This morning’s Scripture Text, Genesis 12:1-7, along with the rest of the passages that talk about Abraham and his relationship with God, may very well be the “key” to understanding the Old Testament, and the New Testament as well.
Our understanding of how God relates to his chosen people, the children of Israel, and later, by spiritual adoption, to the church, can all be traced back to Abraham and his relationship with God.
A basic understanding of the dynamics and tensions in our current world situation, as shown nightly on the evening news, can be traced as well to this point in the Holy Scriptures; for the Christian, Jewish, and even Muslim religions trace their history back to Abraham.
Several themes that we see throughout Scripture, have their birth here.
- A chosen people,
- Abraham’ “seed,”
- Separating ourselves from the evil in the world,
- following God’s leading…even when we don’t understand where He’s taking us,
- the need for sacrifice if we are to truly worship God. It starts here.
What is it that is so important? What happens that opens up the mystery of the scriptures?
Just this: God Almighty, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, makes a promise to his friend Abraham.
A promise. Actually a covenant.
While I don’t intend to delve into all of the depths of the Abrahamic Covenant this morning, I do want to zero in on a couple parts of Abraham’s story.
First, how God calls him, and then on one portion of that covenant between God and Abraham. We don’t know a lot about Abraham before he was 75 years old. We know his name was originally “ABRAM” which means high father, but that God later honors him with a new name: “ABRAHAM” which means father of multitudes.
Chapter 11 of Genesis tells us his family tree and that the family originally came from a city called “UR” down near the Persian Gulf. We are told in Gen. 11:31 that Abraham’s father “TERAH took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to [the town of] Haran, they settled there.”
I suspect that Terah and his family already knew this God personally. For them to hear God tell them to leave their home, and then for them to actually get up and get moving, suggests that they might actually have known Him somehow. I wonder if some of the family stories about a loving, caring God who wanted relationship with His created people had been handed down generation to generation from Adam and Eve all the way to Noah had continued to be told and remembered after the ark by his descendants, all the way to Terah.
And the call of God comes to Terah’s family while they in UR to go to Canaan, but they got about halfway and settled down. How many times are we like that? We hear God calling us to do something or we know that he wants us to do something, and we get started, but somewhere along the way get distracted and get comfortable and never quite finish the job.
I can understand that. I am told that I was like that with my parents when I was growing up. I was always the obedient son, you know, but on occasion, very rarely I’m sure, but on occasion, I would be asked to do something (like clean my room) and I would start, like a good obedient child should, but I’d get distracted by the missing comic book I had been looking for and had just found, or by a newly refound missing toy, or a book, or a ball, or whatever. (Actually, it didn’t take much at all to get me distracted.) But the end result was, I never finished the job…on my own.
And no matter how good our intentions, no matter how obedient our beginnings, it only counts in the final tally if we finish the task. The family stops in Haran and Terah dies there.
But God reissues the call, like a loving patient parent reminds us to get back to our assigned task, God speaks to Abraham to GO and offers him this covenant. And Abraham obeys.
Look again with me, if you will, to our first exposure to that covenant: Genesis 12:1-3.
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “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. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
The key is right there in verse 2: “I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
“I will bless you… and you will be a blessing.”
Ever since Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden, sin had played havoc on all living creatures. The curse of sin allowed sickness, disease, stubborness, jealousy, perversion, arrogance, meanness to become daily partners with the very people that God had intended to have a constant, daily friendship with.
And when He found a man who was hungry for that kind of relationship with God, He began opening up the gates of Heaven.
All of the basic foundational principles of the Bible are here. God wants to have a daily friendship relationship with his people. He wants to bless them…he wants to have a daily friendship relationship with US. He wants to bless us. But sin continues to separate us from God and, basically, ties God’s hands. He provides the way for us to have relationship with him, but we must choose to accept that. Abraham had to continue on with sacrifices of animals as temporary sacrifices. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is our sacrifice and we need only accept Jesus as our Lord and savior.
But the fact remains, God wants to pour out blessings on us. But catch the reason why… “I will bless you… and you will be a blessing.”
It’s not JUST that He loves us and wants to bless us…He loves ALL.
What does John 3:16 say again? For God so loved who? Not just the Jews. Not just the Christians. The world. The WHOLE world! Because he loved the world, he sent his son Jesus Christ to die in our place.
But he chooses us, the people of God, in the same way that he chose Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites. He chooses us to bless SO THAT WE CAN BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS. We were never meant to just be blessed. WE are blessed so that we can bless others… so that God, through us, can change lives that are still bound by sin.
I love the way the Apostle Paul words it in the New Testament…
Galatians 3:13-14 (NIV) Christ redeemed us… in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
How about you? Have you been blessed by God? Salvation? Physical blessings? Relationship blessings? Financial blessings? Blessings of physical strength or special skills?
If you HAVE been blessed, then God has deliberately chosen you to be His way of blessing others. Not that you have to give away everything and live in a cave in the desert, but rather you and I DO have a responsibility to share the blessings we have received with those others in need when we become aware of their need.