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Imperfect and Righteous

January 18th, 2009 by Vic

Genesis 12-23

The life story of Abraham may be like your life story.  His obedience was not perfect.  He told little white lies.  He was an inconsiderate husband.  He believed God, but his faith was small.  He misjudged people.  He was self righteous.  God understood his heart and declared him righteous.

The story begins in 11:27.  However Stephen adds more information in Acts 7:2.  While still in Ur God told Abram to leave his country and his family and go to a land of promise.  Joshua 24:2-3 says they worshipped other gods in Ur.  Archaeologists tell us that the moon was worshipped in Ur.

12:1  In Haran God repeats His command and promise to Abram.  God says go by yourself, but Abram takes Lot with him.

12:2  “I will make you…”  We are God’s workmanship.  We are God’s art form.  We are not self made.  Some of us are classic.  Some of us are not so easy to interpret.  We are all to be a blessing because of what God is doing through us.

Sarai means princess.  She didn’t have children till she was 90.  She was very beautiful to the Egyptian pharaoh at 65 years old.  And she was attractive to another ruler at 89.

12:7  Shortest promise.  Abram builds an altar.

12:8  Builds another altar.

12:13  “Tell them you’re my sister.”  The Lord can bless wives who have stupid husbands.  We do not know how long Sarai was in the royal harem of Egypt.  Abram assumed these foreigners were immoral.  He did not realize that God spoke to other people too.  The pharaoh senses that God is protecting Abram.  He is more concerned about morality than Abram.  Abram showed no faith in God, but the pharaoh does.  Abram assumed his security depended on his own wits.

13:4  Abram gets kicked out of Egypt and returns to the last place God spoke to him.  It was between Bethel and Ai.  Bethel means house of God.  Ai means heap of ruin.  The altar was between these places.  If you are in a heap of ruin, you must pass through Jesus as your sacrifice to return to the place of blessing.

13:5  Now Abram’s partial obedience brings strife.  When we keep those things in our lives that do not please God, there is strife.  Has God identified some relationships or habits in your life that must go?  Let them go.  God has something better.  You were called to leave them behind a long time ago.

13:10  Abram allows Lot to choose.  Lot’s choice was not the best one for his family.  He was thinking of his cattle and his wealth.  He thought he was taking a great step forward.  We find later that he was afraid of the mountains.  He was making a career move without asking God.  He settled “near” Sodom.  In 14:12 he is living “in Sodom” and in 19:1 he is sitting in the gate.  That means he was a leader in the city.  Sodom represents everything that does not please God.

13:14  After Lot left, God promised to Abram everything he could see, north, south, east, and west.  Abram built another altar (18).  Abram’s generosity as a peacemaker was rewarded.

14:1-24  This is the first mention of war in the Bible.  Sodom represents sin.  Lot was living in Sodom.  2 Peter 2:8 says that Lot was righteous and being tormented by the sin around him.  Was he like some of your friends caught in sin?  Do you need to rescue them?  They may be Christian, but they are not enjoying the blessings of God, because they are seeking first their career.  They do not realize that they will end up with nothing, living in a cave, the thing they fear the most.

Melchizedek and the king of Sodom are contrasted.  Abraham did nothing for Melchizedek, but rescued the king and his people.  Melchizedek brought Abram a token of goodwill.  The king wants to appear generous, but in that culture a gift often had strings attached.  We’ll see this again when Abraham buys a burial plot.  Melchizedek blesses Abraham and the king has a grudging attitude.  One generous, one mean.  Despite the king’s coolness, Abram treats him generously.

It is dangerous to despise those through whom God works.  God promised a blessing to everyone who blessed Abram.

15:1  How often do we need to be reminded of God’s promises?  Often after a major victory.  God promises again to be our shield.  When does a shield have value?  When you stand behind it.

15:2  Abram is suggesting a plan to God.

15:6  God declares him righteous.

15:7  Abram wants some more documents to confirm the promise.

15:9  God offers to cut a covenant with him.  This may be the prelude to married couples that make some vows then walk down the aisle between family and friends.   Abram took some animals, split them and put them on each side of a path.  If you break the covenant you will be split like these animals were.  Abram waits for God to send an angel so he can walk hand in hand and cut the covenant.  Abram went to sleep and God passed through the pieces.  Abram did not sign the contract.

That means it is not something you do, do, do.  It is something God has done, done, done.  When Jesus said it is finished, it is finished.

16:2  Now Sarai has a plan.  Abram obeys his wife.  Hagar became a surrogate mother.  She gave birth to Ishmael, but would not let Sarai raise the child.  She was going back home (7).  What Sarai did to the Egyptian child, Egypt later does to the children of Sarai.

Sarai’s impatience delayed the promise another 14 years.

17:1  Abraham is commanded to walk in God’s presence and be blameless.

17:5  God changes Abram and Sarai’s name and institutes the national rite of circumcision to seal the covenant.  Confirming the covenant requires a human response.

Sarah has been described as barren 3-4 times.

17:17  Abraham assumed Ishmael was the promised son.  God corrected him and he laughed.  God then told him to name Sarah’s son Isaac which means laughter.  His descendants will include kings.  Ishmael’s descendants will include princes (21).

18:1  Adam was sitting in the door of his tent under a tree.  This is a contrast to Lot sitting at the gate of Sodom in 19:1  Where are you sitting?  Lot was not in the place where God could bless him.  He was not living close to the fount of blessing.  Where are you at home?  This may be the first coffee shop.

For Abraham, life is good and he is anxious to practice hospitality.  He was taking a siesta and woke up to see 3 men coming.  He is so excited about their visit he runs 3 times before dinner.  He’s 100 years old.

One of the men predicted Sarah’s coming pregnancy.  Sarah was not within eyesight, but she heard and in her heart she laughed.  The man asked Abraham why Sarah laughed.  And Sarah tells a little white lie.  She did not laugh out loud.

Sarah’s faith was in Sarah and not the Lord.  Is anything too hard for Sarah?  Yes.  Is anything too hard for the Lord?  No!  I can’t, but God can.

18:17  “Shall I keep back from Abraham what I am about to do?”  There are some parallels with this story and the flood story.  God does not change.

19:1  The 3 men are now 2 angels.

19:3  Lot was afraid for the men.  The city was filled with homosexuals.

19:11 suggests that even after they were struck with blindness they kept trying to find the door.  Divine judgment does not always precipitate repentance.

19:15  The righteous are expected to be quick to obey, but Lot was dragging his feet.  He lost his home, his wife, his career, his influence, and the respect of his daughters.

19:17  The angels said run for the hills, but Lot protested.  He said he did not know how to live in the hills any more.  God was merciful and let him go to the city, but it did not last long.  He ended up in the place he feared.

20:1  Again Abraham lied.  The one who boldly pleads with God for Sodom, can’t trust God for his own safe keeping?  Knowing God answers prayer, he did not pray.  Knowing God is not dead he did not see God in Egypt.  God is already speaking to your neighbors.  The people you meet each day should be Divine appointments.  Your neighbors may be more moral than you think.  Don’t be so self righteous to assume God only speaks to you.  Abimelek is very well-behaved.  Even though Abraham is a flake, God protects Sarah.  This whole event could have been avoided if he would have sought the Lord and trusted the Lord.

To avoid being self righteous like Abraham, seek the Lord.  To avoid being a flake and spending a lot of time apologizing, seek the Lord.  1. Read His Word (you don’t have to wait for it).  2. Remember and return to the altars and promises.  3. Quickly confess and obey.

If God listens to Abraham why does not He answer his prayer for a child?

21:1-34  Isaac is born and Ishmael becomes jealous.  Abraham now listens to God before he responds to Sarah’s request.  And God hears the child crying (17).  God was with him.

21:30  Abraham bought a well at Beersheba with 7 sheep.

22:1-19  God tested Abraham and God provides.  There are similarities and differences to the sacrifice of Jesus that can be seen in this chapter.  You know the story.  Let me note some facts.

1. Many feel that Isaac was about 33 years old at this time.  Abraham’s faith has matured.

2. only son

3. Loved deeply

4. Moriah is very close to Mt. Calvary

5. lift up an offering

6. a donkey

7. 2 men with him

8. the 3rd day (Jesus ministry was 3 years)

9. laid the wood on his shoulders

10. fire/judgment was in the father’s hands

11. knife/spear

12. God will provide a lamb

13. last altar Abraham built (Jesus died once and for all)

14. the son allowed himself to be bound

15. angel called out of heaven

23:1-20  Abraham buys a burial plot.  He negotiated for the cave of Machpelah.  Machpelah means 2 door cave.  Does that suggest that we go in the one and out the other?

What does this story of Abraham tell you about God?

God knows us and is patient.  He did not put Abraham to the ultimate test until he was 135 years old.  The Bible tells us that by that time Abraham believed that God could just raise his son from the dead (Heb 11:17-19).

God declared Abraham righteous because he believed, not because he offered his son.  Abraham was imperfect and righteous.

Could it be there is 1 door on the Ark and 2 doors on the grave?

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