How many of you are on Facebook? If Facebook were a country #3 after China and India? Friend me. Imagine being on God’s Facebook page? Abram was…saw in your lesson, “friend of God” I want that said of me, don’t you. Definitely want to be on God’s Facebook page. Starts with a Call:
I. The Call of Abram: includes God’s blessings v1-3 (slide 2)
II. The Commitment of Abram: obeys and builds altar v4-9
III. The Crisis of Abram: famine brings testing v10-20
We really need to start our story in Gen 11:27,28,31,32 READ. Terah, father, in Ur (MAP slide3) Describe city. Last 150 years great archeological discoveries abt this large city=quarter of million people lived in the district. Worshiped primarily moon god Nannar, remains of pyramid type temple called a ziggurat, beautiful tiered building with terraces and trees, outer courts, inner courts., 75 feet tall. Discovered the royal cemetery where kings, rulers were buried along with gold, silver, personal jewelry as well as chariots, sledges, musical instruments. City was thickly poplulated with private residences, several stories tall, some with 14 rooms, “mansions” marketplaces, trade was carried on by merchants with India, Africa through the Persian Gulf from its canal-basin harbor. Education was valued, circulating libraries, one of the most important, advanced, beautiful cities in the world. N.Y. London, Paris. Abram leaves big city life for a much more primitive culture. Leaving Rome and moving to Siberia, the Sahara desert. Dramatic change. Scripture tells us, Terah takes Abram, Sarai, Lot leave Ur move to Haran. Why do they leave? When does the call come? Acts 7:2-4 READ What we’re sure of is he left Ur, stopped in Haran settled there, don’t know how long Terah died there (slide4)
The Call of Abram is 3 fold: Read v1 leave your country, your people, go to land I’ll show (slide5)
This call to Abram comes with some incredible promises/blessings READ 2-3 (slide 6)
Great nation= God’s people/numerically great
I will bless you (Abram)=friend of God, relationship w/God, blessed materially, heir
Name great= Father Abraham, 3 religions, “elect of God”, prophet, mighty prince, Gal= “Father of the faithful
You will be a blessing=numerous ways household, people surrounding him
Bless those who bless you
Curse those who curse you= became prophetic warning to other nations
All peoples on earth will be blessed through you= ultimately Messiah Jesus Christ came thru
”THESE are big words, big promise, here Abram is given God’s big picture plan- the details will follow; add v7 land = Abrahamic Covenant= Nation, Blessing, Land.
God is beginning a new work with mankind. (slide 7) JEWISH STUDY BIBLE=
“Constitutes to a large extent a reversal of some of the curses on Adam and Eve-exile(instead Abram and Sarai are promised a home in Canaan in the land), pain in childbirth (contrast experience the joy of having a child and many descendants are promised), and uncooperative soil (blessings in the land).” This great new work, these promises to Abram, to realize them, Abram would have to pay a price.
Which would have been the hardest for you? Country, family, going not knowing? All were costly. Jesus Luke 14:27,28 Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple, Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” You need to count the cost because following God is going to cost you something. Paul says it another way cost is simple= die to self, live for God (Romans 6). What has following God cost you? Relationship with family, friends or someone you love? Material, financial, lifestyle that is less than you had hoped for. Maybe the cost is becoming the person he wants you to be, learning new ways to live that please Him not others. Your time- you’re being called to give up some precious personal time.
Text is silent on what Abram’s extended family thought when he left, but probably there those who thought it was ridiculous to leave the security and safety and accommodations of a large industrious city to go off not knowing where you were going. Just plain dangerous, risky Security and safety often drive our decisions rather than listening to God’s calls, and yet, “safest place in the world is in the center of God’s will” Safety is just one issue, many other reasons God’s calls are misunderstood: financial issues , perhaps call seems to others unrealistic and impractical, too sacrificial, endless how you may be misunderstood.
Ie. Lake Carroll pastor. Years ago, Florida, asked to teach in a para-church ministry, went in to my pastor and asked for his blessing, he told me I shouldn’t teach there but I should teach in my church, first priority. Disappointed w/his response, so I asked him if he would be willing to see me as a missionary to the local community, opportunity to teach some who were not churched, possibly not believers. He didn’t see it that way either, Left sad. Later I remember reading and then writing in my bible: Be willing to be misunderstood for doing God’s will in your life, are you willing?
Heb 11:1 faith=being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we cannot see
Heb 11:6 without faith it is impossible to please God…
For Abram, God revealed a small portion of His global plan for mankind and said, leave everything you know, most of your family and go to a strange land and I’ll let you know along the way where you’re going, just trust Me, just believe that what I’m telling you is true.
Quote= “Walking in faith requires we accept God’ Word at face value, even when it seems impossible that His promises can come true” Abram was called to walk by faith, and 4000 yrs later you and I have the same call, we too are to walk by faith and not by sight. Starts at the beginning of our relationship w/God.
Our salvation is a walk of faith Eph 2:8,9
By grace you have been saved through faith-and this not of yourselves, it is a gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. Faith= believing, trusting though we have not seen , JC is Son of God , died for your sins, buried and 3rd day rose again, coming again soon for us, this faith assures us of the only real security we have= eternal security, life forever with him
Our daily relationship w/God is also a walk of faith Paul =2Cor5:7
We live by faith and not by sight 10:15Our hope is that your faith continues to grow
Gal 2:20 We live by faith in the Son of God Col 1:23 Continue in your faith Peter= IPeter1:21 live holy lives because Our hope and faith are in God John= IJohn5:4 faith in the Son of God overcomes the world.
So what does a walk of faith look like? Different for each of us, but our common characteristic is that we trust God with our lives, the circumstances of our lives. A walk of faith means I believe God’s promises and what the scriptures say about him. I believe God is good and working out my life for good because I belong to him and want His will for my life. Our study is going to see Abraham’s walk of faith, at its high points and its low just like ours
Application: I hope you spent some time on the challenge question= trace your spiritual journey, your walk of faith, if you haven’t done that, ask you’d consider going back completing.
The Calls of God present us with choices, as this one did Abram. What will we do? Obey or ignore, or we will outright reject the call? Abram had a call, had a choice, obeyed
READ V4-9 (slide 9) EXPLAIN THE MAP
Abram, Lot, Sarai left Haran and traveled to Shechem (MAP) slide 10, slide 11 “ there were Canaanites in the land” Why is that included? Not clear, perhaps it’s a foreshadow of all the challenges Abram and his descendants would have in possessing the promises of God. We know that the Canaanites were to become a thorn in Israel’s side, their false gods were tempting to the Jews for the next 1500 years. Perhaps also they point out the seeming impossibility of God’s promises to Abram, what was one single man among all these Canaanites, how would they react to his living among them? How would they respond to his belief that the land was given to him and his offspring?
The Canaanites were in the land, they certainly could represent all the challenges a believer who lives by faith not sight encounters.
Abram enters this land having faith in what God has said to him. No different for you and me. Trusting faith in this Word will be what overcomes our obstacles, our opposition.
Right in the midst of the Canaanites God says “this is your land, giving it to your children” v7. Abram believes and worships. Builds an altar in Shechem (MAP) right in front of the Canaanites and then moves to the area between Bethel and Ai and builds another altar and calls on the name of the Lord.
Last lesson we talked about themes in Abram’s life: tents= wanderer, nomad and altars= worshiped God were 2 reoccurring characteristics of his life. Reflected his trust and open expression of faith in God. The Hebrew word translated “called” v8 means to “cry out” or “to proclaim”. We see Abram crying out, witnessing to those around him that this is the true God, there is no other god but him. 500 years later, Moses is given the commandments on Mt Sinai, this will be the first commandment= You Hebrews, you descendants of Abraham, you shall have no other gods before me. Abram had a call, had a choice, obeyed
Application= no question in my mind that everyone here that is a believer wants to be a committed follower of God. We want to have the faith of Abraham. Question is= will we be willing to respond in faith to our calls, will we prioritize worship, will we live among the peoples of our world as women of faith?
As soon as you sincerely say yes and move out in God’s will, don’t be surprised if you encounter a test of your faith.
READ v10a Famine =reoccurring theme in the bible. Famine in the land that causes Jacob to send his sons to Egypt for food. Famine in the land that causes Naomi and her husband to move to Moab in book of Ruth. Famines produce opportunities to seek God. We’re not told in the text why there was a famine at this time. We remember we live on fallen planet earth where Jesus said “in this world you will have tribulation, troubles” (John16:33) whether you’re in the will of God or not, you are going to face famines which God says are opportunities to trust His care of you. The disciples went out in the boat at night because they were in the will of God, Jesus had told them to go, storm came up that threatened to kill them, their opportunity to trust God.
Something is missing here in our story.
But we don’t see Abram seeking God here, text is silent. It is just like God to let us make our own choices, our own decisions, try to work things out ourselves, and forget God in the process. This famine produced the opportunity to seek God, the testing of Abram: Would he pray? ask God what to do? Would he trust God to provide? Would he believe the promises God had made him? What was God’s will for him?
Read v10b-13 “beautiful woman” (slide 15) Abram fears that Sarai’s beauty will mean that men will want to take her from him. She is late sixties- ok lives to 127 middle aged, “foxy forty” hard to imagine her competing with 20 year olds. Ie 40’s my middle son about 10 came home from a friend’s house, carpooled with, mom, Mrs looks so young, do you think she uses Oil of Olay? Power of advertisement. Sarai, was it her regal demeanor, kept her youthful figure, was she just plain gorgeous, some women just don’t age quickly, Sarai was more than attractive, she was beautiful.
This causes a problem for Abram, fears for his life, so he asks her to tell a half truth. She was his half sister, they had the same father, Terah different mothers. Half-truths are usually whole lies. Abram was so afraid for his own life that he put Sarai’s life in danger. Look at the consequences of his fears.
All throughout scripture God calls to us and says, don’t be afraid, don’t fear, I will take care of you, I will be there for you. Yet all of us know the emotion of fear, how easily it can consume us, paralyze us, defeat us.
ie watershed time in my life. Skiing in Aspen, leaving to go home, blizzard closed airport, my husband another wonderful totally inexperienced man decided to rent a car drive to Denver, interstates closed, drove on, throwing up in the bathroom because of so afraid my children would be orphans, fear paralyzed me, prayed out loud in the back seat 10 drive. I hated that feeling, confess no trust in my husband or God to get us home. 3 weeks later I’m in the hospital with a blood clot in my leg from a skiing accident – doctor says if you get of bed to go to the bathroom the clot could break and go to your heart and die, don’t move, hospital 3 weeks – every 6 hours thin my blood and watch to make sure I didn’t hemorrhage, again I thought my life was threatened, but this time, I prayed God I don’t want to ever feel that afraid again, would you exchange my fear for your peace, I trust you that whatever happens to me you will take care of my kids, often nights I prayed that over and over again- God gave me peace – Jesus says is our inheritance because we belong to Him.
Application: Is there a circumstance is causing fear in your life right now? Threatens your fellowship with God? Troubles in your marriage, pregnant or rebellious teenager, maybe you know of someone who is cheating in business or on their husband, pending financial reversal that means bankruptcy, What makes you afraid?
Truth: Fears cannot co-exist with faith.(fly in)
Text is silent about what is happening to Sarai in the king’s harem. She had to be battling with fear too. Would she have to sleep with the king? Would he hurt her? Would Abram’s God help her?
That’s exactly what happens. God in his mercy and grace protects her and Abram READ v16-20
God intervenes and rescues Abram and Sarai and sends them home. This is the first time the promise is threatened but it won’t be the last, even in Abram’s lifetime.
God’s faithful and will protect his covenant with Abram, over and over in scripture God is faithful even when we are not.
I don’t know how God will come into your life and work through your fearful circumstances. Don’t know how, but I know He will if you trust him, if you live by faith, even if your situation doesn’t change, you can have peace, don’t have to be afraid. Promise, Abraham=Promise Believer
Choose to be a woman of faith, choose to follow God’s call on your life, choose to trust him.