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#1 A New Beginning

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4/20/97

Abraham series

Gen. 11:27-12:9

sermons\Abraham\Gen11-27

A New Beginning

           

1. A call (Gen. 12:1a)

            When God called...

            The story of Abraham begins in Genesis 12, (where the main story of the Bible begins). The first 11 chapters of Genesis represent compressed history.  Abraham was born in 2167 - half way between creation and the cross if you hold to a young earth.

            Gen. 1-11 covers 2000 years.  Gen. 12-50 about 350 years.

 toledoth - “this is what became of...”  (generations of,  history of , )

            1. - the heavens and the earth (2:4-4:26) - fall and curse

            2. - Adam (5:1-6:8)        corruption

            3. - Noah (6:9-9:29)       flood

            4. - Shem, Ham & Japheth (10:1-11:29)  Tower of Babel

            5. - Shem (11:10-26)      father of Semitic peoples - Terah

            6. - Terah (11:27-25:11) father of Abraham

            7. - Ishmael (25:12-18)

            8. - Isaac (25:19-35:29)

            9. - Esau (36:1-37:1)

          10. - Jacob (37:2-50:26)

            God called Abraham when the Gentiles had failed and turned away from the true and living God.

            Prior to Abraham there has been a steady degeneration of mankind.  God in His sovereign grace, chose Abraham and his family to be the means to bring the message of redemption to a world of people who had deteriorated to the point that they did not even “think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God” (Rom. 1:28)

                        How God called...

            Ab. was 75 when God called him.  Abraham lived in the ancient city of Ur, one of the most important cities of the world. It was a busy commercial center in the country of Mesopotamia, on the Persian Gulf and bordered by the Euphrates River. Ur covered about 4 square miles and had a population of 300,000.  Many were proficient in mathematics, advanced in astronomy, and specialized in weaving and engraving.

           

 

            Acts 7:2 says, “...the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham...”

(this is the first of seven communications to Abraham recorded in Genesis.)

            God spoke to Abraham 

                        God asks Abraham to make a threefold sacrifice, which would have staggered a man of lesser faith: “Get thee out of (1)thy country, (2) and from they kindred, (3) and from thy father’s house.”

            Heb. 11:8 immortalizes this deed when it says that “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.

            Why God called...

            There are at least three reasons.

            #1. In His love, God was concerned for the salvation of  Sarah and Abraham.

            #2. Beyond their personal salvation was God’s purpose in blessing the whole world. Gen. 1-11 had ended with a problem.  What could be done for the nations at large, who had been so blessed by God in their creation and prolific multplication, but also had become more and more alienated from the God who had blessed them  The answer was to be found in another blessing, as God would choose one Semite named Abraham and grant him what others had only dreamed about.

            Ex. Gen. 11:4 “Let us make us a name…”

                  Gen. 12:2  “I will make you a name...”

            Ur was highly cultured, but spiritually degenerate.  Abraham is as steeped in idolatry as anyone else.  The downward spiral of Rom. 1 was true also in ancient Sumerian civilization.  God in His grace reached down to create a new beginning for mankind.  It has been going forth for 4,000+ years now.

             “Israel’s history is not a history of arbitrary election, of favoritism, of narrow particularism and nationalism.  It is an act of sovereign and gracious election to preserve the race and the temporal and eternal destiny of mankind.”   -Dr. George Peters

            Were it not for Abraham, there would be no nation of Israel.  Were it not for the nation of Israel, there would be no Savior;  there would be no Bible.  It was  through Abraham’s seed that all of the world would be blessed.

 

            #3.  Abraham’s life is an example for all Christians who want to walk by faith. 

Abraham was saved by faith. (Rom. 4:1-5)

Abraham lived by faith. (Heb. 11:8-19)

Abraham’s obedience was the evidence of his faith (James 2:14-26)

            “Without faith it is impossible to please God...”

            Our roots trace back to here.  Ab. is the “father of the faithful” and the father of all true believers.

            And so, God calls us to a life of faith;  with all its challenges.

            God’s requirements and calls are always more than compensated by promises of blessing.  God enters into a covenant with Abraham (and through Abraham to all who would come to believe in the Promised blessing.)

                       

2. A Covenant             ( read Gen. 12:1-3)

            “Great lives are trained by great promises.”

                                                -Joseph Parker

We are not saved by making promises to God; we are saved by believing God’s promises to us.

The threefold promise of God involved (1) a land, (2) a seed, and (3) a blessing.

-The land was Canaan, a place Abraham didn’t even know existed. 

-The “great nation” referred to Israel, something Abraham could not comprehend at this moment. 

-And the “blessing” referred to the birth of Jesus Christ,

“God’s promise to Abraham must rank as one of the four greatest moments in the Old Testament, alongside the promise of a male “seed” to Eve( Gen. 3:15), the covenant made with David (II Sam 7),  and the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). 

In fact, the Abrahamic covenant presents the whole plan of God and provides the focal point of both the Old and New Testaments.  This plan of God is designated the “promise” in nearly 50 separate passages of the New Testament.”

                                                                                    -Walter C. Kaiser

Abrahamic Covenant

            Land                                         Seed                                         Blessing

            Palestinian Cov.                        Davidic Cov.                             New Cov.

            Deut. 30                                   II Sam. 7                                  Jer. 31

After Abraham left Ur and his family, these promises are unconditional.  It does not say, If your posterity is faithful to these principles, if you trust me through the battles, etc.

            “I WILL...”

Guided by these promises, Abraham ventured out in faith.

 

 

3. A Compromise (Gen. 11:27-32; 12:4)

            First steps of faith are not always giant steps.  Abraham did not fully obey God.

Instead of leaving his family, as he was commanded, Abraham took his father and his nephew Lot with him when he left Ur; and then he stayed at Haran until his father died. 

            “Whatever you bring with you from your old life into the new is likely to create problems.” Warren Wiersbe

            Terah kept Abraham from fully obeying (15 years in Haran) - ancestral home, similar culture and familiar idolatrous religion.

            Lot created serious problems for Abraham until they had to agree to part ways.

            Abraham was often tempted to compromise, sometimes he did. But god tests us to build our faith; instructing us that the testing of our faith is more precious than gold.

            We will see that the life of faith demands total separation from what is evil and total devotion to what is holy.  You lean on God alone;  His word, His will, His character, His power.

            2Cor. 6:14-7:1   Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

 “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”  “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

            If Abraham were going to walk with God, he could not compromise.  Abraham and Sarah believed the promises of God and committed their futures to God, obeyed what He commanded and headed for Canaan.

            (read 12:4-9)    

 

4. A Commitment (Gen. 12:4-9)

            ill. It seems that commitment is a vanishing commodity in today’s world. Discouraging elders’ observations.

            smaller commitments shorter commitments, self-serving commitments

            failed commitments to jobs, marriage vows, or to one another.

            Faith brings us out (v.4, 5)

                        It may have been a son’s love for his father that brought about Abraham’s delayed obedience; but eventually they set out for Canaan.

            Faith and a double mind never go together. You can’t serve two masters.  Faith demands single-minded commitment.

            ill. Vance Havner, “It is a day of fading declarations.  Church covenants are found in the backs of hymn books, but they have faded in the lives of most of our members - if they ever meant anything.  Declarations of personal dedication grow dim, and need to be renewed.  It is a day of faded declarations!”

            Faith brings us in (v.6-8)

            God brings us out so that He might bring us in.

            Deut. 6:23 - “...and He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which he had sworn to our fathers.” 

            Entering  Canaan is not a picture of dying and going to heaven.  It is a picture of the believer claiming his or her inheritance by faith. God has appointed a “Canaan” for each of His children.  It can only be obtained by faith.  It involves tests, temptations, challenges and battles, but God is able to see you through. 

            What a comfort for Abraham and Sarah to have fresh revelation from God as they arrived in this strange and dangerous land.  When you obey God, He lets you know He is with you.

            Wherever Abraham went in the land of Canaan, he was marked by his tent and his altar.  The tent - marked his as a starnger and pilgrim.  The altar marked him as a worshiper of the true and the living God.  You can trace Abraham’s steps in the land by the altars he left.

            Faith brings us on (v.9)

            God keeps us growing in faith.

            Notice the verbs used to describe Abraham’s life: “went forth, departed, set out, passed through, proceeded, journeyed on...”Abraham was being forced to trust God for new grace to help in time of need.

            This pilgrim life is to be lived from “faith to faith” (Rom. 1:17).

           

“Faith triumphed over all of the bitter testings, and Abraham, with the other patriarchs, “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).  From the vantage point of subsequent history and prophecy, we can see that the land which God promised to Abraham actually did become the possession of his descendants, and shall yet become theirs in the fullest sense (Amos 9:15).  As for the promised seed, we discover that not only the physical descendants of Abraham, but also those who share in his saving faith are counted as his children (Gal. 3:7), thus multiplying his seed “as the sand which is upon the sea shore” (Gen. 22:17).  And as for the blessing, who could have realized that our Lord Jesus Christ, “the Son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1), would be in the deepest sense Abraham’s seed (Gal. 3:16), through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed.” (-Whitcomb p.45)

“The victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings.”

                                                                                                -George Morrison

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