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INTERMISSION/INTRO TO ABRAM - Part 3 - Gen. 11:27-12:9
The intermission in the last 2 weeks have been a review of why we are going through the Book of Genesis which leads us to introduce the next character in the story: Abraham!
In the past few years we have seen a pretty significant rise in “radical atheism,” and more and more people taking a proactive stance against Christians and Christianity. They don’t just simply reject the existence of God; they aggressively attack belief in God as an evil which must be eradicated.
Some might worry about this attack, but we shouldn’t. While their movement is pretty radical, it’s nothing new. And if you're like me, I peeked ahead to see how the story of humanity ends. Spoiler alert: God wins.
So, with the issue of ultimate victory settled, the question becomes: How do we, as believers in a Creator God, properly conduct ourselves living in a world that, for the most part, does not accept His existence as truth? Understand that this IS NOT new. If we rewind history back far enough we see a time in which virtually no one believed in God. Civilizations worshiped many gods of their own invention, and they made up some pretty extreme superstitions to explain the unexplainable, but they certainly didn’t acknowledge the one true Creator of all things.
And out of this mass of Creator God denying humanity; one man emerged who began to proclaim what we might call “radical theism!” The man we know today as Abraham not only claimed that one true Creator existed and that all other gods did not, but he also staked his entire life on this belief.
Today Abraham is revered by the majority of the world as “the father of faith.” I say most of the world, because most statistics show that more than half of the world’s population claims to be Jewish, Muslim, or Christian, and each of these religious traditions traces its roots to Abraham. Abraham, perhaps more than any other person in the bible, knew what it meant to live by faith in the face of overwhelming circumstances. As we will see in covering His life, he was regarded as a key figure.
In Isaiah 51:2, the exiles in Babylon were urged to consider his experiences as a model for their own: “Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him.”
Just as Abraham had been called by God from the city of Ur, against overwhelming odds, to enter the promised land, so also the exiles could rely on God to fulfill His promises to the patriarch. They could have faith that the God of Abraham would return them once again to that land, as impossible as that seemed!
But the use of Abraham as an example goes back even further than the exile. As we look into the narrative of Abraham we will see that his story was written to provide encouragement for the generation in the wilderness, those who were stuck in the gap between being delivered out of Egypt and entering the Promised Land.
But what about us? We do not live in the wilderness of Sinai, or among the exiles of Babylon. What can we learn from Abraham?
In Hebrews 3, the writer of Hebrews shows us a pretty important analogy between our own present spiritual position as Christians and that of the wilderness generation. We to have not entered our rest. (Heb. 4:6 - Since therefore it remains for some to enter it...).
We too run the risk of disobeying the Gospel promise and falling short of God’s blessing. Heb. 4:1 - “Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.”
Heb. 3:12 - “Take care brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.”
Although everything in creation is subject to the authority of Jesus, at present we often don’t see that heavenly reality clearly reflected in our own earthly experience (Heb. 2:8 - “...At present we do not see everything in subjection to Him.”).
We need to live by faith, just like our OT forefathers (Heb. 11). So we too can learn a great deal from Abraham’s example of how to live in that gap between promise and reality.
Yet if Abraham is only an example for us to follow, we are to be pitied! Who among us could possibly live up to the standard of even a flawed hero such as Abraham?
Thankfully, our salvation rests not in our “trying to do what Abraham did,” but on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross in our place, whereby our sins were atoned for, the wrath of God was turned away from us, and we were reconciled to Him!! The Gospel is not about “What would Abraham do?” but “What has Jesus done?”
As we delve into Abraham’s life and faith, we will see not only how he provides positive and negative examples for us, but also how he acts as a forerunner and shadow, pointing forward to Christ.
And this takes us back to what Jesus told His disciples in the Emmaus road sermon. He told His disciples what Moses and the prophets had written, not because they were full of good examples for them to follow, but because they spoke of Him! Specifically, they spoke of His sufferings and the glories that would follow.
The whole OT was designed by God to give us a context within which to understand the sufferings and glorification of Christ. Our greatest need, in ORDER to live by faith, is NOT to have good examples to follow!! Rather, what we NEED MOST is a growing understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of His sufferings and the glory that followed, which will provide the context for understanding and enduring our present sufferings with HOPE and an unconquerable joy!