Act 3: A Kingdom of Priests – Scene 1: Father Abraham

Below is a copy of Sunday’s sermon – the audio version can be found here.

Blessings. 🙂

Fathers’ Day

Today is Fathers’ Day – a day when we celebrate Fatherhood and the role that Fathers play in shaping their children. It is a day that, sadly, has been become commercialized – like so many of our other holidays… yet in the midst of this the heart of the day carries forward – for in a time when fathers are considered optional –when so many fathers are abandoning their families – their little ones – I pray that we, as followers of Jesus, will rise up and proclaim the value of Fathers.

Let us live life differently – let us show our neighbors, families, co-workers and everyone else what a Father really is – i.e. someone who follows Jesus, someone who loves – cares for, protects, nurtures, builds up – their children.

A Father ‘gets to’ be with his sons and daughters – It is not a ‘have to’ – it is a gets to!!!

Abraham

•    The World Famous father of 54.49% of the world

o    Jews and Judaism – 0.23%
o    Arabs and Islam -21.01%
o    Christianity – 33.32%

•    One of the most misunderstood fathers…

o    All three religions claim him for their own…
o    With their agenda

•    But before we look at Abraham… let us set the stage

Context

•    Genesis – written during the time of Moses
•    Mission of God throughout Gen 1-11

“I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” –Leviticus 26:11-12

•    Thwarted

o    “The great creative mission of God being constantly thwarted and spoiled in ways that affect not just human well-being but the whole cosmos” (Christopher Wright – The Mission of God – page 199)
o    Where can the mission of God go from here?
o    What can God do next?

•    Very broad redemptive agenda

o    Cosmic question/issue requires a cosmic answer/solution
o    The problems spread so graphically “will not be solved just by finding a way to get human beings to heaven when they die. Death itself must be destroyed if the curse is to be removed and the way opened to the tree of life.”
o    “The love and power of God must address not only the sin of individuals but also the strife and strings of nations”
o    “not only the need of human being but also the suffering of animals and the cure of the ground” – (Christopher Wright – The Mission of God – page 199)

•    The Solution

o    God “sees an elderly, childless couple in the land of Babel and decides to make them the fountainhead, the launch pad of his whole mission of cosmic redemption. “

– What kind of answer is that?
– What is God up to?

o    “The call of Abram is the beginning of God’s answer to the evil of human hearts, the strife of nations and the groaning brokenness of his whole creation. “ (Christopher Wright – The Mission of God – page 199)

What Is God Up To?

•    We have reached a passage that is crucial to the Story of God

o    Shifting from global focus to an individual

As we make this shift, we must remember that just because the writer of Genesis does not tell the stories of other people groups, it does not mean that God abandoned them. God is the King of the world and He seeks to have a personal relationship with every single human being on the planet, regardless of race or gender. As we go through the Bible we will see this heart for the world pop up in odd places – but for now, let us join the story of the Israelites as Abram becomes our father through the life of Jesus.

•    Let us dive into the story of Abraham and see what God is up to.
•    Read Genesis 11:27 – 12:5

Passage Breakdown

•    Gen 12:1

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” –Genesis 12:1

•    Coming out of Ur => land of Sin the Moongod

o    Previously we saw that God Almighty was king over the sun and moon
o    He hung up His warriors bow – the great rainbow (a light)
o    Now we see Him calling Abram out of Ur

– A major center of Sin the Moongod
– Sin was the head of a great pantheon of gods
– Sin was the ‘lord of wisdom’

o    Abram was called out of the Sin – human wisdom and to the land of God / wisdom of God
o    Haran

– Only Abram stops short…
– Haran was another center of Sin the moongod worship

•    Seems harsh…. Yet God knew that He had to get Abram away from Sin
•    During that time the gods (idols) of the family were passed down from father to son

o    By leaving his father’s household, Abram was saying that God was his God

•    Implications of God’s call to Abram.

o    As King, He has the authority to call us away from everything thing we know and into the great unknown.
o    As such, it is to Abram’s credit that he takes the challenge and he follows God into the midst of a crazy wild adventure.
o    Loading up his possessions, Abram takes this wife, his nephew Lot, and all his servants (yeah, Abram was a tad wealthy) and begins the journey into Canaan
o    Even today, He is calling us to trust Him for everything – our food, shelter, clothing, safety and family.

•    Jesus said something similar:

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” –Luke 14:25-26

•    Following Jesus means following Jesus

o    Cannot keep one foot in the old and one foot in the new

– This is why it is called a leap of faith
– You cannot foresee the bottom…

Top Line Bottom Line

•    Let us re-read Genesis 12:1-4

o    only in the New English Translation (NET) as I feel it captures the heart of the Hebrew better than the NIV

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.” – Genesis 12:1-4

•    Babel => Grace

o    the story of Babel does not have a grace ending like the other stories
o    The calling of Abram is the grace part of the story of Babel

– Abram came out of Ur – which is located in the area near Babylon

o    Parallels

– Folks of Babel wanted to make themselves into a great nation with a great name
– God tells Abram He will make him into a great nation with a great name

o    Not by humanities own strengthen but by following God Almighty

•    Purpose of the nation of Israel

o    Before receiving the Law, the Lord tells them:

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ –Exodus 19:3b-6a

o    God was King over the whole earth
o    Israel was to be a ‘treasured possession’ – a kingdom of priests
o    A nation whose job was to communicate God’s presences – God’s glory – to the world

•    Abraham

o    The same is true with God’s call to Abraham
o    He was to be ‘blessed’ so that he would be a blessing to the nations

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.” – Genesis 12:1-4

•    Blessings

o    The focus of the blessings is not wealth, fame or fortune

– These were tools to be able to spread the news about God’s Kingship
– Yet, as we will see, humanity forgot this and got focused on the tools instead of the King

•    The same thing happens to us….
•    This is why we must re-shift our lives every so often to make sure we are focusing on the right thing – on Jesus and nothing else

o    The blessing is being the people of God
o    “All the nations of the earth were blessed as they were shown what God was like and the means were provided form them to become justified, reconciled to God and forgiven of their sins.” (The New Application Commentary: Genesis – John Walton – page 402)

•     “divine blessing”

o    I love how the NET Bible phrases this as it puts the focus back on the Mission of God to dwell among His people and be their God and they to be His people
o    Blessings of Adam vs. Abraham

– Adam

•    A fruitful place (the garden)
•    Endowed them with fertility to multiply
•    Made them rulers over creation

– Abraham

•    A land flowing with milk and honey
•    A great nation without number
•    Kingship

o    God is still on a mission

– He wanted to use Abraham to change the world
– He wants to use us to change the world

o    Jesus and His followers

– Jerusalem
– Therefore go and make disciples of all nations
– All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me

•    Curses

o    I think this is a very misunderstood passage

– It is typically viewed that anyone who speaks negatively towards Abraham or his children would be denied wealth, money and fame

o    To help with this part, I would like to look at Christopher Wright’s translation as I feel that it captures the heart of what God is saying

– Christopher Wright (an English OT scholar) in the book The Mission of God

And YHWH said to Abram,
God yourself up and go
from your land, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house,
to the land that I will show you.
and I will make you into a great nation;
and I will bless you;
and I will make your name great.
And be a blessing.
and I will bless those who bless you;
whereas the one who belittles you, I will curse;
and in you will be blessed all kinship groups on the earth
And Abram went just as YHWH said to him.

•    Patrick Miller – another OT scholar translates verse 3 it this way:

“…and that I may bless the ones blessing you – and should there be one who regards you with contempt I will curse him. So, then, all the families of the earth can gain a blessing in you.”

•    The one who is ‘cursed’ is singular while the ones who are blessed are plural
•    Abraham was not sent out to bring about a ‘curse’ – the curse is already out there!

o    The purpose of Abraham was to bring God’s blessing – kingship to all the people in the world.
o    The promise of God was repeated four more times in Genesis –only the ‘curse’ part was left off

– Gen 18:18 – Abraham
– Gen 22:18 – Abraham
– Gen 26:4-5 – Isaac
– Gen 28:14 – Jacob

•    So what then?

o    Verse 3 is God’s way of telling Abraham that He will protect him from the dangers of the world.
o    Crap may happen – but God is King and He will hold on to Abraham
o    Remember, God is asking Abraham to leave behind everything he has ever known – family, friends, work, land – everything…
o    Jesus makes us a similar promise:

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Jesus, Matthew 28:20b

o    Or as Paul says in Romans

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:38-39

Conclusion

•    What is our take away? What is God saying to us here in Sweet, Idaho?
•    God is calling us to walk with Him (show Experiencing God chart)

Experiencing God

1.    God is always at work around you.
2.    God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
3.    God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
4.    God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
5.    God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
6.    You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
7.    You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.

•    Are we going to listen? Are we going to re-adjust our lives and follow God? Or are we going to try to do things our way?
•    Fathers’ Day
•    Jesus’ prayer in John 17:13-18?

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” – John 17:13-18

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