Tuesday, October 14

By Faith - A First For Everything

Genesis 13-16

“Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.” Genesis 13:4

In our Bible Reading Schedule, we have been gleaning Genesis. Having placed my efforts in the study of Revelation, I am picking Genesis up from Chapter 13 onwards. At a later stage, I will cover the first twelve chapters in this wonderful book.

The Story of Abraham
Our preacher is a man who knows how to get a hold of God. Abraham was a man who knew how to get a hold of God; “…Abram called on the name of the LORD.” His desire was to reanimate his faith, and he applied these principles wherever the Lord led him. God’s people without prayer are men without breath! Abram did not leave his religion behind him in Egypt, as many do in their travels.

I have tried to analyze my willingness to leave my homeland in Australia, and go on my journeys to America. My peace-of-mind and submission to my husband’s leadership, is nothing short of a Red Sea miracle. If I had known all that I would go through; if I were given a glimpse of my trials at the very onset of our arrival and throughout our new life in America, I would never have willingly come. This does not equate to me being unhappy. I am unzipping my heart, and acknowledging how we as fallen women (and no thanks to Eve), are totally flesh driven, and unwilling to step outside our comfort zone, knowing that all the props in our “normal” life will be removed.
Standing exposed, and taking a huge leap of faith IS an extraordinary step in the average Christian’s life. And yet, being your average Australian lady, gives me every reason to pause and prepare myself for whatever lays before me. For God takes the ordinary and turns it into the extraordinary – doesn’t He? The knowledge of future events would seldom add to our comfort!

In the most favored families, and most happy lives, there are so many afflictions, that it is merciful in God to conceal what will take place in our own life, and that of our family.
Abraham removes himself from Egypt and now pilgrims to a Land of Promise. All the riches he had gotten in Egypt did not hinder him in following God’s will – Vs.1 “And Abram went up out of Egypt…”

Abraham was very rich – Vs.2 (compared with the pastoral tribes to which Abraham belonged). An Arab sheik is considered rich who has a hundred or two hundred tents, from sixty to a hundred camels, a thousand sheep and goats respectively. And Abram being very rich, must have far exceeded that amount of pastoral property. "Gold and silver" being rare among these peoples, his probably arose from the sale of his produce in Egypt.

And now he returns to Palestine, where he once again worshipped the Lord at Bethel; right where he had left God’s blessings by going to Egypt.

There are so many topics that could be used throughout these Chapters as a theoretical application however; I am focusing on the character of Abraham, and in turn, God’s wisdom for our lives;

1. Abraham was a godly leader in his home – 13:1 “And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.” Given that we are creatures of comfort and routine, and not forgetting what God says about “The Rich Man” in scripture; Abraham hearkened to the voice of God, packed up his family, all his possessions, and travelled to a land far away from his comfort zone. This alone, was a huge leap of faith!
2. He maintained his walk with God – 13:4 “Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.” Calling upon God was not on a first-time basis for Abraham. This was a place he was familiar with, and made it a priority in his life. Prayer is important to God!
3. He was wise, good, kind, and accommodating in his approach with difficult family members – Vs.8 “And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.” He cuts off the opportunity for contention; and therefore the evil ceases.
4. He was a peacemaker – 13:9 “…if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Abraham resigns his own right - to buy peace.
5. He lived a separated life from the world – Vs.12 “Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” Unlike Lot, who made his choice purely by flesh; visually, emotionally, with no regard to authority (his uncle), attracted to sin (pitched his tent toward Sodom) – Abraham removed himself from anything that represented the world, and dwelled in Canaan – right in the heart of God’s will.
6. God’s fingerprint was on Abraham’s life – Vs.14 “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:” A godly person grieves “lost family members to the world.” Abraham, after leaving Lot, must have experienced a heaviness of spirit. The closer we get to God, the greater the anguish we have for family members who have their hooks in the world. Saddened by the previous scene, God comforts Abraham.
7. Abraham was a great man of faith – Vs. 18 “Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.” Here we have a picture of God blessing Abraham for his obedience, and his faith. Men, who from regard to God, make sacrifices for peace, will be kept from many evils into which others will fall. They will receive much good themselves, and be instrumental in communicating much to others.
8. He was a man of sympathy, and prepared for battle – 14:14 “And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.” Abraham, far from rendering evil for evil, resolved to take immediate measures for the rescue of Lot. It is Abram, the separated man, who has power to help!

Chapter 14 records the first war in the Bible. Nine nations were involved in this war. The last great battle is found in Revelation 19:11-21.

It has been pointed out by the Society of International Law at London, that there have been only 268 years of peace during the past 4,000 years of human history, despite the signing of more than 8,000 separate peace treaties.

9. He has a forgiving spirit – 14:16 “And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.” Abram takes this opportunity to give a real proof of his being truly friendly to Lot. We ought to be ready to comfort and assist those in distress, especially relations and friends.
10. Abraham tithed – 14:20 “And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” This is the first record of tithing in Scripture. Abraham tithes; as a gratuity presented to Melchizedek, by way of return for his tokens of respect. Note: those that receive kindness should show kindness. Gratitude is one of nature's laws. We are to humbly acknowledged God as our King and Priest; not only to tithe of all our earnings and increase, but all we have, must be given up to Him.
11. He showed gratitude in his attitude – 14:24 “Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.” A good man will deny himself liberties, but never deny others of the good that he can bring. When must never show an attitude of self-seeking. We can trust the Possessor of Heaven and earth to provide for us.
Chapter 15 In this chapter we have a solemn treaty between God and Abram concerning a covenant that was to be established between them. In the former chapter we had Abram in the field with kings; here we find him in the mount with God. In this chapter we perceive in Abram faith struggling against, and triumphing over, unbelief. It’s no wonder that we as believers, meet with seasons of darkness and distress. But it is not the will of God that we should be cast down: fear not; for all that he was to Abram he will be to you!

Chapter 16 covers the Plan of Sarai, the Plight of Hagar, the Aid of an Angel, and the Birth of Ishmael. It’s hard to comprehend an 86-year old father. God gave Abram an express promise of a son, yet both fail by limiting God's power to the common order of nature, as though God could not give Sarai children in her old age.

When Abraham took Hagar to be his subordinate wife, it was a violation of the great law of marriage, and was followed by great domestic troubles. It was a wrong step--indicating a want of simple reliance on God--and Sarai was the first to reap the bitter fruits of her device.
Ishmael; a Hebrew name, meaning God will hear; it was given as a memento that God had heard and granted Hagar relief, and as an encouragement to her and others to call upon him.

As Chapter 16 ends, Abraham is at his lowest spiritual point. He has sinned and is out of fellowship with both his God and his family. Abraham suffered a 13-year period of God’s grieved silence. In spite of this, gracious God now forgives and restores him back into fellowship. The title “Almighty God” in the Hebrew is El Shaddai. The word Shadd refers to the bosom of the nursing mother. The word El means “the strong one.”
Personal Observation

In every relationship and situation in life, there is some cross for us to bear: much of the exercise of faith consists in patiently submitting, in waiting the Lord's time, and using only those means which He appoints for the removal of the cross. Fleshly wisdom puts us out of God's way. This would not be the case, if we would ask counsel of God by His word and by prayer, before we attempt anything doubtful.
It is the policy of Satan to tempt us by our nearest and dearest relations, or those friends that we have an opinion of and affection for. The temptation is most dangerous when it is sent by a hand that is least suspected: it is our wisdom therefore to consider, not so much who speaks, as what is spoken.

When God meets us with gracious promises, He expects that we should center our attention on Him with humble praises. In outward difficulties, it is very profitable for the true believer to mediate on the glorious inheritance which the Lord has for waiting for him.

The Lord tenderly sympathizes in our afflictions. His ears are always open to our cries when we completely call upon him, and He is ready to help us!
As Christians, we may believe in God with respect to the common concerns of this life; but the faith by which we are justified, always has respect to the person and work of Christ. Our trials, and the lessons learned throughout, remind us of the unmerited goodness of God, and tend to awaken new gratitude, and lead to increasing devotion to His restoring and renewing of us.

I Love You,

No comments: