Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Family Matters


Genesis 18 NLT
17  “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the LORD asked.
18  “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him.
19  I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.”

The month of June is Family month at Church on the Rock. The next three Sunday mornings our Adult Sunday School classes will focus on aspects of the Family. The topic this coming Sunday will be Marriage; the following Sunday – Parenting; and the last Sunday in June the topic will be Blended Families. Either you or someone you know has a family and the information gained in these classes will become valuable tools both to use and to share with others. I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities.

This evening we are going to begin a study of the life of one of the most prolific characters in the Bible, Abraham, who is often called the father of our faith. To begin our study let’s go to the New Testament Book of Romans, chapter 4, and hear the Apostle Paul expound on this great man.

Romans 4  NLT
1  Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God?
2  If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way.
3  For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
4  When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned.
5  But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.

What did Abraham discover about being right with God? The Apostle Paul continues to expound on the life and faith of Abraham. Before we hear more from Paul, let’s do a brief survey of this man named Abraham by going back to the first time we see his name mentioned in the Bible. Perhaps it will help broaden our understanding concerning the things Paul will mention further along in the 4th chapter of Romans.

Genesis 11:26  And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

This verse is situated at the end of a long line of names in the genealogy of Shem, one of the three sons of Noah. Some scholarly studies of the scriptures indicate that Abraham, given the name of Abram at birth, was born 292 years after the flood which coincides with 1948 years after God created Adam. We cannot know for certain and there are varied opinions as to the exact year Abraham was born but no one disagrees that Abraham was a direct descendant of Shem, the son of Noah. After the ark landed on the mountains of Ararat, Shem’s descendants moved south along the Euphrates River to the fertile land known as Ur of the Chaldees. This is where Abraham was born.

Acts 7
2  This was Stephen’s reply: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham in Mesopotamia before he settled in Haran.
3  God told him, ‘Leave your native land and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’
4  So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran until his father died. Then God brought him here to the land where you now live.

God spoke to Abraham while he was living in Ur and told him to leave his family and travel to a land God was going to give to him and his descendants. Abraham evidently did not leave immediately. (Acts 7:2-5) It seems after Abraham’s eldest brother died in Ur that Abraham’s father decided to go along with Abraham as well as several other members of the family. This was not what God told Abraham to do. Abraham was most likely about 50 years old.

Abraham’s father, Terah, which means delay, became the leader of the group by default and led the family, along with Abraham and Sarai, Abraham’s wife, not to the promised land of Canaan but rather to the city of Haran along the Syrian and Turkish border along the Euphrates, in the Ararat Mountain range, probably close to where Noah’s ark had landed almost 400 years earlier.

Genesis 11:31  One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there.

The scriptures indicate that Abraham may have lived in Haran for perhaps 20 to 25 years with his father and his family. However, after his father died, (Terah = delay), God spoke once again to Abraham. Guess what God said? The very same thing God said to him 25 years earlier …

(Verse by Verse)
Genesis 12  NLT
1  The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.
2  I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.
3  I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
4  So Abram departed as the LORD had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.
5  He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth — his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran — and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan,
6  Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites.
7  Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
8  After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the LORD, and he worshiped the LORD.
9  Then Abram continued traveling south by stages toward the Negev.

This evening we have discovered and confirmed that Abraham found out:
1.   God calls greatness out of obscurity.
a.   There were perhaps 15 million people on planet earth then.
b.   We do not know how many God called, we do know who said yes.
2.   We may delay the will of God but we cannot change it.
a.   God may change the man but not the plan.
b.   Children of Israel in Exodus; Young Rich Ruler/Zacchaeus
3.   God is the God of another chance.
a.   As long as there is life, there is always something we can do.
b.   God calls and corrects with grace and mercy …

c.   God has a plan and He needs help – He fills willing vessels …