Genesis 13:12-18 “Trust in the Promises of God”

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Redeemer Church Sunday School

Genesis 13:12-18 “Trust in the Promises of God”

Sunday, 10-04-2009

Bryan E. Walker

 

Read Genesis 13:14-18; Prayer requests

 

Introduction/Review: Last time we were examining the character of Lot who moved his tent as far as Sodom and we looked at the wickedness of the men of Sodom. We saw the irony that accompanied Lot’s choice of the well watered, fertile plain, which would eventually become a desolate place of death and destruction because of the sinfulness of its inhabitants. What was pleasing to the eyes of Lot was displeasing to the Lord.

 

Moses is deliberately drawing a contrast between Lot and Abram; one walks by sight and the other is learning to walk by faith. One settles either on the edge of the promised land or just outside and the other settles in the land to which God had called him. One is outside the promise and one is inside the promise. One pitches his tents near wickedness and the other worships God.

 

We examined the sins of Sodom a bit, homosexuality, intent on raping the angels who accompanied Lot, not exercising hospitality towards visitors, and in Ezekiel 16:49-50, we saw they were guilty of pride, excess food, prosperous ease, and they were haughty and did an abomination. By way of an application we looked at some sins in our society, and that is about where we finished.

 

Today we will look at God’s response to Abram’s faith and the beautiful promise he makes to Abram. Then we will close with Abram’s appropriation of the promise.

 

  1. I.                   The Loneliness of the Righteous

            Abram was told by God to leave his country, people and father’s household back in 12:1. I don’t really know why he carried Lot around with him, it could have been compassion, obligation, or sinful neglect to separate from his family, but now Lot has made his decision to leave and we can only imagine what Abram was feeling. Perhaps a mixture of relief “Whew! That troublesome nephew is finally out on his own!” with a twinge of loneliness- now Abram’s last family is gone from him, leaving him with a sense of finality, of separateness, loneliness. Abram actually seems like a compassionate person to me, so I cannot help but think he experienced some grief over the departure of Lot. This is seen later in his concern for Lot in ch. 14 and 18. But now Abram has completely obeyed the Lord’s initial calling to leave his kindred and his father’s house. The result is that he is a stranger in a strange land, alone.

            In some sense, to follow God, to follow Jesus, is a very lonely journey for God, who is invisible, calls us to walk by faith not by sight, to follow He who is invisible, to forsake all others. Sometimes there is a loneliness that comes to the righteous.

            John 6:66; 9:30-35; 13:21; Abel, Noah, Joseph, Moses, Jacob, Joshua and Caleb, David, Elijah 1Kings19:9-10; Daniel in the Lions den, Shadrech, Meshech and Abednego.

            There will be many times when we are called to stand alone in our faith; to lead from the front can be very lonely at times, to stand for truth in a sea of sin and the waves of the world crashing against you… Doing the right thing in following Jesus will never be popular.

            QQ: Do Believers who are faithfully serving the Lord sometimes feel the pain of separation, loneliness? When Jesus says in Matt.10:34ff, does that mean that in our separation we will never experience hurt and loneliness? Have you ever grieved over a loved one who knew not Jesus? Or who departed into some sin, heresy or cult? Think about the muslim who converts to Christ, or the child who comes to Christ and the rest of the family is atheistic and sinking in sin. Think of the 70 yr old woman who married a non-christian and for 50 yrs of marriage has not had spiritual communion with her mate.

            QQ: Have you ever experienced the loneliness of refusing to participate in sin when in a group? Abram is now alone in Canaan with no one left from his father’s house, except his wife and his servants/hired men. He has no peers in Canaan.

 

  1. II.                The Lord Speaks

            In Abram’s loneliness after the departure of Lot we read, “The Lord said to Abram” The Lord still spoke to Abram! He was not truly alone was he! God is there and he still speaks. God’s character includes the aspect of communication; revelation- God is a revealing God who chooses to reveal himself to people like us. He is there and he is not silent is the title of one of Francis Schaeffer’s books. Before the creation of Adam, God had love and communication within the Trinity for eternity past. He is a personal and communicative God.

            The LORD spoke to Abram in Ur in 12:1-3, and again in 12:7, and now here in 13:14.

            Sin has separated us from God, sin has alienated our hearts from God, and man has a huge lonely hole in his heart and psyche because of sin. We look out into the void of the universe and we cry out in desperation “is there anybody out there?” Even in our hubris of declaring “There is no God!” we suffer from a cosmic loneliness asking, “Is this really all there is?” From the edge of the blackness of despair God still speaks. God spoke to Abram personally, intelligibly, compassionately; he speaks in time and space.

            Throughout the scriptures God speaks in many ways to several people. Sometimes it is personally, as here with Abram, sometimes it is in a theophony as at Sinai with smoke, thunder, and lightning; sometimes it is with an angel. As the writer of Hebrews says: “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son”. The single most dramatic and compassionate speaking that God has done is with his son Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. He walked with us and ate with us, he healed us and taught us, and finally he took on our sins and transgressions and died for us. He rose again from the grave proving he was God in the flesh.

            QQ: Does God still speak to us? How?

            God still speaks to us! We are not left alone! John 14:15-27ff he promises the Comforter. John 17:14, 17 the word.

            How do you hear from God today? His Spirit and the Word…The church and even nature (interpreted through the Word). But are we listening? Abram was listening!

            Can people imagine that the Lord has spoken to them and be led astray? How does that happen? I once watched Oral Roberts’ son, Richard, on TV in Tulsa, preaching, or whatever you want to call it-it wasn’t a for real, biblical expository sermon- and as he was talking he would occasionally cock his head to the side to hear what the Lord was saying to him, and he would say, “Yes, Lord” then he would talk a bit more. Most of it was about someone out there in TV Land who had “some kind of back pain” or some kind of tumor that would be healed if they had enough faith (and sent in some $$$). I thought it peculiar that God would go to all the trouble to speak audibly to Richard Roberts, but not give him the exact details of the person’s name, where they lived and exactly what was wrong.

            I don’t know if God still speaks audibly to people today, I have heard numerous testimonies of people who said he does. All I can authoritatively say on this is that if the voice or vision or dream ever contradicts the written word of God, run! God is not contradictory. He will never go against what he has already spoken through his Word. The Holy Spirit and the Word are inseparable and will never contradict.

            Imagine the comfort and peace that Abram must have enjoyed as the Lord’s voice came to him in his hour of loneliness and need. I picture it as a beautiful, clear morning and Lot’s people and herds and flocks are moving out down from the ridgeline into the valley below. As the bleating of the sheep fades, and only a distant cloud of dust rises up, Abram turns to go back to his tents and the Lord speaks.

            Application: our world does not believe God still speaks. In our day the Bible is no longer widely regarded as the Word of God even in some churches. We combat that by faithfully proclaiming the Gospel and the Word knowing that the Spirit will call some, He will apply the Word to some. As we separate from the world’s practices and beliefs we must prepare reasoned defenses of the truthfulness of the Word of God to answer the challenges and questions of the lost; and we must live a life obedient to the Word of God which we proclaim. We must love the lost and minister to their hurts as we share the gospel with them. Think of the loneliness of our missionaries who may be pretty much isolated in some situations and have nobody right there who is “like them”. In these days of Facebook, e-mail, cell phones, Skype and such, we have eliminated much of the loneliness. But think about someone like William Carey who went for 7 years on the mission field in India without a convert, but he trusted in God and persevered.

http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/biocarey.html

 

 

  1. III.             Lift Up Your Eyes- to see the blessings God has for you!

            Sometimes we can be so sinfully self absorbed due to the loneliness and the battles that we have fought, that we forget to look to Christ for our hope, our victory, and our reward. At times we must look up desperately and cry out to God to speak to us, to reassure us that he is there and that he loves us and has a plan for us. In times like these God tenderly speaks to us and points our eyes heavenward and reassures us of the hope that we have in Christ.

            “Lift up your eyes from where you are..” We are such earth bound creatures it is very difficult to look past our situation, outside of our own difficulties and limitations. God calls out to Abram to look beyond himself and his loneliness and childless condition. Look beyond the Canaanites and their idolatry. So what that Lot has chosen the best of the land and departed for Sodom’s gates, look to God now Abram!

            God showed him all the land to the east, west, north, and south, all that he could see, and God promised it all to him!

            Psa121:1ff; Eph.1:3

            So often we are focused on the obstacles we face, the loneliness we feel, and we forget all the blessings we already possess in Christ!

Moses here again compares and contrasts Abram with Lot who also “lifted up his eyes” in vs.10. But here it is God telling Abram to look and Abram does see with the eyes of faith instead of merely seeing what is physically there. In Deut 34:1-4 God takes Moses to Mt Nebo before he dies to look at the land in a similar construction.

When we lift up our eyes to the Lord we are focusing on who He is and what He has done and what he continues to promise to do. We focus on him in faith and trust, leaning not on our own understanding of life’s problems, but leaning wholly on his everlasting arms. To lift up our eyes as Abram did is to practice a child-like faith that says, “What now Daddy?” I do not have the answers or the power, but You do, Lord.

 

 

  1. IV.              For All the Land that You See I Will Give To You

Notice that the promises God gives to Abram get progressively more detailed? In 12:1-3 it is “Go to the land I will show you.” In 12:7 it is “To your offspring I will give this land.” Now it is “for all the land that you see I give to you and to your offspring forever.”  In 12:2 ‘I will make you a great nation” now it is “I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth.”

There seems to be a pattern in Abram’s life of faith, obedience, then a greater revelation of promise. We cannot take this pattern and apply it to our lives in a material fashion as perhaps the Health and Wealth Gospel guys do. But we can apply it spiritually. As we grow in faith, which is demonstrated by increasing obedience, God gives us more revelation, more understanding of the Word of God, a deeper understanding of Christ. The more you trust, study, and apply the Scriptures, the more you find there. God is infinite, if we have all of eternity to study, love, worship, believe, and trust in God, we will continue growing in Christ forever. God will continue to give more of himself to those whose faith is growing and obedient.

Which may mean that if you are not growing in the Lord, there is likely a sin problem, a lack of faith problem.

Notice the greatness of the promises God made to Abram. God promises all the land to Abram, as far as he can see. Christ once told his disciples that the fields are white unto harvest, it all to easy to forget that when we are not personally seeing the masses saved. We tend to be all too like the Israelites who were about to enter the Promised Land and balked because “There were giants in the land.” But Joshua and Caleb, like father Abraham, looked to the north, south, east and west, and said that with God this land is ours. They claimed their inheritance 40 yrs later while the rest of the people died off. They died off because they did not lift up their eyes to God, they only saw obstacles and took counsel of their fears. Fear, not faith, led to death in the wilderness.

“I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth.” Here is another great promise that Abram claimed by faith. You and I live in a day of Retreat by the Church in America. We are at a low ebb. All the statistics point to the Church having a smaller and smaller percentage of the population even though we are still growing, but slowly. Islam is the fastest growing religion in North America. Politically and economically I think we are headed for a disaster in the near term. But in the midst of that coming disaster, the Church, if we lift our eyes up to Christ, can claim this land for Christ yet again.

 

 

  1. V.                 Walk Through the Land

            AS Abram journeyed through the land of Canaan, as he walked through the breadth and depth of it, he could have a smile on his face because God had promised it all to him. All the Canaanites would see him smiling and wonder what he was thinking… this land has been given me by my God!

            Joshua 1:3-9

            The promise of fruitfulness: Mark 1:17; John 4:35; Matt 9:37

The use of the word “walk” points us back to where? 5:24 and Enoch who walked with God, and 6:9 “Noah walked with God”. Here the LORD is calling Abram to claim the land victoriously as his own, despite the presence of the Canaanites.

Are we walking by faith, confident in our God? It is easy to walk in defeat as we look at the sinfulness of this world. But Jesus said the Meek shall inherit the earth. Do we believe that?

            Yes there are Canaanites in the land, but he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Think about Europe in 1517. Spiritually it was a very dark place with the Gospel hidden by the traditions and false doctrines of the Catholic Church. Then the Lord moves in one monk, Martin Luther, who sees the wretchedness and the greed of the sale of indulgences and he writes down 95 points of concern with the Church in his day and nails it to the Wittenberg church door. And the fire of the gospel spread throughout Germany and all of Europe.

            “Arise! Walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you!” Are we trusting in this God of the promise?

In what ways can we take this passage and apply it to our Christian lives today? Should we pray over every area of our lives, and society, claiming them for Jesus? As much as we criticize and complain about Hollywood or the Public Schools or the President or Congress, should we not also pray for them? How about praying for Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela? Pray for work, kids school, etc. Through prayer we don’t even have to be there to walk through the land claiming it for Christ.

We can walk confidently because we know that the Lord is coming again and will claim all this earth for himself and appoint us to rule. When we watch the news daily and see our freedoms being washed down the drain, our children’s futures mortgaged, and our President appointing evil people to important offices that are unconstitutional and unaccountable, it is easy to take our eyes of Christ and focus on the Canaanites. But the evils of this worldly realm will not ultimately stand.

There is a chiastic structure in vss.15-17 A. v.15 I will give. B. your offspring C. v.16 dust of the earth. C1 dust of the earth. B1 your offspring. A1 I am giving it to you.

  1. VI.              Abram settled in the Land…Abram Built an Altar to the Lord

What is Abram’s response? He settles in the land to which God called him. Obedience and faith produce contentment and a restful abiding in the will of God. We do not see Abram being bitter over the choice of Lot, nor do we see him complaining over the presence of Canaanites in His land. He settles in the will of God.

Trusting in God’s Providence, Promises and Provision is never easy, but we are called to do just that. To practice a godly contentment in what God has provided is a large part of our discipleship. And our world wages war against contentment. The entire advertising industry is designed to make us not content with what we have, and to incite us to want more, to want the newest and the improved. Our whole culture is all about not being content with the way things are, but demanding improvement and change. And a lot of that is OK. But there is a subtle spiritual danger of being so used to our throw away, microwave culture of fast food that we lose the ability to be settled in the will of God and happy and content in trusting in the Lord’s provision.

And we have to use discernment here because God can give us an unsettled spirit when things are not right and we should not be content when things are not right. I mentioned William Carey and Martin Luther a while ago, neither of them was content with the way things were, and they took action and changed the world with the gospel. There is a difference between being settled in what God has given you and being stuck in the mud and stiffnecked.

Abram built an altar. Once again we see that his faithful response to the leading of God, to the promises of God, is worship. Worship remains our first priority. As we worship the Lord rightly, with faith, love and obedience, we will press on through those times of loneliness and endure dwelling in the land with the Canaanite. Worshiping the Lord will aid us in hearing the voice of God through Scripture.

I believe that this passage even speaks of our hope to spend eternity with Christ, dwelling in the land he has promised, worshiping him and being content in him forever and ever.

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    This blog exists to study the bi-vocational ministry, explore the Bible & Theology, and look at current events, history and other world religions through scripture, and have fun doing it!

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