Valuable Lessons From Abraham

All knowledge comes from God

Sermon info

  • Peter Balciunas

There are priceless life changing truths from Abraham’s life that can help to navigate our lives. Abraham is known as the father of nations, a friend of God. What is unique about Abraham’s life is that he respects and reveres God, listens to God, and takes action.Abraham gets out there and he does things. As Abraham’s life is documented, we begin to see that nothing is wasted; even the mistakes, shortcomings and challenges are steppingstones for a new chapter or experience. Abraham’s story shows us that it is possible to live a life without perfection and still do well. Abraham lived a life just like we are living today.

Gen. 12:1 ¶ Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;
Gen. 12:2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;
Gen. 12:3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Within the Old Testament as we begin to be removed from the story of the garden of Eden,God’s interactions with humans is documented less and less.

Sacrifice is introduced directly after the garden with the story of Cain and Abel.

Sacrifice is not necessary in the garden, as sin did not exist until after the fall.There was no concept of future and death. Sacrifice is introduced through the fall of man as an explanation of how things are in our human condition.

Sacrifice is a complicated yet ingenious concept that can be looked at from multiple angles.

Offering the life of a flawless animal from the biblical standpoint offers a temporary atonement for sin, missing the mark, living outside of God’s design.
The impact of one having to die because of something we did selfishly or out of ignorance is a stark reminder of our potential for malevolence in our human condition.

This design should ultimately help us to focus on constructive thoughts, constructive words, constructive actions that keep us out of the entrapment of missing the mark that could lead to compromising and hurting ourselves and others.

This early idea of the innocents covering the wrongs of the guilty is an ancient idea that gets replayed with the accounts of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

Another reality associated with the action of sacrifice is that it gives us an option to negotiate with our futures.

If we forgo ease and pleasure today it will pay off in our futures.

Sacrifice is a neutralizer of idolatry and selfishness. Sacrifice keeps us in alignment with God as an outward expression of benevolence. Sacrifice is the opposite of murder, lies, and destruction. Sign of good will.

Sacrifice is a balance of wealth value. No one can escape the physical and spiritual laws and ramifications of not sacrificing.

Sacrifice is the root of appreciation. When you appreciate something or someone you sacrifice for it or them. It is an outward expression of value.

Sacrifice minimizes suffering and sorrow. Do what is proper and not expedient now and there will be provision in the future.

I set the stage with this idea as we move into the call of Abraham and the invaluable life lessons that are documented in Scripture about his life and choices.

We see the effects of sacrifice in the life of Abraham. We see the effects of a man with no entrapment of formal religion being able to connecting with God.

This is an amazing example that it is possible to have a relationship with God without the directive writings of Scripture or any other anchoring document.

Abraham lived 1300-2000 BCE. One thousand years before Moses. It is agreed by most scholars that Moses wrote Genesis as well as Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and most of Deuteronomy.

As time goes on in Scripture, the characters presented seem to get more developed beyond Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel.

We can say that the story of Abraham has all the markings of a true historical document as his life and actions are well penned.

Historians debate on the historical accuracy of the Bible. No matter what, the Bible is an incredible document setting the stage for what an actual historical document is.

We can agree that beginning with Abraham we begin to get a modern conceptualization of what history actually is.

Before writing, oral traditions were the vehicle for passing down events of the past.

We begin to see beginnings and endings in Scripture and vividly clear descriptions that show the humanness, frailty and vulnerability of these very real people.

If we view individuals in the Bible as mythical characters, we begin to miss the point of why they are there.

If we begin to look at these people as superheroes, superhuman, people with no problems, We will not learn and grow from their actions, victories and mistakes.

As great as a man that Abraham was, he was a frail human who made many mistakes.

Abraham story shows us that it is possible to live a life without perfection and still do well.

We need to come to the conclusion that Abraham lived a life just like we are living our lives today.

Abraham was a great man, even with his shortcomings. Abraham was not a divine figure yet was a type.

Abraham is known as the father of nations, a friend of God.

What is unique about Abraham’s life is that it is documented that he respects and reveres God, listens to God, and takes action. Abraham gets out there and he does things.

As Abraham’s life is documented as he is getting out there and doing things, we begin to see that nothing is wasted. Even the mistakes, shortcomings and challenges are steppingstones for a new chapter or experience.

If we get nothing more out of this sermon series, please take note of these two things. God shows up when we do things. Nothing is wasted even if it’s sin or a mistake.

The paradox of any individual in relationship with God is that God will compel us to do something and that something never turns out the way we planned.

Looking at Abraham’s life we see this archetype to be true. God calls, Abraham takes action, life happens.

Disappointment,frustration, self-hatred, self-contempt happens when we have a self-expectation that goes unmet. In other words we listen to God, we step out in faith, and nothing goes as planned. These are roots of arrested development.

God wants us to grow and learn through every part of our life.

When something happens in your life that you don’t understand, that generally means that you have missed something.

The same is true when we read something in Scripture we don’t understand, we missed something.

Gen. 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

A phrase in reference to Noah was that he was perfect within his generation. What does that mean?

Like Abraham, Noah walked with God. Noah connected with God. Noah listened to God.Noah took action.

Interesting that Noah was considered perfect yet was not a man without mistakes.

These are freeing truths dear ones.

Noah also sacrificed with God’s insights, negotiated the future not only for his behalf and his family, but for all of creation.

Noah and Abraham are Christ like types. We too, in 2019, are to be Christ like types.

Phil. 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
Phil. 2:6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Phil. 2:7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

How to Become Perfect and Blameless.

Abraham like Noah were considered perfect before God even in their imperfect humanness.

Gen.17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
Gen.6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations,and Noah walked with God.

The word perfect can be translated into the word Blameless.

There is a stark contrast between Noah and Abraham.

Noah’s interactions with God seems to be based on obedience. He builds a boat to save himself, family and animals. He doesn’t intervene in God’s judgement.

Abraham has a documented relationship of obedience and interaction with God. Abraham is found negotiating with God before the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The idea as we shared before is to connect (interact) with God, listen to God, and take action. In those steps we can make our world a better place.

In the charismatic landscape there are many who are misguided in the connecting,listening, taking action doing things in the name of God that are ultimately hurtful to themselves and others.

The church is discontent with connecting authentically. This can be demonstrated in multiple ways with prayer, meditation, worship.

The people church are more concerned with their rituals, personal power and “so called”supernatural abilities rather than connecting and tapping in to the highest source from within.

They turned Christianity into a form of sorcery and turned God into a form they can manipulate with no concern of the ramifications.

We need to remember that in the days of Abraham and Noah there were no anchoring texts like the Torah or the New Testament.

There were no churches. These fine individuals connected with God on their own and God consider them friends. Even in their imperfection.

In fact the Bible says that these men walked with and before God. They were friends of God at their own levels.

They were content with connecting with God and not drawn in to some religious sideshow.Their relationship with God was real.

They recognize problems in the world. They recognized problems with themselves.

When you can recognize that something is not right, your first response is that it should be fixed.

Many times I have shared this statement within the church. Your misery is your ministry. If there’s something you don’t like about church, it could be your opportunity to grow your ministry.

If you pay attention to anything in life, you realize there are places where you can help.There are places where you can be the hero for another person.

The word pay in the phrase “pay attention” is from Middle English paien and is derived from the Latin pacare and the Old French paiier, meaning to appease.

We live in a world where we have been conditioned not to pay attention. If I don’t pay attention I won’t have to deal with my problems.

There’s something to be learned every place you go if we just pay attention. There are amazing things happening around you all the time.

There are amazing things happening within you all the time.

Pay attention to the devils in your house and face them with responsibility. God has provided the tools to sort these things out.

In this process we will turn, learn and grow. These are the keys to being perfect and blameless in God’s eyes. Appropriating Christ’s covering is more than being forgiven. Forgiveness is a free gift. Doing something with that gift will cost us time, energy and resources.

Where God guides, He provides.

What God is trying to tell us is that right where we are we have everything we need to help, to solve the problem, to be at peace, to be a blessing.

Why? Because the Spirit and mind of God is accessible in each of us.

Do what you can with what you have. This is exactly what Abraham did. Abraham did not wait for a ship to come in, he capitalized on his resources he had and moved forward.

The first thing that God does with Abraham is to compel him to get moving. You’re almost 80 years old, get out of your father’s house.

What’s interesting is that God is not very clear in terms of the plan and direction with Abraham. In the process of getting going I will show you.

Most people won’t take one step unless they have a clear plan. Maybe God’s design is that life unfolds as you go. This is an incredible liberating truth if you allowed to sink in.

This is a valuable lesson that God shows up only when we step out.

Where Abraham was headed was tyranny, drought, challenges, problems life-threatening circumstances just to name a few.

Abraham’s life is our life. Where we’re headed might not look pretty yet God shows up when action is taken.

Connection and alignment with God can help us face tyranny, malevolence and any challenge“and flourish” as an outcome. This is exactly what happened Abraham.

Abraham story is the first place we see a greater development of personality and character of man.

There seems to be more unpacking of personality and behavior with Abraham in comparison to his ancestor Noah.

The story of Abraham and the story of Noah develop a stronger stance of humans interacting and having relationship with God

It is story that shows what happens when we choose to take responsibility or when we don’t.

Nothing good ever happens when we cast responsibility on someone or something else.

We’ve been fed a diet in America and in our churches that someone else will take care of it. “That we’re entitled” thinking has led ultimately to pathological thinking.

This is anti George Washington. This is anti greatest generation.

Whatever happened to: pick up the heaviest thing you can and carry it. Be responsible for it and in the process God guides and provides.

Another valuable lesson that we will see played out with Abraham is when you do take responsibility it is liberating.

Reveal the best of yourself to the world allowing God to shine through you to bring significant change all around you.

Any errors or mistakes that happen along the way will be washed out and upstaged by goodwill toward all men.

Here is a valuable overarching lesson: Keep your covenant with God. Keep your connection with God even through your mistakes, you and your descendants will be taken care of.

God's Call To Adventure

Gen.11:27 ¶ Now these are the records of the generations of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran; and Haran became the father of Lot.
Gen.11:28 And Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans.
Gen.11:29 And Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah.
Gen.11:30 And Sarai was barren; she had no child.
Gen.11:31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there.
Gen.11:32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.

Sarai being introduced as barren is strategic for the furtherance of the story. This is what we call stage setting. The author has placed this information in story because it will be used later.

Being barren proposes a problem for both Abram & Sarai.

God grants them a son way later in the story when they are old.

You can’t be the father of nations without a son. The Scripture is written in such a way to demonstrate that if you stay within God's design in your life God will take care of you, even in miraculous ways.

By staying within God’s design, nothing is impossible.

Luke 1:36 “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age;and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.
Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

This is not in a naïve thought. We do not know what’s in store for us if we follow through with God’s calling. We don’t know what’s possible until we step out.

The first step is to get ourselves together, tie up loose end sin our lives that are counterproductive. These are the things that are holding us back.

One of the valuable lessons of Abraham is that when we step out, God shows up. When God shows up anything is possible.

I enjoy watching documentaries on the history of people and business. Ideas that started in the garage only to become major successes.

In every story, when people got themselves together and step out, amazing things happen.

We are clueless on the limits of human endeavor, especially when God shows up in that endeavor.

It is premature to identify who we are and what were capable of. The fact is no one really knows completely.

We see the archetype of Abraham taking responsibility and acting on the call of God. This is a valuable lesson.

Nihilism says don’t bother because nothing matters. The trouble is there is plenty of suffering and malevolence in this world, and only by obeying the call of God can we do something about it.

We are ambassadors of a loving God.

2Cor.5:20 ¶Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Obviously God was working in and through Abraham through thoughts, mind, consciousness and action.

Abraham, as well was an ambassador for God in a world filled with challenges.

The world is flawed and there are things to be done about it. People are flawed and there are things to be done about that as well.

Suffering is reduced if people orient themselves properly with God. This is where we see the examples of obedience and sacrifice pushing off suffering.

Sin, missing the mark, is a catalyst for suffering yet it can also be a catalyst for learning.

If we are willing to turn, learn, and grow nothing is outside of our grasp.

Turning learning and growing is kryptonite to helplessness, hopelessness, purposelessness, and depression.

One of the purposes of the 10 Commandments is to help people get their lives together by setting a standard.

Following the two greatest commandments that Christ gave, love God and love your neighbor as yourself, would revolutionize the world if we all took these seriously and were sold out to the cause that Christ gave.

Let’s jump back in the Scriptures.

Gen. 12:1 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Leave your country, your kindred,and your father’s household, and go to the land I will show you.

There is a lot to take in with this verse. What does it mean to leave your country, your kindred, your father’s house?

God is encouraging Abraham to go somewhere he doesn’t understand. As life happens God shows up.

The first encouragement here is do something.

The only way that you can see what your country truly is, you must leave it first. This is God’s first command to Abraham. Go into the unknown.

This is a valuable lesson. We begin to learn how God thinks. We see what God expects from all of us. Faith is exercised in the unknown.

It seems that God is not content with what we already know because we already know what we know.

God wants us to go where we have not been.

So that’s the “leave father’s house part.” Then ext is leave your kindred. What does that mean?

It’s time to grow up. Get away from your family enough so you can establish your independence.

Family should provide an element protection.Too much protection is not good. People need to experience life on their own,not be spoon fed.

The same truth can be said about church where were trying to create a utopia rather than being a catalyst of change for suffering world.

Without necessity things don’t happen. Many immigrants come to America with nothing. Necessity drives them. 1 to 2 generations in and we see a completely different mindset. We go from necessity to hand out.

Necessity can bring independence and maturity.God spoke to Abraham encouraging him to move away from the family to be self-sufficient and grow in maturity.

The valuable lesson here is that God wants us to establish ourselves for greater purpose.

These first few lines in the Abrahamic story is a call to adventure. It is here we begin to see into the heart of God and how he thinks.

Go into a land that I will show you. What does that mean?

It is been said that we don’t find our interests,our interests find us. This only happens in the area of the unknown. We can’t make ourselves interested in something.

Interest manifests itself to grips you. Is interest divine? Is it calling?

This is the land that God will show us for without interest there is no path to walk on. We are compelled forward by our interests and God knows this.

So what is this that gets us out of our country,away from our family to go to a place of unknown? It is God’s drawing capitalizing on interests setting us up for the four C’s.

Commitment, courage, capabilities,confidence.

If we don’t listen and follow through with the voice of God drawing us forward, there will always be some price to pay.

For those who ignore the voice for a long time experience regret, chaos or both.

People’s lives that seem to be in chaos are those who are ignoring their call or running from their call.

We see this archetype in Scripture many times. We will experience some avoidance even with Abraham.

The lesson holds true, stay in alignment with God, stay relationship with God, and things will go much better than if we don’t.

Commitment Gets God’s Attention

We left last week on a sobering point that seems to be throughout God’s design that is supported by the story of Abraham.

If we don’t listen and follow through with the voice of God drawing us forward, there will always be some price to pay. There is a destiny for every human and we are not to squander this opportunity.

Abraham follows through and is faced with challenge after challenge. Jonah in the Bible chooses not to follow through and is faced with chaos.

When we don’t follow through with the call of God as God places interests in front of us we are ultimately squandering our potential.

The parable of the talents in the New Testament Matthew 25 outline this perfectly.

Matt.25:29 “For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.
Matt.25:30 “And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

If we are to learn about the heart of God and how he feels about things, it is very clear that He has low tolerance for squandering potential.

Is it possible that this squandering negatively alters our ultimate purpose for being upon the earth.

This valuable lesson says that if we want things to go well or maybe just better, we better follow through with the call of God and our God-given interests and talents.

There’s definitely a price to pay here as well.It reflects back upon the idea of being a lukewarm individual.

Here is another secret view into the heart of God. In Revelation Jesus as God speaks to seven churches as a type of review of what they accomplished.

Rev.3:14 ¶ “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
Rev.3:15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot.
Rev.3:16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
Rev.3:17 ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,
Rev.3:18 ‘I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.

The Laodicean church Rev 3 gets rebuked for being lukewarm. The paradox is that God would rather them be hot or cold. Maybe God is more concerned about our commitment to being committed to something and following through with that.

Abraham is being called out to a new land. He is familiar with where he’s at. Going to a new land is going to the unknown. It could even be going to where your enemies are.

Abraham is being called to a geographical frontier yet there is an intangible frontier he is facing as well.

God is trying to share with Abraham, there is always a frontier beyond what you know now.

This reflects the wellspring of meaning of Genesis 12:1.

Contentment that neutralizes discovery, learning, and growth and motion forward is not a Godly virtue.

The more we move into the unknown more possibilities of potential for God to show up for a better future.

This produces inspiration, excitement, purpose,meaning the opposite of depression and nihilistic thinking.

In the call, God is setting up the structure to set all of this up properly for Abraham. I’m amazed that God waited this long is life.

This is another secret insight into God’s heart and valuable lesson from Abraham. Age is not a disqualify us forgetting things done. We all have God-given talents and value to bring to the world at every stage of our life.

If life is filled with suffering, pain,malevolence, deception what would make the trip worthwhile?

This reflects back to the idea of knock and the door will be open. Seek and you will find.

Are we willing to follow through with the four C’s? Commitment, Courage, Capability, Confidence.

People look at following through with their calling as being too big or they can’t do it. The fact of the matter is that people don’t know they can do.

It’s been said, inch by inch it’s a cinch.

None of us are as much as we could be. It seems to take a lifetime of interacting with God to figure this out. At 80 years old,Abraham in God’s eyes was not all he could be.

Another valuable lesson from Abraham is that he was very serious about his relationship with God. I find this incredibly stimulating knowing that Abraham pursued God with no organized religion or founding documents.

In my heart I feel there is no excuse for not connecting with God. Is it possible that our current religious systems,thoughts and dogma get in the way of connecting with God?

Abraham understood a sacrificial system. I believe it was more and deeper than just appeasement for fallen nature.

Let’s examine this. If you’re serious about anything in life you sacrifice for it.

Today, the majority of people sacrifice nothing can only do what is convenient. Convenience is the enemy of greatness, quality, life-changing experiences and true connection with God.

In every area of life we are being persuaded to choose convenience over quality and value. Music, Medical, Food,Church.

Commitment and sacrifice are the same thing. We will be required to sacrifice to the thing, interest, goal and all of the challenges that are holding it back.

What’s interesting is that God is not opposed to prospering after commitment and sacrifice. Many people view this as a sign of blessing.

Is it possible that this is a simple byproduct of commitment and sacrifice?

God is not a miser. It makes no sense that He would be that. If all creation originates from Him, holding back for the purpose of being petty is not reasonable.

The appearance of things being held back is not based upon a stingy dictator. Living outside of God’s design, not utilizing natural and unchangeable laws will appear like God is against you.

Like Abraham, if we choose to leave the known for the unknown, we will face the challenges on our terms rather than have the challenges approach us.

Simply put, this is a first strike advantage. Be preemptive. Take care of things before they go wrong.

The Bible is filled with resurrection type examples. Jesus is the most popular yet there are many examples throughout Scripture of deaths and rebirths.

Every time you go through something in life come out the other side stronger, it is like the Phoenix rising from the ashes.

If we are to examine Abraham and even our lives we’ll see this to be true over and over again. This seems to be a fundamental design in life on earth. This example is written about in other cultures and mythologies.

God Makes An Offer

If we are to share the still small voice of God,connecting internally is crucial. Distraction is an enemy.

The light of God will call you, beckon you. God will show you who you are. We are not a religion, we are not a mindset. We are created by God for purpose to accomplish something.

Make a pact with the transcendent, commit and sacrifice.

Accomplishment will take us on an adventurous journey of deaths and rebirths. Ex. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Christ.

We need to take the first step even if the first step is less-than-perfect. We can’t allow our ideal to stop our progress.

There might be better times than others to take the first step yet there are no perfect times.

There needs to be permission for mistakes. We will unpack this even in Abraham’s life where God gives margin for error.

This is another secret into the heart of God and a valuable lesson from the life of Abraham. God knows us, God created us, and God leaves margin for error.

Error is a classroom not discipline. Error becomes discipline when we don’t learn. Turn learn and grow.

Many times people don’t move forward because they’re afraid of making a mistake.

People are more disappointed about the things in life they didn’t do rather than the things that they did do with mistakes.

We will be informed by the results of our errors.Moving forward also means that our ideals move forward like the horizon.

It’s like God as the pillar of smoke leading in the wilderness by day and pillar of fire by night. It is moving. God is moving.We are to be moving forward with Him as well.

Standing still with God doesn’t work too well. He is always moving us to something.

Matt.25:29 “For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.

This is a warning, that we are not to stay in one place. We are to grow in every area of our lives. Do not bury what God has given us. Do not squander our potential.

The more we connect with God. The more we listen and learn from God, the more information we receive from God. The more we can be in formation.

We are in formation to handle anything that comes our way

Gen. 12:2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;

When’s the last time you connected and communicated with God and God made you an offer. This is exactly what happened with Abraham.

Let’s examine the offer. What does it mean to be made a great nation of? The first place in our minds, is that we think of a descendant. That’s part of it. There is a lot more.

If you’re a source of good in the world, you don’t know the impact you will have on the people who live after you.

Do we know through our actions the lives that will be affected? You can connect this directly with the parable of the talents once again.

One at a time, stop doing the things in our lives that are negative and have no positive return and replace them with your God-given calling.

We all can quickly recognize the stupid things that we do and if we stop doing them, life would be better. Do this for a month and watch what happens.

In Genesis 12:2 it goes on to say that Abraham will be blessed. What does that mean.

Many people think about abundance of material possessions as proof of blessing. This is a narrow interpretation blessing.

Imagine in everything that you do, God is actually authoring the journey, approves and perpetuates what you’re doing.

What are the benefits of this. Courage,confidence, peace of mind, excitement, creativity, growth. This is true blessing. Material gain is a byproduct.

Do we know what it feels like when are doing things and God does not approve. We are filled with cognitive dissonance.

Then it goes on to say that out of you being blast that you will be a blessing to others. This is all part of God’s offer.Is it possible that the purpose of being blessed is to bless others?

Is this God’s ultimate design for humanity for our being and existence?

Do What is Right, Not What is Expedient.

Gen. 12:3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

This next part of the offer makes perfect sense.Because if you are an individual who does not hoard their blessings, but shares them, there’s a good chance that blessings will be reciprocated.

Gen. 12:4 So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

It is established that Abraham’s wife cannot have children. Abraham has been living with his parents for 75 years. It’s time to move out.

It’s been identified that if you don’t have your life moving by age 30 it gets pretty rough. If your life is not moving by 40 then you really start hurting.

These will be pinnacle times to face the forks in the road and make decisions toward the unknown.

Making a real effort later in life is more difficult yet not impossible. There are simply more variables, attachments,difficulties with age.

God makes the deal with Abraham, yet the deal is not easy. In some ways the deck is set against him. He’s old, his wife is old and barren, he is enmeshed with family, he doesn’t know where he is going,there is uncertainty in the offer because of the lack of descendents.

Abraham’s departure point is radically insufficient by human standards. The offer can only be fulfilled with a miracle.This is what makes the life of Abraham so inspiring. It is a lesson into the man and into the heart of God.

Gen.12:4 So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
Gen.12:5 And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.

Interesting note: Abraham has a relationship with lot. Lot is Abraham’s nephew and took care of him like his own son after Abraham’s brother’s death since Abraham hadan offspring.

You think that Abraham would be angry that he did have a son. On the contrary, Abraham utilized the resources around him. This is a hidden clue that Abraham was a man of integrity and doing the right thing. At this stage Abraham is making the best of what he has.

Abraham is given the opportunity of a substitute at this stage and he takes it. This is a valuable lesson that pursuing opportunities that don’t seem perfect will still bring beneficial results within God’s design.

We look at Canaan as a type of exile. Going to a place where you’re not welcome is an archetype we see in Scripture.

God is not only leading Abraham into the unknown, but to a place he is not welcome.

Gen.12:6 And Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land.
Gen.12:7 And the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.”So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.
Gen.12:8 Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD.

How does an individual who lived 1000 years prior to Moses know and understand that building an altar unto the Lord was proper and beneficial?

When you look at it on the surface, it seems rather silly. Why would you go for the inconvenience?

I believe there is a hidden valuable lesson here that Abraham understood that most people in 2019 are clueless.

We need to remember the offer that God made to Abraham. Abraham would be the father of nations, he would have descendants greater than the stars in the heavens and that all will be blessed through him.

What was the criteria? Leave everything you know and go to a place you don’t know.

At this point the offer from God is far from realized. Each altar to God I believe was more than appeasement for sin or missing the mark. It was a tangible way of interacting with a being who is intangible.

It was an outward expression of respect and gratitude and relationship building.

The altar we create can be a tangible memory connected to a physical action that you can go back to and remember where we’ve been and where we are going with God’s grace.

Did Abraham meditate or pray at this altar? Was he asking God to help them orientate himself in the world?

Every day we are faced with things that we need to do. Are we asking to do them? Are we deciding to do them? Are we forced to do them? Are we seeking God for what to do, how to do, and when to do them? Is there a benefit in doing this ritual?

Highly successful people, have highly successful rituals. They do things that work.

Maybe our questions should be, “what’s the most important thing that I do next?” This can be applied to every area of your life.

Abraham made sacrifices at these altars. He took the best of what he had and offered it physically to a Being who is Spirit.

Abraham was serious about his relationship with God. Convenience had nothing to do with his relationship with God. Abraham took the time to build the altar, made sacrifice with the best he had to offer.

Things don’t go properly unless we do what’s most important. I believe Abraham understood that through his relationship with God, Abraham would have greater access to his purpose, meaning and existence.

It’s not about blessing, it’s about proper orientation within the design of our Creator. Blessing is a byproduct.

This is why the account of Sodom and Gomorrah is in the story. It shows that things don’t go properly when we choose to do the wrong thing. When we choose not to do what’s most important.

Abraham is a stark contrast to the reality of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Just as blessing is a byproduct of proper orientation and the design of our Creator,choosing not to do what’s most important brings chaos and destruction.

Most people feel that Sodom and Gomorrah’s demise was moral sexual debauchery. The behavior of the people is a byproduct of simply doing the wrong thing.

Let’s see what Scripture has to say about what’s important. Let’s see the real reason why Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed.

Ezek.16:49 Behold,this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
Ezek.16:50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

The Scripture amazes me because it shows us an insight of the heart of God in terms of what’s important to Him and what is not.

It’s pretty obvious that the people of the city were not behaving properly. Mass adoption of a flawed ideal.

So what happens to us if we don’t behave properly?

The wage of not behaving properly goes beyond just an individual, it can include an entire city.

Simply put, God honors sacrifice and doing the right things rather than doing things that are impulsive. Do what is right, not what is expedient.

This is a valuable lesson from Abraham.

Stories of survivors of Maoist China, Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany all said the same thing. The state became corrupted because each individual allowed themselves to be corrupted.

Maoist China and Stalinist Russia are examples of extreme communism. Nazi Germany and Japan during World War II were examples of extreme nationalism.

In every case under these extreme ideologies millions of people died.

Maybe Sodom and Gomorrah was more of an every man for himself ideology that caused the death and demise of this entire city.

It’s very interesting and consistent that the wages of the sins equaled death.

Maybe this is what happens when our relationship with God is based on convenience or no relationship at all.

Fear Inspires Bad Choices

Gen.12:9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
Gen.12:10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

Going south is a colloquialism for going in the wrong direction or things not going well.

Abraham’s ascent is preceded by a decent. Why are these details in the story. Ultimately to give us another lesson. We could be brought low before we are able to rise above.

The covenant that was made with Abraham with God is a type of ark.

An ark is something that carries precious cargo. We see the example in the story of Noah as well as the Ark of the Covenant.

Even if the journey south is not perfect, because of God’s covenant promise of provision,the journey south can still be a valuable part of the overall journey.

Notice that there is a famine in the land. I don’t think we need to over spiritualize the fact that nature is not behaving.

Famines were a physical supply and demand issue connected to a common commodity called food. Whether God inspired or nature taking its course, if you we’re not prepared you would be adversely affected. We have had our own famines.

It was a leading reason for recessions and depressions in the ancient world next to plague illness.

Abraham takes God’s offer and this is the first experience on his journey at age 75. I left what I knew as security and took people who trusted me directly into a place where people are starving to death.

Is God playing a joke on Abraham or is God setting the stage to test and grow Abraham?

What’s interesting is the next stop for Abraham and his crew is Egypt. Abraham goes from a famine to tyranny.

Is there something to be learned at this juncture in the story. I believe we need to take notice that new endeavors into the unknown will be faced with challenges.

If we go back to the four C’s. Abraham committed to the offer from God. Now he is facing the opportunity to be courageous. Courageousness only happens when things are not going as planned and you are staring fear directly in the face.

I have shared this before that most people want the last two C’s rather than walk through the first two C’s of our four C’s. People want capability and confidence without commitment and courage.

It doesn’t work this way. This is a fundamental universal truth of God’s design.

Anytime you try anything new in your life you’re always faced with failure. Failure is not pleasant, failure is not easy yet failure utilized properly can be the raw material for your journey upward.

We all have a choice. Wallow in our failure and make life miserable or use failure as the raw material to move you forward.

Gen.12:11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
Gen.12:12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say,This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
Gen.12:13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

It seems at this point that Abraham is getting overwhelmed. As you read Scripture it is difficult to tell how much time has passed from one verse to the next.

How long did Abraham have to deal with the famine until he finally made it to Egypt?

Now he is facing a tyranny thinking that he’ll be a slave or even killed. Abraham, trying to protect himself, devises a plan that seems more expedient and convenient rather than doing what’s right.

Abraham felt being honest would mean his death when it came to his relationship with Sarah. Even at Sarah’s age, she was still very attractive.

As we find out later, this decision that Abraham makes is an error. The story plainly humanizes Abraham. The father of nations is not perfect in terms of doing everything right all the time.

Gen.12:14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
Gen.12:15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.
Gen.12:16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses,and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
Gen.12:17 And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.

So things are looking pretty good for Abraham and Sarah despite Abraham’s deceit.

So let’s address the big elephant in the room. Why would God punish Pharaoh when Abraham was the one being deceitful.

Contemporary Christianity would say don’t touch God’s anointed or else.

I believe there’s something richer to learn from this story.

If we look at King David, this was a man after God’s own heart yet was a pretty bad guy. Morally questionable. Indirectly murdered another human being,Bathsheba’s husband was a general in David’s army under David’s care.

As we learn in the story God is not pleased with David’s behavior.

Maybe we would ask why can’t a king do whatever they want? Why would a king be subject to any rules?

What we see in these stories are that there are ways to behave in ways not to behave. There is a wage for both even if your king, leader, Pharaoh. God is paying attention to all of it.

Within God’s design there is a way that we are to interact, when we are outside of that negative things happen.

We can see through history when leaders ignored this. They can get away with it for awhile. These leaders ultimately don’t last at the peril of the state.

I use this example to show that God is being fair rather than unfair when it comes to Pharaoh. Pharaoh flat-out took Sarah impulsively because she was good-looking with no regard to her, Abraham and the rest of the crew.

So what is God saying here?: You don’t get to take somebody else’s wife whether you know she’s married or not and the deceit of Abraham does not cancel out Pharaoh’s misbehavior.

We see that God is dealing with everyone on an individual basis yet there sins or shortcomings are affecting other people.

Suffering is multiplied when we are outside of God’s design.

Consult The Author of Your Journey

Gen.12:18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?
Gen.12:19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
Gen.12:20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife,and all that he had.
Gen.13:1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him,into the south.
Gen.13:2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

Let’s do a recap: Abraham goes to place of famine. Then goes to a place in Tierney. Then he lies. Here is a valuable lesson. Because Abraham was obedient to the call to go, things still work out.

This doesn’t mean things won’t get scary and dicey.

Gen.13:3 And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;
Gen.13:4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Abraham had adventure number one. He has been through a lot and theoretically doesn’t know what to do now.

Here is another valuable lesson from Abraham, when you don’t know what to do.Connect with the author of the journey. You seek the divine guidance by connecting with God.

He’s calling out to God explaining that he’s been there and done that. The question is what’s next?

If you really want to know what to do, the key is to ask seriously.

We have shared time and time again how serious Abraham’s relationship was with God.

We need to realize that Abraham sacrificed his life to a vow. As I’ve shared before the idea of sacrifice goes deeper than appeasement of God due to fallen nature.

What do most people do today? They look for outside sources to guide them rather than seeking God from within.

The way the story reads, it leads us to believe that as Abraham seeks after God at the altar, God comes as an exterior force.

Maybe that’s exactly what happened. My question would be, did Abraham also encounter God the way we do today with inner perspective, reflection, connection that brings purpose, meaning, courage? (W. Robert Godfrey’s and Albert Mohler’s answers given at our 2016 National Conference.)

A great question for any person is what’s out there worth sacrificing my life for.

Most people don’t ask God the question. The question is avoided because we are afraid of the answer.

Do you really want to know what you should do to sacrifice your life for?

You can’tact on the answer without taking responsibility for your life.

People are afraid to step out because they are afraid they might be wrong. The question is, does it really matter. The rightness is in the process of stepping out.

Maybe God is more interested in the process rather than the decision.

Gen.13:5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.
Gen.13:6 And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.
Gen.13:7 And there was a strife between the herd men of Abram’s cattle and the herd men of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

Abraham is out of the famine. Abraham is out of the Tierney. Overtime Has accumulated more wealth that’s beginning to cause strife.

Cattle is equivalent to wealth and it seems they have a lot of cattle. Cattle just don’t take care of themselves. There is a lot of responsibility with cattle.

Any type of wealth seems to have the same quality. The more you have, the more you have to take care of.

Gen.13:8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herd men and thy herd men; for we be brethren.
Gen.13:9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

So Abraham and Lot sit down and realize that it’s best for them to continue their journeys apart. Abraham does the right thing even though it most have hurt. Sometimes God multiplies by dividing.

Gen.13:10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

Gen.13:11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

Gen.13:12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

Gen.13:13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

I have shared before the word sin is an archery term for missing the mark.

There are multiple ways in archery to miss the mark.

You could attempt to shoot the arrow and just miss the bull’s-eye.

You could attempt to shoot the arrow and miss the entire target.

You could be attempting to shoot the arrow but facing the wrong direction.

You can choose not to pick up the bow and arrow and shoot at all. Maybe this is the sin of omission or choosing to do nothing.

To be wicked and malevolent is to aim at what you shouldn’t be aiming at.

The archery metaphor is effective. Humans we are built on a hunting platform. Humans have an innate ability to aim at things and be aware in consciousness.

We are ballistic creations always on a trajectory. We have to aim at something move toward it. We see this in the life of Abraham.

Even though Abraham didn’t know where he was going, he consulted the author of the journey that gave them direction.

The word ballistic is interesting. We see this word used when it comes to missiles nuclear or otherwise. We see this word associated with firearms.

Ballistic refers to projectiles on their flight. A quality of a projectile associated with the word ballistic is once activated and engaged, you can’t take the projectile back.

The reference to Sodom here is not one directly related to external moral codes of conduct even though there was a lot of immorality going on.

What’s being pointed out here is the idea of sin.

It’s the act of you doing something that you know to be wrong. It’s amazing that you have an entire two cities choosing not to aim at the bull’s-eye.

As the story unfolds, we see that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah don’t even care.

We are not talking about things that we do that we didn’t know were wrong.

We are not talking about the things that we do that other people insist are wrong.

What we’re talking about are other things that we consciously do that we know to be wrong ourselves. This my friends is a way deeper issue.

The interesting thing about sin, is that not all sin is sin for every person. There are things that I know in my life that I know would be missing the mark if I did them, yet for other people it’s not an issue.

Standing Up For What Is Right Will Bring Transformation.

Last week we ended on the idea of the Abrahamic story talking about Sodom and Gomorrah.

The act of you doing something that you know to be wrong takes people to the point of malevolence.

We could say that all sin is one sin. I missed the mark, and that’s the end of it. This is not consistent with how God deals with people.

If this were true, every city, every person should receive the Sodom and Gomorrah judgment. Our experience of history shows us differently. God provides a type of grace.

There seems to be a building up of doing the wrong things over time that can lead to death, severe punishment or judgment. Things burst when there’s a build up.

I’m sure Sodom and Gomorrah did not start out as evil as it became. The malevolence evolved over time doing things they knew were wrong and hurtful yet doing them anyway.

It’s like abusing your body. We can only do things without discretion for so long until a price has to be paid.

Doing things wrong out of ignorance still produces a negative outcome. Ignorance doesn’t soften the negative experience.

If you do something wrong that you know is wrong, the negative experience will be multiplied.

In the scheme of things, a person who does this, becomes like a Cain in the Bible who betrays their own ideal. God was not happy with Cain either.

Missing the mark out of omission, we do not betray our own ideal. Missing the mark out of commission takes sin to a whole new level.

Gen.4:13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

Because Cain betrayed his own ideal, Cain spoke these words after he killed Abel. “I cannot bear my punishment.” God didn’t kill Cain. God insisted he live with the reality of betraying the ideal.

In Sodom and Gomorrah the overtone was that they could care less about betraying the ideal. It was malevolence on steroids.

Gen.13:13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
Gen.13:14 And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
Gen.13:15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
Gen.13:16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
Gen.13:17 Arise,walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
Gen.13:18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

I would like to make a parallel with the cross and alters as we examine Abraham,

If we examine the cross, the physical center is a point of focus. Within the Christian faith, the cross is an icon of transformation, renewal, and new life.

Early cathedrals within their architecture were based on a cross shape. At the center of the cross within the Cathedral is where we see the rituals of mass, the Lord’s supper and the remembrance of the ultimate suffering that brings ultimate transformation.

Is a picture and a drama of sojourning. When you go to the place of the unknown and return your never the same.

When you journey to encounter God you’ll never be the same.

Here again,Abraham built an altar, sacrificing, sojourning to encounter God. Going to the highest source, the author of his journey and adventure.

Within this passage of Genesis 13 God gives the land and makes the promise way ahead of the reality of the promise coming to fruition.

Abraham will need to get used to the idea of occupying the promise. This is another valuable lesson from Abraham. Authentic calls from God will take time as we step in to the unknown territory that accompanies the call.

Many times the fundamental responsibility of the call as we walk into the unknown is to put chaos into order. This is a consistent design of God. We see it throughout Scripture.

God’s design is based on balances. Too much chaos we have a problem. Too much order and we have a problem.

Have you ever walked in the house where everything is out of order. You can look around and there are years of things that should’ve been done a long time ago.

The environment is begging for order.

Have you ever been in a house where everything was so perfect and in order it didn’t look like people live there?

Both extreme environments are not healthy.

Both extremes lead to tyrannical living. In chaos the variables consume you. In perfect order the process of preserving the ideal will consume you.

The Abrahamic story is an example of inhabit and become.

Gen.14:1 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations;
Gen.14:2 That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar.
Gen.14:3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.

A few sermons ago we discussed this idea of Abraham going south and paralleled the term going south as a negative connotation.

In the vale of Siddim, the salt sea also known as the Dead Sea is the lowest point on the surface of the earth. It would be the furthest direction south from a vertical perspective.

It is interesting that this is where Sodom and Gomorrah is located. You can’t go any further south geographically, in action, in morality.

The story says that there is chaos in the lowest place that there is. I don’t feel that any of this is a coincidence.

Lot gets tangled up in the lowest place that there is.

Gen.14:4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
Gen.14:5 And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
Gen.14:6 And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto El-paran, which is by the wilderness.
Gen.14:7 And they returned, and came to En-mishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites that dwelt in Hazezon-tamar.
Gen.14:8 And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah,and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim;
Gen.14:9 With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five.
Gen.14:10 And the vale of Siddim was full of slime pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled,and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.
Gen.14:11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
Gen.14:12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
Gen.14:13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.
Gen.14:14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants,born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.

Here we have chaos mayhem war in the lowest place on the earth.

There’s nothing better than war in slime pits.

Abraham has a small army under his charge. We also learn that Abraham is brave and again is willing to do the right thing, not what’s expedient.

War breaks out in the worst possible place and his nephew/adopted son gets caught up init.

Whatever goodness is as an attribute in the Old Testament, it is not harmlessness,weakness or the lack of ability to fight. Sometimes doing the right thing means you’ll have to fight for it.

Jesus is documented at the sermon on the mount sharing the Beatitudes. One of his statements was Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

Meek does not mean mousy, wimpy, unassuming. Meekness is power under control.

Avery early definition of meekness is: those who carry weapons and keep them sheathed.

That’s a lot different than mousy, wimpy, and unassuming.

That beatitude many times is misinterpreted to say if you’re weak and harmless things will go well for you. This is a flat-out wrong interpretation.

True meekness is truly what we are all called to. Being under control means that we are not reckless and we take responsibility for ourselves in every circumstance.

Do What Is Right VS Material Gain

Gen.14:15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them,and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
Gen.14:16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
Gen.14:17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh,which is the king’s dale.
Gen.14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Gen.14:19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
Gen.14:20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.And he gave him tithes of all.
Gen.14:21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
Gen.14:22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
Gen.14:23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:
Gen.14:24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

Abraham does this heroic act and accomplishes more than rescuing Lot. Abraham rescues people and possessions of the King of Sodom.

At this point, doing the right thing for Abraham was taking up arms, retrieving what was stolen and kidnapped.

The king wants to give Abraham a reward, yet Abraham refuses it. By doing the right thing, receiving great earthly reward and blessing is a potential although Abraham refuses it this time.

We don’t know why except that may be Abraham felt he would be benefiting inappropriately by taking the reward and in some way it would interfere with his relationship with God.

Remember Sodom had a reputation of malevolence, that evolved over time, doing things they knew were wrong and hurtful yet doing them anyway.

The moral compass of Sodom was to the tip of the iceberg.

Abraham’s goal was to rescue Lot. Rescuing the king’s people and possessions might have been an unforeseen event.

With all the surrounding back story and circumstances of this entanglement, Abraham did not want to have anything to do with Sodom.

Abraham felt this was the right thing to do. This is a testament to Abraham’s character.

Abraham is not a good man in a simple sense. Remember everything he’s been through so far since his father’s house.

Abraham mounted a small army with his own resources to rescue his nephew/adopted son plus a bunch of people and possessions along the way.

Abraham only wants to get back from this event what is rightfully his and nothing else.In doing so he maintains his covenant with God.

Gen.15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
Gen.15:2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
Gen.15:3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
Gen.15:4 And,behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
Gen.15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars,if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
Gen.15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Once again it comes back to this covenant idea and belief.

What is that idea? If you stay within God’s design the best possible outcomes will occur.

Some contemporary Christian teaching distorts this idea. Their view is if there are no challenges or problems in your life you are within God’s design. If there are challenges or problems your under attack.

What we see in the Old Testament as a solid archetype that through challenges and problem sin life, what we do and how we behave dictates growth, maturity, and blessing.

The human side of the covenant is a decision to do the right thing no matter what challenges or problems you face.

We get back to the idea of commitment and how God views taking action even if that action is not perfect.

Rev.3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Rev.3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen,the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev.3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev.3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

This is a metaphor of discussed. The worst punishment here isn’t the people who committed to doing the wrong things.

The worst punishment goes to those who did nothing. Stasis is destructive in everything.Why? Time and the world continue to move forward when you’re stationary which means you’re moving backwards.

All you get is aging and suffering with no progress. To not commit to anything is the worst of all transgressions.

The commit is to put your body and soul into something to give your life as a sacrifice.

Rom.12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

The valuable lesson from Abraham that we learn is that there are certain things we will have to learn on our own. We will have to sojourn through the circumstance.

We are all born alone, we all die alone. There are things in life we will face alone. Abraham is willing to do whatever is necessary to keep his covenant with God intact.

Re-certify Your Commitment to God to Establish Where You Are.

Gen.15:7 And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
Gen.15:8 And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
Gen.15:9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.
Gen.15:10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.
Gen.15:11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
Gen.15:12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.

Now in the story to see Abraham fall into a deep sleep and has a horrifying experience.

There are commentaries that try to explain what happened. It seems Abraham encounters God in a deep sleep that seems to re-align Abraham to God’s unspeakable mysteries.

As Abraham experiences the greatness of God in this encounter, Abrahams reverence and respect seems to be heightened.

Gen.15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
Gen.15:14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
Gen.15:15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.
Gen.15:16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

What’s said here is future casting that Abraham’s descendants will be enslaved for a long time and eventually come back to the land of Canaan.

Here we seethe negative side of having descendants. It’s going to be a tough journey. Life is going to be hard. They will be slaves yet they will come back, and Abraham will not see any of it.

It’s a realistic promise that is being further unpact by God. I respect this part of Scripture because it deals with reality. It identifies with the human condition.

The overtone here in the Old Testament is much different than what we hear with contemporary people who consider themselves prophets.

Gen.15:17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.

In this part of the narrative God shows up like a smoking furnace and burning lamp that ultimately consumes the carcasses of the animals.

Some commentators feel that this was a type of re-certification of the covenant that Abraham had with God. Abraham’s relationship with God is a serious.

Abraham took what was required and placed it on the altar. Abraham did his part. God showed up and did his part.

Spirit interfacing with man. Any manifestation of the spirit would seem strange whether the language is smoking furnace and burning lamp, or pillar of fire and pillar of smoke or brilliant light. We are encountering God on God’s terms.

Gen.15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
Gen.15:19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
Gen.15:20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
Gen.15:21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

If we reflect back on what we’ve learned so far with the valuable lessons that directly relate to the call of Abraham, we see there’s a continual theme.

As Abraham leaves his father’s house he is faced with chaotic moments as he’s trying to move forward that tear him down and caused them to be rebuilt as a man of God.

It is the story of the Phoenix rising through the ashes. It is the story of being swallowed by the great fish and regurgitated. It is the story of death burial and resurrection.

Each time these things happen we should be stronger and more God like and in close relationship with God. The attributes and the qualities of God rub off on us.

The poor interpretation of contemporary theology doesn’t give us the answers when we are in the tearing down stage of life.

The interest is only when things are going well or were actually growing. You cannot have one without the other.

The tearing down stage challenges us to our core character. It challenges our ability to do the right thing.

This is what we experienced over and over with Abraham. Faced with the challenge, if Abraham did the right thing he minimized suffering. When Abraham chose to do the wrong thing, things that were bad got worse.

The story of Abraham shows us what life will be like. It’s like God gave us an insight if we would only pay attention. Life would be punctuated with challenges that tear us down and seasons of being built up.

What container do we need to be in to be on the handle all the ups and downs? Story of Abraham makes it very clear. Have a strong relationship and or covenant with God.

The covenant and the ark of the same thing. They are containers that carries precious cargo.

The covenant is an intangible representation of the ark based upon relationship.

Have faith in the structure of existence and move forward. No decision, no motion forward only leads to aging and suffering.

Church Quote

"You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him."
- A. W. Tozer