Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Genesis 15 The Lord Made a Covenant with Abram

          There’s a difference between a call (Genesis 12) and a covenant (Genesis 15). A call from God is the Voice of God making a promise to the one who hears. A call of God is a Sovereign statement that the hearer can trust because God is trustworthy. The call is essentially a promise that Abram could and did act upon. It moved him to the promised land and sustained him in the journey and when he arrived. A covenant is something else. A covenant is an oath which is stronger than a promise and if not kept comes with a curse on the oath maker. The difference we in modern times would see is that a call is like a cell phone call setting up an appointment. When we arrive at the appointment, there is a covenant to make. It is a contract with our signatures on it and it becomes a legal document with the weight of the law sustaining all the provisions agreed to in the contract. A covenant by God includes a writing (Genesis 15) witnessed by God and Abram.

15:1 The Introduction.  The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. We tend to divorce the ideas of “word” and “vision”. Don’t forget that words are the carriers of ideas and ideas are more complex than the words they describe. In fact, words often carry pictures to the mind that accurately describe visions. The adage that “a picture is worth thousand words” has some value but don’t forget that those thousand words are still necessary to describe the picture we are seeking to describe. You can have pictures without words but without words, you don’t know what the picture means!
‘Do not be afraid,’ Abram. I am your shield and your very great reward.”
            What was Abram afraid of? The context tells us that he had just won a great victory and honored God by giving a tenth to Melchizedek. But know this, even after a victory there are enemies that remain. Even after giving a tenth, he had deleted his resources. Abram was human wise enough to know that he could not be independent and remain safe. He needed an ally. God says “I will be your ally and I will provide much more than the tenth that you have dispensed.” God claimed to be Abram’s sovereign, thus the shield of protection. God also claimed to be Abram’s inheritance, thus a very great reward which was God rather than just the things of God.

15:2-3 Abram has a complaint.
            Abram was not reticent. If God was his sovereign and great reward, what about the real need that Abram had – a posterity? Abram feared that his inheritance would pass on to his servant rather than to his family. Notice that Abram blamed his childless estate on God rather than his wife, Sarah. Children are from the Lord. They are not the “natural fruit of the womb” is people comely think even today. Is not this the deep reason why abortion is sanctioned in society? People look at the results of sexual union as something just physical that has nothing to do with God. Not so. Abram understood this.

15:4-5 God Promises an Overwhelming Number of Children

       Abram, I will give you a son but more. You won’t be able to count the number of children in your family!” In modern times, we still struggle to count the number of stars. If we tried to do a census of the family of Abram, we would struggle just as much.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Abram as Commander Gen. 14

Genesis 14 Records a rescue operation as Abram embarks on a mission of mercy to rescue a troubled Nephew.

14: 1-12 The nations in Abram’s area bring danger close to him in the person of Lot.Ancient battles in modern Jordan. The Middle East has always been embroiled in battles. What happens when the nations in the area which we live become embroiled in conflict.              

Like Abram, we are touched. Like Abram, we have our own agenda and want to walk peaceably with God and man. Mankind, however, is not so inclined. The real issue was that foreign kings were seeking to bring the promised land under their rule. Abram may have sensed the danger. He knew that there are power struggles constantly among the people of this earth.

14:12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. We have noticed before the risk that Lot took. But then, we all take risks. And Lot was part of a family that cared.

14:13 Abram is the first Biblical person to be called a Hebrew.

14:17 What was really at stake was the effect on the faith and actions of Abram. He led men into battle trusting in God and got the victory in his rescue mission. Abram is pictured as a military leader in this passage. He was a successful leader.

14:18 Bread and Wine – This was an ordinary meal served as a celebration at a special time by an extraordinary person.

14:19 Melchizedek was God Most High who got the credit from Abram as he honored Melchizedek.
         God Most High - Salem is Jerusalem; ‘peace’, and that of Melchizedek, ‘king of righteousness’, see Hebrews 7:2. The union of king and priest at Jerusalem was to move David (the first Israelite to sit on Melchizedek’s throne in Jerusalem) to signal a greater Melchizedek to come (Ps. 110:4) which is a reference to the Messiah. To Abram, this was a reference to the true God, self-revealed to Abram as the one who called and sent him to the promised land.

14:22 This is Abram’s vow. It shows that Abram purposed to give God the credit for his prosperity. This vow is still repeated by believers even in our age of prosperity.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Abram and Lot - Genesis 13:5-17

            This opens a new chapter in Abram’s life. Now he starts to deal with God’s plan and that includes his relationship to Lot, his nephew.

13:5-7 Prosperity leads to a quarrel.  Is it significant that the Canaanites were in the land? All of a sudden, the land becomes crowded = precious. What happens when there is not enough of stuff to go around?

13:8-9 Abram gives Lot a choice to avoid the quarrel. Oops. Whose land was it? Wasn’t God the true owner who had given the land to Abram? Did Abram have the right to give Lot a choice?

13:10-13 Lot’s choice was a good choice for him but it came with risk (Sodom). Did Lot know? I think he knew but was willing to take the risk. How many times do we know the risk but make the choice anyhow?

13:14-17 “Then the Lord said” God speaks to Abram and reminds Abram about whose land it really is and what God is giving to Abram. Lot only gets in on the inheritance of Abram if he sticks with Abram. Land possession is all about connections!

13:18 Abram moves to Hebron – a strategic choice for him. Why that choice? Did God tell him to move there? Don’t think so. Did Abram make the right choice – I think so. How do we discern the will of God when God doesn’t give us specific instructions? Abram believed the promise of God which tells me that if we believe the Lord then we can choose our way in faith that God guides us in our choice. What do you think?

                           “There he built an altar to the Lord.”  
How many altars did Abram build? Bethel (12:8; Hebron (13:18).  Do you have to build an altar if you have already built one if the building is an indication of a willingness to worship? Yes, Bethel. Do you have to worship (call on the name of the Lord) often? Yes, Hebron.