Can you believe it? We are entering into our third month through the Bible! Seeing how a lot has happened over these last few months – shoot, I know I have slept once or twice during that time! – I think it is worth going back and reviewing the journey so far.
We started this journey by looking at the value of “stories” – how they are the glue that holds a community together. They are the substance that takes individuals and knit them together – it gives us a common unity on which we can build our lives.
God has a story. The Bible is not a rule book or an encyclopedia to be ‘mined.’ It is a collection of stories about God and His dealing with humanity. It is a love story of a wonderful God seeking a relationship with us.
Remember our analogy?
Imagine with me that someone discovered a lost Shakespeare play – it is wonderful, full of drama, passion and amazing insight into the human soul – this play is destined to be a classic on par with Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. There is only one problem… the last act is missing…
So what do you do? You pull together the best Shakespearean actors and actress on the planet – the ones that know all of Shakespeare’s other plays – you give them all the acts that you have – the first four acts – you have them study them, to enter into the story – to learn and know the characters in the play – then you put on the play with the actors living out the last act within the theme and direction of the first four acts.
This is us – we are in the fifth act of God’s story.
We have the first four acts recorded in the Bible – shoot, we even have the first and last pages of Act 5! We just don’t have the pages in the middle… so what are we going to do?
I way that we learn the first four acts with all our hearts, mind, soul, and spirit – let us enter into the God’s story with all that we are so that we can live out our part in the story in line with those who have gone before us – the cloud of witnesses as the author of the book of Hebrews says.
The metanarrative of God’s story starts in the desert with Moses telling the Israelites about the One True God who created heaven and earth. With this telling of creation, Moses was combating the polytheistic beliefs of ancient Egypt and Canaan (polytheism is the belief of multiple gods).
Humanity was not an accident – created by the tears of a crying god; nor were we made to be the slaves of the gods, to serve their wimps and passions. We – men and women, rich and poor, young and hold – where made in the image of God. We are a walking, breathing symbol of God’s kingship.
So what does this mean? It means that the way we see ourselves must be different. We are sons and daughters of the Most High. The way we treat others must change – they are a symbol of God’s Kingship. They made be scared and dented – like a metal mirror, but they were made in the image of God.
We must change the way we view our relationship with God for we have a purpose and a plan – we are not an accident or a freak of nature developed over the years. NO – we were – and are made by the King of Kings. Let us join with Him in His story.
We looked at how from beginning to the end – Genesis to Revelation –God has had one mission, to spread His glory throughout the world – to dwelling among His people – that He would be God of humanity and they would be His people.
Adam and Eve were to take the glory of God from the Garden into Eden and then into the whole world. We have the same mission – Jesus has asked us to join Him in this mission.
The stories of Cain and Abel; Noah and the flood; and the tower of Babel (Gen 4-11) all tell of the struggle humanity had with accepting God’s rule and reign over every area of life.
- Issues of the heart
- Revenge and justice
- Separating your walk with Jesus from your daily work, family, and/or recreation
“The call of Abram (Abraham) 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
God invited Abraham to join with Him in His work. Abraham responded out of faith – adjusting his life to follow God. As result, Abraham got to know God on a personal level and, ultimately, end up blessing the entire world through his descendant, Jesus of Nazareth.
God cut a covenant with Abraham – walking through the two halves of the animals Himself. He took upon Himself Abraham’s side of the covenant as well as His own. He know that Abraham and his children would never fulfill their side – they would fail – we do fail – so He became fully human and fully God in order to fulfill His covenant to destroy sin and death. Jesus Christ came to destroy any barriers between humanity and God, barriers between creation and God – He kept His covenant!!!
This is powerful stuff here folks! We are seeing a story – a great story – a story unlike any other coming about – it may be boring to some as we are living years later – we have seen the climax, we have seen Jesus come.
But can you see – can you feel the tension? Can you feel the build up? God is on a mission and He has chosen a bunch of rejects in a foreign land. Hello? He took a bunch of slaves – the lowest people of the time – and He turned them into a nation of priest – a nation – a group of people brought together for one purpose – to tell the world about God.
That is the reason Israel was chosen – they were invited to join with God in His mission to bring all of humanity into Himself. He could have made a world of robots – but He wanted us to love Him – He gave us the freedom to choose life or death. The freedom to follow Him – to allow Him to choice ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – to decided what was ‘good’ and ‘evil’ – or we can try to decide this ourselves.
Which brings us up to speed.
When God invited Abraham to join with Him, He also promised Abraham a son. This seemly natural event was complicated because of Abraham and his wife’s Sarah’s age – 75 for Abraham and 65 for Sarah.
What was God going to do? This was a God size problem that needed a God size solution!
o Abraham and Sarah try to do it their way – tried to help God
o Ishmael was the firstborn
– Didn’t matter who was the mother, he was Abraham’s firstborn son
o God told Abraham His way was to bring forth a child through Sarah
– This tells you a lot about Sarah…
o Gen 17:17-22
17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
• Isaac is born
o Abraham is 100 and Sarah was 90
• Abraham tested
o Is the thing (i.e. Isaac) more important than God?
o Followed God and maintained a relationship with Him
o The promise to Abraham was repeated to him (Gen 26:1-6)
1 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2 The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring[a] all nations on earth will be blessed,[b] 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” 6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.
o He was a jerk
o Promise at birth (Gen 25:23)
23 The LORD said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
o Tried to “force” the issue
– Steals the first born birthright
– Steals the first born blessing
o Wrestles with God
22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[b] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
o Name change
– “Israel” means “he struggled with God”
– How true is that?
o But he didn’t ‘grab’ it – he fell back into the same old way of doing things
– Mets Esau
– Lives in a different area out of fear
o Final ‘gets it’
– Gen 35
• Gets rid of the foreign gods
• Purifies his family
– The promise is repeated to him
10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.
11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”
• Now his name changes for good!!
Point For Us
This story was told to the Israelites in the desert after 400 years of slavery. Their identity was determined by their DNA – by the fact that they were children of Abraham.
Only thing is that Abraham had at least 8 sons! (Gen 25:1-6)
It is not enough to be a son – or descendant – of Abraham – you have to KNOW God. You have to have a relationship with God.
John the Baptist – Matthew 3:7-10
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
Ishmael was the firstborn – he should have been the one through whom the promise came down. But it went to Isaac… Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob – both of these guys forgot about the promises made to Abraham. They wanted to live life on their own terms.
Esau took two wives from Canaan and grieved his parents… Jacob was a pill on his own… but at least he tried. He wrestled with God and did his best… finally near the end of his life, he finally gave up control.
Among the Israelites where Egyptians and other people (Gen 12:38). God was telling these people that they could have a relationship with Him – they could be included into the promise and the mission of God because they followed Him.
We too can be sons and daughters of the promise!!
If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:29)
We cannot rely on our parents – grandparents – or being in America. We have to walk WITH God.
God is inviting us to join with Him in His Mission… are we going to trust Him and adjust our lives to go with Him? Or are we going to continue to try to do thing our way?
We get to choose…