesis 12 to 25:18. Genesis 15:6 tells us, “And he (Abraham) believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Abraham is the hero who believed God. Paul writing in Romans 4:3 says, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” You can imagine that with 14 chapters in the Old Testament we could preach and entire series just on Abraham. But I want to focus on those times where he believed and obeyed God. And those times are outstanding as examples for us.

We are going to look at Genesis chapters 12, 17 and 22. So lets go to Genesis 12 to begin.

Abraham Believes God’s Calling – Genesis 12:1-4

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

The Calling of God to Abraham

The Calling of God had three parts. A command to go, a blessing to Abraham and his future descendants, finally a blessing to all the families of the earth, through Abraham and those who would come from him, in particular, the Messiah.

This is the first time God offers a covenant to Abraham. God doesn’t label it as a convent yet, that will come later. Yet even here in its first seminal form all the elements are here that will be formally and fully given in chapters 15 and 17. Here it is the beginning of the Abrahamic Covenant. We will talk of it in detail in the next point but here I want to make one overall point.

The blessings of the covenant began when Abram departed the land of his fathers. He showed his faith in God’s word and promises by trusting God and departing the pagan land of Haran. God took those steps of Abram’s faith and blessed him and through him, the future nation of Israel and all the families of the earth including us to this very day.

Hebrews 11:8-10 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Now that is belief with a capital B and faith with a fantastic future. “he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” I dearly love that phrase. He walked away from the past paganism of Haran, into the present blessing of God, looking for the future city whose builder and maker is God.

Had he not believed God and turned from his old life, the blessing and salvation of God could not have touched him, but he did and we are all touched by the promises of God to Abraham.

The Calling of God to Us

The Bible tells us that like Abraham we are all called by God.

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 1 Thessalonians 2:12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Revelation 22:16-17 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

We are called by the Gospel and we respond, like Abraham, by turning from our old self, our old life, our old sin and putting our faith in God’s provision of salvation through Jesus’ death for us, we step out and begin our journey looking for that city whose builder and maker is God.

What is behind us matters not, what is behind us holds us back. All that matters is what we see before us through the eyes of faith.

I love what C. S. Lewis said in his novel “Till We Have Faces.” It is the retelling of a Greek myth but this quote has the ring of a Christian’s heart as he looks toward heaven and the fulfillment of God’s promises. “The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from… Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back. All my life the god of the Mountain has been wooing me. Oh, look up once at least before the end and wish me joy. I am going to my lover.”

Look up and wish me joy. I am going to that city whose builder and maker is God who in grace has called me to come home.”

Abraham was called and his belief could be measured in the steps he took toward God’s promised land. Abraham’s faith was based upon God’s covenant, so let’s look more deeply into the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 15 and 17.

Abraham Believes God’s Covenant – Genesis 15:1-6

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

The Covenant of God With Abraham

In chapter 15 God speaks to Abraham and this covenant begun in chapter 12 is expanded and formally entered into. Genesis 15:7-18 And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. … 17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

The Hebrew word here for covenant is berit and it is translated as covenant, compact, solemn agreement, testament or treaty but these words don’t fully capture the full idea of what an ancient covenant was or how important it was to those entering into the covenant.

We can see this by the actions taken here in this covenant. After preparing these clean animals by splitting them in half, the two parties of the covenant would walk through the halved animal carcasses. This signified the absolute binding power of the covenant. It could not be broken any more than the broken animals could be put back together.

Now can you imagine in modern times going down to the car dealership buying a car and they would say, “Okay, lets enter into the contract.” And then suddenly they started slaughtering a heifer, a she goat and a ram?!? The difference between how we would react is the difference between our idea of contract and the ancient idea of a covenant. To them it was much more solemn, much more binding than just signing a piece of paper.

There are covenants established by landmarks such as the Mizpah stone marked between Jacob and Laban. There was a salt covenant, where the two parties exchanged salt from their salt bag into the salt bag of the other symbolizing the power of the covenant by the mixing of the salt, if you could find your original salt, then the covenant could be broken, since that is impossible the covenant can’t be broken. Boaz, Ruth’s kinsman redeemer covenanted with the nearer kinsman by exchanging a sandal, a token the showed beyond dispute that the covenant was entered into.

Here in the Abrahamic covenant, the nature of the covenant is altered because when it was time for the two parties to pass through the split carcasses, God put Abraham asleep and then He and only He passed between the pieces of the animal. The burning oven or furnace and a flaming torch or lamp symbolize God in his cleansing of the land He would give to Abraham. It also reminds us of the Shekinah Glory that descended upon the tabernacle, filled the temple and church in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. It is the presence of God in a form that man could behold.

By putting Abram to sleep and not allowing him to pass through the animals, this covenant become an unconditional, unilateral covenant meaning that only God would be responsible for keeping it. Abraham was covered by the covenant, but it could not and would not fail because it would be kept by the infallible God of Abram.

The Covenant of God For Us

Bro. Harry recently preached on the New Covenant and I’m not going to repreach that message, but I want to make a couple of applications between the Abrahamic and the New Covenant.

The Abrahamic Covenant gave to Abram, later renamed in chapter 17 as Abraham, personal blessings in his son Isaac, national blessing through the nation of Israel and most importantly the blessing of the Messiah who would come through that family and through that nation and be the blessing and hope of all the world.

All these blessings and gifts were bestowed on Abraham and his family and ultimately on us when Abram departed from Haran, when he believed God’s word and stepped out in faith. It was not Abraham that could in his own strength or even in his own faith bring about God’s promises, but God’s promises were applied to him, his family, his nation and to us when he stepped out in faith. God’s power would keep the covenant, but Abraham had to believe or that covenant and the blessings of God could not cover him.

In our age, the New Covenant is the covenant of grace for us and like Abraham it must be entered by faith and it also is kept by God’s power and not our own. The New Covenant is between God the Father, God the Son. We are blessed through the New Covenant of Grace but we are not a part of the agreement that established it. We didn’t sign on the bottom line when this covenant was arranged. Like Abraham our faith brings us into the New Covenant of Grace, but it is kept not by anything that we can do, but by the power of God alone. It is unbreakable, unending, and unchangeable. God keeps this covenant, Jesus fulfilled this covenant, the Holy Spirit brings us under the blessings of this covenant and my only participation is to accept the blessings of salvation. Faith places me under the covenant because I believe Jesus died for me and took my sins upon himself. That faith is my departing Haran and God sees that step of faith and gathers me up in His loving arms and places me and all those who believe in the eternal new covenant of His amazing grace.

Hebrews 9:14-15 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, (these are the parties of the covenant) purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Under the Abrahamic covenant those who believed like Abraham believed were blessed, though they had no part in keeping the covenant. The same is true of the new Covenant we are blessed under it but it is kept not by us but by the power of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is why we cannot lose it because we do not keep it. This is why we can’t ever be lost because God’s grace has found us. This is one of the reasons we know that it is Once Saved Always Saved. It is the eternal security of the soul else there is not salvation at all and all the promise of our Lord were lies.

Promises of the New Covenant:

John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

John 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.

1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

There is no sacrifice of animals, no passing through their split blood but something much greater than binds the New Covenant. Jesus shed his own blood, paying the price for the covenant of grace and you and I by faith are cleansed in that precious flow.

There is a Fountain by William Cowper

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains:
Lose all their guilty stains,
Lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.

E'er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die:
And shall be till I die,
And shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.

There is one more great act of faith, showing the unshakeable belief that Abraham had in the unbreakable promises of his God.

Abraham Believes God’s Commitment - Genesis 22:1-14

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

The Commitment of God to Abraham

Now this is familiar territory, as is most of the story of Father Abraham. Though it is familiar it is also far-reaching in its illustration of Abraham’s faith in God’s covenant.

I want you to take notice of these things in the narrative.

Vs. 1 God did tempt (test, try, prove) Abraham. God in His infinite wisdom and unknowable purpose puts Abraham’s faith to the test. Like Job that test has more to do with those who would come after Abraham than with Abraham himself.

“A testing that would reveal Abraham’s faith as nothing else had done. He must give evidence of absolute obedience and unquestioning trust in Jehovah, must even obey blindly, proceeding step by step until the faith stood out as clearly as the noonday sun. Abraham passed through the fiercest fires, stood up under the mightiest pressure, and endured the most difficult strain, to emerge from the trial in complete triumph.” - Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), Ge 22:1.

Vs. 7 “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.” This is an incredible example of the power of faith working in Abraham. We don’t know exactly what he is thinking but we know what he says and what he says to Isaac is a statement that is made based up the experiences of a man who has walked with God throughout his life. “God will provide.” He doesn’t know how, he doesn’t know when but he does know that whatever may happen God has already made provision. He told the men with him, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” I and the lad will come back. How could he know that? Only by faith.

Vs. 10  And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.

The phrase here Jehovahjireh Yhwh means Jehovah will see (to it). This is Abraham’s statement of faith. God will see to it. God will take care of it. God has made provision for it. God has committed himself and I believe in that commitment.

The Commitment of God to Us

Once again this is familiar territory for most of us as Christians. God tested Abraham in order to foretell a message to us. To prove by this foreshadowing His commitment to us.

Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Romans 4:20-21 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

God proved Abraham, as he had Job and so many other of his saints, not just for the purifying of their faith but for our faith. The act of Abraham sacrificing his only son is a picture of God the Father sending His Son Jesus Christ to the cross as a sacrifice for us.

We cannot imagine such a sacrifice. We cannot comprehend how God could ask this of Abraham. We cannot understand how God’s promises could still be true if Isaac were slain, nor could Abraham but by faith, he was able to obey and do what God has asked of him.

Neither can we imagine, comprehend or understand how God the Father could sacrifice his own begotten son. Isaac was spared, but Jesus, God’s own son was not. God did provide for himself a lamb and the lamb was Jesus Christ.

How can it be that this sacrifice was given for me?

Amazing Love – by Charles Wesley

And can it be that I should gain
An int'rest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!

He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race;
'Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!


How can it be true? How can it apply to me? How can I accept such a gift, such forgiveness, such hope? Only by the same faith of Enoch, Noah, Abraham. A faith that starts simply by turning from my past and turning to God and there at the cross of Christ I begin a journey that will end for me as it will for Abraham.

Hebrews 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Don’t you want to see it? Don’t you want to enter in with the heroes of faith? Don’t you want to be welcomed by Jesus himself and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the thy Lord!”

To end your journey there it must begin here in faith, believing God’s promise, believing God’s provision, believing God’s power to save to the uttermost those who come to him through Jesus’ shed blood.


No comments:

Post a Comment