Summary: This is the 23rd sermon in our series on the Book of Genesis. In this sermon we examine God's promises to Abraham in the covenant.
Promises to Abraham (Genesis part 23)
Text: Genesis 12:1-9
By: Ken McKinley
Abraham is probably one of the most important characters in all of history. All three monotheistic religions (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) revere him as the father of their faiths. National Geographic magazine credits Abraham with the idea of monotheism (that’s the belief in one God, rather than polytheism which is the belief in many gods). They say that he’s the one who came up with the whole idea, and that’s why he’s such an important figure in history. But what we see in Genesis isn’t that Abraham came up with this idea, it’s that God showed him the truth. And the reason that we as Christians see Abraham as such an important figure in our faith, is because first of all, Abraham is given to us in the New Testament as an example of someone who had faith. The Apostle Paul tells us that Abraham was justified by faith, not by works, and so he’s an example of true, saving faith. But also it’s through Abraham that God is going to reveal His purpose and goal for all mankind. In his promises to Abraham, God revealed that He had a plan to save us, and a plan to bring about the promised seed of the woman.
Now everything that we’ve been reading and studying the past few weeks has been leading up to this point. And there’s a lot that we could look at here, but today I just want to focus on three or four things as we have time.
The first thing I was us to look at is the covenant of grace; so let’s look at verses 1 – 4 again, (Read). Now remember, Abram’s father, Terah takes Abram, Sarai and Lot out of Ur, and they moved to the land of Haran and lived there for a while, until Terah died and then God calls Abram to depart from there and go to a land that He is going to show him. And you notice that in those verses God is saying to Abram, “I’m going to bless you. I’m going to make you a great nation. I’m going to make your name great, and I’m going to make you a blessing to others. I’ll bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” But all of those promised blessings… they’re all hinging on verse 1. They are all hinging on Abram’s obedience to the call of God. And if we look, we can see that in our own lives. There are times in life when Satan will try to get us to believe that by obeying God and living for God is going to be dull and boring, and we won’t have any fun or fulfillment. He’ll tell us that satisfaction and contentment can be found outside of God’s will, but wheat were seeing here in our text, and throughout the Bible is that true happiness and contentment are actually by-products of dying to ourselves and trusting in Christ, and following His will and His ways.
So what we’re seeing here in our text is the commands to the covenant and the promises of the covenant. The first command that God gives to Abram is to “GO!” the Lord says, “Get out from your country, from your family, and from your father’s house…” That’s the first command required in this covenant God is making with Abraham. The second one is found at the very end of verse 2. Now most of our Bibles say something like, “and you will be a blessing.” But in the Hebrew that’s an imperative. For all you who struggled with English out there, and imperative is an expression of a command. So basically what God was saying to Abram was, “Go… and be a blessing.”
And so from Genesis chapter one until now, God’s focus has been funneled to a point and a person. It started off with the vast universe and then narrowed down eventually to Noah and his three sons, and specifically his son Shem. Then it narrows even more by focusing on Terah, one of Shem’s descendants, and now it’s zeroed in on Abram. The best way I can describe it is like a funnel, and Abram is the very end of that funnel. But while God’s focus is zeroing in on Abram, we’ve also seen a separation going on in the first 11 chapters. And this call of God to Abram begins with a separation, he’s supposed to come out from his father’s house and from his country. But again, it’s not a removal like some people think, because look… God says to him, “You’re going to be a blessing TO THE NATIONS.” So on one hand, Abram has to separate from the world, on the other he is called to be a blessing to that very same world. Jesus was basically calling us to the same thing in the New Testament when He says we are to be salt and light, or a city on a hill. We are to be different from the world in order to be a blessing to the world.