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Sunday, October 27, 2019

posted Oct 27, 2019, 7:51 PM by Site Administrator

YOU WILL BE A BLESSING

 

Genesis 11:10-12:9

Key Verses 12:1,2

 

The LORD had said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

 

First, The genealogy from Shem to Abram (11:10-32).Genesis 11:10 is the beginning of the second half of the book of Genesis, which focuses on the patriarchs of faith – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It begins with the genealogy of Abram. Among the three sons of Noah, Abram belonged to Shem. His genealogy goes this way: Shem - Arphaxad - Shelah – Eber – Peleg – Reu – Serug – Nahor – Terah – Abram. Abram was born about 291 years after the flood, which occurred in 1656 and ended in 1657; from the creation, it was in the year 1948. As of that time, Noah was 892 years old, and he would live 58 years more. It is really shocking to notice that Abram was the contemporary of Noah! Actually, as of that time, most of his ancestors mentioned in today’s passage were still alive: Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, and NahorSo, if Abram invited his friend to his house, he would introduce his great ancestors to him, saying, This is my grandpa, Nahor; this is my great grandpa Serug, great great grandpa Reu, great great greatgrandpa Peleg, great great great great grandpa Eber, great greatgreat great great grandpa Shela, great great great great greatgreat grandpa Arphaxad,… The more shocking thing is that, many of them outlived Abram: After Abraham’s death, Shelah lived 3 years more, Shem 35 years more, and Eber 64 years more. In the previous passage, we learned that Eber was the representative of all Shem’s descendants; he was very fruitful and popular. So, as of the time of Abram, his family formed a huge community, and their town was called, the town of Eber, and all of them were called descendants of Eber, simply, Hebrews. Everyone knew it. That’s why in Genesis 14, the Bible simply describes Abram as the Hebrew. No explanation was necessary.

 

Abram was living in Ur of the Chaldeans, an ancient Babylonian city, located nearby the Persian Gulf in modern day Iraq. He was an idol worshiper, serving other gods; he was 75 years old, had no children because his wife Sarai was barren. It was a big problem. Since it was the new beginning, since there were not that many people, all people’s whole struggle was to produce many children; they married early, maybe, 18 or 20, and there was no birth control. Having more children meant to have more power and more labor. So, those who had many children were really powerful and even feared, but those who did not have many were despised and ignored. Then, what about Abram’s family who had no children at all? Abram was humiliated and despised. Maybe, family gathering was the most painful and humiliating moments for Abram. During Christmas season, all other families were full of joyful laughter, maybe, playing soccer within their family members, but Abram’s house remained so quiet. He was considered as a loser. Who could understand his agony? But in God’s eyes, this big problem of Abram was God’s chance to intervene into his life and guide him; then, everything would change. Actually, a lot of us came to experience God in the same way. In our lowliest time, when we reached the limit, when we could not go any longer, when the problem seemed so big, when we thought that we were complete losers, God came to us. Other people did not respond to God, but we responded. Then, everything changed. Light shone into our life, and we have seen the glory of God. Amazing things have occurred in our life and we are now really happy and thankful. When we think about this, we can see that we never know who is really blessed and who is not. We cannot judge anyone based on the present situation – job matter, marriage matter, family matter, or even sheep matter. The only thing is that the one who is with God is really blessed; he is a victor. 

 

The passage says that Terah at the age of 70, became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. If we assume that Terah had Abram at the age of 70, then, when Abram came to the promised land at the age of 75; it was in the year 2023 since the creation of the world. That year was 2055 B.C. So, there are 4078 years of B.C., and 2019 years of AD, total 6097 years. This is the age of the earth, the length of human history. This is the age of the sun, the moon and the stars. As we study the book of Genesis, we find that the history of the earth is not so vague or abstract as many people suggest. There was no Chromanone, or Neanderthal, or Homo Sapience – just humans; there is no aliens, nothing like million years’ evolution or billion years’ universe forming, or prehistory period. Why do people come up with such things? All these are nothing but atheists’ struggle to remove God’s name from human society. What Charles Darwin’s evolution theory which was published exactly 160 years ago did was to make human history as something unreachable – million years or billion years – no longer real to human world or to human life, so no one would think about trying to figure out their real origin or their real history. They come up with unreachable numbers; now they suggest that the universe is like that, coming up with unreachable, unrealistic numbers of years and miles – billions upon billion miles and years. The world is advocating such things continually, coming up with a lot of crazy looking scientific and mathematical formulas and expressions – usually, they are not real. So, don’t be intimidated; don’t be deceived. In the Bible, human history is very clear and straight-forward. There is no fantasy, no vague things. Simply, God created the world in 7 days, and in the year 1656 since God’s creation of the worldthere was the flood that destroyed everything, and after that, Noah’s descendants were scattered all over the earth, because God confused their language. 

 

SecondGod’s command - Leave and go (12:1).Genesis 12 talks about God calling one man, named Abram.With him, God was starting his redemption plan, which was about the woman’s offspring crushing Satan’s head, based on Genesis 3:15. Since Adam’s transgression, about 2,000 years passed, but God did not forget his promise. This is really amazing. You have God’s promises. Hold them absolutely, because God will keep them. When? I don’t knw. Maybe, in 5 years, or maybe, in 2,000 years. But somehow God will keep it if you hold it firmly. God’s calling came to Abram in two parts – command and his promises. It was like a contract, saying, Do this, and I will do that. Abram did not know God that well, but one day, God appeared to him, and offered him his deal, saying, If you do these, I will do these things for you. Simon Peter was living as a fisherman, then, one day, Jesus intervened into his life and called him, saying, Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. Jesus offered Simon his contract, his deal; Simon read the terms and conditions of this offer very carefully, and accepted it; he left everything and followed him. God’s calling comes to us as his covenant, with command and promises. When you sign on this covenant by doing what you are commanded to do, then, God is bound to the terms and conditions of his covenant; in this way, when you accept God's covenant by doing what He asks you to do, you enter into a binding, legal contract relationship with God - you become God's covenant person, and God becomes your God. God is in heaven and we are here on earth; God is the Almighty Creator and we are just mortal humans; He is holy and we are not holy; He is Spirit, invisible, but we have this physical body. The difference between God and us, the gap between God and us is as big as the difference between heaven and earth. But amazingly, God offers his covenant to us so that by doing our end of the deal, we may enter a binding contract relationship with Him. This is how God establishes his relationship with us. God’s calling is essential in our life of faith to have real relationship with him. Otherwise, Christian life is vague and conceptual; at best, it is moralistic or religious. Don’t you want to have this binding relationship with God? Then, do what God commands you to do – your end of the deal!

 

Look at verse 1. Let’s read this verse together:

 

1The LORD had said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

 

What is the content of this covenant, the terms and conditions of this contract between God and Abram? God’s command was, Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. Leave and go! People think that since God is almighty, he can do all things even if they don’t do anything. So they refuse to repent, saying, If God wants, he will make it occur, and they pursue what they want. But that’s from their own unrepentant heart, not from God’s point of view. Later, all these people come to blame God for their failures and miserable life. In God’s eyes, Abram should not stay in his country and in his father’s household to live as a man of God; if he wanted a new life in God, then, he must leave his country, his people and his father's household. The new life Abram would have in God was not the extension or improvement of his old life; rather, it would be really a new life, with new foundation and in a new environment. 

 

Abram had to leave three things - his country, his people and his father's household. His country was Ur of the Chaldeans, an idol worship country - archeologists excavated this city and found more than 3,000 idols. Everything in this country was well arranged for idol worship; if there was a holiday, it was for idol worship; if there was a festival, it was for idol worship; their culture, laws and environment were all well arranged for idol worship. What would happen to Abram if he stayed there continually? He would naturally live as an idol worshiper. Leave that kind of bad environment so that you can have a new life in Jesus Christ. Also, as he lived in his own country, he felt secure; his country was like a security for him. Now God asked him to leave this old security so that only God might be his security; once he left his old security, then, he would learn to rely on God.

 

His people were the ones Abram had known thus far; as he lived there, he had come to know so many people - his Elementary school friends, high school friends, colleagues, his neighbors and his coworkers or business partners - socially, they came to have developed the same kind of value system, lifestyle, and hopes and vision, so indeed, they were his people. He was identified together with them, and his life would be defined with them also. If he stayed there with them, then, he would live as a member of their society continually, sharing the same value system and lifestyles with them. Now, if he wanted to have a new life in God, he must leave his people. Let's say, a gangster wants to have a new life in God. What should he do? He must not hangout with them any longer; he must leave them. Let's say a raver wants to have a new life in Jesus Christ. What must he do? He must not go to ravers' parties; he must not hang out with ravers any longer; instead, he must cut off his relationship with all the ravers; he must leave them. He must leave his town and go to other towns; or he must leave his country and go to other country as a missionary. If you want to have a new life in God, then, leave your people.

 

God also commanded him to leave his father's household. Amazingly, God asked him to cut off his family ties. Once he left his family this time, most likely in those days, he would never see them again in his life. That's what God commanded him to do as one of the conditions of his covenant. According to the record in Acts 7, Abram received God's calling while he lived in Ur of the Chaldeans; at that time, God did not mention about leaving his father's household, but only the first two - his country and his people. So, after receiving God's calling, since it was a big matter, he ran to his father and they had a family gathering to discuss about God's calling. They accepted God's calling and all together left Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the promised land. But when they came to Haran, modern day Syria, they decided to settle there - maybe, they were tired of moving; or they were not sure if the promised land would be better than Haran. Anyway, they decided to settle in Haran, instead of going to the promised land. Since Abram was a member of his family, he had to honor his family's decision, especially, his father's decision. As a result, God's plan for Abram was delayedThen sometime later, maybe 5 years, or 10 years or maybe 30 years, when Abram became 75 years old, God appeared to him and called him again. That’s when God mentioned about leaving his father’s household. Why? Because as long as Abram lived as a member of his family, he had to honor the decisions the family made. When his father said they would settle there, he had to stay there. As a result, God’s plan for Abram was delayed. God didn’t like that idea, so He said, Leave your father’s household.

 

This is very important. When we live as members of our family, we want to serve God, but stuff keeps coming up. This Saturday is your cousin’s daughter’s birthday! You even don’t know that cousin. Endless duties and responsibilities. As you struggle to take care of those things, you become so entangled, and you come to compromise here and there. Moreover, as you do so, you are already tired; you also have used a lot of time for such things that you lack time for anything else. Then, on top of that, you struggle to do God’s work. At that time, God’s mission becomes burdensome. That’s really a bad cycle. God says, Leave your father’s household. God wants you to be available for God alone, not available for anyone else. Live as good soldiers of Christ Jesus, who are not entangled by civilian affairs, but who want to please the commander.

 

The other command was: Go to the land I will show you.Once Abram accepted God's covenant and left his country, his people, his father's household, it did not mean that he could go wherever he liked; it did not mean that he would serve God however way he chose. Rather, once he left his country, his people and his father's household by accepting God's covenant, there was a specific place God had designed for him - he must go to that place - that place would be God's promised land for him, where God would fulfill his purpose upon Abram; otherwise, the covenant relationship between God and Abram would not be established, because God would not be bound to the terms and conditions of the covenant. This is the nature of God's calling - very specific and concrete. Many Christians live as endless wanderers hopping from one church to the next; it's all because they have not responded to God's calling; in their Christian life, there is no direction and no mission. They do not know what to do as Christians, so they keep doing some good looking things here and there, without any direction or without any real commitment. But when we accept God's calling, finally, our Christian life becomes very concrete, practical and real. Then we can see what to do, where to go and how to serve God as Christians. No longer endless cycle of attending worship service once a week, no longer just a vague moralistic life, but we know God's will and God's mission for us, and finally, our life has a clear direction to go and a mission to serve as a matter of life and death. Then, we pour out our heart and strength in serving God's mission; then, we have a chance to live up to our true potential – great things can occur through us; at that time, people around us are shocked and notice that we have changed and that we are different. 

 

In giving him the command to go to the land, God did not tell him about what kind of land he was going to have, whether good or bad. Instead, God wanted Abram to leave and go, by trusting in God alone. God was like saying, Just trust in me, you will have a better life. The righteous will live by faith not by calculation. If God showed him some pictures of the land, Abram would compare investment cost and profit, and based on the conclusion of his calculation, he might choose either way. God did not let him do so, but only by faith in God, Abram had to decide. 

 

Right now, what he had to sacrifice was indeed great – his career, his secured and comfortable life, all his friends and human-networks he had established thus far, and his family ties-very practical, tangible and important; on the contrary, the uncertainty of his future as the result of obeying God’s command was indeed great-nothing was tangible, and he did not have that much information about the new place he would go to, maybe, only name of the place. In this way, God challenged him to make his decision only by faith in God alone, not based on his calculation or comparison. God did not explain to him that much about the land at all. If he trusted in God, he could do that, otherwise, he would not be able to do so. This is the true nature of our life of faith. The righteous will live by faith; and if we shrink, he will be pleased with us. But we are not those of who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Heb 10:38,39) 

 

Third, God’s promises of blessing (2-3). Look at verses 2 and 3. Let’s read these verses together:

 

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

 

Verses 2 and 3 are God’s promises that would be applicable for Abram if he accepted the deal. In these two verses, we see the words, bless, blessed, and blessing repeated five times. This shows the nature of God’s calling very well, that is, God called Abram to bless him. Let’s check out God’s promises one by one.

 

God said to Abram, I will make you into a great nation.Practically, this meant that God would give him many children. Abram was childless and having a son was his life dream. Now God promised him that, if he lived according to God's plan and purpose, God would give him many children. Wow! What an attractive offer it must have been to Abram! Probably, Abram did not need to hear the rest of God’s promises. God really knew him, and thereby, He used the right key that unlocked everything. This is how God entered into our life – He gave us the very word that touched our hearts the most – with it as the key, He unlocked all the locks of defense mechanism we had built in our hearts, and made us completely vulnerable. There, so touched, out of such great thanks and joy, we wept and wept with tears and snots. God knew us really!

 

God said, I will bless you. God saying this was really significant. God’s real desire has always been to bless mankind. That’s what He did in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, making the manin His image, in His likeness, assigning him as ruler over all things, giving him the garden of Eden as his gift, and establishing marriage. God’s desire was to pour out blessings on humans. But on the contrary to his desireas the Judge of all, He had to curse mankind continually, because of man’s sin. He had to curse Adam and Eve in chapter. 3, Cain in chapter 4, then He had to destroy all peoples on earth with a flood in chapter 7, and then He had to confuse their language and scatter them over the surface of the earth. He was the righteous judge; He had to. But that’s not what He wanted. It must have been really painful for God to do so. Now God says, I will bless you! If you do what I ask you to do, I will bless you! That was God’s desire. God was really going to do it, only if he did what God commanded him to do. 

 

What does this mean, I will bless youSimply, it means your life will go very well! Strangely, you perform well in your school and get good grades; strangely your job matter goes well that you come to have a wonderful career. A lot of favors are poured out on you and everything goes very well - school, job, marriage, family, sheep, money, etc. Your children will grow well and healthy, and they will be influential. Your life will go very well; you will enjoy a wonderful life! This is what God promises, if you do what God wants you to do, if you live according to God’s will and purpose. We can be really confident about this, because it is really what God desires from the beginning – this is what God wants to do for you – I will bless you. Just do what God wants you to do.  

 

God says, I will make your name great. We all want to be great. When we are great, then comes respect and honor; many people will love us. we want to be respected, honored, and loved. When people ignore us or despise us, we feel so angry!! Being great is what all humans want. But the question is, How can we be really great?” During high school, some people struggled hard to be great, doing many crazy things. How did they look? So weird! We don’t’ use the word, great for them, but instead, we use the word, silly, or idiot. Still, people struggle to be great in the world by getting degrees and certificates, by being successful, by occupying high positions and titles. But these things just decorate them; they do not make anyone great. How can we be really great? God says, will make your name great. When we just do what God wants us to do, He will make us great. When God makes us great, we are really great. So, our struggle is not to pursue greatness, but to do what God wants us to do. That is our struggle. Sometimes, in order to do what God wants us to do, we have to deny ourselves, sometimes, we have to surrender, sometimes, we have to submit; sometimes, we do what we don’t want to do only because of God – that’s how God’s people live their lives. Then it is God who makes us really great. When God sees we are ready, at the right time, God begins to exalt us highly, revealing us as His servants. Everyone can see that we are really servants of God, and people show real respect, honor, and love. Then, when they have new sons and daughters, they want to name them after us – first name, Sam, middle name Flores, and their own last name. If you live as God’s covenant person, God will make your name great.

 

God says, You will be a blessing. A blessing means a source of blessing. So wherever you go, people are blessed. At your work, people are blessed. In your home, in the church, at school – when others see you, they are so happy. Because of you, the environment changes. Because of you, conflicts cease. Broken relationships are mended. Wounds and scars are healed. They begin to smile and laugh, instead of fighting. Their life changes because of you. Isn’t that what we want? When we show up, their faces light up and they are so happy because of you. Being a blessing - this is all people’s real desire. We want to be a blessing. But on the contrary, so many people live as a source of trouble and headache. When they show up, people suffer and want to avoid them. When we lived as our own men or women, we were not a blessing, but now we have become a blessing because of God! Now this is what God wants to do with us continually. It’s good to live as God’s covenant person. 

 

God also says, All peoples on earth will be blessed through you. This was what God was planning when He called one manAbram. So, in God’s eyes, Abram was not just one person, but God was seeing all peoples on earth through him. God had indeed, great hope and vision for Abram. God called you and you live as God’s covenant person; God wants to do the work of blessing through you. The boundary or range of God’s blessing is not limited to your family or your friends or your school, but extends to the entire world. That’s what God wants to do with you. So, never settle with small things such as job, or family, even one school. Instead, accept God’s grand vision for you and pursue it. What a glorious person you will be if you live up to this vision of God! God can pour out His blessing on the whole world because of you. 

 

God says, I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse. This is the promise of alliance. It did not matter whether Abram was at fault or not. If anyone attacked Abram, God would consider that person His enemy and attack him. They might say, It’s Abram’s fault! God would say, I don’t care. If anyone showed favor on Abram, God would consider him His friend and show him blessing. If anyone liked Abram, God would like them. Do you like Abram? Yeah! Then God likes you! When we live as God’s covenant people, when we do what God wants us to do, we are not alone. God is with us. 

 

Fourth, So Abram left (4-9). Look at verse 4. Let’s read this verse together:

 

So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy five years old when he set out from Haran.

 

 

When God offered him his deal, Abram checked it out, and, it sounded pretty good! So he accepted it, packed everything, and left his country, his people and his father’s household. Then, Lot, his nephew Lot also checked out the deal and joined in. Sohe also became God’s covenant person. This is what has happened to many people. Sometimes our family members or friends saw how we were changed; they wanted to check outwhat’s going on; they came to church, or studied the Bible with us. Then, they liked the deal and joined in, growing up as great servants of God. Jesus says, Whoever comes to me, I will never drive away. (Jn 6:37) He accepts anyone who comes to Him. 

 

Look at verses5 and 6. From Haran, modern day Syria, Abram set out for the land of Canaan. He passed Galilee area, then, he came to Samaria area. And he found that the land was already occupied by the Canaanites. When Abram accepted the deal and left everything, he probably expected that things would go very well in the promised land, because he made such a huge decision to give up his comfortable life, his career, his friends, and even his family members. But when he came to the promised land, it was already occupied. He had to live as an alien. The idea of becoming God’s covenant person, becoming a blessing, being great was good, but the reality was very challenging. Now in the mission field, he had live in a studio apartment, having 2 minimum wage jobs, working 16 hours a day. It was challenging. But at that time, God appeared to him and said, To your offspring I will give this land. God confirmed that the land would be given to his descendants. God’s promised land for Abram was specified. How did Abram respond? Look at verse 7. Let’s read this verse together:

 

The LORD appeared to Abram and said, To your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

 

He was so happy and thankful that he built an altar to the LORD. But here, the following description, to the LORD, who had appeared to him, is very interesting. He built an altar to the Lord, not because God specified the promised land, but because God had appeared to him in the land. God had appeared to him and comforted him, when he was all alone, struggling in a foreign land. Abram was so touched because he saw that the Lord was with him. This is how God touched us also. When we are sad, when we feel lonely or depressed, when we had great difficulties, God appeared to us and comforted us, sometimes, through his words, sometimes, through some events, or sometimes through his servants. At that time, we saw God’s hands, and we were very touched; we were so happy and thankful, and we made a history of it by writing a deep testimony with tears and snots. 

 

Look at verses 8 and 9. Let’s read these verses together:

 

From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

 

He had been in the Samaria region, and then he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. This is still Samaria area! What was he doing there? Since God promised him that he would give him this land, he was checking it out. Then, how was it? It was so good! So, right there, he built another altar and there, he called on the name of the Lord, thanking God and praising God. He was full of spirit. Then, after that, he traveled down south, passed Jerusalem area, and then, went to the Negev, the south end of the land, the wilderness area. He was so thankful for God’s promise of the land that he wanted to explore the whole land completely. Indeed, he was full of spirit. Sometimes we’re like that; when God’s vision was so clear, when we were so happy and thankful, we dedicated ourselves to God’s mission completely – fishing all day long, 10 hours no problem! Abram was like that. 

 

When God wanted to save the whole world, he started his salvation plan by calling one senior citizen named Abram. God was seeing all peoples on earth through this one man – you will be a blessing; all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. This is the hope of God, the vision of God for each of us. In this hope, he calls us to enter the covenant relationship with Him. Let’s accept God’s calling and live as God’s covenant people, as a blessing for many.

 

One Word: You Will Be A Blessing!

 

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