Genesis 11:10-12:9 “Beginning a Journey of Faith”

Posted on April 18, 2009. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Genesis 11:10-12:9 “Beginning A Journey of Faith”

Sunday 01-07-2001 AM




I.The Descent of the Faithful Into Idolatry (11.10-27; Josh24.15; Gen.31.19)

            Idea: Shem was the faithful son of Noah, and was the chosen one by God for the line of the Jews and the Messiah. Any nation, people group, denomination, church, or private individual can descend from a position of faith into sin, i.e.,backslide.

II. Abram’s Call from God- Your Call from God

            1. All of Grace

            2. A Call to Leave

            3. A Call to Follow

III. Abram’s Condition- Our Condition

            1. A Senior Saint

            2. Childless

            3. Some “hangers on”

IV. Abram’s Response of Faith- Our Faith

            1. Personal Preference Put Aside

            2. A Pause in the Journey

            3. Pausing for Worship

Conclusion: Will we continue our journey of faith into the 21st Century?


Introduction: I enjoy the beginning of a new year! This may be my favorite time of year. I enjoy the chance to begin again, to try harder to get it right, to rededicate myself to the Lord. Now we return to our studies in the book of Genesis with an examination of the life and faith of Abraham, the Friend of God.

            James M. Boice writes, “With the exception of Jesus Christ, Abraham is probably the most important person in the Bible…. 14 chapters are used to set forth the life of this one man….Abraham was a man of faith, and it is for this reason that he is a giant in Scripture…. Paul especially looked back to Abram as the greatest of all examples of how God’s people are to be justified by faith and to live by faith…. No one can understand the OT without understanding Abram, for in many ways the history of redemption begins with God’s call to him.”

            Boice continues, “Great sections of the NT explain the significance of Abram. To support the doctrine of justification by grace through faith, an entire chapter of Romans refers to God’s dealing with Abram. Two chapters of Galatians refer to Abram’s life to prove that salvation is given apart from good works. One of the longest paragraphs in Hebrews 11 is devoted to the growth of faith in the life of this Hebrew patriarch. Abram is called God’s friend 3 times in Scripture (2Chron.20:7; Isa.41:8; Jas.2:23).”

            F.B. Meyer, a famous pastor and author in England during the 1800s and early 1900’s, whose books are still in print and are worth reading for the average Christian, writes in his book on Abraham, “Many rays of interest focus in the story of Abraham. His portrait is drawn with such detail, that it lives before us, with the same hopes and fears, golden hours and hours of depression, that are familiar factors in our own lives. Then, also, his life is so constantly referred to in the OT, and in the New, that it would seem as if the right understanding of it is necessary to give us the clue to many a difficult passage and many a sacred doctrine in the succeeding pages of the Bible. Nor can it fail to interest us to discover the reason why the wild Bedouin of the desert and the modern Englishman- the conservative East and the swift moving West; the Mohammedan and the Christian- can find in the tent of the first Hebrew a common meeting ground, and in himself a common origin.”

            I have no idea how long our study of Abraham’s life will take, but we will break it up with other studies. This morning however, I want us to get a glimpse of this senior saint, a man who was already quite old when God’s grace came to him, and look at his beginning of a journey of faith. I believe there is much to be gained here for all of us, old and young in the life of Abraham, the friend of God.


I. The Descent of the Faithful into Idolatry (Gen. 11.10-27; 31.19; Josh. 24.15)

            Abraham was a descendent of Shem, son of Noah. If you recall when I preached on Gen.10, that long and boring list of people and nations, I stated that it was the descendents of Ham that peopled the region of Mesopotamia known as Babylon and Sumer. But the sons of Shem later entered this region and mixed in with the ancient Sumerians. Sumer, or Ur of the Chaldees is the most ancient of all civilizations. When the first pyramids were being built in Egypt, Sumer was already over a thousand years old as a civilization. Abram was part of this culture; this is his birthplace and home, where his family was from.

            Remember that it was Ham’s son, Canaan that had received the curse for Ham’s disrespecting his father and Shem was blessed. The family of Noah certainly had direct knowledge of God and of his grace and judgment. But through the centuries, the knowledge of God, the worship of God faded and became corrupt; idolatry and false worship of false gods entered in. As we will see with Melchizedek in ch.14, there were still some who knew and worshiped God rightly, by far the majority had descended into paganism, including Abram’s own family.

            See Gen.31.19 and Josh.24.15.

            The nature of man was so corrupted by Adam’s sin that man cannot help but descend into idolatry and immorality. God himself said in Gen.6.5 “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of his heart was only evil all the time.” Paul concurs with this statement in Romans 3.10 “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

            The idea here is that the line of Shem had descended into idolatry and sin so that even Abram was an idolater in all likelihood. That is the trend in human beings, including us! If things are just left to themselves they tend toward decay and disorganization- that is related to the law of entropy, the second law of thermodynamics, which is a proof of the existence of God by the way. But spiritual entropy, spiritual decay, is all around us.

            In American history we see the founding by the pilgrims in 1620 and the great puritan migration of the 1630’s as persecution by King Charles was rampant. America was strong spiritually for its first 50 years. Then in 1675 King Phillips war raged in New England and Bacon’s Rebellion was going on in Va. and a time of secularism entered the land that reigned until the 1740’s and the Great Awakening under Wesley, Whitefield, and Edwards. By the 1760’s America was falling away again and the next great revival was not until the Second Great Awakening in the 1830’s. That is how our history goes, periods of spiritual renewal followed by a period of falling away.

            A denominational trend is discernable in the same pattern. Churches too can be in that pattern. So can individuals. Have you backslid?


II. Abram’s Call from God- Your Call from God

            1. A Call of Grace- Do not look for any sign of merit in Abram that prompted God to call him. Abram was a lost sinner when God, for his own purposes and out of sheer love, appeared to Abram and called him to Himself.

            Man always wants to focus on his rights or on his works and merit. We think we deserve the things God sends our way, or that it is just God’s job to bless us. We do not live in a culture that understands grace. Salvation comes to us purely by God’s grace, an undeserved, unmerited act of love and mercy initiated by God towards sinners who do not know him and are not seeking him on their own. Ephesians 2.8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”

            This also points to the sovereignty of God in that, in order for grace to be truly grace, it is initiated at the pleasure of God in his timing in his manner and to whomsoever it pleases God. This is the part we don’t much like. But God could have totally ignored Abram and chosen someone else. The choice is up to God. The power of God’s grace is an omnipotent power too, God broke into Abram’s world and God’s grace was sufficient to effect the appropriate change in Abram.

            2. A Call to leave- The call was all of grace, but it included a call to faith and works, in this case a call to  leave. Abram was called to leave his home and family, all that was formerly of value to him and begin a lifetime of wandering.

            God’s grace always calls us out of sin, out of our bleakly beautiful prison of sin that is so comfortable and convenient. In our studies in Mark’s Gospel did not we see that Jesus called the disciples out of their fishing boats, out of the tax booth for Matthew? When God calls you he always calls you to lay aside that which is not good or not needed. God’s call takes precedence over whatever else you are doing. In Matt 8 is the story of a couple of men who wanted to accept the call without leaving – Jesus said, “Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead” The call to leave is always uncomfortable and costly.

            3. A Call to Follow- Abram was called to leave but to also follow “and go to the land I will show you” notice God did not tell him his destination in detail, the call was to follow God. Jesus told his disciples to follow me! To be a follower requires a lot of faith, humility, etc.


III. Abram’s Condition- Our Condition

            1. A Senior Saint- 75 yrs old when he started this journey! We all know that physically, age catches up to us a day at a time. People do have physical limitations. But do not allow age to be an excuse for lack of faith. Do not allow age or physical condition stop you from following Jesus, growing in the faith or obeying.

            2. Childless- though Abram was well off financially, he was childless and that stigma affected him greatly. It was a sign in that culture that something was wrong, that perhaps God was against you. To not have fruit was a disgrace, it robbed his joy and ate at his heart.

            We have something eating at our heart- we are experiencing long term fruitlessness here. No spiritual offspring affects our morale. Like Abram we enter into this journey of the 21st century without offspring, yet God is leading us.

            3. Some hangers on- Apparently Abram took with him his father Terah and his nephew Lot from Ur to Haran. Lot would eventually cause a couple of problems and perhaps his father led them to stop and settle in Haran when God wanted them to go on.

            The idea is that there are always others around who will distract you and divert you from the path God has chosen. Learning how to deal with those folks graciously is difficult.


IV. Abram’s Response of faith and our faith

            1. Personal preference put aside

            2. A pause in the journey

            3. A proper pause for worship


Conclusion: Will we follow the Lord in the 21st century?


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