- PART ONE -
FRIEND OF GOD AND FATHER OF FAITH
James H. Turner
A thesis submitted to Salt Lake Baptist College in
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Masters of Theology
Salt Lake Baptist College
In presenting this thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Masters degree at Salt Lake Baptist College and/or Salt Lake Bible College, I agree that the Library shall make its copies freely available for inspection. I further agree that extensive copying of this thesis is allowable only for scholarly purposes, consistent with "fair use" as prescribed in the U.S. Copyright Law. In addition, Salt Lake Baptist College and Salt Lake Bible College can use this thesis in part or in whole for use in any manner for any classes taught, whether those classes be on-campus, distance-learning, or online. That includes placing the thesis, in whole or in part, on the internet if need be for educational purposes. Copyright credit will be given to me on any and all copies made by the college. Any other reproduction for any purposes or by any means shall not be allowed without my written permission.
© 2009 by James Turner
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii
ch 1 - Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .pp. 1-6
ch. 2 - Down To Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pp. 7-12
ch. 3 - Lott’s Loss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pp. 13-18
ch. 4 - To The Rescue Of Lott . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pp. 19-24
ch. 5 - God’s Pledge To Abram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pp. 25-30
ch. 6 - The Breakdown In Abram’s Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pp. 31-36
ch. 7 - God Renews His Covenant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pp. 37-42
ch. 8 - Abraham’s Surprise Visitors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .pp. 43-48
ch. 9 - Abraham The Intercessor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pp. 49-54
ch. 10 - Destruction Of Sodom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .pp. 55-60
ch. 11 - A Return To The Old Ways . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pp. 61-66
ch. 12 - The Fulfillment Of The Promise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .pp. 67-72
ch. 13 - Faith’s Test - God Provides At Moriah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pp. 73-78
ch. 14 - Sarah Goes Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .pp. 79-84
ch. 15 - A Bride For Isaac . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .pp. 85-90
ch. 16 - God’s Friend Comes Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .pp. 91-96
ch. 17 - Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 97
Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pp. 99-100
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 101
I am extremely grateful for a patient wife. The hours spent researching and writing this paper seemed to be endless and my dear wife endured them all. In my 20 years of ministry she has been a faithful and precious help meet.
I also want to extend a thank you to all of the students of Genesis and the life of Abraham that I profited from. These men have given Christianity a great wealth of insight on this dear saint of God. My own work was enriched through my reading and rejoicing in the truth that God was pleased to share with them.
I must also thank my beloved church family, Victory Baptist Church, who week after week heard me say, “turn in your Bible to the Book of Genesis.” They gave many gracious words of encouragement to me as we studied the life of Abraham together.
GENESIS 11:27 - 12:5
We enter into a study dealing with one of the great men of the Bible. This man is one of my favorite characters in the Scriptures. He is one of my favorites not because he was great, but because he was small. He was small in the sense that he was human just like us all. Abraham had his “issues” just like all men do. Early on in his walk with God he was prone to wander just like us. But, the Bible calls Abraham the “friend of God.” (James 2:23). What a reputation and memorial for any human! Is that not a tremendous statement concerning someone, anyone? To be able to say that man is a “friend of God” should be the longing and goal of every believer in Jesus Christ.
It is important to study the life of Abraham because his experiences with God are great pictures of the Christian’s walk with God. In Abraham we see God calling a lost sinner to follow Him. We see the failings of an immature believer. We see the mountain top experiences and the deep valleys of the spiritual life. We see the great triumph of one whose faith was tested and ultimately found to be true.
Three of the major religions of the world find their roots in Abraham. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim heritage in Abraham. The biblical record dealing with Abraham encompasses fourteen chapters of the book of Genesis chronologically spanning about one hundred years. Yes, Abraham is probably about 60 years old when he is introduced in chapter 11 but 75 when God begins to deal with him in earnest. He dies at the ripe old age of 175. Abraham's life during that one hundred years impacted the history of the human race as no other mere human.
I. WHO WAS ABRAHAM?
A. WHERE DID ABRAHAM COME FROM?
Abraham’s birth place was in Ur of the Chaldees. It is found near the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Because of the silting process brought on by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the ancient ruins of the city lie about one hundred miles inland from the sea. Interestingly, today it is the land of Kuwait, which is situated where the southern most borders of Iraq and Iran come together.
B. WHAT WAS ABRAHAM’S SPIRITUAL LIFE LIKE?
Abraham lived about two thousand years before the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and it had been about four hundred years since the world wide flood of Noah’s day. The flood was God’s judgment upon man for his paganism. But by Abraham’s day mankind had once again slid back into the same idolatry. The people of Ur worshiped nature and everything in nature. There was a great focus upon the worship of the sun, moon and the stars.
They believed that the moon ruled the climate thus controlled whether or not their crops would be good or not. With that belief as a motivation, they worshiped the moon with fervent passion. In fact there was a great temple in Ur dedicated to the worship of the moon. We do not know for certain but it is possible that Abraham was a moon worshiper before God intervened in his life.
C. WHAT WAS ABRAHAM’S FAMILY BACKGROUND?
He was a descendant of Shem, one of Noah’s sons. His father’s name was Terah. He had two brothers whose names were Nahor, and Haran. Haran died relatively young and his son Lot came into the direct household of Terah. Lot would have become as a younger brother to Abraham.
Abraham married a beautiful lady named Sarai while he still made his home in Ur.
"And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; . . .”
Verse 30 tells us that she was barren. Scripture emphasizes this by repeating her situation two ways. “But Sarai was barren; she had no child.”
Summing up Abraham’s early life, he was probably about 60 years old at the outset of the Bible record. He was married and seems to have been very close to his family. Spiritually, he was possibly an idolater, maybe a worshiper of the moon. Tradition says that Abraham always went against the grain in Ur in that he refused to worship the idols of the rest of his family and countrymen. But there is no Scripture proof for this, only wishful thinking. F. B. Meyer refers to tradition when he writes,
Amid such scenes ABRAHAM was born, and grew from youth to manhood. But, from the first, if we may credit the traditions which have lingered in the common talk of the unchanging East, he must have possessed no ordinary character. According to those stories, which if not literally true, are no doubt based on a substratum of fact, as a young man Abraham offered an uncompromising opposition to the evil practices which were rife, not only in the land, but in his father’s house.(12a)
Scripture does let us know that some of his family members were idol worshipers.
“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.”
Also remember that it was Rachel, Abraham’s grandson Jacob’s wife, who stole the idols from her father Laban, who, interestingly, was Abraham’s nephew.
In looking at the general spiritual condition of man we find that he had again degenerated into idolatry. He worshiped the creature rather than the Creator. We find one thing for certain man does not learn very well from his past errors but is rather prone to repeat them.
It was time for God to once again step in. This time he would not destroy the human race as He did with the flood. Rather, He would call out a man for Himself. Abraham was a man that God would use in a very amazing way in His dealings with the human race.
II. GOD’S CALL TO ABRAM.
Abraham’s original name was Abram. And we will call him such until God moves to change it.
A. HIS COMMAND TO LEAVE.
Albert Barnes tells us that it has been “Four hundred and twenty-two years by the lowest calculation after the last recorded communication with Noah, the Lord again opens his mouth, to Abram.”(1a) It is significant to mention that of all men alive upon the earth at the time, God chooses to speak to this man, Abram.
1. GOD COMMANDS ABRAM.
“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”
God’s words to Abram were simple when boiled down. Separate yourself from your present life.
“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.”
If we take both these passages together, we find out that the words of Genesis12:1 actually take place before the events of 11:31. Abraham was told by God to leave everything behind him. His home, his secondary family, the security of Ur and go into a land that He will show him.
2. ABRAM’S INCOMPLETE OBEDIENCE.
The Bible does not say it but it seems apparent that Abram shared all this with Terah, his father. Terah decided that He would go with Abram. So they all leave Ur: Terah, Abraham, Sarai, and Lot.
Be mindful that Abram was told to go to Canaan and the group sets out with Canaan as its destination but it only gets to Haran. This is interesting because Haran would have been like a miniature Ur. The society and religion were very much like that of Ur. Unfortunately, that is where they stopped. John Phillips comments on Abram’s first steps of faith as follows:
. . . it was only partial obedience, for Abram was told to give up both natural and national ties. There was to be a complete break with the past. Partial obedience resulted in the loss of further progress, for the whole venture ground to a halt before it had progressed very far.(17a)
It is important to realize that civilization at this time was a patriarchal society. The elder of the clan (family) had a very strong rule and control. So Terah was still in charge and things are pretty much like they were in Ur. Abram remained in Haran until the death of his father.
3. ABRAM’S FURTHER OBEDIENCE. (12:4)
Abram leaves Haran and goes down into Canaan as God had instructed him in Ur and repeated in Haran. There is one problem though, he still has Lot tagging along. He is still not in complete obedience to God’s command to separate himself from his father’s house.
Various events take place in Abram’s life during this time and he continues to be God’s called out one but we do not find God moving ahead with His program for Abram during this period of partial obedience.
In God’s providence, Abram’s and Lot’s herds grow to the point that these men finally have to split up. God prospers materially in this case in order to providentially get things the way He desires them to be.
4. ABRAM’S COMPLETE OBEDIENCE. (13:14-17)
After Abram had obeyed and separated himself from Lot, God comes to him and shares more of His plans for him. Note the words of (Genesis 13:14) “after that Lot was separated from him.” It is possible to have unfulfilled spiritual lives because of only partial obedience to God. There is a biblical principle to be learned here; God will only reveal truth to us to the extent that we are willing to act on and obey that truth.
God has called the believer to separate from the world and the things of the world. We read in
1 John 2:15-17
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
God saves us to be a people for His own Name. And we are often trying to continue with one foot in the world and the other in the Kingdom of God. Such compromise just will not work. The Lord Jesus said,
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
How complete should our obedience to God’s word be? Dear one, if you are trying to live for God and continue in friendship with the world; I can only ask, “why?”
We will see the lesson of separation from the world over and over again in the life of Abraham. He was to leave his old life behind. It is extremely important for the child of God to separate himself from the world and part ways with the old life.
III. GOD’S PROMISE MADE TO ABRAM. Genesis 13:14-17.
We look at these aspects of God’s promise to Abram in introductory form only. They will all be dealt with much detail in later chapters.
“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.”
A. ABRAM’S RECEIVES PROMISES FROM GOD.
1. GOD PROMISES TO GIVE HIM A LAND.
God gave Abram the land of Canaan. He was instructed to look out across the land in every direction; it was all his. We will deal with this more in a later chapter.
2. GOD PROMISES TO MAKE OF HIM A GREAT NATION.
Of course God did this as well. “I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth.” (Genesis 13:16)
3. GOD PROMISES TO MAKE HIS NAME GREAT.
Abram became one of the richest men in the ancient world. He was called a prince amongst the peoples of the land. His name has been echoed by the people of God for four thousand years.
4. IN ABRAM ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH WOULD BE BLESSED. (Genesis 12:3; 22:18).
“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.”
a. THE BLESSING OF ABRAM’S TESTIMONY.
God intended that Abraham would be a living witness to the nations concerning what a relationship of faith between God and man is. God had chosen to use Abram to reveal Himself to the lost who lived around him.
b. THE BLESSING OF ABRAM’S SEED. (Genesis 22:18)
The Seed, singular, of Abram was Jesus Christ Himself. In Christ salvation would be brought to all nations. All of this boiled down to one thing.
B. ABRAM’S BELIEVING OF GOD. (Genesis 15:6).
“Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
God stepped into Abraham’s life in the midst of his sin and called him out for Himself. Abram becomes a tremendous picture of God’s working by grace in the heart of an individual.
“For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God.”
Abram believed, he trusted God. It is the same requirement for salvation today as then. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31)
Is God speaking to you? Where will you spend eternity? Do you know you will go to Heaven when you take your last breath on this earth? The Bible says you can know.
DOWN TO EGYPT - GENESIS 12-13
I thank God for the honest way the Holy Spirit records events in the Bible. In the passage before us, God gives us the unvarnished truth concerning Abram. If the Bible was the product of man would it not try to cover over or leave out some things that cast a dark shadow on its heroes? There is no rewriting of history in the Bible. The Lord teaches us much on how to live the Christian life through this man. We learn through his victories but also through his failures.
1 Corinthians 10:11
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
It is profitable for us to look at our spiritual forefathers that we might learn, and be admonished in our own lives. In this chapter we learn valuable lessons from some bad decisions that Abram made.
I. GOD’S PROMISE TO HIS MAN. Verses 12:1-8.
We read in verse one that God has given some clear instruction to Abram. He is to separate himself from his country, his kindred and his father’s house. After a delay in Haran until his father’s death he has now moved into the land of Canaan, as God had told him to.
A. PLACE OF GOD’S BLESSING. Verse 8.
This location is between Bethel, “the house of God” and Hai - “a heap of ruins,” which was to the East back toward Ur. Be mindful that Ur was also East of where Abram now was. God has Abraham in a tremendous place.
Abraham has the “house of God” for his dwelling place and a “heap of ruins” nearby to remind him of the old life that he left behind. It is good to be reminded of what a mess our old life was before God intervened and brought us to himself.
God saved Abraham out of the sin and wickedness of his old life in Ur and had given him a new life in His land, Bethel, the house of God. We notice that Abraham had some spiritual growth in this place.
B. PLACE OF WORSHIP. Verse 8a. “there he builded an altar unto the LORD.”
Abraham built an altar there. That was a very good start. The purpose for an altar is worship. Abraham now becomes a worshiper of Jehovah.
C. PLACE OF PRAYER. Verse 8b. “And called upon the name of the LORD.”
When a child of God is growing, he is a worshiping, and praying believer in God. His relationship with God will be spiritually enriched and temporally blessed.
Unfortunately, through Abram we now see what the consequences from moving away from God’s place and house.
II. THE FAILURE OF GOD’S MAN. Verses 12:9-10.
For some reason Abraham gets restless. The old bedouin, vagabond spirit hits him. He feels he has to move on. Through Abram we see the consequences from moving away from God’s place and house.
A. A TIME OF TESTING FOR GOD’S MAN.
1. THE TEST. Verse 10a. “And there was a famine in the land.”
A famine comes into the land, but notice we hear nothing of this famine until Abraham has begun to leave from God’s house, the place he was supposed to be. As Abraham moves toward Egypt, he loses God’s blessing. God had promised to take care of Abram in Canaan, but when he leaves the place God had told him to be the results are not good.
Reader, even when things get tough we need to hang on to God’s promises. His promise is “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” That verse comes from a passage that gives us some understanding with what is happening to Abram.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
The testimony of God’s faithfulness is involved here. I grant you that it is very hard at times to simply rest in God’s promise to us. But, beloved, do we believe His promise or not?
2. ABRAM’S FAILURE. Verse 10.
When the believer leaves God’s will, he is an absolute failure. Abram took his eyes off God and looked to the world for help. Abraham goes down to Egypt. In the Scriptures Egypt is a type, or picture of the world.
Notice: Abraham goes down into Egypt. Anytime you move away from the house of God toward the world, it will be a downward trip. The world will always seek to drag you down. It will try to pull you down to its level. Moving toward the world will never be a positive spiritual move.
B. THE DEPARTURE OF GOD’S MAN.
Abraham now finds himself in Egypt. As soon as he gets there, trouble begins.
1. ABRAHAM’S FEAR. 12:11-12.
When he moves away from God he loses fellowship with God and fear gets hold of him. His dear wife, Sarai, is a beautiful woman and he was afraid that the Egyptians would kill him to take her from him. He decides to have her hide the fact that she is his wife for the sake of his own safety. Rather than being her protector and provider, he is worried about himself. What a horrible thing to do to your wife!
2. ABRAHAM’S LIE. 12:13.
Abraham lies to protect himself, it is really only a half lie because Sarai was his half sister. But in God’s eyes a half-truth is a whole lie.
Sure enough, when the Egyptians lay eyes on Sarai they are taken by her beauty and she is removed to the house of Pharaoh. All the while Abram is lying about his wife; Pharaoh is pouring gifts on Abram. It looks like Abram’s scheme is going to work, but God is not going to allow His plans for Abram to be destroyed. In order to protect His program, God plagues Pharaoh and his house.
Notice something significant: in a short time Abram has gone from being a praying and worshiping man of Jehovah God to a lying compromiser. So before you say, “I would never do such a thing,” take care to set boundaries in your life that you will not cross in order to ensure your walk with the Lord. Simply refuse to lie about anything. Be completely honest in your dealings with everyone. Most importantly remain in the house of God.
C. THE OBVIOUS EFFECTS OF A BAD TESTIMONY. Verses 14-17.
Because of Abram’s lie, others are punished. We can bring great pain upon others through our sin. Our sin can bring consequences not only upon us but upon innocent people around us. There is no one more miserable than a Christian out of fellowship with God. Imagine how this affected his relationship with Sarai! After this terrible denial of his wife, how much respect do you think Sarai had for her husband?
Abram’s sin brought judgment upon Pharaoh and his household. Very seldom will our sin only effect us.
D. THE WORLD REBUKES ABRAM. (12:18-20)
1. GOD’S REBUKE OF ABRAM AT THE HAND OF A SINNER.
Pharaoh, a lost heathen leader asks God’s chosen man: “What is this that thou hast done unto me?” (Genesis 12:18a). It is a very sad day when God has to use a lost man to rebuke His child.
Pharaoh did not want to mess around with Abram’s God, but the testimony of God’s man did not say much about what a believer in Jehovah is to be. What sort of savor did Abram leave in Egypt of what a believer is? It is mindful of the reproach; “if that is a believer then I hope I never meet another one.”
2. GOD’S UNEXPECTED ESCORT FOR ABRAM. (12:20)
The sense of the words “and they sent him away” are very strong. It is as if Pharaoh has to use force to get rid of Abraham. God wanted Abram in Canaan, and He will do what He has to do to get him where He wanted him.
III. THE REVIVAL OF GOD’S MAN. (Chapter 13)
God gets Abraham up and out of Egypt.
A. ABRAM GETS BACK TO GOD’S HOUSE. Verse three. Abram gets back to Bethel.
We need God’s house, and we need the ministry of God in His house. When we absent ourselves from God’s house we quickly grow cold, and it is sure that we will not grow in the things of God.
B. ABRAM GETS BACK TO SEEKING GOD. Verse 4.
When back to where God’s child should be, we find him praying and calling on the Name of the Lord. We see from these events in the life of Abraham three very important marks of the spiritual man. Remember this though, these things do not make a person spiritual. They are the marks of the one who is spiritual, one who is where he ought to be with the Lord.
1.) He will be a separated man.
Abraham got out of Egypt and put some distance between himself and the world. Some Christians confuse separation with isolation. Separation should be thought of as insulation. That is, insulating yourself against spiritual danger.
It is the truth of John 17 in that God has been pleased to leave us in this world but we are not to be of this world. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16).
2.) He will be a sanctified man.
What is sanctification? It is the other side of separation. In separation we seek to separate ourselves from the effect of the world in our lives.
In Sanctification the believer separates himself to the Lord. It is being set apart for the LORD. It is a wise believer that puts distance between himself and the spiritual dangers of the world.
Take note of this illustration from John Phillips concerning the woman seeking a new coachman.
She had three applicants, to each of whom she put the same question. “You know that steep hill just outside town and that narrow spot where the road drops away to a gully. How close could you drive my coach to the edge without losing your nerve?” The first man said, “Madam, if the wheels of the coach came within six inches of the edge I would feel quite safe.” The second coachman said, “Madam, I reckon even if one of the wheels went clean over the edge I could hold those horses and recover the coach without harm.” It was the third coachman who secured the job. “Madam,” he said, “I would keep that coach as far away from that gully as I possibly could.” (17b)
That is a good picture of sanctification. It is not getting as close to the world without falling into sin or hurting our testimony. Rather, it is keeping as far away from it as we can by drawing as close as we can to the Lord.
3.) He will be a man of sacrifice.
Abram is back to the altar. He is back to the place of worship, back to the place where he “called on the name of the Lord.”
Back to where God was in control.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding: in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Within the simple words of these verses from the Proverbs lay the key to a victorious Christian life. Trust God absolutely and do not look to your own wisdom or ability and in every area of your life give God complete authority and then God will direct your life for His glory and your good.
Stop here and take the
LESSON ONE TEST
Test is "open book."
ABRAHAM: FRIEND OF GOD AND FATHER OF FAITH
CHAPTER 3 - STRIFE OR SATISFACTION OF THE BELIEVER
LOT’S LOSS, GENESIS 13:5-18
We come to chapter 13 finding Abram experiencing a time of personal revival in his life. Reading verses 1-4 we discover that he is out of Egypt (a picture of the world in the Bible) and back to Bethel, the house of God. We find him back to the place of the Altar and calling upon the name of the Lord.
Our passage deals with a situation where the relationship of Abram and his nephew Lot has become strained. At first reading we might not pick up on the spiritual significance of what takes place here, but God is on the scene and working to accomplish His perfect will in the life of His man. God is working through His providence to bring events about in such a way that His will is accomplished. He wants Lot separated from Abram and it is interesting that He blesses them both so much that they just cannot live in the same place anymore. The way that Abram deals with all of this is a testimony of the spiritual growth that is taking place in his life.
We are going to see very clearly the difference of how a spiritually minded believer and a carnally minded believer deal with problems and decisions that must be made in the course of life. Please take note that we are talking about two believers that approach life and what is important in life very differently.
IV. THE STRIFE BETWEEN THE BRETHREN. Verses 5 -7.
A. THE MIXED BLESSING. Verses 5 - 6
Not only has Abram increased in wealth over the years but Lot has also amassed a great deal of possessions. He has accumulated “flocks, and herds, and tents.” And evidently he now has a number of men working for him.
B. THE HERDSMEN’S STRIFE. Verse seven.
1. THE OBVIOUS PROBLEM.
With the blessing of the increase of Abram and Lot’s wealth in possessions there came a problem. The land could not support them both and strife developed between these two men’s herdsmen.
We can imagine that they were probably fighting over grazing land, wells and such like things. The question is, what should they do about it?
2. THE OBSERVING PEOPLE. Verse 7b.
We could very easily just read over this statement but the Holy Spirit recorded it for a reason. “. . . the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.” These two groups of people were the native inhabitants of the area. There are a couple things that come to mind here as to possible considerations about this.
a. THE POTENTIAL DANGER.
What would happen if Abram and Lot allowed this strife to continue to the point that they got into violence with each other? The Canaanite and the Perizzite potentially could have taken advantage and let them fight it out and then move in on the weakened survivor.
b. THE POOR TESTIMONY.
Not only was there a potential danger but this strife amongst these brethren was a poor testimony to their lost neighbors. As long as there is more than one person in this old world there will be the possibility for disagreement. It is a sad situation though when two brethren fall out into strife before the ungodly.
“do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.” Emphasis is the author’s.
Abram wants to avoid this. And to this point it seems that the strife was limited to the herdsmen and had not affected Abram and Lot’s relationship.
V. SEPARATION IS NOW NECESSARY FOR ABRAM.
Be mindful that God had initially called Abram to separate himself from country, kindred and his father’s house, to the land that He had for him. God was now going on with Abram in separating him from his father’s house. We have no idea how much of a hindrance Lot has been on Abram’s spiritual life.
Take note of something extremely important: when God calls His follower to separate from the world and worldly associations it is not to create a vacuum in the believer’s life. We are to separate from the world unto God. His desire is to have our lives for Himself. Abram will now be separated from Lot and Lot’s continual drag on his spiritual life. When God sees fit to do such a thing it is a good thing. Never again will the Holy Spirit record the words, “and Lot also, which went with Abram.” Verses 1 & 5.
VI. SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT OF ABRAM. Verses 8-9.
A. ABRAM’S CONCERN.
What is Abram’s desire? “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee . . . for we
be brethren.” (Genesis 13:8)
The word “strife” carries the meaning of contention or to have a quarrel with another. Abram did not want this issue to become a further problem that would cause a quarrel between himself and Lot. Abram’s relationship to his nephew was more important to him than things.
MAKING THE APPLICATION:
It is a sad thing when brethren lose sight of the importance of a right testimony for God in the community. They forget the bond that they have in Jesus Christ. They forget the important matters and get caught up in strife over things that have no (absolutely no) eternal significance.
B. ABRAM’S DISCERNMENT. Verse 9.
Abram behaves in a very admirable way. He gives Lot the choice of all the land. Essentially he is saying, “Whatever way you go I will go the other. Whatever you choose I will take what is left.” Abram did not have to do this. After all, God had given all the land to Abram. Who was the senior man here? Abram. Who was probably still the stronger and greater in possessions? Abram.
Abram displays his superior character and superior spirit in this most generous offer. It is not an easy thing to do, but it is a mark of spiritual character when a person can defer his rights to another. Paul wrote to the Philippians “let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Their lost neighbors (the Canaanites and Perizzites) probably scratched their heads wondering why Abram would yield his rights and withhold his strength in this matter. But God would greatly bless him for it.
VII. LOT MAKES A SHALLOW DECISION. Verses 10-11.
A. THE INFLUENCE OF ABRAM LOST.
While these two men are close to each other Abram has influence in Lot’s life. It is tremendous when a mature believer can serve as a mentor in the life of a new or younger believer. But, there should come a time when the younger believer is able to stand on their own spiritual legs. Unfortunately, many a professing believer’s walk is born along more by the influence of another faithful follower of the Lord than it is of their own faith in God. We see this sometimes amongst husbands and wives. We see it amongst believing friends. We see it in most any relationship where there is strong leadership, but where another or others that are more “hangers on” than they are leaders in their own right. C. H. McIntosh describes the present situation between Abram and Lot with these words:
Such persons go on for a time either as a dead weight upon the testimony or an active hindrance to it. Thus, in Abraham’s case, the Lord called him to leave his kindred; but he brought his kindred with him. Terah retarded him in his movement, until death took him out of the way: Lot followed him somewhat further, until “the lust of other things” overpowered him, and he entirely broke down.(14a)
When the day of separation comes the one will go on in his faithful walk with God, but the other will in short order find themselves under the spell of the world, the flesh and the devil. We have no evidence that Lot had a vital spiritual walk with the Lord of his own. We have no record that he had an altar of his own, no indication that he called on the name of the Lord for himself. And now we find him making this decision out of his own wisdom. John Philips comments: “A man who is weak in his devotions and worldly in his desires will inevitably be wrong in his decisions (13:11-13). Lot chose all the plain of Jordan and separated himself from his godly uncle.” (17c)
B. THE INFLUENCE OF LOT’S FLESH GAINED.
What is Lot’s reaction when Abram submits himself to his nephew’s choice? “ALL RIGHT!” He does not say, “Oh no, uncle Abram, you are the leader of the family. You have the right to choose over me.” No, we do not find him protesting at all. Rather he looks around the countryside and sees the well-watered plain of Jordan. He tries to put a spiritual spin on his decision and describes it, “even as the garden of the LORD.” But his true motivation comes through when he further identifies it, “like the land of Egypt.” Lot had enjoyed the luxuries of Egypt during his time there and the plain of Jordan reminded him of it.
Lot chose with his flesh through worldly minded thinking. He did not consider what would be best for his family spiritually. He did not weigh the potential consequences of his decision.
VIII. BEING SURRENDERED TO OUR CHOICES. Verses 12-18.
We all have to live with the choices we make in life. And we see here that the biblical principle of “reaping what you sew” is once again proven true.
A. THE SAD CONSEQUENCES OF LOT’S CHOICE. Verses 12b -13.
We are not going to really deal with the results of the choices Lot is making for his life at this time but only to say this. What on the surface may appear to be a good decision does not always prove good in the long run.
I have heard some say. I know this decision or move was God’s will because of how great things
worked out. By that statement they are referring to apparent material blessing. Dear ones, that is
not always, in fact seldom is it the best indicator to judge things by.
Two important issues to remember when one is making decisions.
1.) How does my decision line up with the Word of God?
2.) How is my decision going to effect, not only me but those that I am spiritually responsible for?
B. THE CONSEQUENCES OF ABRAM’S CHOICE. Verses 12a & 14 -18.
1. THOUGH HE DEFERRED TO LOT, ABRAM LOST NOTHING. Verses 14 -15.
What an amazing word Abram receives from God. The Lord tells Abram to look around himself in every direction and informs him that it all belongs to him. Wow, Abram is blessed even though he deferred to Lot!
2. THOUGH SUBMITTED ABRAM IS ENCOURAGED. Verses 16 -17.
God goes on to encourage Abram for his wise handling of the strife with Lot and his subsequent separation from him. The Lord reiterates that He will bless him with a great multitude of descendants. He again gives Abram a word about the land. This is paraphrasing but the message is, “Abram wherever you set your foot down I will give it to you.”
3. SPIRITUAL SEPARATION BRINGS ABRAM FATNESS IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE LORD. Verse 18.
The word “Mamre” means strength or fatness and “Hebron” means association or fellowship. In ancient culture “fatness” suggested wealth. We find Abram blessed with “fatness” in the place of fellowship and worship of the LORD.
Dear ones, how are you making decisions for your life? Do not make the mistake Lot made as he, “lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan” (Genesis 13:10) and was impressed with what the physical eyes may see.
ABRAHAM FRIEND OF GOD AND FATHER OF FAITH
CHAPTER - 4 - TO THE RESCUE OF LOT
What does it mean to be friends with someone? It can mean several things. First, it will mean that there is a friendly relationship. Second, friends have fellowship with each other. Third, friends are often companions. Fourth, friends like each other and desire prosperity and success for each other.
It is recorded by the Holy Spirit in the Word of God that Abraham was known as the friend of God. That is a testimony to be desired. It is also a reason why Abram was prepared to do a great and heroic deed at a critical time.
In this chapter we have a lot of Bible firsts. The Book of Genesis is loaded with these and rightly so since its name means, “beginnings” it is the book of beginnings. There are many doctrines and biblical principles that are introduced or mentioned for the first time in Genesis. Among these first mentions we have in this chapter the first priest, the first king, the first war, first time wine is mentioned, and the first time a tithe is received.
In this record of the first war in the Bible we have ten kings that come upon the scene. Out of all ten only one is a truly righteous king and he comes on the scene at the very end. In this we have a thumb nail picture of all history played out with the coming of the King of kings at the end of time to set up His kingdom.
Though he is very much involved in our story, Abram remains separated from the cities fo the plain of Jordan. Through this war God uses Abram to teach us the proper balance between separation from the wickedness of the world without becoming isolated from the world’s needs. Abram lived totally separated from the world, pictured here by Sodom, Gomorrah and the other cities in the plain of Jordan.
Abram had no use for Sodom and its wickedness, its amusements, its pleasures and its prosperity. He kept a good distance between himself and Sodom. With that said though, he did not pretend that it did not exist. He had a family interest in Sodom. His worldly, weak, and back-slid nephew lived in Sodom. Yes, we find Lot now living in the midst of all that wickedness. How could that happen? Not really hard to understand and follow the downward steps that landed Lot in such a wicked environment.
1.) He looked at Sodom. Which pictures the world and all that it had to offer.
“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.”
2.) Then he moved in the direction of Sodom.
“Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.”
3.) Now we find him dwelling in Sodom.
“And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.”
With all that is about to transpire, we find Abram willing to get involved for Lot’s sake, but only at the right time and in the right way. Because Abram had remained separate from the worldly cities of the plain, he was now in a position to be used of God to see their deliverance.
I. THE BATTLE AMONG THE NINE KINGS. Verses 1-12.
A. THE BATTLE INVOLVES FOUR AGAINST THE FIVE.
The narrative of the chapter tells us that the cities of the plain had been in subjection to King Chedorlaomer for 12 years. While under his rule Sodom and the other cities had been paying tribute (taxes) to him. In the 13th year they chose to rebel. This must have been repeated in other places because in the 14th year we find Chedorlaomer massing his armies along with three other kings and moving to reconsolidate his kingdom.
We find this great army moving through these lands and destroying all opposition. No one was able to stop him. In the plain of Jordan Bera, king of Sodom and four other kings thought they would be able to stand against Chedorlaomer’s forces but they too soon found out otherwise.
In verse 10 the wicked kings of the plain fell and fled in the slime pits in the vale of Siddim. It was appropriate for these ones who were so filthy on the inside to now be outwardly what they were inwardly. John Phillips writes:
There seems to be a poetic justice in it all. Sodom and Gomorrah were vile and filthy beyond words. Their sin was a stench in the nostrils of God. It was fitting that their kings would be hauled off to captivity all besmirched and bedaubed with slime. (17d)
B. THE CAPTIVES.
With the ragtag armies of the plain routed it left the cities unprotect to be spoiled. Many were taken as prisoner, including Lot and all he owned. They were carried away to be sold as slaves to the highest bidder.
II. THE RESCUE WON BY THE MAN OF GOD. Verses 13-16.
A. ABRAM’S STRENGTH.
1. HIS SEPARATION.
He is called “Abram the Hebrew” which means the “one from beyond.” He was an outsider. He was one who had pulled out of the world and crossed over to the place God had given him. Even here in his new home Abram’s neighbors saw him as an outsider. It is good for the believer to see himself as Abram saw himself.
“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.”
2. HIS SITUATION.
He was dwelling at Hebron. Genesis 13:18; 14:13. Hebron means “association” or “fellowship.” Abram was in the place of fellowship with his God. It was a place of the altar, a place of sacrifice and worship. Abram was in a place where he could hear and get leadership from God.
B. ABRAM’S STRATEGY.
Abram was certainly aware of what was going on in the world around him. It was in his own best interest to keep track of men like Chedorlaomer and his armies. Abram had great holdings and would be a real prize for these invading armies. For the most part, Abram’s wealth would have been in his sheep, goats, cattle and other tangible riches. Chedorlaomer would have been glad to relieve Abram of all those things.
Abram, being in the place of fellowship with God, had without a doubt spent time with the Lord about this situation. Now the word had come to him of the battle in the plain of Jordan and the capture of Lot and the others. We see the “Friend of God” prepared to get involved and take action when he was desperately needed. He was ready to do what needed to be done with God’s help and for God’s glory.
1. THE HARD PURSUIT. Verse 14.
Without hesitation, Abram knows what he must do. He arms his men, 318 of them along with the men of a couple of his neighbors, and goes after this mighty army that was drunk with their successes. There is no question in Abraham’s heart as to if he should seek to rescue Lot.
The claims of a brother’s trouble are answered by the affections of a brother’s heart. This is divine. Genuine faith, while it always renders us independent, never renders us indifferent; it will never wrap itself up in its fleece while a brother shivers in the cold. (14b)
2. THE TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF THE ENEMY. Verses 15-17.
a. THE BATTLE. Verse 15.
Abram recognized that he and his men would be no-match for Chedorlaomer’s armies on the open battlefield so he divides his forces and launches a surprise attack at night and destroys the enemy and chases the survivors nearly to Damascus.
b. THE RESCUE. Verses 16-17
Everyone is rescued, including Lot, along with all of their material goods. On their return the king of Sodom goes out to meet the heroic Abram.
III. THE MINISTRY CARRIED ON BY THE PRIEST-KING. Verses 18-20.
Suddenly, another king shows up out of nowhere in our story and in the Bible and afterward he disappears just suddenly as he appeared. We know nothing about him except his name and the city he ruled and that he was a priest of the Most High God.
A. MELCHIZEDEK WAS KING OF SALEM.
This King shows up out from no where in our story and in the Bible in general and then disappears just as quickly as he appeared. We know nothing about him except his name, the city he ruled and that he was a priest of the Most High God.
He becomes in Scripture a:
1. HE IS A TREMENDOUS PICTURE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
The name Melchizedek means King of Righteousness, and Salem means peace. We see this man as the King of Righteousness, King of Peace.
2. HE HAS A MINISTRY AS A HIGH PRIEST. Verse 18.
We find out here that this man is not only a king but also a “priest of the most high God.”
It is peculiarly sweet to observe the manner in which Melchisedek introduces God to the thoughts of Abraham. He calls God to the thoughts of Abraham. He calls Him “the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth;” and not only so, but pronounces Abraham “blessed” of that same God. (14c)
a. HIS MINISTRY IS ON BEHALF OF JEHOVAH.
He comes to Abram to minister to him for “the Most High God.”
b. HIS MINISTRY PROVIDES BREAD AND WINE.
He sets bread and wine before Abram. The Lord provides a table of sustaining and satisfaction for Abram. Abram is about to face a great temptation. God is intervening and preparing him to deal with this temptation. This is the first mention in the Bible of these elements that since the death of Jesus Christ at Calvary have represented the body and the blood of our Savior, the divine King of Righteousness that gives men peace.
For the Christian these elements look back in memorial and remembrance of the cross. They are set before Abram as a picture, and a foreshadowing of what was to come, looking forward to the cross.
What a tremendous picture we have here. The King/priest, Melchizedek, the type of Christ comes and ministers to Abram in a living type or illustration of how Jesus Christ ministers to the needs of men.
3. ABRAM IS BLESSED. Verses 19-20.
Melchizedek blesses Abram, and reveals a new name of God to him, “the most high God which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.” Melchizedek makes it clear who it was that really won the victory that day, and it was “the most high God.”
4. ABRAM’S RESPONSE. Verse 20b.
Immediately, Abram responds by giving tithes unto Melchizedek. Giving is an act of worship. Abram gives tithes unto Melchizedek as an act of Worship unto God in response to the great victory that God gave him. It was an expression of his gratitude for what God had done for him.
Abram gives tithes of all the spoils to the “most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” His giving is a returning back to the One who had given him the victory. There is no question in Abram’s mind that in the face of insurmountable odds God gave him and his men the victory. To not return to the Lord of the spoils would be a brazen act of pride.
IV. THE TESTIMONY MADE CLEAR BY THE MAN OF GOD. Verses 21-24.
A. THE TEMPTATION. Verse 21.
If Melchizedek is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Sodom is a picture of the tempter, Satan. Immediately after the tremendous victory of faith for Abram Satan comes along with an attempt to steal away the blessing from this growing believer. He offers Abram the spoils of battle. Be mindful that Abram had already given tithes from it.
This is the way it always is. It even happened to our Lord. After the beautiful time of His baptism He was led away into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. The spoils were an appealing temptation. After all, Abram had won the victory of battle and to the victor go the spoils. But Abram was spiritually wise enough to keep his hands off the spoils of Sodom.
B. THE TESTIMONY DECLARED BY ABRAM. Verses 22-23.
1. HIS CONTINUED GROWTH IN FAITH. Verse 22.
He gives the credit to whom it belonged. He lifted his hand to God! And notice, he uses the Name of the God that he had just learned from Melchizedek. This action indicates that Abram may well have sworn unto the Lord before he ever left him that if God gave him the victory he would make no advantage of it for himself.
2. HIS FIRM REJECTION OF THE SPOIL. Verses 23-24.
He refused to make himself liable to the King of Sodom. He turns down the possibility of being put in the place where this worldly king could claim that he had made Abram rich. Abram wanted the Most High God to receive all the glory for the victory.
Abram is once again drawing a line between himself and wickedness, putting distance between himself and the world. He did what he had to do to help his brother but he did it for the glory of God and not for the pleasures or riches of the world. He met their need, rescued them, saved them from destruction. Lord help believers to learn from Abram. There is a great biblical principle to be learned: The world needs us but we do not need the world.
NOTE: Lot returns to Sodom, but Abram returns to Hebron and please take note of the words of
“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.”
Our reward is not in the things of this world that are here today and soon gone. We rest in Him where we need not fear, He is our protection and our reward for all eternity. Believer, are you ready for the battles that may come your way? Only the separated believer who is in fellowship with God will be truly ready to face the foes that inevitably will come your way.
(Hebrews 12:1-2) “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”
Stop here and take the
LESSON TWO TEST
Test is "open book."
ABRAHAM: FRIEND OF GOD AND FATHER OF FAITH
CHAPTER 5 - GOD’S PLEDGE TO ABRAM
Chapter 15 begins with the simple words, “after these things.” After what things would that be? Abram, along with his few hundred men have routed the rampaging army of King Chedorlaomer. God had given an amazing victory to His fledgling disciple. Abram rescues his nephew Lot along with the people and possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah. In a surge of victorious faith Abram refuses the tempting offer of the King of Sodom to take what he wanted of the spoils.
Now the dust of battle has settled. The captives have been rescued. The ministry of the priest of the Most High God, Melchizedec is accomplished and he has returned to Salem. Lot and the King of Sodom have returned to their wicked city.
It may be that the stark reality of what has transpired had begun to dawn on Abram. He had just defeated the most powerful King in all the East. Could it be that he will want to get revenge?
Then there were also the spoils of war that he had refused to take from the King of Sodom. Oh, my! That was a lot of wealth. Abram had valiant faith but maybe there were some second thoughts. We also have some more first mentions in this chapter.
1.) First time in the Bible we have the wonderful phrase “and the word of the Lord came.”
God’s word came to minister to this believer’s heart to comfort and encourage him, saying, “I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” (Genesis 15:1b)
God was saying, “Abram, I am your protection provider.” The relationship between this man, Abram and Almighty God is deepening. It is an amazing thing that three times in the Bible, Abraham is referred to as God’s friend.
2.) First time we have the word “believed.”
We will talk more about this later. Suffice it to say, the proper response to the word of God is to believe. We can believe God, and we can trust His word, just as He has given it to us. We can depend upon it. It is a wonderful truth that God does not always wait until we come to Him. Here God’s word comes to Abram. It is an expression of His loving grace when He comes to the believer through His word and assures and meets his need.
I. THE QUESTION CONCERNING THE PROMISE. Verses 2-7.
A. ABRAM’S QUESTION ABOUT THE SEED. Verses 2-3.
“LORD God what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless”
The mention of God’s reward reminds Abram of something. Obviously, this is something that has been on Abram’s mind and a burden on his heart.
“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”
So God’s mention of His reward stirred Abram to ask God about the seed, his heritage. There is no note of bitterness in Abram’s words. In fact he shows true reverence in addressing God by the name “Lord God.” Which is “Adonai, Jehovah." Abram has a question, “I have no children, am I to leave all my house to my chief servant?” Which would have been the customary practice of the day for a man who had no heirs.
B. GOD’S PROMISE TO ABRAM. Verses 4-7.
1. THE PROMISE. Verse 4.
But this was not to be, Abram would not be left childless; God had promised Abram a seed of his own. A son that would come forth from him.
2. THE PICTURE. Verse 5.
“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.”
The Lord leads Abram out away from the fires of camp and asks him to “Look up into the night sky, can you number the stars? So shall thy seed be.”
It is impossible to give a number to the stars. There is no known end to the universe. And notice here the words, “look now toward heaven.” It is as if God is saying, “look toward me, look toward the One who overflows the universe. Abram look to me and believe that as I have placed the countless stars in the night sky so shall your seed be.”
The eternal God is super-abundant in His response to the believer’s request. God had previously promised him a child and yet the promise was unfulfilled. Abram asks concerning his seed. God repeats His promise to Abram but goes on to establish a home for his heritage. Hamilton Smith expands for us: “Abraham had asked for a son, and God promised him not only a son but also an inheritance for the seed. Sonship and inheritance are the two great themes of God’s reply.” (18a)
3. THE PROVISION. Verse 7.
God did not call Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees to make him homeless. No, quite the contrary, God had an inheritance for His friend. He had provided a possession for Abram’s heritage.
II. THE SEAL OVER THE PROMISE. Verses 8-21.
A. ABRAM’S REQUEST FOR A PLEDGE. Verse 8.
Humbled, Abram seeks some assurance of this promise. God has made an awesome pledge to a
mere man. Abram is not being disrespectful, just honest.
Let us rejoice in what we learn of God’s love and patience as he deals with his child. Abram in his childlike faith asks God to give him some assurance of the promise. A stepping stone, if you will, for him to step out upon. We witness here an awesome and amazing covenant established between God and a man.
B. GOD’S INSTRUCTIONS TO ABRAM. Verse 9.
We have described for us a common ritual that would be used to seal a contract between two parties.
1. THE PREPARATION OF THE PLEDGE. Verse 10.
Abram carefully goes about to prepare as God had instructed him. He takes the heifer, she goat and ram and divides them in half and lays out the pieces along with the birds.
2. ABRAHAM’S WAITING. Verse 11.
Abram has everything ready, and now proceeds to wait for the Lord. He waits upon the Lord. Something that every believer must go through in his pilgrimage with God. Learning to wait upon the Lord.
Imagine the looks and the questions Abram may have had from his dear wife and his servants. What are you doing out there Abram? But Abram is waiting on God. He is acting in obedience to God and nothing and no one would deter him.
The fowls of the air, (probably vultures) come and try to peck and tear away at the sacrifices. Birds of the air in this context speak of evil spirits and the attacks of Satan. You can be sure that as you wait upon God, Satan will try to discourage you and keep you from the blessing that God has in store for you. “Submit therefore unto God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).
Abram illustrates for us that the believer must fight off Satan’s attacks that he wages against us. Resist, refuse to allow God’s blessing to be stolen from you and wait patiently with the Lord.
It is not easy to watch with God, or to wait for Him. The orbit of His providence is so vast. The stages of His progress are so wide apart. He holds on His way through the ages; we tire in a few short hours. And when His dealings with us are perplexing and mysterious, the heart that had boasted its unwavering loyalty begins to grow faint with misgivings, and to question-When shall we be able to trust absolutely, and not be afraid? (15b)
C. GOD’S PROPHECY UNTO ABRAM. Verses 12-16.
1. CONCERNING THEIR CAPTIVITY IN EGYPT. Verses 13-14.
God gives Abram a word concerning the 400 years that his heritage would spend in cruel bondage under a taskmaster in the land of Egypt. The Lord assures Abram though that their captors would be judged and they would be delivered. Such records in the Word of God give the Bible student great confidence in its trustworthiness.
2. CONCERNING HIS OWN DEATH.
A word of encouragement to Abram, he had no need to fear his enemies. He would live a long life and “be buried in a good old age.” (Genesis 15:15b).
3. CONCERNING THE SEED’S RETURN. Verses 16; 18.
The promise that He will bring them back to the land. Look at this promise, God promised that all the land between the Nile and Euphrates rivers belonged to the Seed of Abram. Who is that seed? Israel. This promise is yet to be completely fulfilled. It was nearly fulfilled in the reign of Solomon but never to its completion. Be assured, as God is true to His word, it will be carried out. God keeps His promises to their complete fulfillment. The efforts of the Arab world coupled with the United Nations will not prevail. Believers must enter in and pray for God’s shielding and reward to be brought to pass for the seed of Abraham.
All this carried out with an:
D. UNCONDITIONAL PLEDGE TO ABRAM.
1. ABRAM IS PUT ASIDE. Verse 17.
Usually both parties would take part in the pledge and walk between the animal parts together signifying the covenant to each other.
2. GOD PLEDGES ON HIMSELF. Verse 18.
God makes it clear that He was guaranteeing the conditions of this covenant in Himself. Abram would simply be the recipient of all its benefits. The fulfillment of the pledge did not rest upon him, but upon God.
In our redemption from sin, we are set aside and God accomplishes it all. Jesus Christ stepped in and took our place and gave Himself as the sacrifice that sealed the New Covenant in His blood. We simply believe and by God’s grace through faith the believer becomes the recipient of God’s reward.
III. THE BELIEVING OF THE PROMISE. Verse 6.
Abram believed the promises of God. He believed that God would raise up a great multitude through him.
A. THE TIME THAT ABRAM BELIEVED.
When did Abram believe? After this demonstration concerning the promise or before? Before, Abram believed what God told him. He believed that God would multiply him as the stars of heaven.
B. THE TRUTH THAT ABRAM BELIEVED. Romans 4:1-5.
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
1. ABRAM HAD NOTHING TO BOAST IN. Romans 4:2.
Abram’s salvation rested upon what God did, Abram’s responsibility was but to believe. His faith rested in God and God accounted it to him for righteousness. No works, no accomplishments of the flesh.
2. ABRAM BELIEVED. Vs. 3.
Abram believed God. God’s program for man is not a complicated one.
C. THE TRUTH THAT WE BELIEVE. Verses 20-25.
Today all of us who believe God’s promise to save “by grace through faith,” will receive that same accounting from God.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
What do you have to do to be saved? Simply believe! All those who trust God’s word to them and place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will be saved.
ABRAHAM: FRIEND OF GOD AND FATHER OF FAITH
CHAPTER 6 - THE BREAKDOWN IN ABRAM’S HOME
This time we get to know Sarai a little better, unfortunately we don’t get to see her in a very good light from what we read here in Genesis. So let’s look at this lady from God’s perspective. Be mindful that Chapter 16 of Genesis she has not yet reached this point in her spiritual life.
“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.”
It is interesting that God often sees things and people a lot differently than we do. At any rate, we find in Genesis 16 the first biblical record of domestic strife within the home. This is a hard story to report about one of your heros, but I thank God that He is honest about His children’s failures as well as their victories.
We would like to believe that when the Lord saves us that the problems with the old man and his ways are over; but the truth is we, and as we see in this chapter, Abram had trouble with self and with rationalizing situations in spite of the promises of God concerning those situations.
I. THE STRIFE WITHIN ABRAM’S HOME. Verses 1-4.
Sarai despaired over her barrenness. We can assume that Abram has shared the amazing promises that God had made to him concerning blessing him with a great posterity. This dear lady was depressed over the fact that she had not been able to give Abram a single child.
A. SARAI’S PROTEST. Verses 1-2a.
1. THE WIFE IS BARREN.
Sarai was about seventy years old at this time. So humanly speaking she was convinced that it was not very likely that she would have a child. She is dealing the heartache of unfulfilled dreams of motherhood.
2. THE PRESENCE OF HAGAR.
Hagar is the other woman in this odd triangle of relationships. She is introduced to us in the first verse. She was probably acquired or given to Abram during his stay in Egypt. Remember that Egypt is a picture and type of the world; including all of its temptations and snares for the child of God.
Please consider this biblical principle; when God’s people return to the world they will more than likely get involved in things they ought not, and even when they get right and get back out of the world and return to the Lord they will carry things with them that they would be better off without.
Remember that while Abram was in Egypt he found himself caught up in a life that brought shame to himself and put his wife in a very bad situation. Now, even though he left Egypt years ago he is still carrying baggage in his life that he picked up there.
3. THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD’S RESTRAINT.
As Sarai airs her complaint to Abram she acknowledges that it is the Lord that has kept her from having a baby, “Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing.” (Genesis 16:2a). And yet she proceeds to reveal to her husband her scheme to circumvent the will and timing of God to get her will accomplished.
The Lord says “not my will but thy will be done.” (Luke 22:42). Sarai says, “Not Thy will but my will be done.”
B. SARAI’S PLAN. Verses 2b-3.
The plan was very simple. Abram would take Hagar as a secondary wife and have a child by her. Since Hagar is Sarai’s maid the child will actually belong to her.
It was a customary practice of Canaan, the land in which Abram lived, that a child born through a secondary wife could legally be made Sarai’s. Abram desperately wanted a child and in his flesh it was not hard for him to succumb to this idea.
Sarai had come to him with this option; it was her idea. And after all, the Lord never said Sarai would have to be the mother of the promised seed just that Abram would be the father. It is much easier to err from God’s word when others are on the same path.
C. ABRAM’S PLIANCY. Verse 4a.
We have no record here of Abram protesting that this plan was contrary to the will of God. Rather, he submitted to his wife’s scheme. He rationalized away all of the problems that were present with this fleshly action.
Abram consented to use the methods of the world to accomplish God’s work. Remember, this was an acceptable practice to the lost world around him. But, God’s people are called to live above the world’s standards and the world’s reasoning. The world is all for, “the end justifies the means.” But the believer is to have a much different rule for his life. If the glory of God is the ultimate end of all the believer does then it should not be “the end justifies the means” but rather, “the end determines the means.”
We might be quick to say, “shame on Abram, why didn’t he just wait.”
Spiritual Lesson: Unfortunately, what Abram did is quite common in our day. Take heed to the warning of John Phillips:
We see a similar kind of thing done all the time. A church or a child of God is barren. There is seemingly no blessing, no fruit. Instead of waiting for God, Hagar is brought in, some worldly expedient is adopted. It gets results of course - but of the wrong kind. (17e)
The temptation is very real. Our labor for God does not seem to be blessed. Souls are not being saved, God’s promises seem so unreachable. We would like to see something happening. So we bring in a Hagar. A worldly option is adopted, and sure enough “results” are achieved, but they are not of God. As a result, they create far more problems than they solve.
II. FRUIT OF SARAI’S PLAN. Verses 4b-6.
A. HAGAR’S PRIDE. Verse 4b.
Once Hagar conceived she is suddenly the host of the camp. No doubt, Abram is overjoyed that he is finally going to be a father. Now Hagar begins treating Sarai with contempt. “Look, I have done for Abram what Sarai could not do. Now I will be the favorite.” Well, she greatly miscalculated. How our sin can haunt us!
B. SARAI’S BITTER HEART. Verses 5-6.
1. SARAI’S BLAMING OF ABRAM. Verse 5.
a. SHIFTING OF THE BLAME. Verse 5a.
Some things are a constant in human nature. We always want to blame someone else for our sin. Sarai puts the blame on Abram.
b. ABRAM’S RESPONSIBILITY.
Who ultimately is responsible for this mess? Abram is. He was responsible to lead his home in righteousness. It was his duty to do right regardless of what his wife suggested.
2. ABRAM’S APPEASING OF SARAI. Verse 6a.
Abram wants peace in his home. And he is not willing to deal with his own mess so he invites his wife to do what ever she desires with her slave. And so she does.
3. HAGAR’S FLEEING FROM SARAI. Verse 6b.
Hagar’s name means “flight” and we find her taking off. These three people are in a real mess.
III. THE SAD RESULTS OF SINFUL BEHAVIOR IN ABRAM’S HOME.
A. ABRAM LOSES CONTROL OF HIS HOME.
Abram behaves shamefully here. He knew better. He knew God’s promise, and had been previously satisfied to wait on the Lord. Now he succumbs to his wife’s misdirected advice. To her credit, Sarai had probably advised Abram wisely and helpfully many times in other areas in their years together. But this emotional and desperate plan should have been immediately rejected by the head of the home, Abram.
Be careful of well intentioned advice. (Deuteronomy 13:6-8) warns that it may take you away from the Lord.
“If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him.”
Abram was to be the physical as well as spiritual leader in his home. Remember Sarai’s was a secondary faith. All she knew of the Lord was what Abram had taught her. The word of the Lord did not come to Sarai, it came to Abram.
Abram could have nipped this whole thing in the bud, but he did not. Now he is reaping the results of his sin.
B. SARAI LEAVES HER BIBLICAL ROLE AS WIFE.
1 Peter 3:6
“Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
From what we read of Sara in the New Testament this whole scene seems out of character. Peter holds her up to wives as an example of a godly submissive wife. Remember ladies, she called her husband lord. For the normal husband, that does have a nice ring to it.
But once this home started down this road away from the Lord we find Sarai tangled in a web of emotions she can no longer control; bitterness and anger overwhelm her.
C. HAGAR IS EXPLOITED AND MISTREATED.
1. SHE IS TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF.
She is treated like a piece of property. Worse yet she is used as breeding stock. She was to be the first surrogate mother. And just as now it created a tangled mess of bitterness and jealousy.
2. SHE IS AFFLICTED BY HER MISTRESS.
Sarai’s jealousy causes her to mistreat Hagar. The words, “dealt harshly” mean to humiliate, afflict, and to mistreat. Sarai, venting her vengeance for Hagar’s prideful spirit openly shamed her before those she had briefly felt so superior to.
3. SHE IS SHOWN A POOR TESTIMONY.
This Egyptian maid, a person from the world, is brought into the home of a believer and treated shamefully. In a place where she should have been treated with graciousness and kindness she is done horribly.
IV. GOD’S SOVEREIGN INTERVENTION IN ABRAM’S HOME. Verses 7-16.
Bless the Lord for His mercy even to an Egyptian slave girl.
A. THE LORD’S APPEARANCE TO HAGAR. Verses 7-8.
It appears that Hagar intends to go home to Egypt. This fountain in the way to Shur is on the border of Egypt. One thing for sure, she wants to get as far as she can from these “believers.” May the Lord ever remind us that our bad testimony can drive folks away from God.
Notice something very significant: the Lord did not appear to the believer, Abram, and tell him to go get Hagar. Rather, He appears to an unbeliever, to this lost and fearful slave girl. The Angel of the Lord, goes to this tired, dejected, worn out, slave and meets her at a well.
B. THE LORD’S ADDRESS TO HAGAR. Verses 8-12.
1. HIS QUESTION. Verse 8b.
We realize of course that the Lord knows exactly what has happened to Hagar. For whatever reason He wants to hear from her heart. But they are the age old questions: where have you come from and where are you headed? A couple of thoughts come to mind:
1.) What is your life all about and where is it taking you? Are you going with the Lord?
2.) Yes, things can get very hard in life but running away is seldom the best answer.
2. HIS INSTRUCTIONS. Verse 9.
Return and submit. But, God also gives this mistreated young woman a promise.
3. HIS PROPHECY CONCERNING THE CHILD.
A word of comfort.
a. GOD CALMED HER FEARS.
b. GOD HEARD HER CRIES.
c. GOD SAW HER AFFLICTION.
What a wonder that even in the midst of this human tragedy; God is there to minister to this dear lady in a great time of trial.
C. HAGAR’S CONFESSION OF THE LORD.
“And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?”
Hagar makes an oral confession and responds with obedient repentance; she returned.
Believers, might we learn from the mistakes made in this home. Our home is to be a place ruled and controlled by the Lord and His Word. The things that go on behind closed doors might not be known to our neighbors but they are surely known unto the Lord.
1.) Men, you are responsible for the spiritual growth and welfare of your family.
You are to be the spiritual leader in your home. You are responsible to teach your family the word of God and be God’s representative within your home. You cannot pass that off to your wife or the church.
2.) We must never supercede the will of God by our will.
Our God desires our love and obedience to Him more than anything else. In fact our love for Him will result in our obedience to Him.
Jesus said, “if you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
Our overstepping God’s Word will always affect many others; possibly for a long, long time.
We are in the midst of a war of terror with the descendants of Ishmael. Israel, Abraham’s descendants through the promised seed have been threatened by the Arab peoples throughout their history. We can never minimize the repercussions of our actions.
3.) Realize God does not need our help to accomplish His purposes.
Doing things God’s way and within His timetable is important. Abram thought he could help God’s program along and it didn’t work. Result, Abram spent the next 13 years in silence from God. No word, no growth.
ABRAHAM: FRIEND OF GOD AND FATHER OF FAITH
CHAPTER 7 - GOD RENEWS HIS COVENANT
Humanly speaking, Abram had it made. He had all the wealth he could ever need. He had the blessing of knowing the living God. He had the promise from God that he would be given a great posterity. He was told that a great nation would come from him. He was also assured that he and his posterity had the promise of a homeland for ever. He had the Word of God on it. But, as time passed, Abram allowed anxiety to get the best of him. Rather than wait for God to accomplish His plan, His way; Abram took matters into his own hands and with his wife’s encouragement, married Hagar and produced Ishmael.
As a result of Abram presumptuously moving ahead of God, he experienced thirteen years of silence from Heaven, covering Genesis 16:16 through 17:1. No further word from God during this time, no growth in his relationship with God, nothing worth noting happens for thirteen years. What was going on during this time? What was going through Abram’s mind? He now enjoyed the company of a son. Everything seemed just fine. But, he would soon learn otherwise.
Before we go on, might we ask the question that Abram should have asked himself, “are we in a spiritual drought in our lives? Are we in the proverbial wilderness, spiritually?” If so, I pray we might be helped through God’s dealing with Abram.
I. THE RENEWAL OF THE COVENANT. Genesis 17:1-16.
In the first 21 verses of this chapter God speaks of this covenant with Abram as, “my covenant” eight times. Beloved, once again God is emphasizing that He is the author and guarantor of this covenant.
A. THE SILENCE IS BROKEN. Verses 1-3.
1. GOD’S WORD TO ABRAM.
God once again talks to Abram as He did before. God is the initiator in renewing fellowship with Abram.
a. THE NAMES OF GOD.
We have three names for God used in the first three verses of chapter 17. JEHOVAH translated LORD, meaning the Existing One. This is the “I am” that met Moses at the burning bush and delivered the Jews from the Egyptian bondage. This is also Jesus (Jehovah’s Salvation) of the New Testament; the great “I AM” of the Gospel of John, the ever existing God.
The second name we have here is EL-SHADDAI translated “The Almighty God,” declaring God’s all powerful, enabling and giving of Himself for His people.
The third name is ELOHIM, translated “God,” which speaks of His ultimate and absolute nature. It is the plural name for God. We get the picture in this name that the entire Trinity is involved in what is going to take place. It intimates to us that all three persons of the Godhead are part of communicating these words to Abram.
b. THE WORD FROM GOD. “Walk before me, and be thou perfect.” (Genesis 17:1b)
The idea is not sinless perfection but spiritual completeness. Indeed the believer is never sinless but is completely complete in his Savior. Very simple instructions are given to Abram, but what an enormous responsibility. Abram is told to live and walk before God in wholehearted sincerity.
2. ABRAM’S RESPONSE. Verse 3a.
Abram does not respond with single a word, he simply fell on his face. Thirteen years of silence had been broken and Abram simply prostrates himself in subjection before God. Not a bad idea for anyone. “Oh Lord, help us to walk in complete submission and sincerity before You.”
B. GOD’S WORD CONCERNING THE COVENANT SEED. Verses 4-7.
1. ABRAM’S PLACE IN THE COVENANT.
God had chosen to create a people for Himself out of Abram. Abram was the recipient of God’s special attention and privilege. Along with that special attention comes responsibility.
2. ABRAM’S NAME IS CHANGED.
No longer was his name to be “Abram” or high father. It was now to be “Abraham,” which means “father of a multitude.” That is very interesting since up to this point Abraham had one child, Ishmael, and he was NOT the Lord’s child of the promise. Five times in the first six verses God mentions His promise to make many nations of Abraham.
But looking at this from God’s perspective, the Lord had not even begun to build this great nation out of Abraham, yet it was as good as done in the mind and purposes of God Verse 5 says, “a father of many nations have I made thee.” Emphasis mine. The Hebrew grammar has this in the perfect tense which describes a completed action. But, how can that be when it is yet future. When God declares something will be so it is as if it is already completed and its certainty is as if it were already accomplished.
3. GOD PROMISES TO BLESS ABRAHAM’S SEED.
a. NATIONS AND KINGS WOULD COME FROM ABRAM. Vs. 6.
God is going to take this 99 year old man and bring out of him many nations and kings. And so God did. Indeed, this was fulfilled in a literal sense. There would be kings come from the twelve tribes of Ishmael, and the twelve tribes of Israel, and then there are also the sons that would come of Abraham’s third wife Ketura, who he married after Sarah’s death. But, supreme to it all is the King of kings, the Lion of the tribe of Judah that would one day come from Abraham.
b. THE COVENANT PROMISE TO ABRAHAM WAS ETERNAL. Verse 7.
Jehovah, the eternal LORD, El Shaddai, All Mighty, Elohim, Triune God promises that the duration of this covenant is perpetual, it will continue for ever.
C. THE WORD CONCERNING THE COVENANT LAND. Verse 8.
1. THE EXTENT OF THE PROMISE. “All the land of Canaan.” (Genesis 17:8a)
2. THE DURATION OF THE PROMISE. “For an everlasting possession.” (Genesis 17:8b).
There is no way of explaining this away. The Arabs deny it. The nations of the earth may ignore it, but these promises are certain and eternal. John Phillips comments: “The land of Israel does not belong to the Arabs, for all their clamor. It was not deeded to Ishmael, but to Issac.” (17f)
D. THE WORD CONCERNING THE COVENANT MARK. Verses 9-14.
This subject takes up a big section of this chapter.
1. THE MARK OF THE COVENANT. Verses 9-10.
A knife was to be taken up against the flesh. All males eight days old and over were to be circumcised. This mark was to be a token of the covenant that God had established with Abraham. They did not receive the blessings of the covenant because of the mark but circumcision was to be a distinguishing mark or sign that Abraham and his seed were the covenant people of God.
2. THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE MARK. Verses 11-14.
a. IT INVOLVED THE SEED.
All of Abraham’s posterity plus all who came under his care were to receive the mark.
b. IT CONCERNED A TOKEN. Verse 11.
The mark was to be a sign of the covenant that God was establishing with Abraham.
c. IT CONCERNED OBEDIENCE. Verse 14.
The Bible makes clear that God desires obedience from those who have placed their trust in His promises. But God does not want simple outward obedience. His desire is that the child of God obey Him from their heart.
“But he is a Jew, which is none inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
God desires the believer’s obedience not simply out of conformity to the letter of the law but from the heart. Summed up in the old saying I have heard much lately, “The Lord desires us to do right with the right heart attitude.”
"And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
Where circumcision was the Old Testament physical mark of the believer, baptism is the New Testament spiritual mark of the one who has been made complete, perfect in Christ. Baptism is the obedient expression of the operation of God to give the believer a circumcised heart. Baptism no more saves the New Testament believer than circumcision saved Abraham. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3) The believer is saved by grace “through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
E. THE WORD CONCERNING SARAI AND THE COVENANT PROMISE. Verses 15-16.
This promise also involved Sarai. Which is where Abraham had missed it 13 years earlier. God would fulfill His promise to Abraham through his true wife, Sarai, not Hagar.
1. THE WORD CONCERNING SARAI’S NAME. Verse 15.
Abraham’s wife would no longer be called “Sarai” now she would be known as “Sarah,” “a princess.” What is the difference? Sarah was to be considered a noble princess, a princess from whom kings would come.
2. THE WORD CONCERNING SARAH’S BARRENNESS. Verse 16.
The promise was once again reiterated. Sarah would bare Abraham a son. This ninety year old woman would be the mother of nations.
It has now been twenty-four years since Abraham left Haran. The promise has not changed, rather it has been reinforced and clarified time and again. Sarah would bare Abraham a son at this time the next year according to verse 21.
II. THE RECEPTION OF THE COVENANT. Verses 17-18.
A. ABRAHAM’S HOLY LAUGHTER. Verse 17.
There are different kinds of laughter. Abraham’s laughter is not the laughter of unbelief. It is the expression of the overwhelming joy that comes from the heart that is sweetened by the Word of God through the Spirit of God. This is the rejoicing laughter of faith.
B. ABRAHAM’S HEARTFELT LONGING. “Oh that Ishmael might live before thee.” (Genesis 17:18)
Abraham’s thoughts go to Ishmael. He had poured his life into the young lad. For thirteen years he had tried to convince himself that Ishmael was the promised seed. But, God does not, and will not accept the works of our flesh to accomplish His plans. This is nothing new, it is the tendency of human flesh to produce Ishmaels rather than depend on God to accomplish His work His way.
Christians and churches are begging God to bless their programs and their man made, flesh centered methods and plans. And God will have nothing to do with it. He will not own such things. It may appear that God is blessing the worldly plans and fleshly methods of many churches. But, flesh, no matter how much you clean it up; no matter how you dress it up; is still nothing more than flesh. Remember, God told Abraham, “walk before me, and be thou perfect.” (Genesis 17:1) That is all that God requires of His children. He requires that they submit to Him and obey His word with all of the heart.
III. THE REWARD OF THE COVENANT. Verses 19-22.
A. THE PROMISED SEED SHALL COME THROUGH SARAH.
1. THE PROMISE OF ISAAC. Verses 19, 21-22.
It is not an accident that the name Isaac means “laughter.” There is true joy in God’s blessing. It is as though God is saying, “Abraham, I will give you true joy through my promised seed to you.”
2. THE INHERITANCE OF ISAAC. Verse 19b.
The covenant would be passed on through Isaac. He would receive the promise of the seed and the promise of the land. God makes this promise to an unborn and yet future child. He even names him for Abraham.
B. A PROVISION IS MADE FOR ISHMAEL. Verse 20.
God responds to Abraham’s intercession for Ishmael. The LORD is a God of abundant and amazing mercy to His children and that even when they have not been faithful to His Word He blesses them.
1. THE PROMISE OF A SEED FOR ISHMAEL Verse 20a.
God promises fruitfulness for Ishmael and that he would become a great nation as well.
2. THERE IS NO PROMISE OF LAND FOR ISHMAEL.
God would bless Ishmael for Abraham’s sake but note must be taken of the obvious omission of a promise concerning a land for Ishmael’s descendants, the Arabs. Abraham was promised all the land of Canaan in verse 8 but that promise would proceed to Isaac.
The Palestinian people have no legitimate claim to Canaan. Their desire for a Palestinian homeland is a Satanic plot to drive Israel into the Mediterranean Sea. To a very great extent their purpose in turning world sentiment for them and against Israel has been extremely successful. God will fulfill His promise to Abraham as He ordained it in spite of the Arabs, and in spite of all those who are in league with them to destroy Israel.
IV. ABRAHAM’S RESPONSE TO THE COVENANT. Verses 23-27.
A. ABRAHAM OBEYED GOD. Verse 23.
Obedience to the revelation of the Lord is what God expects from us. If you are lost, His word to you is, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.” (Acts 16:31). If you are saved it is, “walk before me and be thou perfect.” (Genesis 17:1).
B. ABRAHAM OBEYED IMMEDIATELY. Verses 23 & 26.
The same day Abraham received this word from God he obeyed. Delayed obedience is nothing more than disobedience until the believer moves according to the command of God.
C. ABRAHAM OBEYED COMPLETELY. Verse 27.
Abraham did exactly what the Lord told him to do. Every male in the camp eight days old and up was circumcised.
D. ABRAHAM OBEYED BY EXAMPLE. Verses 24-26.
The believer here sets the example for those around him. He led the way for the camp.
Brothers and sisters in Christ: there may be times when we side step the Lord and His Word in our lives. But, when God in His mercy deals with you about it, do not hesitate to respond. Do not hold back from Him; fall on your face before Him, repent and “walk before him, and be thou perfect.” (Genesis 17:1). If you do err from the will and word of God, it may be a long time before He sees fit to break the silence and deal with you again.
Praise the Lord for the words of: “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) That is a promise from God.
Believer, trust God completely; He promises you His direction for your life.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Stop here and take the
LESSON THREE TEST
Test is "open book."
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