What are you to God? – Irrelevant?
How does God view you? - a bit of a disappointment?
Or are you the apple of his eye, the focus of his blessing and the object of His goodness?
The first thing you notice in the Bible is that God's first inclination is to do good and to bless. God saw all that he made it is good, good, very good, He is forever blessing. Genesis 1-2, He’s blessing the animals, humans, and the sabbath 1:22, He blesses Adam and Noah and Abram, all to increase and be fruitful.
If you were to ask me "What was the one thing you learnt in 4 years at Bible College” I would say. “That God is Good! He is for us!”.
In this talk we are going to fly at 20,000 metres as we cover 3 big chapters so, get comfortable as we take off, moving from Ur to Haran to Canaan to Egypt.
In Genesis 12 God is beginning again. Here is a new word to an old man, Abram’s personal world reflects the mess of the broken world we need saving from.
God 's plan to bless the world will be through this man. So God tells Abram where to "Go."
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. ~Genesis 12:1 (NIV)
Abram is told to leave behind this world that is in ruins. Leave behind the sin of Adam the curse of Cain, leave the city of Babel that wanted to make a name for themselves. God is saying to Abram leave the safety of your land, your people and family and TRUST ME. Every relationship with God begins and ends here but God never commands without a promise.
“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.” ~Genesis 12:2-3 (NIV)
God goes public and launches his mission to bless the world.
These specific promises to Abram will shape the rest of the Bible story. We must learn that “God don't make promises that he don’t keep.” Faith is trusting in the promises that come from God, they must have sounded so IMPOSSIBLE to Abram, to an old man who had no land and no kids.
God is emphatic, I will give you, Abram, the blessings of a nation, fame, protection, and he will be an agent of world blessing. At times we will see Abraham exhibit extraordinary faith
Abram left as the Lord had told him. ~Genesis 12:4 (NIV)
Stunning and Courageous - Notice that true faith always leads to obedience.
I remember taking year 8 kids abseiling, I would explain the principles of abseiling. "Do you believe me?" "Yes, Ray, let's go."
I would show them the equipment. "Do you believe it will hold you?" "Yes, Ray, let's go. But I knew when they believed, it was when they swung their bodies out over the cliff face. Abraham trusted in God and he went.
From North to South the land was in the hand of the Canaanites. Their time had not yet come. Then God adds to the promises and reassures Abraham
The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. ~Genesis 12:7 (NIV)
God now adds the promise of land with the promise of nation, fame, protection and world blessing. It’s a great start for Abram.
Faith leads to Obedience and obedience leads to Worship, but as we will see the promises of God are rock solid but Abraham’s faith was not. Like us, all Abram was on a journey of learning to trust.
Soon after there is a famine in this promised land, reminding Abraham to look to a better country - New creation and new earth. His first response to the famine is not faith but to leave the land God promised him. Now in Egypt Abram throws his wife under the bus to save himself.
“Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” ~Genesis 12:13 (NIV)
This is both a half-truth and a lie at the same time, Abraham is no instant hero of faith, he abandons his wife to protect himself, and it won't be the last time. Worse, he financially benefits by his sin, this story ultimately rides on the back of God's promises. That is clear because it's God who protects Sarah and not Abraham.
Remember the promise to Abram:
“… and whoever curses you I will curse;” ~Genesis 12:3 (NIV)
When Pharaoh takes Sarai in his harem as a wife its God who inflicts him with sores, Pharaoh has his own personal pandemic. Abraham still needed to learn God don’t make promises he don’t keep.
We are now flying over Genesis 13, I hope you’re enjoying your flight. Remember the promise:
“Whoever blesses you will be blessed” ~Genesis 12:3 (NIV)
The promised blessing to Abram overflows to his nephew Lot:
Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. ~Genesis 13:5-6 (NIV)
Abram is so confident in God’s goodness that he offers his nephew Lot the freedom to take the best Land. “Whatever you want you can have.” You get first pick! It is not an easy thing to let go of so much...
The thing about knowing the promised blessings of God’s goodness is that it unleashed a generous heart.
Do you know when I am the most generous?
When I am at an "All You Can Eat" restaurant. You want food off my plate, sure no probs, take it all, I can always go back for more. If you don’t get that God is good and is for you then you will be left to grab, or panic. If you trust God, who is good and full of blessing, you will give generously and show grace. Blessed people bless others.
Lot has more cunning than faith, he saw with his eyes not the eyes of faith. He notices the "whole plain of Jordan were like the garden of Eden" and so he took it. He didn’t get, you cant enter paradise without trusting the promises of God. Lot is a man of this world, he moved away from Abram, on the edge of the promised land near the godless city of Sodom. Lot thinks that the secret of his success is himself instead of the promises of God tied to Abram.
Matt Olliffe has written an excellent Bible study on Genesis, he writes, “Lot's decision would leave him widowed, penniless, homeless, living in a cave with his traumatized daughters…”
All because he did not cleave to Abraham, the agent of blessing.
Abram knows the secret of his success, he returns to Bethel, where he received the promise and built an altar, he worships God
There Abram called on the name of the LORD. ~Genesis 13:4 (NIV)
Seek first his kingdom and all these things will be given to you.
Got your priorities right? then why are you who are healthy and not sick, still at home and refusing to fellowship with all of God's people at MBM?
At the very point that Lot takes advantage of Abrams generosity. God reissues the promises to Abraham for the 3rd time.
The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” ~Genesis 13:14-17 (NIV)
The promises are not just repeated they are expanded.
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you ~Genesis 12:3b (NIV)
The apostle Paul tells us that the blessing to world means the nations are justified by faith, with the gift of the Spirit and adopted as children of Abraham.
Faith is trusting in the promises that come from God's mouth. Careful friends, by not trusting the promises you put in God's mouth. Don’t be like the guy who drove a Mercedes with the number plate “blessing” thinking this is what is meant by Abrahamic promises.
Grasp the promises of God and you will be liberated from
grabbing for blessings, knowing our sins are forgiven, that God is Father and Heaven is home. We can let go of the politics of sin, the Christian can refuse to see co-workers as threats to your next promotion. It frees us to rejoice in the success of others instead of bitching about the job you should have got.
If you believe your name is written in that lambs’ book of life, then be free to be generous with your time, talents, and treasures.
Abram was called to leave behind the world of sin, but sin has not left him behind. As we fly over Genesis 14 please put on your seat belts because we have entered a war zone. Five kings from the EAST make war on four kings of the West. Lot and all he has are taken captive, he has paid the price of moving away from Abram and near to godless Sodom. In fact, Lot is now living in Sodom, Lot who had it all now loses it all in one battle.
Calvin put it well
"Lot when fancied he was living in paradise, was nearly plunged into the depths of Hell (Calvin 1:373)
Remember God promised that Abram would be a channel of blessing, without Abraham, Lot loses it all in the twinkle of an eye. With God on his side, Abraham’s small private army is able to defeat the armies of four kings. If God is for us who can be against us?
He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. ~Genesis 14:16 (NIV)
Abram is victorious in battle and his success is given by God.
Why? God promised to curse those who curse him, Abraham is learning that God don’t make promises he don’t keep! But will God get the glory?
On the way from the war, Abraham comes across two very different Kings. Melchizedek, a Priest-King of Salem and the Godless King of Sodom. The first response of Melchizedek is to GIVE to Abram, bread and wine, the banquet for kings. The first response of the king of Sodom is to make a demand “Give me the people” Melchizedek blesses God for Abram’s success. The king of Sodom sees himself as blessing Abram by letting him keep the spoils
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was Priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. ~Genesis 14:18-20 (NIV)
Those who know the blessing of God, bless God and bless others. Abraham first response to Melchizedek was to give 10% of his spoils, so the principle of TITHING begins, not from law but from a blessed heart who has tasted that God is good.
Abraham first response to King Sodom is to refuse his offer to keep the spoils of war. He won't benefit from an unrighteous king, he won't have a bar of it, God alone will get the glory for my blessing. Blessed people bless God and bless others.
Let's land this plane!
Jesus is called a priest in the order or pattern of Melchizedek.
And as a risen Priest-King every moment of every day in the face of every sin Jesus stands to intercede between us and God. If Lot needed to stay close to Abraham then we need to stay close to Jesus our Priest. God is good and he is for us.
One brother at church had for the last 15 years been growing in his faith, consumed by his business, battled in his marriage. He felt like God was either angry or disappointed with him then one night he had a dream. Jesus walked with him and talked with him, he wasn’t angry and he wasn’t disappointed. It set him free.
Don’t wait for a dream to cleave to Jesus. The dream did what the Bible is saying, God is good and is for you in Christ Jesus.
In Christ, you have been blessed in heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing. Go and make disciples of all nations.