This morning we will be introduced to one of the most important characters in all of the Bible, Abraham. Because he is the key figure to the book of Genesis, we’ll spend several weeks looking at him and his interaction with other people. Because we have limited time this morning, it is a good time to be introduced to Abraham, or Abram as he starts out.
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.
2 “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.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Outside of the promise of Jesus, this is the most important promise in all of the Bible. And this promise even relates to the coming of Jesus as “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Jesus will be a descendant of Abraham as are all of the Israelites.
There are seven parts to this promise. Many parts of this are valid even today.
I will make you a great nation – the nation of Israel was great in ancient times and is great today
I will bless you – Abraham was certainly blessed in his day and God continues to bless his descendants
I will make your name great – We know the name of Abraham 4000 years later
You will be a blessing – Abraham was personally a blessing to people who encountered him
I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you – we’ll handle both of these together
This was valid for Abraham in his day but it is also valid even for today. I strongly believe that nations who bless Israel today will be blessed by God and those who oppose Israel will be cursed. Israel continues to be blessed by God today. For proof we need to look no further than the nations who have tried to war with Israel since 1948 and how they have not succeeded.
All peoples on earth will be blessed through you – this is a prophecy that Jesus would be a descendant of Abraham
None of these blessings would occur if Abraham did not step out in faith and do as God said. Some of God’s blessings are unconditional and some are conditional. Some people approach life as if God owes them everything because they believe that God is a loving God. When something bad happens, they see it as proof that either God doesn’t really love them or God doesn’t exist at all.
Faith is the key to the blessings of God and most importantly, it is the key to salvation. Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Abraham’s faith was the cause of his salvation. Abraham wasn’t a perfect man and wasn’t righteous on his own. Later in Genesis 12 he tells Pharoah a whopper of a lie and he repeats this same lie later again in Genesis. The lie was partly the result of a lack of trust in God to keep him safe. Nevertheless, it was his faith that God rewarded.
4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 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.
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
Faith is not something that is passive however. James writes that faith without works is dead. In other words, talk is cheap. Abraham could have said he believed God but now really wasn’t a good time. It was the rainy season and it’s hard to travel. Or maybe a few years later when he got things under control at home. Or maybe it sounded like a good idea but he was really too old to travel, so why couldn’t God just bless him where he was?
If those excuses sound familiar, they are similar to ones we give when God calls us to do something. It’s not a good time, we don’t have the money, we’re too old. There is always an excuse to not do what God asks us to do. If Abraham had made excuses, he would have missed out on God’s blessing.
Just because we follow God and receive His blessing does not mean that life will be perfect. Anyone who tells you that if you just have enough faith you’ll be healthy, wealthy, and wise is a liar. There are blessings for having faith and following God, but they are not always physical or earthly.
God may be calling you to do something today, to step out in faith like Abraham. Maybe it is to give more time or money to the church. Maybe it is to speak to a friend or family member about Christ. Maybe it’s time to switch jobs to land in a better environment. It could be anything.
First of all, pray about it and ask for wisdom whether God is really calling you to do something. Search the scriptures to see if it is in line with what God has commanded. Then do it. Take a step in faith. Faith means that you might not have all of the details of how it will work out but God does.
If you step out in faith, it doesn’t mean that things will always be easy. It also doesn’t mean that your faith will be perfect. Abraham was told the blessings up front and he still wavered in his faith and slipped up on numerous occasions. Faith doesn’t make your life perfect either. What it will do is lead you in the right direction because God is the one who is guiding you. This kind of faith will never steer you in the wrong direction because you’re no longer the one who is steering. This is the faith of Abraham.