Summary: The Patriarchs The Call of Abraham Genesis 11:27-12:9 David Taylor
The Call of Abraham
March 6, 2016
The first eleven chapters of Genesis are devoted to showing us that humanity is helpless against the effects of sin. God created an ideal environment for humanity who rebelled and we see that sin is like a virus in which all humanity is corrupted at a very base level. At every turn, God is judging humanity because of their sin. At the end of chapter eleven, God scatters rebellious humanity who forms nations described in chapter ten. It looks hopeless and that is the point. Abraham is God’s answer to human sin and rebellion. In Abraham God chooses to work through one man to bless the nations. God redeems Abraham to redeem the nations.
The story starts in Genesis 11:27, with the genealogy of Terah who is from the line of Shem, the blessed line of Noah’s son. Terah fathers Abraham, who marries Sarah, who is barren and has no children. Terah migrated with Abraham and Sarah and his grandson Lot, from Ur to the land of Canaan, settling in Haran. It is here that God intervenes in Abraham’s life. God tells him to leave his country, his family, his community and to go to an unnamed location. Some of us know the story so well that we gloss over the radical nature of the request. God is telling Abraham to abandon all security and safety, his support system, everything that he has worked to obtain and to go to an unknown destination. God chose Abraham. Out of all the human beings living at the time, God chose to fulfill his redemptive purposes in and through on man. He blessed Abraham to bless the nations. This is pure grace. Then God called Abraham. That is, in God’s perfect time, when it was obvious that humanity cannot overcome the affects of sin, God displays his love and grace toward a pagan. God put enmity between Abraham and the serpent. God has done that for each one of us. Scripture tells us that before the foundation of the world, God chose us, and then calls us to himself. Think about this, God set his affection on you in eternity past before you were born. Then he called, you, wooed you to himself until you said yes. That is pure grace. God blesses Abraham to bless the nations.
Then God commands Abraham to leave everything and go to an unknown land. Abraham obeys God, leaving Haran and taking Lot with him. Why did he go? Why did he trust God? Abraham obeyed because of the prior work of God in him. The New Testament tells us that Abraham was justified by faith. He obeys because God has changed his heart. This happened when he was 75 years old; he is no spring chicken. Still, it is a radical step of faith. You know, the older you are, the more difficult it is to take risks in life. All of us, even risk takers, become less risky the older we get because it is more difficult to start over. Yet Abraham gathered everything he had, family, staff, and livestock, and moved when most in our day are retired. Abraham obeyed because he trusted God’s promises to him. Faith in the promises of God empowers us to obey God in the present. What sin are you holding on to because you are not trusting God’s promise to you. It may be entertainment, love, some addiction, money, happiness, etc. Let’s take something basic. If you are not spend regular time reading the bible you do not trust Jesus’ promise that we do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. You do not think you need Gods insight, help, or spiritual strength to get through the day. The Christian life is a life where God is continually and often slowly stripping us of trusting in the idols that we trust for safety and security and happiness.
So Abram comes to the land of Canaan only to find that Canaanites living there. Then the Lord appeared to Abraham and promises to give the land to his descendants! God is promising him children with Sarah, who is barren. Abraham responds by building an altar. Then immediately we are told that he moved to the hill country east of Bethel and pitched his tent and built another altar and worshipped, calling upon the name of the Lord. Why is he building altars? When Noah got off the ark, he also made an altar. They did it to reclaim the land for God and his kingdom purposes. They are marking out the land as belonging to God, claiming the land for the worship of the one true God. God blessed Abraham to bless the nations or more specifically, God redeemed Abraham to redeem the nations. Covenant and kingdom are bound up together. When God brought Abraham into covenant relationship with himself it was for the larger purpose of establishing his kingdom. I will make you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. Later, God tells him “in his seed all the nations will be blessed.” What is going on here? When Moses wrote Genesis, the nation of Israel was on the verge of the land God promised to give them. The story of Abraham was meant to encourage Israel to take the land God promised. Moses is reminding Israel then and us now, that God guides history to ensure that his plan of redemption is fulfilled; nothing will stop it even if the land is filled with people or giants. Each of us is on a journey to the promised land, the New Earth, where we will face trials, obstacles, difficulties that all boil down to trusting God and promises. Each one of us are facing situations right now where we are faced with this question. Will you trust God or not? It may be in your marriage. It may be with your children. It may be at school. It may be at work. What are you going to do? I have a friend that was brought up here by their employer to work for them. After a couple of months, one of the owners asked him how he liked work and living in Alaska. He was in a dilemma as he had not decided yet. If he told him he loved it and was glad here was here, then he would gain favor with the owner as the owner wants to invest in those employees who are going to be around for a while. What would you have done? When he told his immediate supervisor about it, his supervisor told him he should have lied to the owner. He told the truth because he believed that God is his provider. God blessed Abraham to bless the nations. You have come to faith because of Abraham. Think about that. The gospel is unstoppable. But the gospel is not just for you. When we follow Jesus, he promises to make us into fishers of men. As a follower of Christ, one of your purposes is to share the transforming power of the gospel with others. So our theme for this year is Go Fish. Who has God put into your life that needs to hear the gospel?