Building a Biblical Mountain – Part 2

If there were a Mount Rushmore of Bible characters, Abraham’s face would definitely be on it. Abraham is first mentioned in Genesis 11. Four thousand years ago while living in Haran (and after the death of his father Terah), God spoke to Abraham and made three significant promises to him. In Genesis 12:1-7 God promised to make a great nation from his seed, this nation would take possession of a wonderful and special land (Canaan), and through someone from this nation all families of the earth would be blessed (a reference to Jesus). The rest of the Bible story is about God fulfilling each of these promises.

  • God built the Israelites into a great nation while they were slaves for 400 years in Egypt. By the time they made their exodus they had become the nation He promised Abraham (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:1, 7-9).
  • Not much later, God gave the nation the piece of land He had promised in Genesis 12:7. This was the land of Canaan. By the end of the book of Joshua Israel is a great nation and they have received all of the land which God had promised (Joshua 21:43-45).
  • The rest of the Old Testament (from the end of Joshua all the way to Malachi) is about the people of Israel waiting for the fulfillment of promise #3. This was mentioned in Genesis 12:3, that through someone in Israel all nations of the earth would be able to become the children of God.
  • Jesus is the fulfillment of this final promise. The first verse of the New Testament connects Jesus to the family of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). Also, the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:16, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.” It is through Jesus that every person now is able to be adopted into the family of God and have their sins forgiven. This adoption takes place when one is immersed into Christ (Galatians 3:26-29).

Many wonder why God chose Abraham to make these important promises to. There are many possible explanations, but the main reason has to do with Abraham’s faith. Abraham’s life is a great example of faith that pleases God. In fact, he is called the father of them that believe (Romans 4:11).

Consider a few lessons about Bible faith we can learn from Abraham.

  • Faith requires belief in the promises of God. When it came to the promise of Abraham having a son in his old age, Paul says, “Even so Abraham believed in God, and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).
  • Faith requires action. Contrary to what many believe, faith is not merely belief in God. But rather it is belief connected with trust and obedience to God. It was by faith that Abraham “obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). It was “by faith he lived as alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land…” (Hebrews 11:9). It was by faith, “when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son” (Hebrews 11:17). Abraham is the prime example of James 2:26, where James says, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
  • Faith requires patience. When Abraham was 75 years old, God promised that eventually he and his wife Sarah (who was 65 years old at the time) would have a son. This promise was not fulfilled immediately. Rather, God waited 25 years to fulfill it! Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). Abraham believed in what God was going to do, but he had to wait until God fulfilled the promise in His time.
  • Faith always has trials. Despite being a servant of God, Abraham went through many trials. He had to live as a foreigner in Canaan and Egypt (Genesis 12). He had to rescue his nephew Lot and his family when they were kidnapped by kings (Genesis 14). He had to endure sending his son Ishmael away (Genesis 16). He had to face the possibility of God wanting him to offer up Isaac (Genesis 22). He also had to experience losing his wife Sarah (Genesis 23). Abraham went through many rough times, and yet, through it all he continued to serve God.

Indeed Abraham left behind a great legacy of faith. In fact, his legacy is so great that he is mentioned by the New Testament writers almost 60 times!

Where are you in your faith? Is it weak? Is it lacking? If so, apply the great lessons from Abraham. Doing so will only enhance your relationship with God.

As we continue building the Biblical mountain, in our next blog we will fast forward in time several hundred years and consider the great servant of God, Moses.

– Shawn Jeffries

Advertisements

With God’s Word

4035399476_923d236fb3_b

Do you want God to speak to you?  Would you want to hear the audible voice of God? Maybe sometimes we wish God would speak to us audibly. We want to hear His voice. After all, there are certain preachers who claim that God speaks to them. They say, “God told me this,” or “Jesus was speaking to me the other day.” Wouldn’t it be great if we could all hear God?

Or maybe we feel like our circumstances and difficulties are so unique that only direct audible speech could guide us. We have tough decisions to make and wish God would shout from on high and tell us exactly what to do.

Yet, I highly doubt those preachers actually hear God’s voice. Some of them are truly hucksters and liars; others are likely just overanxious leaders thoughtlessly using charismatic jargon.

Furthermore, I don’t think we would necessarily enjoy God speaking to us audibly. The Bible talks about people God spoke to directly and they did not like it very much.

For one reason, God’s voice was a terrifying experience. Folks are fond of the Elijah story where God spoke in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). We figure we could handle that. But that is more the exception than the rule. God spoke to Job from a whirlwind (Job 38:1; 40:6). In the book of Job, great winds blew over houses (Job 1:19)! We forget God spoke on Mount Sinai and that the Israelites did NOT want God to speak directly to them (Exodus 20:18-21). Similarly, at the voice of God, men fell down afraid (Matthew 17:5-6) and even mistook His voice for thunder (John 12:28-29).

Secondly, when God spoke to people, He did not talk to them about what they wanted to talk about. He said what He wanted to say. He told Abraham to start moving cross-country without naming a destination (Genesis 12:1). The Bible does not indicate that Abraham had been praying about making a move in his life. Or God directed Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Genesis 22:1-2). There’s no way that had been a question on Abraham’s heart! Job faced terrible circumstances and he thought he was ready to demand answers from God (Job 23:1-7). But once God started talking, Job could only cover his mouth (Job 40:4). God was not inclined to answer a single one of Job’s complaints (Job 38-42).

No, God does not speak to His people audibly today. And since God is all-wise, I’m going to say that is not a bad thing. Know that God has already spoken to you! He speaks to His people every day and any time of day through His Word, the Bible. God speaks through the Scriptures, the Bible. The 66 books of the Bible (39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament) are inspired – God breathed!

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work,” 2 Timothy 3:16.

The 66 books of the Bible are not called inspired because they are in the Bible. Rather, they are in the Bible because they are inspired. The Bible is the collection, or library, of Scripture – God-breathed writings.

There is no other God and there is no other Scripture. The Bible is God’s revealed truth, His revealed will for our lives.

With God’s word, we are shown our world, how to understand it, and how to operate in it correctly. With God’s word Christians receive their standard for Faith and practice. With God’s word we have guidance for our lives: knowledge, wisdom, and counsel. With God’s word the great questions are answered: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?

Not only this, the Scripture is the standard we are given whereby to judge anyone who claims that God is speaking audibly to them (1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 14:37)! Great care and discernment is required when listening to anyone who claims that God is speaking to them.

As we read the Bible, study it, meditate upon it, and devote our heart to it, the Holy Spirit works through the word in our lives. The word of God is the Spirit’s sword, after all (Ephesians 6:17). It is living and double-edged (Hebrews 4:12). When we take it up, it is He who wields it to

  • pierce our hearts
  • slay sin, error, and doubt
  • wage the great war for the souls of men against the evil one

Instead of waiting for thunder, read your Bible. The Bible is God’s true, constant, accessible, and near voice in our lives. Let’s start every day reading it. And let’s be sure to launch out on a new week with God’s Word.

By Andrew Roberts