Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sharing Good Fortune

We begin this quarter by focusing on God's Covenant through Abraham. Abram, his birth name, was a descendant of Noah's son, Shem. His heritage can be traced in Genesis 11:10-27. Abram lived in Ur of the Chaldeans, in Mesopotamia, with his father Terah and brothers Nahor and Haran. Haran died but left a male child, Lot. Abram and Nahor took wives, Sarai and Milcah. Sarai was barren (Gen 11:30). Ur of the Chaldeans was a center of pagan idolatry. Terah believed it necessary to move his family from those surroundings. They traveled northwest en route to the land of Canaan. However, when they came to a city called Haran, the family settled there. See Gen 11:31 This was midway between Ur and Canaan. Perhaps they did not go further because of the infirmities of Terah. Perhaps he was now in a comfort zone and no longer wanted to reach toward the mark of Canaan. We are not told. Gen 11:32 notes that Terah died in Haran at the age of 205 years and never made it to his intended destination. We shall now focus on Genesis 12:1-9 to see the Lord's Call and Promise to Abram and His Response.

'Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house unto a land that I will show thee.' Gen 12:1 The call of the Lord had come to Abram when he was still in Ur and before he dwelt in Haran. See Stephen's speech in Acts 7:1,2 indicating that the God of glory had appeared to Abram imploring him to leave his country, his family, and his father's house. However, it appears when he initially received the call, he traveled to Haran with his father, Terah, and his family. (Gen 11:31) After Terah's death, the initial call received by Abram was still a call of purpose on his life. If God loves us, and has mercy in store for us, he will not suffer us to take up our rest any where short of His promise, but will graciously repeat his call, till the good work begun be performed. 'And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.' Gen 12:2-3 So what was the promise?

'That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.' Heb 6:12-13 Abram received the best of all promises because God based the promise upon what He could and would do. For nothing is impossible with God. John 1:37 God's divine call demanded drastic measures. The covenant was a contract between God and Abram. To be found faithful, it was imperative that Abram follow the call of God. Abram had to keep up his side of the bargain by being faithful to the call of God. Abram had received the valuable promise of the land of Canaan for his descendants. His wife, Sarai, was barren; so, this was a promise of heirship. He was not only promised heirship, but a great nation which flowed from his loin. The significance of the blessing was overwhelming. Out of his loins would descend the nation of Israel and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. In him all families of the earth would be blessed. He knew that it meant he would have to cut his ties with what he considered a safe and secure world. God had promised to bless anyone who issued a blessing to Abram. Likewise, He would reciprocate a curse to those who curse Abram and his household. He had to allow God to be in control of his path.

'So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 'And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.' Gen 12:4-5 The focus here is on obedience, despite his age or wealth. Abram took action. He was obedient to the call of the Lord and left Haran, traveling southwesterly for the land God had to show him. He took Sarai, his wife, and his nephew with him as he believed Lot to be his responsibility, and his household. There was no hesitation because of his age of seventy five. Age is not God's concern, and it should not be ours. He had faith in the covenant between he and the Lord. Once we accept the call of God and begin our faith journeys, our success is rooted in whether we remain willing to stay connected to God through prayer. Stay connected to the vine. Abram and his household, under the guidance of God's watchful eye, left Haran and arrived in Canaan, the land of Promise.

'And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there built he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.' Gen 12:6-7 When Abram arrived in Canaan, the Lord appeared and notified him this was the land his descendants were to receive. Abram had no prior notice. He traveled through the land as far as Moreh at Shechem among the Canaanites, who could have presented a danger to Abram and his household if any of the Canaanites had known the intent of God. With God on our side, we know God promises never to leave us. Heb 13:5 Although it was the land of the Canaanites, Abram was on an ordained mission of God. Rather than exhibit foolish rejoicing, Abram built an altar to the Almighty and communed with Him when He appeared. Oh give thanks for the blessings!

'And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent having Bethel on the west and Hai on the east: and there he built an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.' Gen 12:8-9 They did not have permanent homes and would pitch tents as they travelled. Abram and his household were considered nomads or wanderers. It was necessary to continue their faith walk in obedience to the call of the Lord. Abram and his household traveled further south from Shechem to an unnamed mountain. The mountain was located west of the city of Bethel (House of God) and east of Ai. At this midpoint, he built an altar to worship the Lord. Oh give thanks for the blessings! Abram was praising and worshipping God for blessings he believed would be manifested. He '... died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.' Heb 11:13

Through the promise of God to Abram the world was blessed with our Saviour, Jesus Christ and the opportunity to eternal life. In the beginning of this Christmas season all believers need to share their good fortune with the world. The promised seed who is a blessing to all nations was born and we have the right to everlasting life because of his life, death, and resurrection. God keeps all of His promises. So, build your altar to worship Him and stay connected in prayer.

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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