Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: The call of Abraham is addressed in three elements contained in the following statement: ’God calls ordinary people.’

There’s a children’s Bible song called “Father Abraham.” The words speak of Abraham having many children, and also speaks of you and I being Abraham’s children. It reminds me of a couple back home. They adopted two children because they believed they couldn’t have any biologically, but then they had three. Our families were at a gathering together, and the father of the family was wearing a T-Shirt someone had given him as a joke in reference to our Bible lesson this evening labeling him as “Father Abraham.”

The story of how Abraham becomes father of us all begins with our Bible story tonight. Tonight we read of Abram and his wife Sarai. Together with his father, his brother and his brother’s family, and his nephew, Abram’s household gathers all their belongings and move from the place known as Babylon today and migrate towards the land we now call Israel.

At one point in this journey, the family would settle in an area nearby, called Haran for a time. There, God spoke to Abram, later to become “Father Abraham.”

There God gave Abraham a promise. Abraham and his family were called to follow God to a place Abraham would be shown. These are the words God used to tell Abraham what would happen to him there.

“This is the country I’m going to give to your descendants. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;

I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

God’s promise is one of land - something very important to the Hebrew people, in a way I don’t believe we can truly grasp today. God’s promise was also one of many children to carry on the family name - something else that was very important to Hebrew culture. In a later story, God shows Abraham the stars:

“Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens.” Abraham is told.

Together, the promise of land and of children constituted a promise of prosperity for Abraham and his family. It was a promise of a future for Abraham.

It was a promise of hope.

As a girl, I envisioned what my family would look like someday. I pictured what my husband would be like, how many children we would have, how we would get along together. I envisioned what the future held for me.

Abraham’s future wasn’t a child’s daydream. Abraham’s future is a vision and promise from God. Tonight we read of the calling by God of Abraham, the giving of the promise, and the start of the journey Abraham and God began together.

These words at the beginning of the 12th chapter of Genesis tell us the beginning of the journey Abraham began with God. In some ways tonight’s story seems to be a historical record, an incedental account of what happened to Abraham as he responded to God.

But there is more happening here than just the story of one man’s travels across a desert land.

What are we to make of one man’s journey across a wild and primitive countryside? What are we to do with the vision Abraham received from God, projecting his fortune into the indefinite future? In what way is Abraham’s story our story?

What does Abraham’s story tell us about us?

As I reflect upon this, the following statement comes to mind:

God calls ordinary people.

It contains three very important elements to Abraham’s call that I believe speaks directly to us. Lets look at each of these and lets turn our attention now to the first point our story makes.

God calls ordinary people.

God is the active agent in this story. Abraham wasn’t searching for God - God called out to Abraham. God began the interaction. God reached out to Abraham and called him to a greater future than what Abraham could provide for himself.

Why did God do this?

Because God wanted to have a relationship with Abraham. God wanted to know him and be a part of his life on a deep and personal level. But more than that, God wants to have that relationship with each of us.

When God shared his dream and plan for Abraham’s life, Abraham wasn’t the only one to be affected.

In the promise God made to Abraham, several things are happening.

God’s promise in an unconditional one. The prosperity promised to Abraham doesn’t have stipulations to it. Abraham wasn’t told he would receive the land only if he behaved a certain way or followed certian rituals. It wasn’t a promise made because of some great act Abraham had performed or because he was such a great person.

It was a promise made unconditionally, out of the love God had for Abraham, and that Abraham received through faith and belief in God to be faithful to what God promised.

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Alden Dick

commented on Sep 17, 2008

I appreciate the faithfulness to the higher story here (Heilsgeschichte). This is not just about Abraham - - - it is about salvation history and the part that he played and the part our own calling plays. Well articulated.

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