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Abraham and Covenant

Abraham & Covenant

As Christians, we have an advantage over Abraham and the faith heroes of the Old Testament. What they looked forward to in hope, we can look back upon with awe and gratitude. However, even though we’ve received such precious promises, we can often forget that God has kept his word. We need to remember the precious promises of God. Even the ones we still wait and hope for.

Part two of our sermons on Abraham. Finding ways to see our invisible God is essential for a faithful life. 
 
“Seeing” is s major theme in Abraham’s life and in the Hebrew scriptures. Even in English seeing has multiple meanings that coincide with some of the nuances we see in Abraham’s life. 
 
For Reference: For more on this check out the Schocken Bible Volume 1 by Everett Fox – this unique translation aims to capture Hebrew idioms and rhythms that most English translations fail to illuminate. Also, his footnotes and scholarly work are very beneficial when reading the Torah.
 
Last week we looked at Abraham and saw that wherever he pitched his tent, he built an altar to worship on the way. We looked at 3 out of the 4 passages where Abraham built an altar. today we’ll zoom in on the fourth and final altar.
 
As Abraham moved about the Promised Land, tending sheep, dealing with life, and calling on the name of the Lord, Abraham received 7 promises, some were fulfilled while he was living, others took centuries to be realized. 
 
The Seven Promises to Abraham
 
When we read the Bible, we are reading a translation of Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek, depending on what section we’re reading from. Whenever you translate anything from one language to another, it’s easy to miss ideas, rhymes or alliteration, or wordplay that might be going on.
 
We’re not going to get into a full Hebrew lesson here but today we’re going to look at a theme in the Hebrew text that we can actually “see” pretty clearly even in English if we’re paying attention.
 
Like we talked about with books and movies, we’ll look at some of the same texts as last week but with new eyes.
 
“Seeing” is a major word, idea, and theme in Abraham’s life – and in our lives as well, if we’re trying to live lives of faith.
 
Seeing God
 
Scripture Blitz:
These These passages are rephrased to highlight the use of the same Hebrew word over and over:
  • Genesis 12:1 Land I will show you → Land I will let you see
  • Genesis 12:7 He built an altar to the Lord who appeared to him → the Lord who was seen
  • Genesis 13:14-15 Look around, all that you see
  • In the passage talking about covenant that mirrors the Suzerain-Vassal treaty
    • Genesis 15:5 Took him outside, gaze into the sky and count the stars
    • Genesis 15:17 The covenant is cut in the dark (pitch black) where nothing could be seen but the firepot
  • In Sarah and Hagar (next week), Hagar calls God the “God who sees me.”
  • Genesis 17:1, 18:1 The Lord appeared to Abraham → The Lord was seen by Abraham
  • Genesis 18:2 He looked up and saw three men
 
These are just some of the instances of seeing in the life of Abraham
 
If we were to revisit the altars of last week, we’d see that Abraham saw God everywhere he went. 
 
The focus of last week’s message was to worship God in a less compartmentalized way. His presence is with us always. Did you recognize God in your home, at work, at school, even on the road?
 
Did you remember that God is with you in your thoughtlife? And that you can dialogue with him in constant prayer?
 
Maybe if Abraham were asking these questions he would say, “Did you see God everywhere like I did?”
 
What an amazing opportunity we have again this week and every week to see God in all that we do, everywhere we go, and even in the thoughts that we think!
 
Seeing God Makes Us Righteous
 
Have you ever thought about what it takes to be righteous?
 
It’s tough. Actually it’s more than tough. The Bible says it’s impossible in the Old and New Testament we read, “No one is righteous, not one.” (Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, Romans 3:10-12).
 
If you’re a Christian, then I hope you are trying hard to be righteous – but even with great effort we fall short.
 
Look at what happens when Abraham sees God:
 
Genesis 15:1-6
 
Abraham sees God in a vision. He’s given an incredible promise but he’s still quite grouchy. He’s complaining that Eliezer of Damascus will take his inheritance because he still doesn’t have a son.
 
So God takes him outside and has him SEE the stars in the sky. He promises Abraham, who has not even one child, that his descendants will be like the stars in the sky. 
 
And here’s what happens next:
 
“Abraham believed the Lord, and he credited to him as righteousness.” 
 
We can’t be perfectly righteous in our actions. Not even Abraham was perfect. But, here we’re given an unlikely path to righteousness: When we see things God’s way, he credits it as righteousness.
 
This is still in our language today. What do we say when we come to agree with someone? “I see.” Or, “Now I see it your way.”
 
Abraham, standing under a billion stars, decided to see things God’s way even though it was nearly impossible.
 
He didn’t do anything. He just changed the way he saw his situation to agree with the way that God saw the situation. He and God started seeing eye to eye. (Of course, we’re the ones who always need to change the way we see things when we don’t see God eye to eye.)
 
Is there some righteousness that you are missing out on? 
Do you have a longstanding disagreement with God?
 
I’m sure it seems impossible. But God’s view is always the right view.
 
What if you just decided, maybe tonight, on a walk under the stars, to give up and see things God’s way?
 
In Galatians and Romans, Paul uses this passage to try and help his fellow Israelites see that they need to see Jesus God’s way – that he is indeed the savior that was to come and that faith in Jesus is the way to God, not adherence to the law.
 
The Lord Will Provide
 
Last week we looked at three of the four altars that Abraham built and we promised to reveal the fourth today. This final altar is the most challenging.
 
It’s the most challenging for us because it challenges us to truly and fully trust in the Lord.
It was the most challenging for Abraham because all of the promises that he believed before this final altar hung in the balance of his trust in God.
And, as we’ll see, this altar is even the most challenging for God.
 
Genesis 22:1-14
Explain the following as you read and dramatize
  • Moriah means “seeing” in Hebrew
  • “I will show you”
  • For this final altar Isaac himself, the son of the promise, is holding the wood – can you imagine?
  • “We will worship and then we will come back to you.” – Shows that Abraham is seeing more already maybe
  • And then hearing Isaac’s innocent question – this is heartbreaking – it’s shocking even to read it now
  • Abraham answers, “God himself will provide”
  • God does provide a substitutionary sacrifice
  • Abraham calls the place “The Lord will Provide” saying, “on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
 
This is cool: In English we have another way of saying someone will provide – we say they will “see it through.” This is actually reflected in the word provide or provision – pro-vision. Has the vision as the root.
 
This worship proclamation of Abraham could be translated:
Abraham called the name of that place, “‘God sees it through.’ As it is said today, ‘On God’s mountain, God sees it through.'”
 
God will see it through. 
He’s willing to enter into covenants with us that he can’t and won’t ever break. God will see it through. God will provide.
 
Seeing An Even Greater Provision
 
If we stay on this mountain but look beyond this amazing moment between a father and a son of the promise we can see even more clearly that God provides and never fails to see it through.
 
Show on screen:
“Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” – 2 Chronicles 3:1
 
This same mountain, where the Lord provided a new sacrifice to fulfill his promise to Abraham would become the site of the temple in Jerusalem where so many sacrifices would be made by Abraham’s descendants.
 
And it would also be the site of this:
Mountain with a crucifixion on top
The temple, the judgment seat of Pilate, Caiaphas’ house and the Sanhedrin, the praetorium, and Golgotha were all perched up and around this mountain.
 
And the son of the promise, God’s Son of the Promise, was nailed to an altar of wood on a mound of stone, during a festival that celebrates God passing over the firstborn sons of Israel that they may live.
 
But God’s firstborn was not spared. There was no ram in the thicket.
 
The only substitution was his perfect life sacrificed in place of OUR sin. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him.
 
God will see it through.