Abraham, Pt. 1: Going by Faith

Scripture: Genesis 11:27-32, Genesis 12:1-9
Date: 01/31/2004 
This is the first in a 12 part series on the life of Abraham. He is a prime example of giving up all and following God wherever the Lord leads. God calls us out of Babylon to the promised land as well.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

We’re beginning a series on Abraham the patriarch and today’s message will be more specifically going by faith. I hope that you will be reading the life of Abraham as we study this together. There is so much in his experience and in the Word of God that we can learn from this ultimate patriarch. Why is Abraham so important? For many reasons. First of all, keep in mind that he is the father of all of the great I should say most of the great monotheistic religions in the world. Meaning of course Judaism, the religion of Islam and then of course Protestants and Catholics all trace their roots back to this great man of faith. In the Bible you can see that the Israelites the Ammonites the Midianites the Edomites the Moabites the Ishmaelites or Arabs were all descendants of those that came out of Mesopotamia namely Lot and Abraham. And so much of what you see in the Middle East today is populated by this man and his posterity. Now, one of the amazing things to consider is the story of Abraham begins shortly after the time of the tower of Babel and the flood. Now, I want to begin… Before we get to chapter twelve I thought it would be good to look at the pedigree a little bit of Abraham and so we’re going to begin by tying off the end of chapter eleven.

Remember chapter eleven is where we find the experience of the tower of Babel. Begin with me in verse 27. You remember after the flood Noah had three sons. What were their names? Shem, Ham and Japheth and from those three sons all the nations of the world were populated. And, no, it is not correct to assume that Japheth was one race and Shem was another race and Ham was another race. You ever met a family that had three kids like that? I’ve actually met people who believe that. It was through their sons that the intermarriages that took place and where they happened to settle and different genes that were more dominant the races were developed Wong after the tower of Babel. But it traces specifically the line of Shem here. And here we begin verse 27 chapter 11 of Genesis and it says, “This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor and Haran. Haran begot Lot. Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abrams wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. 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; and they came to Haran and they dwelt there. So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.” OK.

Now before I get into the actual exodus from Ur I want you to still be thinking about the posterity and the pedigree of Abraham. I’m going to put a chart up on the screen that I think is going to help you to visualize how truth was transmitted back in the days before the Word of God was encartified by Moses. Up until the time of Moses the Word of God was passed on by the priest in the family, the father, to his sons. In their worship they would relate the varying stories of creation and the fall and the plan of salvation and they did it very carefully verbatim. Keep in mind back then they did not have palm pilots or videotape. They did not even use paper the way we have it now. They had fantastic memories. I believe Adam had a photographic memory probably until at least his last 50 years of life. He could remember just about everything photographically that was ever said. And when they passed this knowledge on to their children and their grandchildren it was very pure. It wasn’t like you and I who forget just, you know, within a day or two a major conversation. And look at this chart here. Adam lived 930 years. The life of Methuselah overlapped the life of Adam for 243 years. They knew each other. None of us have known anybody that long, have we? Now Methuselah lived 969 years. Most of you know that.

The life of Methuselah overlapped the life of Shem, the son of Noah, ninety-eight years. Have you anyone here known anyone that long? You’d know someone pretty well. Shem lived 600 years right on the button. The life of Shem overlaps the life of Abraham 175 years. Matter of fact, Shem could’ve known Isaac except they were living a long way from each other. Now, it’s amazing when you consider that the knowledge of the true god could be passed so thoroughly in so few generations because they’ve lived so long back then. Also keep in mind that from the time before the flood the atmosphere was different. Adam and Eve had probably be ten from the tree of life but after… it was something you needed to do on a regular basis, I don't know once every 500 years. I don't know. The Bible says that we will all come and gather before the Lord from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another in the New Earth. Maybe we’ll eat that food on a weekly basis. I don’t know. But when Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden some essence that was in that tree of life that gives eternal vitality, that keeps our cells from dying… you know what eventually causes death is your cells cease to regenerate the same why that they do when you’re young. You know when you’re young you heal from almost anything.

Your leg gets chopped off; you grow a new one when you’re young. But as you get older it’s a lot tougher to be so resilient and you notice what happens to the lifespan as they get further away from that tree of life. And you can see that even here in this story. Now this is going to come up in a little bit when you find out about how beautiful Sarah was. When she’s in her sixties and seventies she’s so ravishing that Abrahams afraid they’re going to kill for her. Have you ever met a 75 year old that you would kill to marry? I mean nothing personal for those of you who have arrived out there. I mean that’s not… they aged more slowly. Is that point clear to everybody here? And so things were different back then, and I just wanted you to have that in your mind. So they had this very close connection. But a little bit about the names. The name, we think of Abraham. Our series is named Abraham. That was not his original name. His original name was Abram as we just read in chapter eleven of Genesis. The word Abram means… now let me ask you.

What does Abba mean? You remember even Paul says, abba, father. And it almost sounds like something a baby might say. Instead of papa it’s abba. And there are names in the Bible like Barabas which means “son of the father.” Absalom means “son of peace.” And so you see the name many times in the Bible being used in a variety of ways. Abram means “father is exalted or high.” Abraham means “father of a multitude.” And I’ll suggest to you that before you could be a father of a multitude below, you need to be exalting the father above. And this is what we see in the two names of Abraham. Because he exalted the father above, he became an exalted father below. I want to say it again. It was a good point. He’s got two names. His first name is an exaltation of the Father. His second name is he is an exalted father. First we must exalt the father above if we would be pigs altered below. Something else we learned here is that from this point on in Genesis chapter eleven, when you’re reading about all the nations of the world something interesting happens here when you get to chapter twelve. The rest of the Bible is dedicated to Abrahams descendants with a few exceptions of things that happened with, you know, incidents the rest of the Bible is dedicated to the descendants of Abraham. That’s how important this man is. And he is definitely worthy of our study. Ok, go with me now and we’re going to read in your Bibles, Genesis 12 and I’m going to start by reading the first three verses.

This is the call the way it’s recorded. “Now the Lord had said to Abram, ‘Get out of your country from your kindred and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you, and I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you and make your name great and you will be a blessing, and I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you and in you shall all of the families of the earth be blessed.’” This is known in the Bible as the Abrahamic Covenant. God made a covenant with Abraham where he blessed him and his posterity in a special way. Now let’s look at this. There are five specific blessings in here. I don’t know. You’d be hard pressed. I could be wrong, but I don’t know anywhere else in the Bible of a covenant that has more blessings poured into it in such a concise way than the five ways that God promises to bless Abraham. And you know what I'm hoping before we're done today? That you and I can know how spiritual children of Abraham can cash in on these same blessings. Isn’t that why these things are written for our admonition? Doesn’t the Bible say in the New Testament “If you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed”? And so we can, I believe, cash in on these blessings and we’ll find out why did God bless Abraham. Maybe we can be blessed by following his example.

First of all, when it says here the Lord speaks to Abraham did you know that this is the first time in 422 years the Bible records that God spoke? I mean, you know, you read in your Bible in the Old and New Testament it just seems like every time you turn around God is communicating with man, but prior to this message to Abraham God had not spoken until he had spoken to Noah. God spoke to himself when he wasn’t happy with the Tower of Babel, but he did not speak to any specific human and here 422 years later. I’m sure he did speak to others, but it’s the only time in the sacred record in 422 years he spoke, he speaks to Abraham. He says, “I will make of you…” and you can make some notes of these things here, the five blessings in case you didn’t catch them. “I will make you a great nation.” Now keep in mind this is the infancy of the world. God had annihilated everybody a little while earlier. Then he scatters everyone because he confuses the languages and sends them in many different directions and they're just beginning to meld together. The world is being populated at this time, nations are being formed, everybody is clamoring to be a great nation because see this is what was happening. They knew the power was with the great tribes, the great nations. And so God is making a promise. He’s saying instead of staying here with your family and your people, your country, you follow me and I will make a great nation not of your people but of you individually. And so God is reassuring. He says, “Leave your country behind.

I will make a country of you.” I’ll submit to you that when you become a Christian you change your nationality, you become an ambassador of a different country. Isn’t that right? You become a different people. What’s going to happen to all the governments of this world? Have you read Daniel chapter two? That idol that represents all the nations of the world, when Jesus comes and sets up his kingdom they are all pulverized to smithereens and they blow away. The nations and kingdoms of this world are going to vaporize when Jesus comes back. The only country that will endure is the nation of Christ, his kingdom. That’s a teaching that is consistent all through the Bible. So God is saying to Abraham I’m going to make a great nation of you. When we follow the Lord wherever he leads we are part of that eternal nation. Then he says, “I will bless you and make your name great.” You know it takes awhile to develop a name. You can get, you know, a tag when you’re baby, but that's not a name. The Bible talks about the name of the Lord, and sometimes we put a lot of emphasis on how you enunciate it, and with god in the Bible that was never the big issue. The big issue was the reputation of the lord. It’s the character behind the name. Have you ever heard someone say, “You know he’s got a good name in the community”? What is that mean? Good reputation. When you leave and you go somewhere new who are you? And the people look over their shoulder and they see you traipsing into town and pitching your tent they say, “Who is this guy?”

You have no reputation. They don’t know who you are. You have no name. God is saying I’m going to give you a name. When you follow him and you’re faithful then you’ve got a name and God knows your name and that’s more important than the world knowing your name and he’ll say like he did of Job, “Have you considered my servant Job?” God knew these people by name. “I will give you a new name” because he was losing his other nation and name. Then he goes on and he says, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. I will make you the criteria for blessing and cursing. I will calibrate everybody around you by how they treat you. You will have the oracles of truth and of those who accept your truth I will bless them and those who oppose you and reject your truth I will curse them.” I would like to be so close to the Lord that everything is measured by the truth I have and those who accept the truth that I share they’re blessed by the truth. Those who oppose it… have you heard about Joseph? It says the Lord was with him and everywhere he went those that received Joseph were blessed and this is what the Bible was saying about Abraham. And then he says, “and you will be a blessing.” Not just those who bless you will be blessed, you will exude a blessing.

Because I’m committing the truth to you those who associate with you will be blessed. How many of you have known somebody who was accident prone? Anyone? Come on. Fess up. You ever known someone, they might be sitting next to you and you might not want to say anything. We’ve all known people that were accident prone. How many of you had friends in school they just seemed to… they have calamity in a lunch box whenever they showed up. And whenever you heard a crash you expected to see them when you looked over your shoulder. Have you ever known somebody? I don't believe in luck, but I’m using the word in its classical sense. Have you ever known somebody that seemed to be unlucky and you just wonder why? I’ve got my own theories that some people who just have bad faith have bad luck. You know Jesus said, “Be it unto you according to your faith.” And those who live by faith that have faith in God it seems like they’re blessed and you want to be with those people, don’t you? It seems like whenever they touch prospers. He says you'll be a blessing. You want to be with them. And then finally the fifth part of this is the most important part. I take a breath before say this because I want it to sound good. “In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Now that was more than the other blessing. Every family was wondering when is the Messiah going to come and through whom would he come? And now here God was answering to Abraham the question on every heart.

Remember Adam told Methuselah who told Shem who told Abram, “God has promised he would come to earth as our savior.” Every time they sacrificed a lamb knew what that meant. It was not just a tradition and a ritual with them. They knew it meant someday God would come to earth as a man to save men. And now God says, Abraham in you, in your genes right now, in your seed the Messiah is alive and through you, through your descendants he will come. So you know that eliminated every other nation and God was promising that through the seed of Abram the Messiah would come. That was a great blessing. This was the blessing the Jacob was fighting for with Esau. He said I don’t want the double portion of Isaac’s stuff. I want the spiritual blessing that through my descendants the messiah will come because they knew that had been given to Abraham. And then it tells us that god made these promises to Abraham and the promises of God that he made to him I believe are promises that belong to you and me. Jesus wants to be in you as he was in Abraham. He wants us to be part of that great nation his kingdom above. Diseases say he'll give us a new name? That's right. And you know what? If you’re his child you’re the apple of his eye. He’ll bless those that bless you and curse those who curse you. And you are to be a blessing. You are of the light of the world; you are the salt of the earth. And in Christ, Christ in us, through us the others are blessed. So the same promises he made to Abraham he makes to us.

Now God called Abraham out of something. The Bible says he called him out of Ur of the Chaldeans. Just to give you the perspective this is one of the longest journeys in the Bible. It’s about a thousand miles if you make the whole journey from Ur and you can see in this map here there’s a lot of desert between Ur and Canaan. You cannot cut across that desert. I'm sure you could today with a Hummer, but back in Bible times you really needed to know what you were doing because even a camel could not make it across that desert if you didn’t know where the oasis were and so you’ll see most of the time they went north and they came down because it was a lot safer. And so in this journey he’s coming from Ur and going to the Promised Land Shechem. He eventually goes to Egypt. The total journey is about a thousand miles. Now I know we admire the explorers that sailed all the way and some of the great travelers. Many of them took Rivers. There are not too many stories other than Marco Polo of people who walked that far. A thousand miles is a long walk and especially when you’ve got a family and he had a household with servants (no children yet) and flocks and sheep. Here is another map that helps illustrate that journey. Ur of the Chaldeans was the port city from Mesopotamia more specifically Babylonia. It was a very heathen land. I’ve got a few artifacts that I just… they have actually excavated it. It’s a real place and you can see some of these artifacts from Ur. They were very much into worshiping the moon.

Matter of fact, a lot of the cows… and that’s a harp that you see there with the cow head on it and some of the other statuettes. The word Ur means light, probably moonlight. This next thing is called the standard of Ur. It was a great discovery they excavated at this city. They believe the oceans were higher back then and the water came up closer and so Ur was the main port city there by the gulf. It was a place of worshiping the light of the sun and the moon. That’s what the word Ur means. It was a heart of paganism and many of the people who had left the tower of Babel made their way down to Ur. Now, if you read in your Bible, if you’ve got some doubts about this, Joshua 24:2-3, “Joshua said unto all the people, ‘Thus says the Lord, God of Israel: “Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood.”’” Now the flood was the Euphrates River. They called it the flood because it used to flood its banks. It flooded the whole Mesopotamian valley at times. “Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah of the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor; and” listen “they served other gods.” You got that? It’s one of the only places you’ll find it but Joshua makes it very clear when they lived back in that land they served other gods. It was a pagan culture. It doesn’t necessarily mean Abram did but his parents probably it was beginning to infiltrate to them too. “And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood.” I want you to notice here other side, other side of the flood, the river. “And I led him throughout the land of Canaan, multiplied his seed and gave him Isaac.” Now that was Joshua statement. Where do you get the word…? Now first of all, wait, wait, wait. How many of you know that Abraham was a Jew? Let me see your hands. He wasn’t a Jew. There were no Jews. Abraham was a Hebrew. Jews are descendants from the tribe of Judah which was the bulk of the people who survived the Babylonian captivity.

Abraham was a Hebrew. Isaac was not a Jew. Jacob was not even a Jew. They were Hebrews. Where does the word Hebrew come from? When you look in the genealogy you’ll find out there’s a man there by the name of Eber and the word Eber means the opposite side. Then word Hebrew means someone who crossed over. So Abraham when he… you notice it says the other side of the flood. You came from the other side of the flood. He crossed over, and I’ll submit to you that if you’re going to be a follower of Christ you must be a Hebrew. You need to know how to make that transition and cross over. Amen? And so that’s what the word Hebrew means the descendants of Eber but it means from the opposite side. I'd like to read a quote to you gave you a little more context of what was going on there in Ur. Patriarchs and Prophets, a great book dealing with this history. “Idolatry invited him on every side but in vain. Faithful among the faithless uncorrupted by the prevailing apostasy Abraham steadfastly adhered to the worship of the one true God.” When the Lord chose Abraham why did he choose him? Did God just look down there in Mesopotamia and say, “You know I need to make somebody the father of a great multitude and I’ll have the messiah come through his line. Eenie, meanie, miney, mo.” Is that how God did it? Or does God pick people that are faithful? Even surrounded by paganism Abraham was still worshiping the God of Israel. Keep in mind before Abraham was called to leave who was still alive? Shem. And maybe you think I’ve got an overactive imagination, but I firmly believe at the tower of Babel Shem is, he’s an old patriarch there. Everybody must have known him. Matter of fact, the sons of Noah were all there at the tower of Babel alive. And he probably had a home somewhere in message that a man and I think Abram used to go and listen to father Shem who could tell what the world was like before the flood. Can you imagine that?

Shem could say, “I saw the Garden of Eden. We couldn’t go in, but I saw the flaming angel. I know is that true God is and I realize all these people are making these idols and they’re claiming that its god, but that that’s not right.” And here Shem was passing on the true religion to Abram and I believe that he connected with him. Shem is still alive when Abraham leaves, but he's getting too old to make a journey like this. So God calls Abraham and he gives him this special message. Now, the message comes in two parts. First you read in Hebrews chapter eleven. Go back with me to Hebrews eleven. You don’t mind if we found surround a little like this? It says in verse 31 of Hebrews eleven, “And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot and the son of Haran and his daughter-in-law and they went from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan that they got as far as Haran.” Now, the call of Abram comes in two stages. It sounds like it’s Terah’s idea when you first hear it, but you read in the book of Acts, when the message first came, you can read where in Acts chapter seven verse two Stephen is preaching. “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia” before he dwelt in Haran. Is that clear? God appeared to him while he was still in Mesopotamia before you went to Haran to who? Terah? Abram. Now, God tells Abram, “I want you to leave this land. I’m going to lead you to a place and you don’t know where you’re going, but trust me.” He tells his father and his father is probably getting older. Out of respect for the father, Terah is still alive, he initiates the journey. God has spoken to my son. We’re going. You see how it’s happening here? So he’s older.

Abraham is caring for his father. They get as far as Haran. That’s a long trip. They’re following the valley there up by the Euphrates where our soldiers are right now. This is of course where this whole conflict is transpiring and when my son was over there he said, “You know, you can find history of the Bible at just every turn of the Euphrates there so much happened in that region.” By the time they get to Haran, remember Terah also had a son that died back in the Ur. Haran was his name and he had a son named Lot. They named this town after the brother and father of Lot who had died back in Mesopotamia sort of as a memorial. They probably spend the winter there but now Terah has gotten so old he can't go on and they stay there a few years because he just can’t make the trip and they don’t want to kill him by going on and they get comfortable there. And in probably five years that they were there Abraham must have been about 70. He is 75 at this point. Finally Terah dies. The call comes again to Abraham. And that’s the call that you read again in chapter twelve where the Lord says to Abraham, “I want you to keep going. Don't stop. Get out of your country from your kindred from your father’s house and I’ll make of you a great nation.” See? When you get to the end of chapter eleven, Terah died in Haran. Where is Abraham now? He's halfway there. Has he gone all the way there yet? You know the Lord often leads us in degrees, doesn't he? He didn’t get all the way out of Mesopotamia.

He had gone all the way across Mesopotamia, but he’s still in the Babylonian valley there by the Euphrates River. Look at this! He’s traveled all that way and he’s still looking, after 700 miles, at the Euphrates River there in Mesopotamia, and God says, “You’re not there yet. You’ve still got your feet in Babylon. You listening to me? You’ve got to keep going.” They had to sort of wait for their family and the father couldn’t make it and he died and God says, “Keep going.” So he uproots and he says to the, the whole town has grown around him, he says, “We need to keep going.” Now there is a problem. Not all of them want to go. Nahor says, “Wait a second. This is a pretty nice place. I mean, we've gone a long way from home. Isn’t this far enough?” And Abraham says, “No, God says we need to keep going.” And he says, “Well, I didn’t hear God say anything. You keep going. I'm staying here.” And this is what happens. Abraham has to leave his family twice. He leaves them back in Ur and he leaves them again when he gets out of Haran. And he's walking by faith. Hebrews chapter eleven, this was our scripture reading, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out the place that he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” You know, I’ve been thinking about doing this message Abraham for long time, but I don't know if it's ever been more relevant because the sort of how I feel here at Central. We voted a long time ago to move and we don’t know where we’re going. And we’re going by faith but we don’t know where so we’re still here. And I hope you’re praying because, you know, we all have felt the leading that God wants us to take this next step and we don’t know what it is. And I keep saying, “Lord, what do you? We’ll do our best to go, but just point in one direction so we know where to go.” And so we are praying that God will lead us. Can you imagine being Sarah?

When she begins this journey she’s somewhere between sixty and sixty-five years of age. Now, what do we typically do at sixty-five in our culture? Social Security. Have you found out where you’re going to settle by the time you’re 65? How many people when they get to 65 are wanting to move? Well, yeah, maybe Arizona or Miami. But what if your husband says, “Dear, I’d like you to pack.” can you imagine this conversation? “Ok, are we going somewhere?” “We’re going to take a little trip.” “Ok, where are we going?” “Not sure.” “Alright. How long are we going to be gone?” “Forever. Pack everything.” I heard Karen chuckle. That would have been very interesting to get an audio recording of that conversation and then get it translated from Aramaic to English. “Pack everything. We’re leaving.” And then he goes to all of his servants and you know they’re obedient. “The master says, ‘pack’.” “Ok.” “Pack everything.” “Alright. Where’re we going?” “I don’t know. He says he’s had a vision.” “How long are you going to be gone?” “I don’t think we’re coming back, but God has big plans.” Now, when you plan a trip for a vacation now you can get online. You know, Karen and I, we don’t ever take a vacation, but we plan a lot of them. The only vacation is we keep going to Covolo. But, you know, we've got online before and we’ve looked at, we’ve gone to Cabo several times online, and we’ve got to Casamel online. Last week we went to the Cayman Islands online. And you even can go to the hotel and you can look at your room and you can get a 360° view of your room. You can look at the beach. You can go fishing online. It doesn’t smell half as bad. You can do it. I mean we have video, we have postcards, we’ve got maps.

What did he have? “Go… west.” I mean they may have had some primitive maps that were sketched on some sheepskin or something, but that was really a walk of faith, and he didn’t know exactly where he was going. It took a lot to get this. And he was a wealthy man when he left. You know they say a rolling stone doesn’t gather any moss. When you’ve got an established business and a reputation and family and you’ve been somewhere for 70 years and you uproot that can mean a lot of financial reverse. It’s a very unstable business investment to make. It can seem like it’s a reckless thing to do, but God said to do it and he was willing to do it. And so he uprooted. This is another paraphrase from the book Patriarchs and Prophets. Listen to this. “Trusting the divine promise without any advance assurance of its fulfillment he abandoned everything dear and near to follow where God should lead.” He had to leave financial security behind, leave family behind, leave friends behind, everything that he knew, all the places and foods and sights and smells that were familiar and go not knowing where he was going. You know, probably one of my favorite things to study that stirs me inside is the great adventurers who took off and they didn’t know where they were going and no one had been there before that they knew of. That gives me little goose bumps. That to me is courage. You think of some of the stories like Lewis and Clark. You know, that to me is one of the greatest stories. Jefferson says, “We just bought 4000 miles of country.

We don’t know what’s there. Go find out and come back and tell us. Go until you hit the ocean and then come back.” They didn’t know what to expect. You read about Columbus. “I think the world's round and I want to prove it and I think if I go far enough west I’ll end up in India.” He found a whole continent in the way. He didn’t know what he was going to find. You know, I remember when I was sixteen years old and I left home for the last time, had a big argument with my father. I got on the road and started hitchhiking. I had no idea where I was going. West. I’m gonna go west. And I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do what I got there, and you know, but I just had the sense that the Lord was leading. And looking back now I know he was. Not that I did everything right along the way that that sense of just going and not knowing where you’re going, not knowing how you’re going to be sustained takes faith to do that or lunacy, right? I’m not sure which I have. And so he takes off. He has to say goodbye to his family twice, as I said. You know the Bible says if you’re going to follow Jesus, you need to say goodbye to the old and God gives you a new family, doesn’t he? He says, “I’m going to make of you a great nation.” I’ll give you family. Luke 14:26, “If any man comes to me,” Jesus said, “and does not hate his father and his mother, his wife and his children, and brethren and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Be willing to turn your back on all of your kin. Now this is what the Bible says when Joshua said it. He said, “Leave your father's house. Leave your family behind.” When you serve the Lord you need to say goodbye to everything, don’t you? Huh? Amen? Your family.

That doesn't mean, I mean, if you’re a family of Christians great! You don’t have to alienate them, but if you’re going to serve the Lord he must be more important to you even then family. And you’ll find if your family does not love the Lord and you commit your life to the Lord they’ll abandon you. Sometimes they will disown you. And I’ve met and you’ve heard stories of people who take their stand for the truth and their family ostracizes them, they disown them. Abraham was so resolute in his desire to go where God leads that was the only important thing to him. You know in Psalm 27:10 I find real courage from this verse. I claimed this promise years ago. When I became a Christian my family thought I became a nut and my mother actually said… I mean, my mother was Jewish and when you tell your Jewish family you have become a Christian, if I had told them I was a Zen Buddhist they would have smiled. That wouldn’t have bothered them because you can be a Jew and still be a Zen Buddhist, but Christians were like the enemy among a lot of Jews because you know the Christians through history have often blamed the Jews as Christ-killers and there’s been a lot of animosity. You know about this prejudice, don’t you, the anti-Semitism. But if I had said to my Jewish family I've gotten into eastern religions.

“Oh, that's wonderful. What’d you learn?” “I’m meditating now. I’m channeling. I bought crystals.” They wouldn’t care. I became a Christian. “Gasp! A goyem! A gentile!” and my father, you know, he was pretty much an atheist and he thought religion was a crutch for weak people and when you say, “I found Jesus.” “Oh, no. He’s become weak! A crutch.” And, you know, I remember after finding the Lord I was up in the cave and I was trying to share with my parents about Jesus and how wonderful this was and they just thought, “Pfft. Doug has gone bananas now.” And I found this verse; “When my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me up.” And, you know, there’s another promise in the Bible. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, we’ve forsaken everything to follow you just like Abraham. What will we have?” And Jesus said, “No man has forsaken father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife, houses or lands for my sake in the gospel but he will have a hundred fold more fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and houses and lands in this life and eternal life in the world to come.” When you become a Christian you may lose some earthly family but you gain a spiritual family that is usually much bigger. And I’ve really been able to capitalize on that. You know as we travel to the different parts of the world and you meet someone and they tell you they’re a Bible Christian right away you know just something clicks like that. Have you ever met somebody and somehow you’re sitting down and you ask, you know, are you a Christian?

They say they’re a Christian. All of a sudden you’re kin. You know what I mean. You’re sitting on a bus or you could be standing in line and somehow maybe they’ve got a t-shirt or they’ve got some emblem that gives you a clue and you say, “Are you a Christian?” “Yes!” and all of a sudden, “Brother! Sister!” It used to be. We don’t do that anymore. You know, when I first joined the church everybody in the church called everybody brother this and sister that. Any of you remember those days? They don’t do that any more do they? I think we’ve sort of lost that sense of family. Abraham was willing to sacrifice all that because he was interested in the eternal family. Now, just a little point that I think is relevant, but I’m going to magnify it. When God spoke to Abraham and told him to take this trip twice it doesn’t say he spoke to him only. In Acts 7:2 it says the Lord appeared to him. “The God of Glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran.” And then we read in chapter twelve it says, “The Lord appeared to him again.” He had a vision he said to him, “Get out of your country, from your relatives, and come to the land that I will show you.” Jesus said, John 8:56, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it.” Who was it that you think that appeared to Abraham? I think Jesus appeared in his pre-incarnate form and he spoke to him and he said, “I am picking your family to be my surrogate later. I am going to come through your descendents.”

So he literally appeared. Now, I think this is important because turn back with me to chapter twelve. I want you to read a little farther and I’m watching the clock carefully to pace myself. Start with verse four. “So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him.” Nahor who ended up having Laban and Leah and Rachel, they all stayed back in Haran. Later Jacob would come and fetch his wives from there. That family stayed there two thirds of the way. They never came all the way out. And do you remember that Laban who stayed behind, I’m sorry Nahor who stayed behind they ended up worshipping other gods, didn’t they? They became influenced by surrounding nations because Rachel, when she left, Laban got upset and said, “You stole my gods.” Be awful to have a god someone could steal, huh? “Where’d you put my god? You stole my god!” And you remember Laban is chasing after Jacob and he’s searching through all the tents and Rachel hid his gods in the camel baggage. How pitiful! But this is what happened to the family that stayed behind. But Lot, the Bible called him a righteous man in spite of the mistakes he made. He said, “I believe that God has called you, Abraham. I believe that God blesses you and I’m sticking with you.” As long as Lot stayed with Abraham he was blessed. Matter of fact, he finally separated because he was so blessed they couldn’t stay together any more. Then he stopped being blessed and lost everything when he left Abraham, isn’t that right? It’s interesting how that worked. So “Lot went with him. And Abraham was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” That’s why I told you he was probably seventy when he first left Ur. They spent four or five years there in Haran.

Abraham is nine years, how old? How long? Nine years older than Sarah. You’re going to need to do that math several times and so I just wanted you to know that. “…when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai…” His name was Abram and her name was Sarai. They both got new names. “He took his wife and Lot his brother’s son,” Haran’s son “and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.” How much did he take with him when he left? All his family and all his things. When Moses was leaving Egypt with the children of Israel the pharaoh tried to affect a compromise and he said, “Ok, you can go, but leave your family behind.” Moses said, “No, we’re going to bring our family.” The pharaoh knew as long as I’ve got their family they’ll be back. And then later he said, “You can go but leave your cattle behind.” And Moses said, “No, we’re taking our possessions.” The devil wants to compromise. See? The devil wants to keep a chain on us and he keeps a lot of us from making that journey to Canaan because he’s got our possessions or he’s got our people. And we need to know how to consecrate all that we have. Where is our treasure? Is it in Canaan?

Or do we still have it here? Does the devil still have it? Where is our family? Have we committed them to the Lord? Or are they still here? You see what I’m saying? He said, “I’m taking everything out of Babylon and bringing it to the Promised Land.” And “so they came to the land of Canaan. And Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh.” Can you imagine what it must have been like living back during this time? Trees then are not like trees now. You need to go up to the Redwoods. I’ve got a whole article. Some of you remember I did an article called “Trees of Life” and I did a survey of the biggest trees in the world and there have been some big trees. And I’ve got these old photographs I’ve seen of there used to be Douglas Firs in the northwest bigger than the existing Redwoods. Douglas Fir. And in Bible times when it talks about a tree you say, “What is that? He went to the tree.” Oh, they had some trees back then that were massive. They were landmarks then like mountains are now.

The Bible says, “As the days of a tree so are the days of my people.” And so there is this evidently a very prominent big sprawling tree that was a landmark and it tells us here that he came to the “tree of Moreh.” Matter of fact, Saul when he was king it talks about the pomegranate tree that he was under. He lived under a tree. Must have been some kind of tree. And here’s the part I want you to catch. The Canaanites were then in the land. Now when the children of Israel came back a few years later the Canaanites were still in the land. Abraham probably at this point was a little depressed. He had made this long journey. It had taken him five or six years. He finally gets all the way to the place where God had sent him. He’s reached an ocean, the Mediterranean, you know, you get up into the mountains of Hebron you can look and see the Mediterranean.

He wasn’t going to keep going. And he’s surrounded by rank paganism. It is a very spiritually dark country. And he can see places where there’s altars and gods and idols on the hilltops in the groves. It was a place where they were offering their children to pagan gods. They’d heat up these bronze idols that had open hands and they’d place their babies on the burning bronze, on the glowing bronze hands, I mean, it was a wicked people. And he saw this deep spiritual darkness. And they watched him. Don’t you think they noticed? Abraham had three hundred servants who were just soldiers in his clan. He was a nomad; he was a sheik with all these servants. No children but he had a big household. Do you think that he captured any attention when he came walking into this country. And it’s like they had the Jebusites and the Ammonites and all these different, not the Ammonites yet, the Malachite’s, many of these different Canaanite nations, seven of them, were living in the region, the Hittites and all of a sudden this man comes in and he pitches his tent and they’re all eyeing him and he is feeling this great sense of foreboding. What am I doing here? They’re going to kill me. And because of this the Bible says, verse seven, “Then the Lord” spoke to? Any of you reading on with me?

Just when he needed it most “the Lord appeared to Abraham” again. He says don’t worry. Don’t go by what you see. You’ve been walking by faith, don’t start walking by sight. It doesn’t look like you’re going to fit in well here, but he said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And the Bible says Abram “built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” Right there in the presence of all of these pagan nations he made an altar the way it had been given to Adam and Eve, the kind of altar that Abel had made, the kind of altar that Shem had made and he made an altar without an idol, he made an altar to the true God in the presence with all these pagan nations watching. And whenever Abraham moved from place to place the altar stayed and he’d make another altar and every morning and every evening he’d gather the family together and he would recite to them God’s leading and that God had promised to give them this land. The Bible says that he made an altar to the Lord and he promised “I will give this land to you and to your descendants.” Verse eight, and it says “he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and he built an altar to the Lord and he called on the name of the Lord.” Everywhere Abraham goes then he’s building an altar and he’s calling on the Lord. Who knows what the word Bethel means? El means God, Beth is house. Bethlehem is house of bread. Bethel is house of God. He’s got the house of God to the west of him, and he’s got Ai, which is later destroyed, to the east of him. Which direction had Abraham gone? He had gone from the east to the west. So he has the house of God in the direction he is going. Which way does the sun set? In the west.

He’s got Ai to his back. He says, “I’m going towards God,” and he pitches his tent there and he built an altar again. Everywhere he goes he builds an altar as it stands as a memorial. Do you have an altar in your family? Wherever he went first thing he did is he built an altar. When Noah got off the Ark what did he do? Built an altar. Same kind of altar and there they would offer the lambs and the goats these clean animals that were types of the coming Messiah. Their faith was in the God of Adam and Enoch and Methuselah and Shem and Noah and he was continuing the true faith in spite of all the compromises that were happening around him. And every morning and every evening the surrounding nations would look and they’d see that family gather and smoke arising as they would all pray to their God and worship the God of creation. I hope you have an altar in your family where you have morning and evening worship. Now in spite of the fact that the land was surrounded by pagans what kind of land did God bring him into? What was the land looking like? The land itself?

Yeah, the people there were awful but what was the land. The Bible says it was an exceeding good land. Deuteronomy 8:7. It didn’t look back then like it looks today. “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a land, a land of brooks, into a good land, a land of brooks and water, of fountains and depths, that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and vines and figs and trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land wherein you shall eat bread without scarceness and you’ll not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you might dig brass.” God is saying the land has got an abundance of water, it’s got an abundance of produce, it’s got an abundance of minerals, it is an exceeding rich good land. What you see in the Promised Land today, I mean you see the deserts of Judea that were once the Promised Land.

Keep in mind back in the days of Abraham they called the valley where the salt sea is, where the Dead Sea is they said it was like the Garden of God. Something changed! For one thing they had some big earthquakes, fire came down from heaven and changed the whole topography of Sodom and Gomorrah and that valley was like the Garden of God back in Abraham’s days. And even when the children of Israel came back later it was a land flowing with milk and honey. He brought him into a very good land, but you know the Bible tells us that Abraham was looking beyond that to an even better land. Did Abraham ever really inherit that land in his life? You know, the Bible tells us in Hebrews he looked for a land that had foundations. Hebrews 11:14, “For those who say such things declare plainly they seek a homeland. And if truly they had called to mind the country from which they had come 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, for he has prepared for them a city.”

Abraham looked for another country. Now in summary what can we learn from this story today? Very important point I don’t want you to miss. Abraham brought his wife from Babylon to the Promised Land. Later Isaac goes and gets a wife from Babylon and brings her to the Promised Land. The servant goes for Abraham, I’m sorry, for Isaac. Then Jacob, when he gets a wife he doesn’t take a wife of the Canaanites. He goes back to Haran which is on the Euphrates. Brings her from Babylon back to the Promised Land. Later God’s people are carried off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, right? And he calls them out of Babylon back to the Promised Land. Then we get to Revelation and God says, “Babylon is fallen. Come out of her my people.” The same call that God gave to Abraham he is giving to the church today. The world is very corrupt. God, if you are a Christian you are a Hebrew, you are called to cross over, to come out. Amen? To be separate. This is a New Testament teaching. Write this down.

II Corinthians 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you and I will be a father unto you and you will be my sons and daughters says the Lord almighty.” If we are adopted in as the children of Abraham we must make the same trip Abraham made. We must be a church that has come out of Babylon that is heading into the Promised Land. You cannot serve two masters. He’s called us to follow him. Now, sometimes we don’t know how we’re going to do it. We don’t know where we’re going. We don’t know how we’re going to get there. We don’t know what to expect. Who of you knows what God is going to bring into your life tomorrow? Do you know? You might be able to speculate and with a little bit of accuracy but we don’t know what another day will bring. The Christian walk is a walk of faith, isn’t it? We’ve decided to trust the Lord and to follow him and sometimes it is through the valley of the shadow of death. Sometimes it’s into a land flowing with milk and honey, but he says, “If you’re following me, I will bless you, I will preserve you and I will make a great nation of you. I will bless your name. All those promises God gave to Abraham belong to his descendants. That’s the Good News. But we need to have the faith Abraham had and be willing to follow wherever he leads.

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