Abraham, the Father of Nations (Genesis 12:1-5)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on August 11, 2019
We will be turning to Genesis 12 in just a moment, but allow me to setup the passage
We are in a new sermon series on people of the Old Testament. Last week we talked about Cain, today we will talk about Abraham. Abraham is one of the more well known people of the Old Testament, isn’t he? Tell me something about Abraham…
Shout out from your seat something about Abraham.
In the passage we are going to look at we see Abraham was willing to take a risk. God called him and he followed. Some of us are afraid to take risks:
Eileen Guder writes this observation in her book God, But I’m Bored:
You can live on bland food so as to avoid an ulcer; drink no tea or coffee or other stimulants, in the name of health; go to bed early and stay away from night life; avoid all controversial subjects so as never to give offense; mind your own business and avoid involvement in other people’s problems; spend money only on necessities and save all you can. Yes, and you can break your neck in the bathtub, and it’ll serve you right.
Sometimes we must take risks, sometimes we must try different things, but this is especially true when God places a call on our lives. Abraham was called and he obeyed. Because he obeyed we are blessed to this day.
My theme today is: Abraham obeyed the Lord and became the father of nations.
Application: Trust in the Lord as Abraham did.
Let’s read Genesis 12:1-5:
Now the Lord said to Abram,
“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
2 And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3 And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
4 So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.
- The Lord talks with Abram.
- This passage is Genesis 12. You may or may not realize it, but we are only a couple thousand years into history in this passage. In Genesis chapters 1-3 we have the creation of Adam and Eve. Then Adam and Eve sinned.
- Beginning in Genesis 4 we have Cain and Abel, then we have all the descendants of Adam and Eve.
- In Genesis chapters 6-9 we have the flood narrative with Noah and his family.
- In Genesis chapter 10 we have the table of nations. All of Noah’s descendants spread out.
- In Genesis 11 we have the tower of Babel.
- At the end of Genesis 11 we are introduced to Abram.
- Abram’s father begins moving the family from Ur to the land of Canaan. They stopped in Haran. I am sure you all know exactly where that is. I will show you a map in a minute.
- This brings us to Genesis 12. The rest of Genesis and the rest of the Old Testament will be about Abraham and his descendants. His descendants become the people of Israel.
- So, right here, the Lord talks to Abram. Notice that he is Abram now, not Abraham.
- Later the Lord changes his name to Abraham. In Genesis 17:5 and 15-16 Abram and Sarai are both renamed. Abraham means “father of a multitude.” Sarah means “my princess.
- The Lord now calls Abram to leave his country, his relatives and his father’s house. It is unclear if his father is still alive or not.
- But it was a big deal in that day and age to leave your family. It still is, though not as drastic.
- I know a little bit about this because our family is four hours from us. My brother is now 12 hours from us. When Meagan and I were first married we lived close. Then we moved to Cincinnati. In Cincinnati we were an hour away. There were a number of times I would call my dad and talk about a plumbing issue and next thing I knew it, he was over at my house helping me with it. The further you get from home, the more difficult it is to get help. That is why I just call some of you now. I remember when we first moved to Alliance whenever we would travel home I would be comforted as we got closer to home knowing if we had a car problem there were people to call. Now, we know, and are close to, people up here as well and we are grateful.
- In that day and age it was huge to move away. Abram trusted the Lord. He left everyone he knew besides his nephew and his wife.
- We must trust the Lord like Abram did. Think about it, someone wrote the following:
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out . . . not knowing where he was going.
“Abraham, what are you doing?” asked a neighbor. “I’m packing.” “Packing?” “That’s right. We’re moving.” “Why? Why in the world would you want to leave Ur?” “God has made it clear that I should go.” “God, huh? You’ve been talking to Him again?” “Right. He told me to leave. I must go.” “Well, where are you going?” “I don’t know. He didn’t tell me that.” “Wait a minute. Let me get this straight. You know you oughta go, but you don’t know much beyond that, huh?” “That says it pretty well.” “Wow . . . that’s all I can say . . . wow. God sure gets blamed for a lot of stuff He doesn’t have anything to do with. You know, man, some of us have been a little bit worried about the way you’ve been acting lately. Up to now, it’s just been a little strange . . . but this, Abraham . . . this takes you off the end of the pier. It’s like everyone’s saying—you really are off the deep end!
- At this point I think a map will be helpful so I will put this on the screen and in the sermon notes. follow the link below for the blog
- Now, let’s look at the four parts of what God shared with him.
- The four distinct elements are—
- increase into a numerous people. Abram was now 75 years old and childless but he was told he would increase in number.
- The Lord told him he would be blessed, notice this is even though he is moving away.
- the exaltation of his name, i.e., the elevation of Abram to honour and glory;
- his appointment to be the possessor and dispenser of the blessing.Abram was not only to receiveblessing, but to bea blessing; not only to be blessed by God, but to become a blessing, or the medium of blessing, to others
- This, by the way, is amazing. This becomes known as the Abrahamic Covenant and is repeated in Genesis 15 and Genesis 17.
- Abraham will literally become the father of many nations as the Hebrew people multiply. But he is also the father of many nations because Jesus, our Savior is descended through him.
- All the nations of the earth are blessed through Jesus, the Messiah, a descendant of Abraham. We are blessed by Abraham. We are saved through Abraham’s seed.
- By the way, Genesis chapter 3-11 are all about troubles. They are all about curses. The curses begin with Adam and Eve sinning, then Cain kills Abel, then the wickedness that leads to the flood, then the tower of Babel, but now we have relief. Now, Abram is blessed and will be a blessing. This is awesome.
- So, in verse 3, God says those who bless him will be blessed and those who curse him will be cursed.
- We can get into more about that, but just a few thoughts. God has always watched over the Hebrew people. It seems to me that he still is watching over the Hebrew people. Even the prophetic books of the Bible reference promises to Israel still yet to be fulfilled which will be fulfilled in the future Millennial reign of Jesus.
- Abram obeys.
- If you look at verses 4-5 Abram obeys.
- But notice this covenant with Abram was not based on his obedience. This covenant was not based on circumcision or anything else. This is all about the great grace of God.
- Who will make Abram the father of many nations? God will do that.
- This is all about God.
- Abram obeyed. He left with his nephew Lot, also Sarai, his possessions and servants. He already had some possessions and he will become quite wealthy in the future.
- We must be responsive to the Lord as Abram was. He obeyed what the Lord had told him to do (Gen. 12:4).
- We must trust the Lord as Abram did. Abram left his family, his network, his community to trust the Lord.
- Sometimes the Lord’s will may not make sense, but we must trust him.
- We must trust him with our home.
- We must trust him with our money.
- We must trust him with our family.
- We must trust him with our children.
- We must recognize the Lord is sovereign and in control as we see in this passage. In verse 2 we see the Lord is the One Who blesses Abram, makes his name great and makes him a great nation. In verse 3 we see it is the Lord who blesses those who bless him and curses those who curse him. It is the Lord who blesses all the families of the earth through Abram.
- We must recognize the Lord gives blessings out of grace. As verse 1 shows, Abram did not do anything to earn this covenant.
- We must worship the Lord as we are all blessed through Abraham’s seed, Jesus.
So, are you trusting the Lord?
In 1986, a Christian worker named Steve Saint was traveling through the country of Mali when his car broke down. Stranded and alone, Steve tried to rent a truck, despite warnings that he wouldn’t survive in the Sahara Desert. After he failed to find a truck, in his fear and discouragement, Steve’s thoughts ran to his father, Nate Saint, a former missionary in Ecuador. When Steve was only five, natives speared to death his dad and four other missionaries. Now, thirty years later, Steve found himself questioning his father’s death. Steve reflected, “I couldn’t help but think the murders were capricious, an accident of bad timing.”
When Steve asked some locals directions to a church, a few children led him to a tiny mud- brick house with a poster on the wall showing wounded hands covering a cross. A man in flowing robes introduced himself as Nouh Af Infa Yatara. Nouh started sharing with Steve about his faith in Christ. After becoming a Christian, his family disowned him. His mother even put a sorcerer’s poison in Nouh’s food at a family feast. He ate the food but suffered no ill effects.
When Steve asked Nouh why he was willing to pay such a steep price for following Christ, he simply said, “I know God loves me and I’ll live with him forever.” But Steve pressed, “Where did your courage come from?” Nouh explained that when he was young, a missionary gave him books about Christians who had suffered for their faith. Then he added, “My favorite was about five young men who risked their lives to take God’s good news to people in the jungles of Ecuador. The book said they let themselves be speared to death, even though they had guns and could have killed their attackers!”
Utterly shocked, Steve said, “One of those men was my father.” Now Nouh felt stunned. “Your father?” he exclaimed. Then Nouh told Steve that God had used the death of those five brave missionaries to help him, a young Muslim who had become a Christian, hold on to his faith.
Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
Swindoll, Charles R.. Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives (Great Lives Series) . Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
Adapted from Randy Alcorn, If God Is Good (Multnomah, 2009), pp 400-401