FROM ABRAHAM TO MOSES
Abraham's Life of Faith
According to the NT we see that Abraham lived a life of faith (Heb. 11:8-19). Abraham's life is characterized so much by faith that Paul calls him Abraham "the ____________________" (Gal. 3:9).
In the previous lesson we saw that Abraham was made right with God only on the basis of his faith. Whereas some would interpret Abraham's faith to be faithfulness, we actually saw that the faith which saved Abraham was not faithfulness but rather belief. God promised both Abraham and his seed (Jesus) to bless him and through him to bless all peoples. All Abraham did was to believe God. The author of Hebrews highlights this when he writes (Heb. 11:8) "By ____________ Abraham when he was called obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance"; (Heb. 11:11): "By ____________ even Sarah herself conceived"; and (Heb. 11;17): "By _______ Abraham when he was tested offered up Issac." When Abraham responded by faith, God assigned the value of righteousness to Abraham's belief (Gen. 15:6). Abraham is now righteous, that is, right with God.
In this lesson we shall see that Abraham does not merely give a mental assent to God's promise. We shall actually see that true biblical faith changes a person's actions; it changes a person's life. Faith which does not change a person positively is not biblical faith. The world may consider it faith, but the Bible does not. Here we shall see how faith affected Abraham's actions.
THE GENESIS ACCOUNT
The Journey of Abraham (Gen. 12:1-13:3)
Abraham is so much characterized by faith that Paul calls him "Abraham the believer" (Gal. 3: 9). When God calls Abraham, what does He instruct him to do: "Go forth from your ________ and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the ____________ I will show you" (Gen. 12:1).
When God calls Abraham the first time to follow Him, where is Abraham living (Acts 7:2, 4)?
Look on the map at the back of your Bible and discover where this place is located.
When Abraham left this place, he made it as far as Haran, far north of modern-day Israel. For whatever reason Abraham settles in Haran Gen. 11:31). After Abraham's father Terah dies in Haran, God once more calls Abraham to follow him to the land which He will show him (Gen. 12:1). Where does God lead Abraham to this second time (Gen. 13:3)? Locate this also on your map.
Did Abraham know where God was leading him when He called Abraham to follow Him (Heb. 11:8)?
Although God had promised to give Abraham all the land from the Nile River to the Euphrates River (from Egypt to Iraq), did Abraham actually possess the land while he was alive (Acts 7:5)?
(The fulfillment of the promise was to come much later.)
Look at how Abraham's faith was working. He believed God so much that when God called Abraham to follow Him, Abraham did. Now that is faith.
In order to understand the magnitude of Abraham's faith when God called Abraham to follow Him, Abraham did not simply throw a few bags into an SUV with his wife, make sure he had enough ready cash and credit cards with him, and then head up I-35N to some unknown destination with hotels and restaurants along the way. Abraham was the head of a large family with hired servants and large flocks of sheep. This was a massive undertaking which demanded great faith on Abraham's part.
Conflict with Lot Over the Land (Gen. 13:5-18)
As was stated above, Abraham took along with him a large family. Part of that family was his nephew Lot. Lot in addition to Abraham was the owner of a large flock of sheep. What happened between these 2 men which led them to go their separate ways (Gen. 13:5-7)?
To understand better what Abraham does next, remember the promise God made to Abraham. How much of the land was Abraham supposed to possess because he followed God (Gen. 12:7)? How much of the land did God promise to give Lot (Gen. 12:7)?
Now God had made the promise of the land to Abraham, not to Lot. Lot had only followed Abraham, while Abraham was the one following God. Yet what did Abraham offer Lot (Gen. 13:8-9)? What did Lot choose (13:10-13)?
This offer is even more amazing in light of the fact that Abraham was the head of the household. As the head he had the right to make the first choice. Instead of exercising his prerogatives, Abraham deferred to Lot. At first glance it appears that Abraham is the loser in this situation. Yet God honors Abraham's humility and faith. After Lot gets the better of Abraham, God speaks to Abraham again. What does God promise Abraham (Gen. 13:14-17)?
When God promises us something, we don't have to grasp it and hold onto it tightly as if to make sure we get what God has promised us. God is the One who promised and God is the One who is responsible to make sure the promised is fulfilled. We don't have to worry about it. Abraham could have been like most of us and have gripped tightly the land God had given him; instead he lets go. God honors his faith so much that He gives Abraham a vision of how wonderful the promise is actually going to be. Through his descendants Abraham is going to possess all the land from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River in modern-day Iraq.
Abraham and Melchizedek (Gen. 14:1-24)
Abraham's nephew Lot falls into dire straits because of his choice. Because Sodom and Gomorrah were considered wealthy cities at that time, they were open to attack. In the valley of Siddim the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah with 3 other kings are attacked by a coalition of three kings. (To identify these kings, read Gen. 14). During this conflict the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah are defeated, and Lot is captured and taken prisoner. What is Abraham's response to the news of Lot's capture (Gen. 14:13-16)?
Upon Abraham's return home, whom does he meet (Gen. 14:18-20)?
This priest is described as a priest of _________ ________ __________...(Gen. 14:18).
How does Abraham honor Melchizedek's position as God's priest (Gen. 14:20)?
This was Abraham's way of expressing his faith that God is the owner and lord of all things. Some try to make tithing a legalistic rite which you don't have to honor; however, for all practical purposes the Bible says that it is a necessary way you can demonstrate your faith that God really does own all things. If you don't tithe, then you need to show another practical way to show that you believe God does own all things. Faith always leads to practical actions and results.
After the captives of Sodom and Gomorrah have been rescued, what does the king of Sodom offer Abraham, and what is Abraham's response (Gen. 14:21-24)?
Now this was Abraham's big chance. Already wealthy Abraham has a chance to become even wealthier. Abraham though knew that God was going to bless him. He did not need a wicked, perverted king to be the source of Abraham's blessing. Even if God was not going to bless him materially though, Abraham was not going to accept what the king of Sodom had to offer. He was going to attain God's blessings by means of righteousness; he was not going to accept it by means of godless people.
In the same way we can trust God to bless us without having to resort to wickedness. I've seen pastors stab other pastors in the back in order to increase the size of their flock. One pastor would even visit the sick from other churches and then express "surprise" whenever they joined his church. This doesn't happen just in churches; it can happen in the secular work place as well. I saw another pastor cotton up to a certain Christian organization, using his church to further that organization, even though it did not help the church. One day when the organization gave him a lucrative position, he claimed that he was touched by this great honor. Great honor? He had worked for it so long that the organization basically owed it to him. Did he do anything illegal? No. Did he do anything unethical? Not necessarily. But did he act in faith? No.
Abraham ReasonsWith God (Gen. 18:20-33)
Finally, God informs Abraham that the sinful outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah has reached His ears and that the outcry is so great that He is going to go down to see for Himself how wicked the city is. Now who was living in Sodom at this time (Gen. 19:1)?
Apparently Abraham realizes that the sin in these 2 cities is so great that God will have no other choice but to destroy the 2 cities. With his nephew living in the city, Abraham tries to avert disaster by reasoning and pleading with God.
Notice how Abraham approaches God: "Shall not the _____________ of all the earth deal ___________?" (Gen. 18:25). In other words, Abraham is saying, "God, this is who You are, and I believe that You will act according to who You are." If God is love, then you can appeal to His love. If God is just, then you can appeal to His sense of justice. If God is merciful, then you can appeal to His sense of mercy. The reason you appeal to God this way is not because He needs reminding but because YOU need to remember for yourself these things are true about God and you need to relate to Him these ways.
Abraham asks God to spare the city if how many of the Sodomites are righteous (18:24)?
Abraham then goes on and reduces the number of righteous people. Beside each Scripture passage write down the number of righteous people Abraham refers to: 18:28 _______________; 18:29 _______________; 18:30 _______________; and 18:31 _______________; and 18:32 _______________.
Yet even Abraham knows that there is a limit to God's patience. Abraham stops pleading with God at what number of righteous people (18:32)?
Look at the boldness and confidence with which Abraham approaches God. There is none of this "God's will is going to be done no matter what!" (That's the way the Greeks, Augustine, and Calvin thought about God, not the Hebrew OT or Christian NT.) Abraham boldy prays for the safety of Sodom so that his nephew might be saved. He has a relationship with God which allows him to approach God with boldness and confidence. Do we have the right to approach God in the same way (Heb. 4:16)?
The tragic thing is that there were not even 10 righteous people in all of Sodom. His sons-in-law were not righteous. Later his daughters who rape him are not righteous. Not even his wife who is turned to salt is righteous. The moral fabric of that city has come completely unraveled.
God does not spare Sodom and Gomorrah; so on the surface it looks like God did not answer positively Abraham's prayer. Yet why did Abraham really want God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah? That request God did answer positively.
Abraham is able to approach God like this because he was "My [God's] _________" (Isaiah 41:8). In fact he is the only person in the entire OT who is called this.
In the same way God wants us to ask bold prayers and to approach him with confidence (Heb. 4:16). According to James why don't we receive blessings from God the way Abraham did (James 4:3)?
When Jesus saves us, what kind of relationship do we enter into with Him: "I have called you ________________" (John 15:15). In other words what was true of Abraham can be true of us too.
What's even better is that if God will answer Abraham's prayers because he was God's friend, how much more will He answer our prayers because we are His sons and daughters.
Too many times we think of the Christian life as being of one going to church all the time. How many times though in our study did we see Abraham going to church? _______________________. I'm not saying that we shouldn't go to church; we should. What I am saying is that the Christian life is more than going to church. The Christian life should be a life of faith. (Milton says that Jesus spoke more about what people did on their way to church than what they actually did in church.) The Christian life should be following God wherever He leads us, a life of peace in which we don't have to grasp on tightly to what God has given us, a life in which we honor God not only with our money but also with everything we possess, and a life in which we boldly approach Him with complete confidence. In our study of Genesis 1 we saw that God has made us His sons and daughters. Well, if God is going to give His friend Abraham this wonderful life of faith, how much more will He lavish upon His sons and daughters wonderful lives of faith.