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Abram's Altar & Altering

BBBI - OT 101 - Genesis  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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How you deal with sin AFTER God calls you and you begin living for Him matters as much as how GOD dealt with your sin when you got saved!

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Introduction:

a
Back to Basics
What the foundation is to the house, what the Constitution is to United States law, and what the periodic table of elements is to chemistry, the Book of Genesis is to the Bible. It’s basic. An understanding of the basic truths of Genesis, especially chapters 1–11, will give you the key you need to unlock the rest of Scripture and to live to the glory of God. But you don’t stop with ; you build on it.
Let’s review some of these basics.
1. God is real and we can trust Him
The Bible opens with a declaration that God exists: “In the beginning God” (1:1). Genesis presents no philosophical arguments to prove God’s existence; it just puts Him at the beginning of everything. When you open your Bible, God is there, and He was there before the Bible was written or even the universe was created.
The God you meet in is not only eternal, but He’s also wise and powerful. He is a great God, and so great is His power that He only has to speak to make things happen. And so great is His wisdom that what He creates is to be—and it works! From the tiniest one-celled animal to the biggest galaxy, in all creation God’s power and wisdom are manifested.
And yet this great God is a personal God. He pays attention to us and wants to be our Lord and our Friend!
He is a holy God who will not condone sin. He judged the personal sins of Adam, Eve, and Cain, and also the corporate sins of the antediluvian population and the people at Babel. But at the same time, He is a God of love who created us in His image and longs to fellowship with us and reveal Himself to us. Our sins grieve Him, but in His grace, He forgives those who trust Him and will give them another chance.
The God of Genesis has a plan for mankind. He promised to send a Redeemer who would conquer Satan and bring salvation for the human race (3:15). He fulfilled that promise in sending Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to die on the cross for the sins of the world. You don’t really know God until you have trusted Jesus Christ to save you from your sins.
2. We live in God’s creation
The universe was created by God, not by chance. He made everything and He keeps everything going. The universe is not an accident. It’s the incredible masterpiece of a wise and powerful God who works everything according to the counsel of His own perfect will.
The complexity of the universe reveals the power and wisdom of God, and the beauty of the universe shows His love. He could have made a dull world, but He decorated His world with a riot of color and gave us a variety of plants, animals, and people to enjoy. Day after day and night after night, creation reveals the glory of God ().
Because this is God’s creation, we’re but stewards of what He’s given us. We must use the wealth of creation for the good of others and the glory of God, remembering that one day we’ll give God an accounting of our stewardship. To waste or exploit the wealth of creation, or heedlessly mar the beauty of creation, is to sin against God. It’s not just a matter of ecology; it’s a matter of theology: this is our Father’s world.
God generously gives to us “all things richly to enjoy” (), and we should thank Him for His gifts and use them wisely.
3. We are made in the image of God
Men and women are created, not evolved, and they’re created in the image of God. This is a tremendous privilege and a great responsibility. Every baby that’s conceived is made in God’s image and has the right to live, to be in a loving family, to come to know God through Jesus Christ, and to enjoy a life that’s purposeful and fulfilling.
Since God has given us a mind to think with, we need to read His Word and learn His truth. He’s given us a will to decide with, and we must make wise decisions that please Him. We have hearts to love Him, and we show this love by fellowshipping with Him and obeying His will. Our inner being is spiritual, and we need God dwelling within if we’re to have inner peace and satisfaction. “Thou hast made us for Thyself,” wrote Augustine, “and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
The fact that we’re all created in the image of God means that we must love and protect one another. God gives life and only God can take it away. He’s given to human government the authority for capital punishment, for the murderer attacks the very image of God.
The image of God in us has been marred by sin, but that image can be restored as we walk with God and yield to His Spirit (). Since God made us, He knows what’s best for us; and He’s given us His Word as our guidebook for life. It’s the “manual of operations” and we must get acquainted with it. When all else fails, read the instructions.
4. Obedience is the key to usefulness, joy, and blessing
Our first parents disobeyed God’s Word and plunged the entire human race into sin. Cain disobeyed and became a wanderer. Noah obeyed and God saved him and his family from destruction and blessed them after the Flood was over. Whenever we disobey God, we break our communion with Him and lose the joy of His presence. Obedience is the key to blessing; disobedience is the way to unhappiness and chastening.
5. Satan is real, but is a defeated enemy
Satan is not eternal; he’s a created being. He’s not all-knowing, all-powerful, or present in all places at all times. He’s limited, but he wants you to think he’s as great as God and worthy of your obedience. Satan is very powerful and very subtle, and in ourselves we’re no match for him.
Satan wants to be god in our lives; he wants our worship and our service. He tempts us by questioning God’s Word: “Has God really said?” He promises to make us like God, but he never keeps that promise. The first step in victory over Satan is not to listen to his offers or believe his promises. We need to know and believe God’s truth if we want to detect and defeat the devil’s lies.
Satan has been defeated by Jesus Christ, and through Christ we can claim victory (; ; ).
6. There is such a thing as sin
The world may call it a blunder, a mistake, a weakness, or an accident, but if it’s disobedience to God’s will, God calls it sin. Sin is serious because it leads to death and judgment. Like any loving Father, God is grieved when His children sin, and God judges sin. But God also forgives and provides the cleansing that we need.
When we sin, our tendency is to run away and try to hide, but this is the worst thing we can do. You can’t hide from God. The only thing to do is to repent, confess, and claim His forgiveness. God does give us another opportunity to obey Him and be blessed.
7. Sex is God’s idea and He knows best how it should be used
God made the first humans “male and female.” He did it not just so they could reproduce and keep the human race going, but also that they might learn to love and enjoy one another and discover their loving relationship to the Lord. His original intent was one man for one woman for one lifetime.
The Bible isn’t a “sex manual,” but it does make some things very clear. It’s clear that sexual sins are destructive not only to the body and the inner person, but also to other people, especially one’s mate and family. God created man and woman for each other; any other combination is out of God’s will, no matter what society and the courts might say. God invented marriage, and sex outside the loving bonds of marriage is wrong.
8. All humans are made of one blood
God separated the descendants of Noah into various tongues and nations, but they are all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. By the providence of God, some nations and races have made more rapid progress in this world than have others, but this doesn’t mean these progressive nations are better than other people. We are of one blood, and no race can claim to be superior to another race.
God has ordained that men and women shall work. Work isn’t a form of punishment; rather, it’s an opportunity to cooperate with God in caring for His creation.
9. Israel is God’s chosen people
This doesn’t mean that they’re better than others, but only that they have God’s call upon them and therefore have a greater responsibility in this world. God chose them because He loved them, not because of their intrinsic worth (). God called Israel to bring blessing to the whole world, and because of Israel, we have the knowledge of the true God, the written Word of God, and most of all, the Savior Jesus Christ. No Christian should be guilty of anti-Semitism in thought, word, or deed.
10. God doesn’t change and is always in control
God is still on the throne and always knows what He’s doing. He’s long-suffering toward sinners, but eventually He judges sin and rewards the righteous. Whether it’s the farthest star or the most minute atom, God knows where everything is and what everything is doing; and everything He’s made will ultimately accomplish His will on this earth.
God has built laws into this universe which, if we obey them, work for us, but if we disobey them, they work against us. Science is simply thinking God’s thoughts after Him, discovering these laws and putting them to work. The Creator has the right to “break” His own laws and do the miraculous.
11. Our relationship to God is based on faith
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” ().
We live on promises, not explanations.
12. Living for God is the most rewarding life possible
God has a different purpose for each of us to fulfill, and He enables us to fulfill it as we trust His Word and obey His will. Whatever He calls us to do can be done to the glory of God. While there are times when it seems like the righteous are suffering and the wicked are succeeding, in the end, the righteous will get their eternal reward and the wicked their eternal punishment.
The Christian life isn’t always the easiest life, but it is the most satisfying and rewarding life.
These are just a few of the basics found in , and illustrated and explained in the rest of the Bible. When you give your life to Christ and build on these basic truths, you build on a solid foundation that can’t be moved. To ignore these basics is to build on the sand and make a life that won’t survive the storms of life or the final judgment from God. Jesus calls us all back to the basics. Read and ponder .
Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Basic, “Be” Commentary Series (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub., 1998), 143–149.
Body: Having considered Primeval History in , seen in four major events [namely Creation (), Corruption (), Condemnation (), and Confusion ()], Moses now directs our attention to four major people, the first being Abraham ().
Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Basic, “Be” Commentary Series (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub., 1998), 143–149.

I. Abram’s Listening Ear ().

Genesis 12:1–9 KJV 1900
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. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
Genesis 12:1–4 KJV 1900
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.

A. The Call First Out of Ur ().

Acts 7:2–3 KJV 1900
And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
Quote -
Hitherto, God had only interposed, as in the flood, and at the confounding of tongues, to arrest the attempts of man against His purposes of mercy. But when God called Abram, He personally and actively interfered, and this time in mercy, not in judgment.
[Alfred Edersheim, Bible History: Old Testament, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975), 73.]
1. From Ur to Canaan was about a 1,500 mile journey
Illustration - That would be like driving from Denver to Toronto, Ontario, Canada and would take twenty three hours to DRIVE in a CAR. Imagine taking our entire church family there on camels!
2. Ur was a sophisticated, well-designed, wealthy city, providing the best available comforts of its day
3. Abram had to abandon all that was significant to him: his land, his kindred, and his father’s house
Joshua 24:2–3 KJV 1900
And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
4. God never demands personal sacrifice without the compensation of even greater blessings
Galatians 3:8 KJV 1900
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
Gal. 3:8
Galatians 3:16 KJV 1900
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Mark 1:16–20 KJV 1900
Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
Mark 10:28–30 KJV 1900
Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
Matthew 10:28–30 KJV 1900
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Mk. 10:28-30
Application -
God’s calls are not always easy to follow. He stressed the difficulties first of all, telling Abram he would have to leave his home and family and go into a strange land, a land which even at that time had become notorious for its wickedness, the land settled by the descendants of Canaan, the cursed son of Ham. At the same time, God also made to Abram a wonderful promise. He told him He would establish a great nation through him, a nation through which someday all other nations would be blessed.
This promise has justifiably been regarded as one of the first promises of the coming Savior, who would bring salvation to all nations.
God had long ago made it clear that the Savior would be born into the human family (“seed of the woman,” as promised in ), and now it becomes clear to Abram that it would be accomplished through his own family.
God also promised protection, saying He would bless those that bless Abram and curse those that curse him. This was an unconditional promise, assuming only that Abram would migrate to Canaan as God had told him. Although this promise was made specifically to Abram, it may also have applied in a secondary and broader sense to his descendants, the Jewish nation, which has certainly been blessed and protected in a marvelous way through the centuries.
[Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1976), 294–295.]

B. The Call Reiterated While in Haran ().

Genesis 12:5–7 KJV 1900
And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.
Genesis 12:5–6 KJV 1900
And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
1. After Terah (Abram’s father) died, Abram left Haran
Note - Chiasm of the Greater Context:
A Genealogy of Terah (11:27–32)
(11:27–32)
B Start of Abram’s spiritual odyssey (12:1–9)
(12:1–9)
C Sarai in foreign palace; ordeal ends in peace and success; Abram and Lot part (12:10–13:18)
Abram and Lot part
Abram and Lot part
(12:10–13:18)
D Abram comes to the rescue of Sodom and Lot (14:1–24)
(14:1–24)
E Covenant with Abram; Annunciation of Ishmael (15:1–16:16)
(15:1–16:16)
Eʹ Covenant with Abraham; Annunciation of Isaac (17:1–18:15)
(17:1–18:15)
Dʹ Abraham comes to the rescue of Sodom and Lot (18:16–19:38)
(18:16–19:38)
Cʹ Sarah in foreign palace; ordeal ends in peace and success; Abraham and Ishmael part (20:1–21:34)
Abraham and Ishmael part
(20:1–21:34)
Bʹ Climax of Abraham’s spiritual odyssey (22:1–19)
(22:1–19)
Aʹ Genealogy of Nahor (22:20–24)
(22:20–24)3
[Rendsburg, The Redaction of Genesis, 28–29. See pp. 29–52 for details.]
Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from Genesis: Foundations for Expository Sermons (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007), 140.
2. This “delay” was not necessarily sinful: possible legitimate family concerns or just waiting for further direction from God
Quote - “The life of faith does not consist of one act of obedience in a single journey to some distant scene. It is an experience continually related to the unseen and the eternal. Its symbol is a tent, its secret is an altar.” -Charles R. Erdman
3. Abram pitched a tent (temporary structure) for his own comfort
Illustration - Life among the Bedouin’s
4. Abram built an altar (permanent structure) for worshipping God
Genesis 12:8–9 KJV 1900
And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
Genesis 12:7–9 KJV 1900
And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
Genesis 12:8–9 KJV 1900
And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.

II. Abram’s Lying Tongue ().

Genesis 12:10–20 KJV 1900
And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

A. Famine in Canaan prompts Abram to look for relief in Egypt

Note - this is the first of 3 major famines in this patriarchal period:
Genesis 12:10 KJV 1900
And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
Genesis 26:1 KJV 1900
And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.
Gen
Genesis 41:56 KJV 1900
And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.
Gen.

B. God Apparently Allows Abram’s Flight into Egypt

Note - Apparently, God did not prohibit this journey as He did later for Isaac
Genesis 26:1–2 KJV 1900
And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
Gen. 26:1-2
1. “…went down into Egypt...” = Interpretively referencing TOPOGRAPHY, yet the English has a subtle innuendo that could apply spiritually
2. During the famine of Jacob’s time, Egypt will become a refuge for the entire family
Note - consider also the fulfillment of Jesus concerning prophecy:
Matthew 2:13–15 KJV 1900
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
Mt. 2:
3. But does Abram neglect to seek God’s guidance on this journey?
4. Is Abram trusting in Egypt for his help instead of God?
Isaiah 31:1 KJV 1900
Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; And stay on horses, And trust in chariots, because they are many; And in horsemen, because they are very strong; But they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, Neither seek the Lord!
a
God had told him to go to Canaan, where He would bless him, but now it seemed that Canaan was no longer able to support him. On the other hand, the land of Egypt was prosperous; so he finally made the decision (evidently without calling on God for guidance) to move to Egypt. Although the Bible doesn’t say so, it is possible that this decision was reached in part because of the complaining of his wife and nephew, who had never been accustomed to hardship and whose faith was not yet as strong as that of Abram. In any case, they all headed “down into Egypt to sojourn there.”
[Morris, 297.]
5. Abram’s LIE in Egypt and his later trouble with Hagar the Egyptian may point to his waywardness here

C. Abram & Sarai’s Falsification of Pertinent Information

Note - Abram and Sarai agree to say that she is his sister, instead of his wife
1. Sarai, about age 65, is a “fair [beautiful] woman” (and she’s only about half the age she will be at her death - 127!)
2. While she was his half-sister, their statement is only HALF-true; that means it was a LIE!
The Rationale:
Quote - “Sarai, when we get down there, they’ll see you, they’ll want you, they’ll kill me, and they’ll take you...” -Evangelist Paul Schwanke

D. The Fruit of Their Disobedience

1. It brought grief to God!
2. It weakened Abram’s own faith
3. He became a poor testimony to his nephew Lot
4. He caused the Pharaoh to be afflicted
5. He picked up Hagar the Egyptian
6. He influenced his unborn son, Isaac, negatively as a BAD EXAMPLE
Application -
They who had testified to others about God’s power and faithfulness, who had followed God’s call into a strange land and had enjoyed His protection for many years, now had lost their testimony.
The Egyptians had at first been greatly impressed by them and might well have been won to faith in God through them. Instead, their fearfulness and compromise had caused the house of Pharaoh to suffer greatly, and the Egyptians had finally come to despise them. Even Abram’s own servants must have been disgusted.
They should never have gone into Egypt in the first place. The Lord surely could have supplied their needs in Canaan, even in time of famine. But once in Egypt, they should have been careful to maintain a good testimony at all costs. God could have protected them there, too, without such a degrading compromise. After all, He did protect them and provide for them, even in spite of their compromise.
It is easy, of course, for us to be critical of Abram as we read these things. But it is very doubtful, if we had been in his shoes, that we would have chosen differently. We also engage in similar expediencies, and we rationalize them, as he did. We also need to learn the same lesson he learned and often we have to learn it in the same way, by being rebuked by the very unbelievers we would like to win to Christ. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (, ).
[Morris, 300–301.]

Conclusion:

How you deal with sin AFTER God calls you and you begin living for Him matters as much as how GOD dealt with your sin when you got saved!
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