Abraham: The First Missionary

Abraham: The First Missionary

Scripture: Galatians 3:6-8, Genesis 12:1-3, Hebrews 11:8-19
Date: 07/11/2015  Lesson: 2
"Though hardly perfect, Abraham was a man of God, and time and again in the Bible, even in the New Testament, he is used as an example of faithfulness and of what it means to be saved by faith."

Amazing Disciples by Amazing Facts

Amazing Disciples by Amazing Facts
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Good morning, friends, and welcome again to Sabbath School Study Hour. A very special welcome to those joining us across the country and around the world for our lesson study today and also a warm welcome to the members here of the Granite Bay church and those who are visiting. Thank you for joining us. Today we're going to be continuing with our new lesson dealing with biblical missionaries. Today we find ourselves on lesson #2.

If you don't have a lesson quarterly, you can download today's lesson by just simply going to the Amazing Facts website - just amazingfacts.org. You can download today's lesson - lesson #2 - and you can follow along with us. We have a free offer that we'd like to let our friends know. In order to receive this free offer, just give us a call on our resource line. It's a book entitled determining the will of God.

The number to call for our free offer is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #778. Again, the number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for the book determining the will of God. Well, before we begin our lesson this morning, I'd like to invite our singers to join me here on stage and we're going to begin by praising the Lord for his goodness. Thank you. Thank you Pastor Ross.

To begin singing, we are going to go in our hymnals to hymn #608 - faith is the victory - and as you've been studying your lesson this week, you know that it's about Abraham and he truly was a man of faith. It took a lot of faith to follow God and leave family, leave friends, and wander and follow God's leading as each one of us do. So let's sing together faith is the victory - we'll sing the first and the last verses. Encamped along the hills of light, ye Christians soldiers, rise, and press the battle ere the night shall veil the glowing skies. Against the foe in vales below let all our strength be hurled; faith is the victory, we know, that overcomes the world.

Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory! Oh, glorious victory, that overcomes the world. To him that overcomes the foe, white raiment shall be giv'n; before the angels he shall know his named confessed in heav'n. Then onward from the hills of light, our hearts with love aflame, we'll vanquish all the hosts of night, in Jesus' conqu'ring name. Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory! Oh, glorious victory, that overcomes the world. Our next song, you won't even be singing - you'll be enjoying - as I introduce a very special family to me - it's my sister-in-law and my three nieces: inarra, cianna, and taya, and they're going to be singing for us power to redeem.

You take what is and you make it beautiful when love floods in, we're resorted forever more. With breath that brings the dead to life, with words that pierce the dark with light only by the blood are we set free. With mercy strong to carry shame and nail it to a tree you alone hold the power to redeem. No guilt competes with innocence crucified. No grave can hold what your grace has justified.

With breath that brings the dead to life with words that pierce the dark with light only by the blood are we set free. With mercy strong to carry shame and nail it to a tree you alone hold the power to redeem. Rejoice oh child of God lift your eyes to see with every morning light again we are redeemed rejoice oh child of God lift your eyes to see with every morning light, again we are redeemed with breath that brings the dead to life, with words that pierce the dark with light only by the blood are we set free. With mercy strong to carry shame and nail it to a tree you alone hold the power to redeem. Oh you alone, hold the power to redeem oh you alone, hold the power to redeem morning everybody.

I want to especially welcome those who are part of our regular class here at the Granite Bay church and to the extended class that are watching via streaming right now or satellite television and we're thankful that you're tuning in as well. As Pastor Ross mentioned, there is a free book that we're offering called determining the will of God and if you contact the number -788-3966, we'll send this to you. You can also download it at the Amazing Facts website, which is just amazingfacts.org. Going through our brand-new quarterly dealing with the subject of biblical missionaries. You know, sometimes we sit around, in Christian organizations, and we strategize and try to determine what is our vision.

And we get together vision statements, mission statements, and I always struggle a little with that because I figure, if you're a Christian organization, we sort of have a mission statement give to us by Jesus and that mission statement is "all authority is given to me in heaven and earth; go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing in the name of The Father and The Son and the Holy Spirit. And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world." That's a pretty good mission statement. Go into all the world - teach - teaching them to observe all things, whatever I have commanded you. And so we're all called to do mission work or be missionaries in some spot. And so we're going to delve into lesson #2 on the subject of Abraham and we - it's Abraham, the first missionary - and, as we always do, we like to say the mission - memory verse, I should say - memory verse together.

And this is from Galatians. You'd think when we do a memory verse on Abraham, we'd be going to the old testament; we're going to the new testament. Galatians chapter 3, verses 6 through 8. I'm going to be doing it from the new king James version - Galatians 3:6 - you want to say it with me? You ready? "Just as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles by faith, preached the Gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, 'in you all the nations shall be blessed.'" This is just one of those verses in the Bible that's, as they say, pregnant with meaning. So it's volcanic in potential. First of all, it tells us that only The Sons of faith are the ones who are accounted to be righteous. It's like Paul says, in Galatians 3, "if you are Christ's then you are Abraham's seed and heirs." It's not just physical jews that are children of Abraham. That means, everybody here that has the faith of Abraham can be Abraham's spiritual seed.

And then, in addition to that, it's telling us that the Gospel was preached to them. We always think of the Gospel as a new testament phenomenon. Here it's saying that the Gospel was an old testament dynamic. Now Abraham, first of all, his name starts out in the Bible - we don't hear of Abraham, that's his second name. What's his first name? Abram.

And abram means: ab - abba, in the Bible, means father. You know how Paul says, 'abba' - it means 'papa' or 'father'. Abram is talking about 'father is exalted' - Abraham is a little twist on that and it means something very different: 'father of a multitude.' It's interesting that God changes Abraham's name from abram to Abraham before he has any children. And I can just see him explaining to people, 'I've changed my name. I went down to the courthouse and I had my name changed.

God told me to change it.' 'What did you change it from? You changed it from 'father is exalted' to?' 'Abraham - father of a multitude.' 'Father of a multitude, wow, wonderful, how many children do you have?' 'I don't have any.' 'How old are you?' 'Seventy-five.' 'Optimistic.' So Abraham still is talking about 'father' but the end of it is very different: father of a multitude. And the three major religions of the earth - you've got judaism, Christianity - both branches - protestant and catholicism - and islam all claim to trace their roots back to Abraham and so, he is a very important character to study. So he is called a Hebrew. Now everyone says, 'well, Abraham, you know, as The Father of the jews, he was obviously a jew.' No, he wasn't. A lot of other races came out of Abraham before jews were defined.

It's not until you get down to The Sons of Jacob or Israel - you have the tribe of judah and those who survived the Babylonian captivity were principally thought of as 'the jews' from the tribe of judah and that's where we get that word. Abraham was a Hebrew. Now, the word 'Hebrew' as near as we can tell, it's derived from the word 'eber' which, you notice in Genesis 10:21, is one of the ancestors of Abraham. He was from the people of eber - a Hebrew - and they - the word 'Hebrew' is talking about one who crossed over and it's, presumably, those who had crossed over the Euphrates because the first settlement was all there not far from the tower of babel in mesopotamia. But Abraham, believing God had called him - he, with his father, terah, and much of his family, they crossed over and they were called 'Hebrews' so that was kind of an encompassing term.

Technically, it's not used that way, but all of the descendents of Abraham could be called Hebrews. Now it's interesting that when you get to Genesis chapter 11 - I want you to notice - Abraham is famous as a missionary because he came out from a people that were worshiping idols there in mesopotamia - they had - after the tower of babel, languages were confounded, but people were still pretty much situated to the cradle of civilization there, but they had given themselves over to idolatry. Indeed, the tower of babel was a big shrine to sun worship and that's why Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt that sun - that tower - that temple - to marduke. And so he was being called out from the idolatry. It happened in two stages.

Abraham did not just get a direct flight from ur of the chaldees to Israel. He had a stop over, as you would say. It happened in two stages. Look, for instance, in Genesis 11 - Genesis 11:31 and 32 - and it says, "and terah took his son abram and his grandson lot, the son of haran, and his daughter-in-law sarai, his son abram's wife, and they went out with them from ur of the chaldeans to go to the land of canaan;" - they're going to the land of canaan but they don't get all the way there - "and they came to haran and dwelt there." - Now I've asked sherle if she could put a slide up on our screen. Now you'll see down in the lower right you've got ur.

That yellow line goes all the way up over 600 miles to haran. That's a long journey and, you know, you travel with a big gaggle of a family as they had back then - you've got your men, your women, your children, your camels, your donkeys, your goats, your sheep, your shepherds, your household, your servants - how far do you think you could get in a day with a crew like that? Any of you ever go out to lunch by yourself and you say, 'I can have lunch in 20 minutes'? Then you go to lunch with one other friend and how long is it? Forty minutes. Then you have an office lunch where you take like six people - hour and a half. The price goes up exponentially too when you do that. You ever - you go on a - any kind of excursion with a group and it's like herding squirrels after a while, right? Just trying to get everybody to go - and so you can, you know, average ten - fifteen miles a day and it took months to make that journey.

So they get to haran and they get comfortable. They settle down there. They may have stopped because it was a seasonal time for them to stop. It's like the lewis and clark expedition: when they were going cross country, they actually had to stop and they had to camp with the mandan indians just to survive the winter. If it wasn't for them, they wouldn't have made it.

They just - you have to stop for months because they'll - it was a big freeze out. Then you wait for the thaw then you continue your journey. And so, weather may have been part of the reason. So they did the first part of the trip. Now go - well, let me finish reading that.

And it says - so they went "to haran and dwelt there. So the days of terah were two hundred and five years, and terah died in haran." Now the place, heron, was named after The Son of terah because he, The Son of terah, died there - or died before that and they named the city after him. Terah lived how long? Two hundred and five years. He lived longer than Abraham, didn't he? Abraham lived 175 years. Terah probably lived during the time of job.

You know, job is really the oldest book in the Bible, but when you look at the language and you look at the length of the years of the people of job, you notice how, from the tower of babel, the people who lived before the flood, they lived 900 years and The Sons of Noah maybe 600 years. Then the ages went down every few generations until we got to our three score and ten - maybe a little more - but then you have - there was a period of time when two hundred was the average, and that's when job lived. So job was probably a contemporary of terah, The Father of Abraham. But now go to Genesis chapter 12 - you've just finished out Genesis 11 - "now the Lord had said to abram:" - so he's saying, 'you're not done going where I told you to go. You've only gone part way.

I don't want you to come partway out of Babylon; I want you to go all the way out of Babylon.' Even though they had gone 600 miles, they are still in mesopotamia. They have not come out of the place where there's still idolatry. - "Now the Lord said to abram:" - Genesis 12:1 -"'get out of your country, from your family and from your Father's house,'" - why did he say out from your family? Did some of the relatives of Abraham stay in haran? When Jacob goes back to find a wife, where does he go? He doesn't go to ur, he goes back to mesopotamia, but now he only has to go to haran to find a girl that still believes in the true God. And so some of the family was left behind. See what I'm saying? "'Get out.

..from your family and from your Father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and...i will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'" - That's just another one of those great verses. This is the Abrahamic covenant that is made in the Bible that should be carefully noted and Marked in your Bible. We're going to go to about five points that are made in this promise in just a moment, but somebody look up for me - who's got Hebrews 11:8? Let me see. Someone down front, okay, we'll have you read that in just a moment.

I want you to notice that - when was the last time that God spoke to man prior to Genesis 12:1? It's - 422 years have gone by since God spoke to Noah. Do you notice that, as you read through the ages and stages of the Bible, there are periods of apparent silence? You know, people in Abraham's day could have said, 'way back in Noah's day, God spoke and we heard miracles and there were prophets, but I guess that was all rumors and fables. It didn't really exist. God - haven't heard anything in a long time. God is dead.

' You know how many times in history it looked like that happened? You get down to the time of gideon and gideon says to the angel, 'what happened to all the miracles we used to hear about? Hundreds of years have gone by. No voice from God. No miracles.' But God was getting ready to do great miracles. And then there was another great dry spell. So during times of great deliverance, it seems like there's miracles.

So 400 years had gone by. Now God speaks and he ends up speaking to Abraham very directly, as you read the various accounts. Now he still has 422 miles to go from haran - you can still see the map up there - down to the land of canaan, where he stayed in various places. Alright, I want you to look up in psalm 27:10 - this is a call of Abraham we're studying now and it says, "when my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." He had to say goodbye to his family. We knew his father had died at that point.

We don't know about his mother. You know, that's difficult to do, to walk away from your homeland. I don't know why people get so attached to some places that they call home. How many of you would agree with me that there are some places in the world you would never want to live and that you don't know why anyone would want to live there. I've got to be careful not to say too much because I'll offend somebody, but I have been some places - well, just going across Nevada you'll find a town - I mean, now they've got all the modern conveniences - you'll find a town out in the middle of nowhere and you ask the locals, 'where have you been?' 'I've been here all my life and we've been here for generations.

' 'Why?' 'That's because' - he said - 'it's where - it's home for us. We're used to it. We like it. It's enchanting. It grows on you.

' And you think, 'what in the world made them start a town there?' Someone's wagon train broke down and they just got comfortable and the family grew up there and it became home. It grew on them. And even after they traveled, that's where they came back to because it was home. And then, you know, people get settled in places - they get used to it - they get the family there. They're accustomed to the environment and it - and they become very defensive and patriotic about this spot out in the desert.

I used to tease my navajo indian friends when I'd go visit them out on the reservation and they'd have a hogan - no spring, no rocks, no trees - just out in the middle of somewhere - and they'd - that would be their home. And generations of them lived there and I'd ask them, 'how in the world did you pick this spot?' They used to tease and they said, 'well, one of our ancestors shot an arrow and a raven caught the arrow and the raven flew and then he dropped the arrow and we took it as a sign that's where we should build.' And that was the only reason they could come up with because they knew there was no other good reason to be there. So - but people get attached to spots and it's hard to move. It was hard for the children of Israel to come out of Babylon after being there for 70 years. You get family.

You get roots down at 70 years. You're all ready for that - for her to read that verse. Go ahead. Tell you what. Let's read Hebrews 11, verse 8 and then I'll talk about that.

Are we ready? "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance, and he went out not knowing where he was going." You ever gotten an invitation to go somewhere and you don't know where you're going? Can you just hear the conversation between Abraham and Sarah? 'Dear, I want you to start packing.' 'Why?' 'We're going to go on a trip.' 'Where?' 'I don't know.' 'What's the temperature?' 'Don't know.' 'How long are we going to be there?' 'Better pack everything.' 'Can't fit everything on the donkey.' 'Need to have a garage sale or give it away.' I heard Karen - we're talking about moving into another house now that we've settled here in this church and we're - you know, you collect a lot of stuff after twenty years and, boy, we're wondering - and we're trying to downsize in our house. That just compounds the problem. So I can imagine there were some very interesting conversations. He went out by faith not knowing where he was going. That takes a lot of faith.

You know, something you're going to notice in the Bible - there's a pattern. Abraham brought his wife - what does a woman represent in Bible analogies? You've heard me say that - or ask that - a thousand times in church. He brings her out of mesopotamia - out of Babylon - to the promised land. Then Abraham has a son - he has several sons, but the main son of promise is Isaac. The unique thing about Isaac - all the other boys of Abraham - and he had many others besides ishmael, you know? After Sarah died he married keturah and he had a lot more wives, so it wasn't just hagar.

But the only son of Abraham that was The Son of promise was Isaac and God tells Abraham, 'you're not to have a wife come from the locals, but you must have a wife that you bring - that worships the true God - bring her from Babylon to the promised land. And that was - Isaac goes and gets Rebekah - or actually, the servant of eliezer - servant of Abraham named eliezer - he brings Rebekah. And then you've got Jacob. Well, Isaac had esau also, but esau married the local girls. But they told Jacob, 'you're the child of promise.

You go back and you bring your wife out of Babylon. That was supposed to just be rachel - it ended up with four wives, but brought them from Babylon to the promised land. You notice the repeat? They're bringing - and then, the children of Israel are carried off to where? To Babylon and God calls them, seventy years later, out of Babylon - his bride - back to the promised land. And then you read in Revelation - and what's the second angel's message? Babylon is fallen - and you can read in Revelation 18 "fallen, fallen. Come out of her my people.

" God is calling, in the last days, his people out of Babylon. God called Abraham out because they were worshiping - Abraham's own people began to worship false Gods. Idolatry had come in. False worship had come in. Calling back to the promised land - and so, are God's people - is this relevant today? Are we being called back to the promised land? And so, God wanted Abraham to be a missionary along the way, as he was coming out.

And it's difficult to say goodbye to family. Luke 14:26, Jesus said, "if any man comes to me and does not hate" - and the word 'hate' there means 'love less supremely' - "his father and his mother, his wife and his children, his brother and his sisters, yes, his own life, he cannot be my disciple." What God asked Abraham to do, Jesus asked the disciples to do. He said, 'I'm asking you to forsake everything and follow me.' And Abraham was asked, basically, to walk away from everybody he knew and follow where he knew God was bringing him. Now - well, I'll get to that in a minute. Let's look at that promise.

I've got a lot to cover here. I just want to look at the promise that's made one more time in Genesis 12. He - notice five points - he said, 'I'll make of you a great nation.' That's quite a promise. Abraham had no children. He said, 'I'll bless you and make your name great.

' By deserting his country he's going in a place where he has no reputation or no name, so God was going to have to give him a name among the gentiles. 'I will bless those who bless you and curse him who curses you.' He would become the criteria to everyone else being blessed or cursed. Why did God say that? 'Thou shalt be a blessing.' Just the very presence - as Joseph was a blessing to potiphar, Abraham would be a blessing to all with whom he came in contact - 'and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed' - not just the ones locally, but every other family in the world would be blessed through Abraham. Why? He's saying the Messiah would come through your seed and it's through Christ everybody else is blessed. So that's quite a covenant that God is making.

One more thing I want to read to you here. Well, I've got a couple more things. Joshua 24 - talking about what Abraham came out of - Joshua 24, verses 2 and 3 - "and Joshua said unto all the people, 'thus says the Lord.'" - This is at the end of Joshua's life - "'the Lord God of Israel, your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood.'" - What flood is he talking about? You still see the map on the screen? You notice the yellow line? That yellow line is pretty much following the Euphrates river and that river, when there was a lot of rain up in the mountains of ararat and - up there in the north mountains, there could be massive floods. They called that river 'the flood' and it would flood the deltas and it would flood the plains and so when Joshua says 'on the other side of the flood' it's not talking about the other side of the time of Noah, that flood, it's talking about the other side of the Euphrates. He said, 'your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood.

In old time, even terah, father of abram and The Father of nachor, and they served other Gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood' - it even says terah - they'd gotten involved in idolatry. You remember why rachel got in trouble? She hid her father's Gods. Any of you remember that? Even laban had gotten involved. They were not untainted from idolatry.

'And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood and I led him throughout all the land of canaan, multiplied his seed and gave him Isaac.' That was over a thousand-mile journey. Who's going to read for me in a moment Revelation 18:4? Yeah, we'll get to you just from - in just a moment. I want to look at - here's a quote from Patriarchs and Prophets p. 125 - It says, speaking of the area that Abraham came out of, "idolatry invited him on every side, but in vain. Faithful among the faithless, uncorrupted by the prevailing apostasy, he steadfastly adhered to the worship of the one true God.

" Can we be surrounded by compromise and idolatry on every side and still be true? That's the only way to be a missionary. When missionaries go to dark countries - when I say 'dark countries' I mean places that don't have light of the Gospel - and they're sharing the Gospel, they need to know how to stand for what they believe when they're surrounded by compromising influences or you can't be a missionary. You've got to have your faith - your world view - it all needs to be locked in and settled and God is giving this same message today, 'Babylon is fallen. Come out of her my people.' That doesn't mean that you get on a boat somewhere, it means we need to come out and be separate in the way that we live. Go ahead and read that for us - Revelation 18:4.

"And I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that you receive not of her plagues.'" So in the same way Abraham came out of Babylon and God blessed him, do God's people in the last days need to know how to have enough faith to get out of Babylon? And if you don't, what happens? Plagues - not good. Look in 2 Corinthians 6:17, "'wherefore, come out from among them and be ye separate,' says the Lord, 'and touch not the unclean thing.'" Now when Paul says 'come out from among them and be separate' was he asking Christians to go live on top of a pillar like Simon the stylite or to go off in a cave and live by themselves? No, he told Elijah to get out of the cave and get back into the country. So when it says 'come out and be separate' - 'come out of her my people' - what does that mean? It means come out from the worldliness and be holy. So you can come out and be separate while you're still surrounded with the same kind of people. It means you're coming out in your lifestyle and being separate and not touching the unclean thing - "'and I will be a father unto you and you will be my sons and daughters' says the Lord almighty.

" Hebrews 11:14, "for those who say such things, they declare plainly that they seek a homeland." - And, truly, if they called to mind a country from which they came out, they would have had opportunity to return - "but now they desire a better country that is a heavenly country. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God because he has prepared for them a city." And so it's talking about the city of faith. Now, one other thing that I want you to know about the call of Abraham: if someone's going to go do mission work, do you want to know that God has called you to do it? You've probably heard stories about missionaries that take trips and then they get to the mission field and start to doubt that God ever called them. They just thought it would be exotic and thought it would be fun and heard a good mission story when they were kids and then they think, 'what in the world am I doing here?' There are probably some people that have gone on mission projects or calls that were not called. I have repeated often a story I heard - I've heard a couple renditions of it, but I think there's some truth to it - that someone was traveling and they - by chance, they were on their way to do mission work in some foreign country and they're on an airplane and lo and behold they're sitting down - airplane or train, I've heard it both ways - next to billy graham and as they're talking he says, 'where're you going?' He said, 'I'm going' - and they named this, you know, off to some remote spot in australia to do some mission work among the aborigines or wherever it was and he said, 'that's wonderful' - he said - 'so how has your mission work gone at home? How many people did you bring to the Lord in your local church and in your family?' 'Oh, I haven't brought anyone to the Lord locally yet.

' He said, 'why do you think it's going to be easier in a foreign mission field where you're surrounded by strange customs, strange language, people that you don't understand the culture and why - if you can't be - if you can't do these things in a green tree, why are you going to do them in the dry?' And so you want to know that you're called to do mission work and one way is see - can you be successful locally? If you can't be faithful to your convictions and live a separate life where you are, then why is it going to be true when you go to a mission field? So you want to know that God has called you. You know what it says? Acts 7:2, "the Lord God of glory appeared to our father Abraham. So when Abraham spoke - when God spoke to Abraham did he just hear a voice, or did stephen say, in acts, 'God appeared to him'? "the Lord God of our father appeared to him when he was in mesopotamia before he dwelt in heron and said, 'get out of your country and from your relatives and come to a land I'll show you.'" So the first part of the call Abraham gets and terah goes with him. They go to heron, God gives him the second part of the call and he goes the rest of the way. Alright, back now to section 2 out of 5 - so we've got to hasten along here - Abraham's testimony to the Kings: now this story comes to us from Genesis - let me tell it to you just real quick.

Well, let me read it - I'll read to you - Genesis 14:21, "now the king of sodom said to Abraham, 'give me the persons and take the goods for yourself.' But Abraham said to the King of sodom, 'I've raised my hand to the Lord God most high, possessor of heaven and earth, I'll take nothing from a thread to a sandal strap and I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say 'I have made Abraham rich.'" Here's the context for this interesting story: Abraham grew very great when he was living there. He was already - had flocks and herds and servants when he left, but we know that by the time this story happens in Genesis , Abraham's got at least 300 people that are trained for war in his household. So he's got a small army of 300 which, by the way, is not bad because that's all gideon had, right? So I think he had a little more - what was it, men? So he's got this small army. He's got - he's surrounded by these other small kingdoms. These are clan leaders that had soldiers but many were much bigger than he - they may have had thousands in their army - many thousands - and the five Kings of the north led by chedorlaomer.

There's five confederate Kings - they said, 'you know, we're powerful enough, if we work together we - sodom and gomorrah and those cities of the plain, they are very wealthy - we can conquer them and take everything they have. So let's go down and let's attack them and we'll have this larger empire.' So they go down to the Jordan valley and, you know, before the fire and brimstone rained down on sodom and gomorrah - remember, God said, 'in the days of lot it was like the garden of God. It was very fertile, very beautiful, very rich, very lush, very wealthy - a lot of commerce - the Jordan valley - and they wanted the riches. So they go to the Jordan valley - these five Kings from the north - they conquer the four Kings of the valley - sodom and gomorrah - and they bring them - they bring them up captive - they're heading towards the north. One survivor from the battle comes and tells Abraham.

Abraham - his one main concern is he wants to rescue his nephew lot and his family, who have now moved in with him - they're making that mistake - and so he goes and he gets a confederacy of two other friends, mamre and eshcol and there were other sheiks that lived in the land and their households and he says, 'will you go with me to fight against the Kings of damascus and bring back our family?' And they come together - so there's like twelve Kings involved - you do the math - figure Abraham's a sheik - he's a king - eshcol, mamre, five from the north, four from the south. So you've got at least a dozen Kings involved in this. Abraham becomes the leader of them all and he wins the battle. He takes the initiative and he fights to rescue these other Kings. I mean, it almost - it almost sounds strange, but do you realize before sodom and gomorrah were judged and destroyed, sodom and gomorrah were saved? You ever thought about that? And Jude actually references that thought.

He says the angels that were once saved kept not their first estate and they were later lost. The people of sodom and gomorrah who were saved by Abraham, because they turned back to their wickedness, that judgment should have woken them up and said, 'oh look, we almost got destroyed. We prayed and repented and God saved us and now we've turned right back to our wickedness again.' And so he saved them. But this became a testimony to the other nations. And then, when they said, 'look, we'll pay you.

' He said, 'no, all I'm asking is that you feed the soldiers what they've eaten. He had the right to all the bounty of the war. He could have been fabulously rich, because not only would Abraham have owned everything that sodom and gomorrah had captured. He would have owned everything they captured from the northern five Kings, he could have had all this wealth and he said, 'no, I'm not going to need any of it.' Wow, that's a lot of self-control. He says, 'I don't want you to say you made Abraham rich.

If I'm rich, God'll make me rich and I don't want you to think it's because of war I became rich. I want you to know it's because of the blessing of God I became rich.' And so it became a testimony to his generosity. He became a testimony to the Kings of the north. You know, many of them survived - they fled - they said, 'God is with Abraham.' And so God gave him, through this trial, an opportunity. Now it says here - go to the next section under an exemplar of faith - someone's going to read for me Hebrews 11, verses 9 and 10 - okay, in just a moment.

I want to read Hebrews 15:5 - I'm sorry, Genesis 15:5 - God says to Abraham - he brought him outside and he says, "look now towards the heaven and count the stars if you're able to number them." Let me just ask you why you think about this verse. Did Abraham live longer than we live? Did people live longer back then? Was the atmosphere clearer back then? Did they have as much pollution as we have? Do you think their eyes might have been even a little sharper? You know, not too far from here is - living in grass valley - is an American legend named rick - no, no, chuck yeager - I almost said rick yeager - he's a member. Chuck yeager - how many of you have heard of chuck yeager? Pilot, test pilot - you know, he's still alive - 95 - still flies. I'd like to fly with him. Of course, that could be a little nerve wracking - 95 - but he still flies.

A friend of mine just checked him out. He used to have 20/10 vision in both eyes. He could see - they said his sight was incredible at spotting other aircraft. He'd just look around just like, you know, like a gnat. Karen and I are flying along and I'll say, 'you see that plane?' - Or I was with nathan last week - 'you see that plane there?' 'I can't see it.

' We all wear glasses so - but Abraham had much clearer vision, I think, than we have. That's just my theory. I can't prove it. You can't disprove it. I believe the sky was clear.

So when he says, 'Abraham, go outside and look up.' You know, you ever been in the mountains and you see a clear sky? When you're out in the country and not polluted by city lights and it looks like the sky is just splashed with cream from the milky way you just see it just speckled everywhere with stars and he sees these stars. He didn't just see the big stars we see in the city, he saw the billions of stars and God - 'see all that?' - He said, 'you're seed is going to be more than that. If you're able to number them, so shall your descendents be.' And he believed the Lord. He wasn't picking a specific number because later God says, 'consider it will be like the sand of the seashore.' So you think God was being specific or was he generalizing, with a poetic image, that it will be numberless, is all he was saying. And then notice it says here in verse 6, "he believed the Lord and he (God) accounted it to him for righteousness.

" He was credited with righteousness because he believed. That's better known as righteousness by faith. That comes up a lot throughout the Bible, but you find it with Abraham. He was given credit for righteousness because he believed God. And if you believe the Gospel - that God is going to forgive your sins - and that God is going to create a miracle within you of new life, that his son will be in you - see Abraham, when God said 'the Messiah's in your seed' God was saying to Abraham, 'the Messiah is in you.

' And when you're saved, he's saying the Messiah comes alive in you. It's Christ in you, the hope of glory. Right? And so he believed God and it was accounted for righteousness. Go ahead, read for me Hebrews 11, verses 9 and 10. "By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise, for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

" You know, that's a beautiful promise. Abraham, he just wandered hither and yon all through the promised land, but he was waiting on God. You know, I want to jump down here. Everywhere Abraham went - let's go into the section Abraham the wanderer - Abraham the wanderer. You know that old Christmas song, 'I wonder as I wander out under the stars' - Abraham spent quite a time wandering from place to place.

For one thing, you'll notice he goes to moreh at shekem. He goes to hebron. He goes to mamre. He goes to mount moriah. He goes down to Egypt.

Everywhere he goes - most places he goes - it records that he builds an altar. Genesis 12:7, "the Lord God appeared to Abraham and said, 'unto your seed I'll give this land.' He built an altar to the Lord. Genesis 12:8, "and he pitched his tent with bethel toward the sea and ai on the east and he built an altar to the Lord." And so most places he's moving his tent - well, everywhere he moves his tent - Abraham builds an altar. What kind of testimony is that to the nations around you? When you go out to eat with friends, maybe at the office - you're a believer, they're not - do you let them know you're going to pray for your food? Or do you just kind of wink one eye and tell God you prayed? Yeah, I just went out with three - I don't know if they're all atheists, but they're certainly not believers - a little while ago and I knew it might be awkward for them, but I figure why would I be ashamed of my faith? It might open a conversation. It's a great opportunity when you're with people and you say, 'just pardon me a moment.

' And you bow your head and you thank the Lord. If I'm in a public restaurant and I'm by myself, I take off my baseball cap and I let people know I'm praying. It doesn't matter if I'm in chipotle or wherever it is. And the music's blaring - sometimes I get phone calls from people at some of these restaurants and the music is - you know, the food's good, but the music is - and I have to tell them - I say, 'look, this is not in my car, I'm at chipotle eating and I can't help it.' Any of you know what I'm talking about? It can be embarrassing, you know? You get called - some church conference call - you pick up the phone - bomp-taka-taka-bomp-taka - I'm going, 'this isn't my radio! I can't help it.' Anyway, but I pray because you're building an altar. Wherever you wander you're being a missionary.

You let people know that you worship God and when you're with your family, you have family worship. It's just one of the things he did everywhere he went. Now someone said, 'a fugitive is running from home. A vagabond has no home. A stranger is away from home.

A wanderer is searching for a home and a pilgrim is on his way home.' In Hebrews it says - you can read in Hebrews 11:13, "all these" - speaking of The Fathers of the faithful - "all these died in faith not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off and they were assured of them and embraced them by faith and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." I don't know, do we still have that song in our book? I think we do. 'I'm a pilgrim and I'm a stranger' - is that still in the new hymnal? Yeah, it is. Yeah, it's a good song because - 'this world is not my home, I'm just a-passing through' - you know that one? 'If heaven's not' - that was an old pentecostal song, 'if heaven's not my home, o Lord, what would I do? The angels beckon me from heaven's open door and I can't be at home in this world anymore.' Because - now - did - wait a second, that isn't fair. God says to Abraham, 'I want you to uproot everything and go to the land of canaan and I want you to wander the whole time you're there - as a pilgrim.' Did he ever get to settle down and get his house? No, because Abraham was looking beyond this world to a city that had foundations. Will Abraham get to inherit the promised land? When the new Jerusalem comes down to earth - that city - where is it going to land? It tells us in the Bible - Jesus' feet - Zechariah 14 - touch what? Mount of olives.

Jesus ascended from bethany on the mount of olives; he comes back on the mount of olives. The next place his feet touch forms a great valley - new Jerusalem settles down - 375 miles on each side. The borders of the new Jerusalem completely encompass the promised land. In fact, the promised land is just going to be like central park. It'll be small within the territory of the new Jerusalem.

So Abraham will literally inherit that land and his seed - all those that are the seed of Abraham - we do, literally, get that land - the perfect land that had foundations. You see how beautifully God's Word fulfilled the promise? He knew this was not it. This life is short. Compared to eternity, Abraham said, 'I'm going to wander here but I'm looking beyond to the day when we're going to get this land forever.' So until then, we wander. You know, we interviewed a family this week at Amazing Facts - we're considering hiring - and they came from another state - long way - been living in the other state their entire lives - all of their family lives in the other state in a town their entire lives.

All of their roots - children in school, baby, and I said, 'you know, that's going to be tough.' And The Father said, 'well, if Abraham could do it, we'll just have to say, 'Lord, if this is what you want us to do, we'll have faith that that's what you want us to do.' But, you know, it's hard still, today when you've just got to uproot your whole family and go to a place where you don't have a support group because you think this is where God wants us. But does God still ask us to make moves of faith today? Have you ever been asked to get out of your comfort zone for God and do something? Just remember how awkward and how difficult it must have been for abram and Sarah - sarai - it was abram and sarai - later Abraham and Sarah - to do that. So it was actually the faith of them both. They both got a new name. But everywhere they went they wandered.

They build an altar and they also witnessed through their family. He was a missionary in his own house. And this is just my last few words. I want to give you - someone look up for me - is it 1 Timothy 4:16? You've got that? Alright, if you'll get ready with that, I want to read again now Joshua 24, verses 2 and 3, "and Joshua said to the people," - oh, I already read that one. Let me see, I want to read - I want to read Genesis 18:18 and , "since Abraham shall surely become a great and a mighty nation and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him, for I have known him in order that he might command his children and his household after him, that he may keep the way of the Lord to do righteousness and justice that the Lord might bring Abraham what he has spoken to him.

Have you met families before, they say, 'well, you know, I think that God makes us all unique and we all have a free will and, you know, my kids, they're just going to have to figure out what they believe and from infancy on they'll have to find out on their own.' That was sort of the approach my mother took. I'm glad, for my sake, that I had that freedom, but I think, as a Christian, you don't take that approach that you just sort of let them grope around in the dark. I think that you teach them. Doesn't it say - doesn't Moses say, 'when you lay down, when you rise up, when you go out, when you come in, repeat the Word of God to your children'? Worship with them. Show them the ways of truth.

Put it on your hand. Put it on your forehead. He was speaking, of course, illustratively. He said, 'have it in your heart, put it on the posts of your house. Surround yourselves with the Word of God so that your children will grow up with biblical principles.

' And Abraham commanded his family that way. Now, in doing this - in doing mission work, it not only reaches others - your family - but it is redemptive in what it does for you. Let's read that verse in 1 Timothy 4:16. "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

" If you're a missionary, right there you've got the reason - part of the reason, at least, that I'm involved in ministry - is because in reaching others you save yourself. If you're a Christian and you believe and you're not involved in using your gifts in somehow reaching others - and that might be through your prayers and your gifts, but everybody should be involved with a passion to witness to others. In doing this, you save both yourself and those who hear you. He says, 'for in doing this you will save yourself and those who hear you.' That's a message for me. That's a message for every missionary.

Do you know a lot of missionaries are converted in the process of doing mission work? I heard a wonderful testimony years ago at camp meeting about a missionary family. They went to the mission field with another missionary family and they're in a - just a dark mission field somewhere where there's all kinds of just very primitive living. People were just running around naked - I mean, it was a real first-class mission project. Two mission families were supposed to reach the pagans. They began to fight among themselves - the Christian families.

They could not get along. They fought, they bickered, the tension - and finally they realized that the Lord brought them to the mission field to convert them and they weren't going to reach anybody else until they were converted. And they had to go to the other side of the world to find out that they weren't able to be missionaries until they were surrendered to the Lord. They couldn't get along with anybody else. And it's quite a dramatic story and I'm not able to do it justice, but sometimes God brings us to the mission field to reach the missionary and in reaching others we're converted in the process.

I have seen, before, people that are giving Bible studies to others are converted by the very truths they are sharing with others. They started doing it because they think they should, but in the process of doing it they get ahold of it for themselves. And so, you should be involved in sharing the Gospel with others even if you don't feel like, you know, you've got all the right reasons in doing it. Did Jesus send out Peter, James, and John preaching? Self-evident question. Did it convert them in the process? Were they arguing among themselves while they were out doing mission work? Yeah.

And Jesus said to Peter, 'when you are converted, strengthen the brethren.' He still had them doing it because doing it was part of their converting process. So even Abraham - did Abraham make some mistakes in the mission field? Did he say, 'Sarah, oh yeah, she's not my wife. She's my sister.' Did he have a few lapses along the way? And God taught him to trust in the process. So everybody can learn from the story of Abraham and we can all do mission work. Amen? Alright, we - I think we've run out of time for our lesson, but I want to remind those who are watching, if you tuned in along the way, we have a free offer and it's called determining the will of God.

Maybe the Lord's calling you somewhere and you want to know. When you're trying to make a decision - a lot of people call and they say, 'I've got two or three important options - they're all good - and I don't know which one God wants me to do.' This is a great book. It gives you twelve principles on how do you make a decision knowing it's God's will? What are the criteria? We'll send it to you for free. Call 866-788-3966 or you can look at it online. Just go to amazingfacts.org. God bless you and thank you for joining us for Sabbath School Study Hour. For life-changing Christian resources visit afbookstore.com. In six days God created the heavens and the earth. For thousands of years, man has worshiped God on the seventh day of the week.

Now, each week, millions of people worship on the first day. What happened? Why did God create a day of rest? Does it really matter what day we worship? Who was behind this great shift? Discover the truth behind God's law and how it was changed. Visit 'Sabbathtruth.com'.

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