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Gen. 12:4-9 - Abram - Faith Follower - Part 1
One of the things we are going to see here in Genesis 12 is nothing short of a whole new beginning for mankind. In the first 11 chapters of Genesis, we see the slow, steady spread of sin from its origin in the garden of Eden. Five times in these chapters, God’s solemn curse is pronounced upon sin and sinners, replacing the original blessing upon life in the garden. But now God begins the process of re-creating for Himself a people by pronouncing a fivefold blessing upon Abram.
God will bless Abram and turn him into the very embodiment of blessing, a living model of what blessing should be. This is what the builders of the Tower of Babel sought to do on their own behalf and failed to accomplish - to establish a lasting city and thus make a name for themselves.
God will make Abram into a nation and make his name great. Through obedience, Abram will bring blessing to the whole world. Through Abram, God will reverse the curse that exists on nature and on us as human beings, giving us what we could never find ourselves: restored relationships with Him and with one another, and rest for our souls.
There are some pretty big obstacles along the road to the fulfillment of each of the promises God makes to Abram:
- How can sinners enjoy God’s blessing?
- How can an elderly and barren couple have descendants?
- How can a handful of people possess a land already occupied by others?
From a human perspective, these obstacles seem impossible. But, as this story unfolds, it’s made undeniably clear that nothing can stand in the way of the purposes of the sovereign and omnipotent God, who called heaven and earth into being out of nothing.
Faith experiences obstacles (12:4-6). As we covered last week, Abram demonstrated Radical faith in light of God’s call and was thoroughly blessed for it. So it is with us as well when we trust in Christ. But that does not mean everything in our lives will run smoothly. I would even say it’s quite the opposite..
Moses writes in (12:4), “So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him.” This time around, Abram immediately and completely obeyed God. Did Abram know he was headed to Canaan (12:5)? Apparently not. Hebrews 11:8 states that “he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (I want to highlight that he didn’t even know where he was going, but went on faith).
Moses goes on to inform us that “Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” Though he lived to 175 years old, Abram was no spring chicken when he decided to follow the Lord to Canaan. Age is no hindrance to faith and taking bold steps for the Lord. It’s never too late.
So, Despite Abram’s age, responsibilities, and various commitments, he stepped forward in a venture of faith, in obedience to God. Fortunately, this principle remains true today. If you are getting up there in age, God still wants to use you. He wants you to finish your race well.
Verse 5 says that “Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.”
The text says that Abram took his wife Sarai with him. Now one of the struggles comes to the forefront.
In 11:30, the text goes out of its way to point out that Sarai was barren, that she didn’t even have a single child. Then, in 12:2, God says He’s going to make a great nation out of Abram.
Well, it’s obvious that it won’t be through Sarai—she’s barren. So it must be through someone else, right? (I want you to see this!)
But here in 12:5 we learn that there isn’t a “someone else.” We are told that Abram took his wife Sarai. In spite of the obvious tensions, Abram must have believed God’s promise. (Again, faith! Not on what the way things have always worked before, but trusting in God and having faith)!
Sometimes we forget what childlessness meant in the ancient Near East. It involved shame, social ridicule, and implied that the woman/couple were not in the favor of the gods.
Why then should they trust the Lord when He makes these promises about a nation; they don’t even have a single child. So it was with Abram and Sarai. Certainly they made mistakes along the way, but overall they trusted the God who loves to do the impossible.
What are you trusting God for that only He can do? In order for faith to grow it must see beyond the obstacles and pain to the God of our circumstances. Here’s something to park on for a minute. I will re-read that last statement: “What are you trusting God for that only He can do?”
As I brought up in our last message in Genesis: “It’s easy to step out in faith when we have an idea of what’s going to happen. But when it comes to something radical, something that’s going to seem impossible, something we are uncomfortable with or is going to take us wayyyyyy out of our comfort zone, then it’s not such an easy thing.”
But what does that say about our faith. Our faith is then parked on ourselves and not in what God can and will do. (And due to the sensitivity of the subject, I won’t get into details, but this especially applies to how we run ministries! If we operate by and adhere to the way the world does things and treat our ministries and churches in that way, then there is no room for the Lord to do what He does best and show up and show off.)
If our hands are in everything and we need to set the vision and basis of what is going to happen, and what needs to happen before we go forward with anything, then God can not use His hands and there is no opportunity for God to get any glory for anything. It’s all based on what WE did.
Can this business model (rather than the vision, prayer, faith model) work for a ministry or church? Absolutely, unfortunately many successful booming churches are based on the business model. But then who takes the credit and where does God even fit in?
When doing KINGDOM work we need a kingdom mindset. Kingdom work does not function when we attempt to do things the way the world does them! Kingdom work is about God getting the glory because of what HE has done. Where is that going to come in when we need try to do these things ourselves?
If we think we have to have control and have all the needs met before things get put into action, how does the Lord get glorified in that? When in the end we don’t get to say: “Wow, look at what God did,” in a big way, but rather, “Wow, look what we did.”
God is most honored and glorified when He gets to show off in big ways: way’s that go against our principals, our understanding, our worldly ways of doing things: when we give up complete control and trust enough to give it to Him, as hard as that is and as much as that may go against everything we’ve ever done or learned before. Faith needs to supersede experience and normalcy.
But that’s hard to do when we think we need to have control over every aspect of things. Remember in that last message we also talked about how we make obedience to God’s Calling too complicated and discussing our calls or leadings in a direction that is radical with too many people, or talking in endless circles about it? This is exactly when we begin making it about ourselves and taking the control away from God and putting it on ourselves.
If we know what God wants us to do, obedience isn’t complicated. It may be difficult, but not complicated. We need to stop hoping it will be easy and give up our having to have control over everything and stop waiting for prolonged periods for all the details to be worked out. When the Lord has given us an opportunity to grow in faith, He wants us to trust in His faithful care and in His unfaltering power.
Join us next week as we continue with this text.