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God’s Calling - Gen. 12:1-3 - Part Two
[Read part one here]
Obviously when Abram encountered the Lord, he knew that God was real. The awesome splendor of God’s presence left him no room for doubt. And the Lord did give him 3 specific promises that obviously made his obedience worth his trouble, and those promises were covenants.
We covered covenants a bit when we covered the covenant God made with Noah, and here we find the next “Unconditional Covenant” the Lord makes to someone. An Unconditional Covenant is a straightforward promise that contains no stipulations. In the Lord’s very first encounter with Abram, He established an Unconditional Covenant.
He did give Abram a command, and Abram had to obey to claim the Lord’s blessings. But the promises did not contain “If/Then” statements. They were simple declarations:
I will make you into a great nation,
I will bless you and make you famous,
I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt,
All the families on earth will be blessed through you.
This foundational promise given by God to Abram is so significant that it is cited by Peter on the day of Pentecost in the very first NT sermon: “And you are the heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’” (Acts 3:25).
It was also in Stephen’s answer to the belligerent Jews who were disputing with him, he insisted that God’s promise to Abram was the basis of his preaching on the glorious fulfilment of that promise in Jesus Christ: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haraan. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘And go to the land I will show you.’
Paul identifies this promise to Abram as “the gospel”: “Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’” (Gal. 3:8). In verse 9 He then certifies that all who believe in the work of Christ on Calvary are: “So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”
And after spending much of his life in Ur, he left. And, like all the other characters we have covered thus far in Genesis, he didn’t quite respond with complete obedience! When he left, he brought his father, Terah, and his nephew, Lot. And with them came their households and their possessions!
Abram kind of moved in the general direction of Canaan - the land that God had promised him - but he traveled no farther than Haran.
Genesis 2:4 begins with the story of Abram’s seedling faith becoming more mature, a fruit bearing tree. We should all take great comfort to see that God didn’t void His covenant with Abram because he failed to obey fully. Fortunately for Abram - and for us - the Lord doesn’t expect anyone to exercise perfect faith! Instead, He meets us where we are and then helps us cultivate increasingly more trust in Him.
When Abram received his first call from God, he was only partially obedient. Fortunately, God is patient. Abram was very young in the faith. He had much to learn, and God
could afford to wait. So the wasted years slipped by and then upon Terah’s death, Abram began to make the progress God desired.
This should encourage us. Abram, the great father of our faith, started his Christian pilgrimage slowly. He also wasted some years along the way. If that’s true of Abram, and God used him powerfully, how much more can that be true of us? If we started our Christian faith slowly or if we have found ourselves squandering precious time, we can get back into the race. Let’s not wait another minute.
As we reflect on Abram’s faltering start, let’s end by asking ourselves 3 questions:
- Are we seeking God’s will deliberately and passionately? Are we?? “How do I know what God’s will is for my life?” You may ask?
- Do ya read your Bible? Do ya spend time with Him in solitude and prayer? You’ll never get a direction unless those things are happening.
- If God were to have us leave our comfort zone to take on the challenges of the unfamiliar, how would we respond?
Trusting God doesn’t often involve easy choices. Every choice to follow God’s leading involves sacrifice - at the very least, the sacrifice of our own desires.
Do we trust the Lord’s character enough to obey Him without having all the details worked out?
Are we willing to accept a short term loss in order to receive divine blessings we cannot yet see?
Are we making obedience too complicated? If we are discussing our decision with too many people or talking in endless circles, we are making obedience complicated!
In doing so we can fall into one of these traps:
- We are hoping someone will give us a good reason to do something other than what we know in our heart to be God’s will.
- We’re hoping to find a way to obey without having to face hardship and sacrifice.
- We don’t like risk, and we’re hoping that God will change His mind if we delay making the decision long enough.
- We are hoping that by talking and waiting that we will feel good about the decision before having to commit.
- We haven’t yet accepted that there’s no such thing as a decision without at least some negative consequences!
If we know what God wants us to do, obedience isn’t complicated. It may be difficult, but it’s not complicated.
We need to stop hoping it will be easy and give up our search for alternatives. Don’t wait for prolonged periods for details to be worked out.
The Lord has given us an opportunity to grow in faith. He wants us to trust in His faithful care and rest in His unfaltering power.
God’s claim on our lives always beckons us to leave certain things behind at the same time we are taking up a new journey and following Him. The time has come to obey.