Let's make a deal
1 Adam, Seth, Enosh, 2 Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, 3 Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, 4 Noah, Noah’s sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth… 24 Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, 25 Eber, Peleg, Reu, 26 Serug, Nahor, Terah, 27 and Abram (that is, Abraham). // 1 Chronicles 1:1-4, 24–27 CSB
From Adam we have Seth, then eventually Noah. From Noah’s sons we trace, through Shem, the genealogy to a man named Abram.
1 The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. // Genesis 12:1–3 CSB
300 years of silence between the flood and this. That means a few generations never “heard” from God that we know of. God has certainly stopped walking among mankind like he once did.
God approached Abraham just as he picked Noah. We should note that God is very interested in us and picks us because he wants to, not because we deserve it.
Let’s review the promise, especially in light of the mission of God: restoration and re-creation.
Go out from:
- Land (possession/identity)
- Relatives (tribes/peoples)
- Father’s house (family/inheritance)
- A NEW land that I will show you.
Basically, the command is to leave all that you have for something you are not sure of.
It reminds me of an old TV show called “Let’s Make a Deal”. The contestants had to choose to keep what they had or trade it in for a chance at something better. In the show, they could lose everything for nothing. With God, there is a promise of something better.
This is the promise of what is better:
- I will make you a great nation
- I will bless you
- I will make your name great
- You will be a blessing
- I will bless those who bless you
- All of the people of the world will be blessed through you
Have you noticed a pattern here? Lol. Pretty difficult to miss it.
God blessed Adam and Eve. God blessed Noah. God is now choosing to bless Abraham.
It is part of God’s nature to bless his creation. Though we attribute all of the bad things to God [acts of God are bad! Why does God allow the wicked to prosper, bad things to happen, etc], we often fail to attribute blessings to God. We thank goodness (whatever that means), we thank our luck stars, we are lucky, blessed, and even grateful. But do we realize that God is in the business of blessings. We should thank God for the blessings he gives. It’s November, let’s make sure we stop to thank God for his blessings.
Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, with a proclamation by George Washington after a request by Congress. Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1863, during the American Civil War. Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens," to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. On December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed a bill making the date of Thanksgiving a matter of federal law and fixing the day as the fourth Thursday of November.
Our founding fathers and former presidents were adamant about acknowledging God as one who blesses nations and peoples. As such, they set a national holiday to announce God’s blessings.
We celebrate thanksgiving as a nation. And the promise to Abram is that he will be a great nation.
ASK: what do you need to be a great nation? People and a place (land). Abram has neither of these. He HAD land but is telling him to leave that land. And he has no children because God has not allowed Sarai to have any.
NOTE: often when God gives us a command it does not seem logical from our perspective.
So, he went.
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. // Genesis 12:4 CSB
Abram goes. He obeys. There are no questions; no negotiation. He just goes. Noah got all of the details; Abram does not.
NOTE: often when God gives us a command, he does not give us details.
He goes and will spend at least the next 25 years of his life traveling. Abram goes to Egypt because of a famine, lies about his wife and comes out wealthy. He and Lot have so much that they part ways. Then, God appears to Abram again and reminds him of the promise.
14 After Lot had separated from him, the Lord said to Abram, “Look from the place where you are. Look north and south, east and west, 15 for I will give you and your offspring forever all the land that you see. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust of the earth, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Get up and walk around the land, through its length and width, for I will give it to you.” // Genesis 13:14–17 CSB
Abram’s nephew, Lot gets in trouble so Abram goes after him and defeats a bunch of bad guys and brings a bunch of people and possessions back. Abram meets Melchizedek, the priest of God and offers 10% of all he has to God. Then God appears to Abram again.
1 After these events, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great. 2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Abram continued, “Look, you have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.” 4 Now the word of the Lord came to him: “This one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. 7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “Lord God, how can I know that I will possess it?” // Genesis 15:1-8 CSB
Have you noticed that something changed? It has been about 10 years since the original promise, and it is starting to wear on Abram. Remember, a great nation requires PEOPLE and LAND. Even though God has been reminding him of the promise, there is not any progress towards it. Abram left all he had to wander and after 10 years does not see the end result.
He questions God.
- “What can you give me since I am childless?” My servant will inherit all I have.
- Abraham is starting to focus on his circumstances rather than on God
- God replies, “one who comes from your own body will be your heir”
Abram believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. I like the NLT for this one:
6 And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. // Genesis 15:6 NLT
Then… he has another question, “How can I be sure I will have a land?”. He believed God and asked questions. That is powerful. Belief is NOT a lack of questions, it is a condition of the heart. We can believe and have questions.
What do I LOVE about this passage? God never reprimands Abram for his questions! God seems to INVITE the questions, as if to say, “Yes, I have taken you on this journey so that you can get to know me better. Let’s talk and let me reassure you.”
So, there was a reminder that it would be a son FROM ABRAM. That can be taken a few different ways. That could mean JUST from Abram. Why didn’t God say, “from you and Sarai”?
So, Sarai gives Abram her servant to have a child with, since Sarai was barren for all of these years. They have a son, Ishmael. But that was not God’s plan.
Finally, God shows up with some more clarification. 24 years after the original call to go…
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, “I am God Almighty. Live in my presence and be blameless. 2 I will set up my covenant between me and you, and I will multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell facedown and God spoke with him: 4 “As for me, here is my covenant with you: You will become the father of many nations. 5 Your name will no longer be Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I will make you the father of many nations. 6 I will make you extremely fruitful and will make nations and kings come from you. 7 I will confirm my covenant that is between me and you and your future offspring throughout their generations. It is a permanent covenant to be your God and the God of your offspring after you. 8 And to you and your future offspring I will give the land where you are residing—all the land of Canaan—as a permanent possession, and I will be their God.” … 15 God said to Abraham, “As for your wife Sarai, do not call her Sarai, for Sarah will be her name. 16 I will bless her; indeed, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she will produce nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17 Abraham fell facedown. Then he laughed and said to himself, “Can a child be born to a hundred-year-old man? Can Sarah, a ninety-year-old woman, give birth?” 18 So Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael were acceptable to you!” 19 But God said, “No. Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. I will confirm my covenant with him as a permanent covenant for his future offspring. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you. I will certainly bless him; I will make him fruitful and will multiply him greatly. He will father twelve tribal leaders, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will confirm my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this time next year.” 22 When he finished talking with him, God withdrew from Abraham. // Genesis 17 CSB
God shows up, this time with such a presence that Abram falls on his face in worship. God changes their names from Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah and says that they will have a child from the two of them, Isaac. He will be the one that God will bless and keep his covenant with. It will be about a year later.
God also appears to Sarah and assures her that she will have a child. Abram continues to travel, and he lies about Sarah being his wife, again. God still blesses him. Then, finally, we read the following:
1 The Lord came to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time God had told him. 3 Abraham named his son who was born to him—the one Sarah bore to him—Isaac. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. // Genesis 21:1–5 CSB
Let me remind you, that God’s timing is not our timing. That God always keeps his promises, and he does it when it is HIS time to do it.
The Faith Journey
Abraham is a great example, not in perfect obedience, but in human realities of faith. 25 years after the promise, God comes through at the appointed time.
God could have:
- Left Abram in his original land and made him a nation there
- Given him a child years before this
- Given Abram all of the details about when things would happen
But God did not do all of these things. Abraham is the beginning of a new relationship with God. God wants to have a people that will trust him and allow God to be a Father to them. He wants a people that will obey him so that His supremacy is declared over all the earth. He wants a nation of image bearers that are committed to His mission. For that to happen, it will take a people who are willing to trust and have faith in God.
Abraham’s faith journey is very much like ours:
We start strong, following with no questions. Often excited and even worshipful. We are willing to follow without question.
We start to question what God said. “Did God really mean this? Maybe I misunderstood”
But what happens when we spend year, even decades waiting for God to keep his promises? What if we do not see God doing what he told us? Most of us end up at this spot in our faith journey at some point. When God appears to be silent or appears to be not doing what he promised, we can start to have questions. When things are bad or our circumstances are not what we hoped, we can start to doubt God.
We start to have doubts about what God can do.
For Abraham it was “How can an old man like me have kids?” “How can an old woman like Sarah have kids especially since she has not had any yet?” Maybe I should have a kid through someone else. Nope. Maybe I am too old. Nope. How can I know? What is the proof?
Sometimes, we can become impatient with God and we can take what he says and try to interpret it by our own logic. This is especially true when we are trying to figure out the future. We start to take actions into our own hands. “Maybe God told me because he wants me to do something”
We often step out in faith and then require proof. I LOVE that God does not scold Abraham for this. Nor does he retract his promise or blessing!
But there is a CAUTION: we start to focus on the circumstances and spend our time meditating on them rather than on God and his Word, we WILL have similar problems. We become like Peter who started walking on the water… when did he sink? When he took his eyes off of God. We must make sure that we focus on the supremacy of God, not the speculation of our circumstances or future.
In our journey of faith, we must make sure that our faith is not in ourselves, nor in what we can see, but in the God who created us, loves us and has a beautiful plan for us.
Who is the hero of the story? God.
The mission of Restoration & Re-Creation
We started our journey when Abram was 75, and at 100 years old, Abraham has the start of the promise in Isaac. It was obvious that it was from God and not jus Abraham’s doing.
But 1 child at age 100 is hardly a nation, not even close to the number of stars in the sky or grains of sand on the shore. The rest of the promise will NOT be fulfilled in Abraham’s lifetime.
Genesis 12:3 –“ and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you”
The key verse that takes us back to the mission of God is found in 12:3. The ultimate blessing of God would be to undo the curse. It would be freedom from the fall, as Lamech looked for in Noah. It is the promise of the seed of the woman that will defeat the enemy and death and restore our relationship with God.
God’s promise to Abraham is that though HIM, and his descendants, there will come an end to the curse, and that all the people of the earth would be blessed through him. This DOES happen, eventually! The seed of the woman, the descendant of Eve, that will conquer sin and death will come through the line of Abraham. But not in Abraham’s lifetime.
Our mission of Relationship & Representation
And, God has promised that he will have a special relationship with Abraham and his descendants:
8 And to you and your future offspring I will give the land where you are residing… and I will be their God.” // Genesis 17:8 CSB
God has selected a special people that he will remain faithful to, even when they fail. It is the mercy and compassion of the Creator that longs for a relationship with an unfaithful creation.
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, “I am God Almighty. Live in my presence and be blameless. // Genesis 17:1 CSB
Notice the promise of relationship here?! Live in my presence. This has not happened since the flood. God is saying that HE is going to intervene for us so that we can have a relationship with Him. God’s desire has been, and continues to be, restoration of our relationship with Him.
However, there is another promise here. That whole blessing thing. Though God KNOWs that all of mankind is wicked and defiled, he chooses to bless us. Not only that, his promise was that he would allow Abraham and his offspring to represent Him on this earth!
- “you will be a blessing to others”
God wants Abraham to be a person who reflects/represents him. This is still the mission and the calling of His people today.
God has blessed us. We have so much to be thankful for, even if the past year was a rough one.
God has blessed us so that we can be a blessing to others.
God’s initial command to Abram as, “go”.
What would keep us from going?
If what we believe determines what we do, as we previously studied. What do you believe about the leading and commands of God?
- If we truly believe that God keeps his promises…
- If we truly believe that God will bless obedience…
- If we truly believe that God will provide for all our needs…
- If we truly believe that God is in control of the future…
What if God said to you and me today, leave your job, your home, your comfort and just go. I’ll provide for you – I take care of the birds, I’ll take care of you. I’ll lead you because I know the way ahead of you. I got this, do you trust me?