Summary: Abraham – the initiation of God’s redempive plan
Today is our third sermon in our Genesis overview series. Today we look at Genesis 12-21 and the life of Abraham. We have a lot to cover in just one sermon, so like the other sermons in the series, we don’t cover every detail, we just the pick up some of the main points, especially those ones that become main themes throughout the Bible.
For the life of Abraham is very important. As we shall see, it is used much by the New Testament writers to describe such things as faith, the promise of Jesus Christ not just for Jews, but for Gentiles too, and as an example of how to live as Christians. Abraham is very important.
But first, some context. Remember where we were up to? In Genesis 1-2 we looked at the creation of the world. We looked at how it was perfect. It was paradise. We had perfect relationship with God and with each other, and death was not on the agenda. We were immortal, until Adam and Eve believed the devil instead of God. They believed there would be no negative consequences from disobeying God, and they took the fruit God has expressly forbidden, and as result they lost their fellowship with God. The ground and the earth were cursed and they lost immortality. And as their descendents we inherit these things from them. Corrupted relationships. A cursed earth. And death.
And then in chapters 4-11 we looked at the cycle of man’s failure and God’s grace. We saw Cain and Abel offer sacrifices to God. They knew what was required, but Cain didn’t offer the right sacrifice, and in jealousy killed his brother. From then on we saw the human race spiral morally out of control so that by Genesis 6:5-6: The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of this heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So because of our evil, that the human race was lost to evil, God had to destroy the evil human race with a flood. Except for Noah, who found favour with God. And God rescued Noah and his family by putting them in a ship to ride out the flood. But after the flood subsided and the human race started again from scratch from Noah, we soon spiralled morally out of control again, and at Babel people were filled with pride, attempting to build a tower up to God. So God had to intervene again, giving the human race many languages to prevent them from doing too much evil. And then in chapter 11 we have a genealogical list of the descendents of Noah, and toward the end we are introduced to Abram, who would later be renamed Abraham.
Abram was born in a city called Ur, which is on the Euphrates River, in what is now Iraq. Abram’s father took him and his family to a place called Haran, which is near the modern city of Şanlıurfa in Turkey. And Abraham is in Harran as we open up Genesis 12, with God speaking to Abram and giving him a command. Let’s read what God tells Abram to do:
Gen 12 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
And Abram obeyed and went. And when Abram got to the land God told him to go to, which was called Canaan at that time and would later become Israel, God said something else to Abram in verse 7:
Gen12 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”
On the face of it just looks like God is telling Abram to get up and move, and Abram does, but these few verses are so much more than just moving house. These few verses are some of the most quoted verses in other parts of the Bible, particularly the New Testament. And on these verses we see God’s redemptive plan - but more of that later. First we’ll do a brief summary of some of the major things in Abram’s life, but not everything as we don’t have time. And then we’ll have a look at what the New Testament says about Abram’s life, and the massive implications it has for us today.