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Building a People of God With Unusual Characters: Abraham - The Covenant to Bless All People


Building a People of God With Unusual Characters: Abram-Abraham

Abraham is the second unusual character I am teaching about from the Biblical records of who God uses to build his people.
I began with Noah, for he is the connection in the Bible from the line of Seth before the Flood to the line of Shem after the flood. And that is the line that produces Abram, the son of Terah, in Ur, a prosperous city in the land of the Chaldeans.
Ur was a city near where Babylon would be built along the Euphrates river. This means it was not so far from the Tower of Babel mentioned in Genesis 11. That chapter then lists the generations from Shem, Noah’s son, to Terah, Abram’s father. In that genealogical record, Abram is the 10th generation from Noah through Shem.
Since Abram’s father Terah stayed in Ur, near the area of the old Tower of Babel, then he also represents the “original language group” of the people of the Ark, just a little piece of trivia that helps to establish the Hebrew language as the natural language of mankind, in the line of language transmission claimed by the Jews.
So, born in Ur, Abram, who is the founder of the people now known as the Jews, was born in modern Iraq. His father Terah was not listed as a man of faith in God. His wife Sarai was his neice, the sister of his nephew Lot through his brother Haran who died in Ur.
After Haran’s death, Terah, Abram’s father, moved from Ur, planning to go to Canaan. But they stopped near the headwaters of the Euphrates in a town that bore the name of his son Haran. Terah brought along Abram and Sarai, and his grandson Lot.
It was there, in Haran, that Abram heard and obeyed the call of God to leave his pagan family behind and step out into the unknown, to a land God would show him. And Abram took Lot with him.
Abram’s given name means “Father of Height” or “exalted father,” yet his wife Sarai was barren through most of their years of marriage. Later, as we will read, God renames Abram to Abraham, which means “Father of a Multitude” and similar ideas.
Abraham gave no prophecy for the people of God, he wrote no book, he sang no song, and he gave no laws (Herbert Lockyer 1958, ATMOTB p.28), but he is the most important figure in history for the Jewish people, and his story is a story of God’s faithfulness to a man who had faith in God.
The story of Abram goes from Genesis 11:27 to Genesis 25:10. It is a good read, and I read the whole story again this week in preparation for this message. But the whole story is too much to share today, and I want us to focus on the most important parts of Abram’s story, as God took this man from Ur and eventually renamed him Abraham, as his wife Sarai became Sarah.
With his first mention in Genesis 11, Abraham shows up clear through the Bible. He is mentioned by Jesus, by Paul, and our last reference to his name is in Hebrews 11, in the list of the faithful.
Abraham is the only one whom the Bible lists as a man that God calls his friend, in
Isaiah 41:8 (LEB)
8 ...Abraham my friend,
>>>Abram was already 70 when the family left Ur, so Terah his father was 140. Then when Abram was 75, he left his father Terah, who lived another 65 years. In the end, Abraham lived 35 years after Terah’s death.

God Tells Abram to Leave Home

I am using the Lexham English Bible translation translation this morning, for it lets us know that it is Yahweh, the One and Only Creator God of the Universe, that leads Abram on his way to becoming the Father of the Faithful. Although the name of Yahweh was new to Moses, 500 years later, it was clearly the name of God who spoke to Abram according to Genesis.
>>>In what Abram hears from God, there is a promise of God’s plans for Abram and his Family.
Genesis 12:1–3 LEB
1 And Yahweh said to Abram, “Go out from your land and from your relatives, and from the house of your father, to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great. And you will be a blessing. 3 And I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you I will curse. And all families of the earth will be blessed in you.”
So Abram, who has lived in his father’s household for 75 years, and who is, so far, childless is told to leave home and go to a new land. God promises to be his guide, but doesn’t give him a roadmap.
Yahweh God want a man who will follow by faith.
Then Yahweh makes his 3-fold promise to Abram that will become more clear as the years go on:
God will make Abram into a great nation; God will bless Abram with an exalted name; and God will make Abram a blessing to others. We will see how this promise of God gets a little more specific in a bit.
There is the promise that Abram is under God’s care and blessing, so any who bless Abram will be on God’s good side, and any who curse him will suffer the consequences.
Then, at the end of verse 3, the promise that we benefit from is more clearly stated: “All the families of the earth will be blessed in you.”
That will need another 1800 years or so before we find the blessing fulfilled in Jesus, which proved the faithfulness of God that extends even to us, 3800 years later. Now, understand that the years I am using are just rounded estimates based on the lifespans listed in the Bible.
>>>It’s one thing to hear God and believe what God is saying to you, but we have a clear statement that Abram acted on what God told him. He didn’t just believe it was true; he trusted God to come through on His promises, in . . .
Genesis 12:4 LEB
4 And Abram went out as Yahweh had told him, and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he went out from Haran.
Now, 75 years old doesn’t seem as old to me now as it did when I began to read and study the Bible as a young man. Even though my lifespan should not come to the 175 years that Abraham lived, I can easily imagine myself making a change in location and purpose in 6 more years, as the Lord may lead me.
The point of the verse is that Abram trusted the word of the Lord enough to act on that word, and go to a place he did not know for a purpose that he did not know, except for the promises of God.
>>>Abram and his nephew Lot by this time became nomadic herdsmen. He would fulfill his days living in tents in the lands of the promise.
We can almost sum up Abram’s story with this statement:

When Abram Heard God He Believed God

And Abram left behind what was certain to venture into a future that was uncertain. He surrendered what he had with his father Terah for what God had promised. Every step away from Haran was a step into a place he had never been, a future he did not know, based on a hope that he had heard God tell him and that he stubbornly believed.
>>>As Abram travelled into the land of Canaan, modern Palestine and Israel, God spoke to him again:
Genesis 12:7 LEB
7 And Yahweh appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” And he built an altar there to Yahweh, who had appeared to him.
It is in the Promised Land that Abram was promised that this land would be for his offspring that he didn’t yet have at the age of 75. It is the the Promised Land that he built his altars to worship and honor God.
His stone altars were the only permanent structures that Abram build in this land. But Abram was not interested in just being a follower of God. He wanted to see how God would work out his promises.
Although Sarai was barren, God promises Abram that his offspring would outnumber the stars on a clear, black night like we can never know, in
Genesis 15:5 LEB
5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward the heavens and count the stars if you are able to count them.” And he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
This promise would be repeated by God, as Abram’s offspring would be counted with the stars, the dust, and the sand. In other words, more than Abram could see or know or fathom.
>>>What do you do when you hear or read God’s great promises for you? Are they just words on a paper or are they realities for your life? Well, for Abram, they were realities, and so we read that

Abram Believed God

Genesis 15:6 LEB
6 And he believed in Yahweh, and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.

God Repeats His Promises

Genesis 17:1–2 LEB
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old Yahweh appeared to Abram. And he said to him, “I am El-Shaddai; walk before me and be blameless 2 so that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you exceedingly.”

God Changes Abram’s Name to Abraham

Genesis 17:3–5 LEB
3 Then Abram fell upon his face and God spoke with him, saying, 4As for me, behold, my covenant shall be with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 Your name shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.
Genesis 17:6–7 LEB
6 And I will make you exceedingly fruitful. I will make you a nation, and kings shall go out from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you, and between your offspring after you, throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant to be as God for you and to your offspring after you.

God Changes Sarai’s Name to Sarah

Genesis 17:15–16 LEB
15 And God said to Abraham, “as for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, for Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her; moreover, I give to you from her a son. And I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations. Kings of peoples shall come from her.”

Faith Needs Patience

>>>It was more than Abraham could take right now, and he laughed at the very idea:
Genesis 17:17–18 ESV
17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”

God Promises He Will Come Through

>>>God affirms Sarah and the mother of the people God will build:
Genesis 17:19 LEB
19 And God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear a son for you, and you shall call his name Isaac. And I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant to his offspring after him.
>>>This is hard to swallow when you are old. Now, even though I can imagine myself relocating at my age, I can’t imagine fathering my first child in another 30 years. Nor could Sarah:
Genesis 18:10 LEB
10 And he said, “I will certainly return to you in the spring, and look, Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the doorway of the tent, and which was behind him.
>>>Now it was Sarah’s turn to laugh at this outrageous idea:
Genesis 18:11–12 LEB
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; the way of women had ceased to be for Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself saying, “After I am worn out and my husband is old, shall this pleasure be to me?”
Genesis 18:13–14 LEB
13 Then Yahweh said to Abraham, “What is this that Sarah laughed, saying, ‘Is it indeed true that I will bear a child, now that I have grown old?’ 14 Is anything too difficult for Yahweh? At the appointed time I will return to you in the spring and Sarah shall have a son.”

God’s Vision for His People

Genesis 18:18–19 LEB
18 Abraham will surely become a great and strong nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed on account of him. 19 For I have chosen him, that he will command his children and his household after him that they will keep the way of Yahweh, to do righteousness and justice, so that Yahweh may bring upon Abraham that which he said to him.”
Abraham will become a great nation.
All the nations of the earth blessed through Abraham’s faithfulness.
Abraham is chosen.
Yahweh will be faithful to his promises.

God Delivers On His Promise to Abraham and Sarah

Genesis 21:1–2 LEB
1 And Yahweh visited Sarah as he had said. And Yahweh did to Sarah as he had promised. 2 And she conceived, and Sarah bore to Abraham a son in his old age at the appointed time that God had told him.
Genesis 21:3–4 LEB
3 And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised Isaac his son when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.

Laughter Comes to Abraham’s House

Genesis 21:5–6 LEB
5 And Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac his son was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; all who hear will laugh for me.”

Abraham’s Faith Comes Through the Trial

Genesis 22:15–17 LEB
15 And the angel of Yahweh called to Abraham a second time from heaven. 16 And he said, “I swear by myself, declares Yahweh, that because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only child, 17 that I will certainly bless you and greatly multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is by the shore of the sea. And your offspring will take possession of the gate of his enemies.

The Promise of Faith is for Us

Genesis 22:18 LEB
18 All the nations of the earth will be blessed through your offspring, because you have listened to my voice.”

Sarah and Abraham Fulfill Their Years

Genesis 23:1–2 LEB
1 And Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died in Kiriath Arba; that is Hebron, in the land of Canaan. And Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
Genesis 25:1–2 LEB
1 Now Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 2 And she bore to him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.
Genesis 25:7–8 LEB
7 Now these are the days of the years of the life of Abraham: one hundred and seventy-five years. 8 And Abraham passed away and died in a good old age, old and full of years. And he was gathered to his people.
Genesis 15:15 LEB
15 And as for you, you shall go to your ancestors in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.
Genesis 25:9 LEB
9 And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, son of Zohar the Hittite, that was east of Mamre,

Abraham’s Faithfulness Put Him as the Ancestor of the One (Jesus) who would bless all

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