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Sunday, December 8, 2019

posted Dec 10, 2019, 6:16 AM by Site Administrator

SO THAT HE WILL DIRECT HIS CHILDREN TO KEEP THE WAY OF THE LORD

 

Genesis 18:1-33

Key Verse 18:19

 

For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.

 

First, If I have found favor in your eyes,... (1-8).Today's passage talks about how Abraham treated God and two angels who visited him in human form. Abraham did not know who they really were; to him, they were travelers who happened to pass by his tents. This event happened when Abraham was 99 years old, the same year when God appeared to him and asked him to circumcise, as we see in verse 18. Actually, this happened not long after Abraham was circumcised, maybe, 3 or 4 weeks, because we see that God mentioning about the birth of Isaac, saying by this time next year, in chapter 17, and about this time next year in chapter 18. 

 

Look at verses 1 and 2. It was just another ordinary day. Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Maybe, he was meditating on God's covenant, or it was so hot that he was dozing there. He sensed something and looked up and saw three men standing nearby. At once he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. He didn't hesitate or calculate, showing that that's how he had treated the travelers passing by his tent. He was 99 years old, with that famous Middle Eastern men's gorgeous beard! Yet, he bowed low to the ground! That must have been amazing. He said, If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way-- now that you have come to your servant. He was very humble and polite. He was so considerate in his words, saying, If I have found favor in your eyes, Let a little water be brought, and Let me get something to eat, trying not to give them any burden. As he had had life together with God as God's covenant person, he became a beautiful person, very mature, thoughtful and humble.

 

The three men felt his welcoming spirit, so they answered, Very well, do as you say. So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. Quick, he said, get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread. Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree as if he were a waiter ready to serve. 

 

There are some nice rich people. They like to treat others. So, what do they do? They call servants and ask them to serve their guests, showing favor to them. But Abraham was not like them. He was there not as the one who was going to show them favor, but as the one who begged them for their favor, bowing down to the ground so that he would be given a chance to treat them. Then, once he got an approval from them, he was not like an aged man, but like a young man, running here and there; he served them with great enthusiasm; his hospitality for them was genuine. He had joy in serving them. Also, these three men were nothing but travelers, but in order to treat them, he slaughtered a choice tender calf, the best quality beef, and really a lot for three people; in those days, fine flour was expensive, but he used 20 quarts of fine flour to bake bread for them - it was really a lot of bread, maybe, enough for 300 people. Abraham was rich, but unlike many rich people, he was not stingy; instead, he was enjoying abundance both outwardly and inwardly; at that time, he indeed, enjoyed his life in God freely. Also, not only he, but also all his household served the guests wholeheartedly. At Abraham's instruction, Sarah quickly baked bread, using 20 quarts of fine flour, and his servant quickly prepared the calf; Abraham did not need to tell them what to do in detail, but just one direction, and they knew what to do and how to do it. This shows that they had been doing this kind of service to the travelers many times; they participated in this treat in one mind and heart - they were indeed God's covenant family.

 

This episode shows God's people's blessed life very well, enjoying abundance in heart, growing in maturity, becoming beautiful people. What a great blessing it is that God called us into this kind of beautiful life. We have tasted the same joy and happiness as we grow as Jesus' disciples, serving God's kingdom work. At the last Christmas worship service, we were to prepare fruits for about 300 people, but we ended up preparing for about 1000 people. Last October, we had two special guests, missionary Jose and Maria Ahn. All of us served them in one mind and heart, and we were really blessed. We thank God for granting us this wonderful life. We are growing in Jesus as mature people of God. Praise the Lord! Let's pray that as we get old, maybe, at the age of 60, 70 or 80, we may be so beautiful like Abraham, revealing God's image to the people around us. 

 

Second, Is anything too hard for the LORD? (9-15).Look at verses 9 and 10. Where is your wife Sarah? they asked him. There, in the tent, he said. Then the LORD said, I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son. Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. The LORD was so happy with Abraham and his hospitality. He could see what kind of person Abraham had become – such a great and mature person. So he exposed his identity and confirmed His blessing of a new born baby Isaac. We all want to please God, and this case shows us that when we grow as mature and beautiful people like Abraham in today's passage, we can please God. Some people, as they get old, become so stubborn that everyone avoids; some people become so proud and demanding that no one wants to come around. Let's pray that we may not grow so bad like that; instead, let's strive that we all may grow as beautiful people, very mature, thoughtful, humble and serving others. That way, we can please God revealing God's image to others around us.  

 

At this good news, how did Sarah respond? She did not say, Hurray! At the last! Instead, she laughed to herself as she thought, After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure? She was past the age of childbearing. Even if God said that she would have a son by the same time the following year, she didn't believe, because she was past menopause; simply, it was something impossible. In the previous passage, when God talked about his great vision, Abraham laughed out of unbelief. Now in today's passage, Sarah laughed out of unbelief.

 

Up until that time, God had wrestled with them. What they really wanted was a son. In their struggle for a son, sometimes, they were depressed. Then, God visited them and said to them, I will give you many sons. Trust me. He did not give them any son, but encouraged them to believe that he would give them son, even many sons. Then, they believed and were thankful. Then, sometime later, they were depressed again. God visited them and encouraged him, saying, Trust me. I will give you many sons. He didn't give them a son, but just his promise of many sons. They believed and were thankful. Then, later, they were depressed again. God visited them and told them to trust him that he would give them many sons. God did not give them any son, but he encouraged them to believe that he would give them many sons. They believed and were thankful. This had been going on continually. God did not give them any son, but always encouraged them to trust him that he would give them many sons. In this struggle for a son, they had a certain dead line, that was, Sarah's menopause. They expected that God would give them a son before menopause. But God didn't. Then, finally, Sarah was past menopause, and several years passed.God pushed them to the limit, I mean, even beyond the limit. Yet, they still lived as God's covenant people, even if God's promise had not been fulfilled. Wow! How would respond if God pushes you this much, beyond the limit?

 

As shepherds, we want sheep; because of sheep, we laugh and weep. It is painful to be fruitless year after year. And God keeps encouraging us through his words to trust him that he will bless us with many sheep. He encourages us that we will become fathers and mothers of many nations. We believe, and are thankful, yet still no tangible fruit. As this struggle goes on, we feel scared because we are getting old. Like Abraham and Sarah, in our struggle for sheep, we also have a certain deadline - maybe, 7 years, or 10 years. Then, when God goes beyond that deadline, when they remain fruitless, despite their struggle for such long time, there come two different responses. One response is that people become bitter, doubt, and complain, blaming others, even God; many of them fall away; then, theycome to have really bad perspective about life of faith in GodThe other response is that people finally realize what they must really pursue and turn to God. Abraham and Sarah did not fall away, even though they laughed out of unbelief. Even though they laughed out of unbelief, they still lived as God's covenant people, entrusting their life in God's hands. How come? It's because, in the course of their struggle with God for a son for the past 24 years, they came to experience God many times, and thereby, they came to know God personally; their eyes were opened to Him. Then, even though they had not gotten a son, even though God had not given them a son, even if God's promise was not fulfilled, and even if there was no possibility for them to have a son, still they were glad with God and they were determined to live as God's covenant people, finally understanding what God meant, I am your very great reward.Because of God, they would live as God's covenant people.

 

Actually, it might be much easier for God to give them a son, make them happy, and move on to the next phase with Isaac. Then His redemption plan would be accelerated - easy and fast! Yet, instead, He wrestled with them for so many years. Why did He wait so long? He was more concerned about them, than using them for his purpose - they would know him and grow in him. This is what God is doing for us - He is wrestling with us so that we may be purified from our own ambition, self-seeking desire and all other impure things so that we may know him really. Once we see his beauty, we will all fall in love with him. This is what God is pursuing in our life today. Let's come to God and know Him so that we may really love Him with all our heart and strength.

 

For this purpose, God had been wrestling with them all this time - Knowing Him really, opening their eyes to God's goodness and beauty was such an important matter that God had wrestled with them until then. Then, once they saw God's beauty, they were ready to have a son, because, when they knew God's goodness and beauty, when they loved God, nothing would be a problem - even having a son, the very purpose of their whole life struggle would not be a hindrance in their life of faith. What if, after a few year's struggle, God gave them a son? Maybe, they would be really happy and their hearts would be given to him completely that they would not be interested in living as God's covenant people, saying, I am all right. Only if Isaac may live under your blessing. But now, he really knew God, even having a son did not become a matter at all. Later, even when God asked him to send off Ishmael and sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering, still Abraham would choose God over all others by obeying God's commands. 

 

Look at verses 13 through 15. Then the LORD said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son. Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, I did not laugh. But he said, Yes, you did laugh.

 

It seemed that God was having some fun with Abraham and Sarah at this moment, pointing out Sarah's unbelief, but instead of talking to her directly, talking to Abraham about it. And when she said, I did not laugh, God said, Yes, you did laugh.Sarah was embarrassed, but God had some humorous time. After pointing out her unbelief, God said, Is anything too hard for the LORD? How do you respond? Nothing is too hard for the LORD. What about God wrestling with you for 20 years, and then, when you become 40 or even 50, God starts his mighty work with you? Then, in 10 years, maybe, 1,000 disciples under your care, and in the next 10 years, you cover the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is never late. God's time is the right time, and God's way is the fastest way. Trust God - when the right time comes, He will do mighty works with you, fulfilling his vision upon your life. The only thing is, have faith in God and strive to serve God in spirit, for He seeks that kind of worshipers.

 

Third, So that he will direct his children to keep the way of the LORD (16-33). Look at verse 16 and 17. When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? At Abraham’s hospitality and maturity, God was so happy; he could see that Abraham had become a great man of God. When you become so great like Abraham, God is so happy with you. Then God felt so uneasy that He had not shared His business agenda with him yet! He said, Shall I hide from Abraham about what I am to do? No, he would not. Instead, he would share with Abraham all his business agendas, because he considered him as his business partner.

 

What does it mean to be God’s business partner? God shares with you everything He is going to do. Our service to the Lord should not be like we work hard and He gives us a salary, some glory here and there. Or if I work hard as a shepherd, He will give me a ticket to heaven. If I don’t work hard, He will punish me. Maybe in our spiritual growth, we do start out that way. It’s good to have the fear of God. But we shouldn’t remain at that level! That’s not right – living as a slave to God. That’s the attitude of the older son in the parable of the Prodigal Son. If you live that way, it’s the evidence that you don’t know God yet. 

 

So what does it mean to become a business partner? As an employee, you work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. But a partner works 20 hours a day! They have no problem with that. Sleepless nights? No problem. On their own, they figure out the best way to run the business and make a profit – they invest anything and everything. When you are God’s business partner for His world redemption work, all on your own, you figure out the best way possible, and you struggle hard to serve God’s work more effectively, pouring out many hours. Then God does not need to tell you to do this or that, do more. All on your own, you do more than what is expected. You serve God and pursue God wholeheartedly, pouring out all your time, energy, talent and life. People around you cannot understand what you are doing. That’s the meaning of being God’s business partner. Jesus says, I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (Jn 15:15) We must grow up in Jesus. God’s business, God’s plan, God’s kingdom. Jesus considers us His business partners for God’s redemption work. This is a great honor. Who are we? Nothing but dust and ashes. When we were on our own, we had messed up - not so great at allBut because we accepted his covenant, he considers us as His business partners. Let's live as his business partners!

 

Look at verses 18 and 19. Let's read these verses together:

 

v18Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.v19For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.

 

Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. This was God's vision, and God's purpose for Abraham. That's God's will, and by the will of God, it would be done. By the way, how was God going to fulfill this vision of God? That's what he shares in verse 19. God says, For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what He has promised him. God chose Abraham so that he would direct his children after him to keep the way of the Lord. Abraham directing his children to keep the way of the LORD was the whole purpose of God's calling for him. Then, his children would be those who knew and keep the way of the LORD by doing what was right and just. What kind of people? Those who do what is right and just, at work, at home, at school, and in the church, whether people watch them or not. At work, with or without any supervision, they do what is right and just; on the streets, they do what is right and just - no wickedness, no deceit, no malice is found in them - they are great people, very honest, sound and healthy in every aspect. When these people form a nation, it is a great and powerful nation all whose people do what is right and just. Then, they direct all the nations on the earth to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just; thus, all peoples on earth are taught the way of the LORD, and come to live such a wonderful life, doing what is right and just, overcoming their sinful nature. Thus, God's vision for Abraham be fulfilled. This verse reveals God's master plan for Abraham; this is God's master plan for all his covenant people. God chose Abraham to be a blessing so that all peoples on earth may be blessed through him. How would this vision of God be fulfilled? It would be fulfilled as Abraham direct his children to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. Basically, what does it mean to be a blessing? It means to be a Bible teacher. God called us to be the fathers and mothers of many nations. How does this vision of God be fulfilled in our life? As we go and direct others, college students to keep the way of the LORD - for this, he called us - to be Bible teachers for college students.

 

How would Abraham know the way of the LORD, God's way? By experiencing him and knowing Him - his person, his perspective, his purpose, his desire, his hope, and his style. That's what's going on as God and Abraham had wrestled together in regard to the son matter, financial matter, war matter, and fear matter,... In great victories and in great failures, Abraham experienced God. Through all these struggles together with God, Abraham came to know God very personally, and thereby, came to know what kind of Person God was, what He likes, what He dislikes, what He hopes, and how He deals with things. Thus, he could understand God's way, and direct others in the way of the Lord. As we struggle to do God's work, sometimes, we weep in deep pains and sorrows; sometimes, we leap for joy; sometimes, we taste terrible failures, and sometimes, we are victorious. But there is no real failure in God, because, through such struggles, we come to know God more and more, and thereby, we are growing up in Him. We are like just mighty warriors with so many battle scars in our back, on arms, and even in the face, well experienced in the spiritual world, and thereby, understanding it very well - no longer just naive weak Christians, but indeed, mighty warriors for God. We can direct many people in the way of the Lord, showing them what to do and what not to do, which to go and not to go, and how they must live their lives. As God established Abraham as a good Bible teacher to fulfill his grand vision for him, God is establishing us as good Bible teachers who know Him very well and thereby, direct others in the way of the Lord. Then, when we see God fulfilling his vision upon our life, we will shout for joy and render glory to God.

 

Also, when we think about this verse, we can see what it means to be a Bible teacher. God says, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Teaching the Bible to others does not mean that you just share your knowledge of the Bible with them; rather, it means that you help them see what God wants them to do and do it. People are sinful, worldly, and selfish. In nature, people don't have inclination to do what is right and just. So, we wrestle with them, sometimes challenging them, and sometimes, comforting them to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then, thanks to our labor of love, thanks to our patience, they begin to pay attention to what God wants them to do and grow in God; eventually, under our care, they become strong men and women of God whose hearts are fully dedicated to Him. That's what it means to direct people in the way of the Lord; that's what it means to be Bible teachers. Simply, it means to be shepherds for God's flock.

 

Fourth, For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it (20-33). Look at verses 20 and 21. Then the LORD said, The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know. The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. God shared His concern about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The outcry against them had reached God’s ears. What does this mean? When travelers visited these cities, they were molested and experienced terrible injustice; maybe, their sons or daughters were kidnappedThey were so angry and bitter, wanting revenge. But since all townspeople did the crime together, there was nothing they could. Out of frustration, they cried out, shouting, Ahhhhhh! That reached God’s ears. We must not do anything wicked against anyone, lest they cry against us. Also,we see that when sin reaches its limit, God’s judgment comes. God deals with people's sin. When wickedness is going on, entrust that matter in God’s hands, because God Himself is burdened about that. God is the God of love, but He is also the Judge of all – He must be fair. Through this event, Abraham learned God's justice.

 

But why did God come to earth in human form? That’s a little cumbersome. He could see everything better from heaven, in 4D! Why did He want to check it out? It seemed that God was not so delighted about destroying these cities, even though the outcry against them was so great. Maybe He was looking for a way to not destroy them – maybe He wanted to give them a chance. God does not delight in the destruction of wicked people. 

 

In verses 22 through 33, we see Abraham praying for the city of Sodom. Abraham asked God to save the righteous people in Sodom, and for the sake of the righteous people, even spare the whole city. He started with 50 righteous people, then 45, then 40, then 30, 20, and finally 10. Each time, God agreed. They exchanged their opinions, and together they drew a conclusion of how God should deal with the matter. Who was Abraham? He was just a human, nothing but dust and ashes. Yet, he suggested God how to deal with the judgment matter, and God accepted all his suggestions. Indeed, Abraham was God's council member - his business partner. What an amazing thing it is that God wants us to grow to be his council members so that He can discuss his business matters with us! 

 

The reason why Abraham was so persistent about sparing the city of Sodom was because his nephew Lot was living in that city. When some practical benefit was concerned, Lot freely left him, and Abraham was hurt. Yet, when Lot's life was at stake, he prayed wholeheartedly for his sake. In his prayer, Abraham never mentioned about Lot, but God knew why he was doing so. So, later, when God was going to destroy Sodom, because there were not 10 righteous people in it, still He rescued Lot, because of Abraham. When you pray for your loved ones, God remembers youHe might save them and give them a chance because of your prayer. 

 

God says, For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it. About 25 years ago, there was big commotion among Christians because some Christians prophesied that Los Angeles would be destroyed. It was widespread, and people were scared. Then, someone asked missionary Isaac Kim about it. At that time, he said, If there are 10 righteous people in Los Angeles, God will not destroy it. Then, sometime later, about a few years ago, again some people, even some famous preachers said that God would destroy Los Angeles, and they suggested that we must move to Arizona or Texas. At this, some Christians and even some pastors were alarmed that they moved to Texas, and, of course, nothing happened. There are always strange people, saying that they are prophets, or saying that they have seen something in their dreams; don't be deceived by them. Instead, struggle to be in the right relationship with God. When you do so, you have nothing to be afraid of, because, for your sake, God will spare the whole city of Los Angeles.

 

In his prayer, Abraham said, Though I am nothing but dust and ashes, in verse 27, May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak, in verse 30, Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, in verse 31, May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more, in verse 32. God considered Abraham so highly, honoring all his suggestions, yet Abraham did not take it for granted. Instead, in his prayer, he approached God very humbly and sincerely. God honored Abraham highly and Abraham honored God as his Creator.

 

Let’s grow up as such sincere, humble, and considerate people. Worldly education encourages us to show off so that our voice may be heard. But the Bible shows us how we must grow up. We must grow in God's image - humble, submissive, thoughtful, polite, and righteous - such great people

 

One Word: So That He Will Direct His Children To Keep The Way Of The LORD

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