Job, living about 500 years after the flood, exclaimed, “I know my redeemer lives, and He will stand at last upon the earth; and after my skin is destroyed I will see God with my own eyes”. He clearly believed in a resurrection, and in God the Almighty.
Alas few of his contemporaries did, so God introduces a new way whereby the world can learn to love Him.
Now read Genesis 12:1-9 which takes place about 4,000 years ago.
God reveals Himself to a Pagan from whom He intends to build a nation who will represent Him on earth. His name is Abram.
Abram is given a challenge. God tells him to leave his country, friends, and relatives and go to a country that will be shown him.
That takes faith because Abram doesn’t know the outcome of his obedience, or what might await him in the new country.
Imagine. Abram lives in Ur of the Chaldeans, considered by some to be the most scientifically advanced city of that time.
If he wanted milk or meat or vegetables or a coat he only had to visit the local bazaar.
God is now expecting him to live as a nomad in a tent, milk and shear sheep and goats, and if he wants meat, to slit the animals throat and skin it.
God promises to:
Make a great nation through him.
To make Abram famous.
To bless him.
To cause Abram to be a blessing to others.
(Isn’t that something we all want to be?)
Then God offers a blessing to you and me. He says,
"I will bless those who bless you.
And curse those who curse you".
(A study of history, and individual testimonies, endorse this as true.)
(When did you last bless the Jews?
Or when did you last scorn the Jews?)
And then another astounding promise.
In you [Abram] will all the families on earth be blessed.
Billions of people around the world have found that to be true.
The Saviour of mankind, Jesus, is a descendent of Abram.
So Abram departed from Mesopotamia. He was 75 years old and his wife but 10 years younger, so you are never to old to obey God.
After Abram arrived in Canaan, later called Israel, God made another promise to him. God said, “I will give this land to your descendants”.
The Bible says the earth is the Lord’s, but many today think God doesn’t have the right to give land to whom He wants.
Abram’s re-action. To build an alter to the Lord, to make an offering.
What would your (or my) re-action have been?
Faith or disbelieve?
Building an alter to the Lord was to become a normal practice of Abram’s, as a means of showing visibly that he trusts and thanks God.
This should challenge us. Do we constantly do things that show we too have faith, trust and thankfulness towards God?
Genesis shows God really blessed Abram, in a multitude of ways.
Today the temptation is to want the blessings without demonstrating faith, because to demonstrate faith involves taking risks.
However, like us, he was not always sure how God’s promises were to come about. So when his wife invited him to sleep with her servant Hagar, to have a child, Abram agreed.
Despite his and Sarah’s age the Bible tells us Abram believed God, who renamed him Abraham as a sign he would become the father of many nations.
God reminds Abraham of His promise when he was 99 years old and sure enough Sarah bore Isaac when she was 90 years old.
Abraham faced many challenges to his faith. One of them was God’s promise he would have a son and countless descendants.
Perhaps the greatest challenge to his faith is in Genesis chapter 22.
God said to him, “Abraham!” “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt sacrifice on one of the mountains I will show you.”
This reminds us of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, whom the Father loved, who was to be offered, some 2,000 years later on the same mountain, this time on a cross.
This time not as a sacrifice to God but as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, that we could have our sin, guilt, and shame removed.
Early the following morning Abraham left with Isaac and two young men for the three day journey to the mountain.
Just as Jesus’ body lay for three days in the tomb, so for Abraham, Isaac was as though dead for these three days.
On arrival at the mountain Abraham said to the young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there and worship and then return to you.”
Isn’t that a remarkable statement of faith. Abraham was declaring that somehow God was going to resurrect Isaac who he was about to kill and burn.
Isaac, who was carrying the wood (Jesus also carried the wood before His death) was puzzled and asked, “Here is the fire and wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering.” We know that Jesus was described as the “Lamb that takes away the sin of the world” by John the Baptist.
Abraham builds an alter, arranges the wood, Isaac allows himself to be bound, (Jesus also allows himself to be bound).
Abraham draws his knife and is about to kill his only, beloved, son, through whom God had promised a marvellous future.
Only at the last moment does the angel tell Abraham not to harm his son. (In the case of Jesus He was not spared the agony of dying).
Abraham now sees his word to Isaac being fulfilled. He sees a ram caught in a thicket by his horns, which he offers as a sacrifice.
Later in scripture Abraham’s descendants are told that we should not offer anything torn. The ram caught by its horns would not be torn.
Notice: God provided a ram for Abraham. Only later would God provide a lamb, Jesus Christ the Messiah, the sin bearer.
In this episode we have caught a glimpse of the foretelling of a resurrection and foreshadowing of God’s provision of a sacrificial lamb, His beloved and only begotten Son Jesus Christ.
God also promised those who bless the Jews, God Himself will bless; and those who mock the Jews will incur His displeasure.
By faith in Jesus’ sacrifice we can have victory over sin, we no longer have to face the penalty for our sins, which are grievous in God’s sight, and we no longer need carry the burden of guilt and shame.