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January 31, 2018

Abraham Feared But He Believed

God wants us to be willing to take correction and do what we hear. He shows us when we need to change attitudes and opinions.

II Timothy 3:14-16 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

God corrects us with his word, by preaching and by our pastor. If we don’t do what we hear, we’ll let it slip and be deceived.

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

When God asked Abraham to leave Haran, he believed God was talking to him and he went.

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

Haran was close to Ur of the Chaldees in Babylon where there was a huge library. The historian Josephus said Abraham was a person with great wisdom, “understanding all things and persuading his hearers, and not mistaken in his opinions; for which reason he began to have higher notions of virtue than others had, and he determined to renew and to change the opinion all men happened then to have concerning God; for he was the first that ventured to publish this notion, That there was but one God, the Creator of the universe…” Of the moon God that the people of Ur worshipped, Josephus says Abraham said, “If [said he] these bodies had power of their own, they would certainly take care of their own regular motions; but since they do not preserve such regularity, they make it plain, that in so far as they co-operate to our advantage, they do it not of their own abilities, but as…subservient to Him that commands them, to whom alone we ought justly to offer our honor…”

Genesis 12:1-4 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed…Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old…

Abraham was very intelligent, an orator, and a wealthy businessman. He knew God spoke to him and that God was the creator of the universe. God said to move to Canaan and he did it. When God speaks to us, we need to act. Abraham was intent on worshipping God and built an altar in Canaan to offer sacrifice. God told Abraham his seed would inherit Canaan.

Genesis 12:7-8 And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord…And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent…and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord.

When there was a famine in the land, Abraham didn’t ask God but moved to Egypt. The fear of man came on him. Fear is a basic human emotion. Abraham’s fear was for self-preservation because he was afraid Pharaoh would kill him if he knew Sarai was his wife. Abraham was 75 years old and his wife Sarai was a beautiful 65 year old woman.

Genesis 12:10-13 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there…And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore…the Egyptians shall see thee…shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say…thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

Josephus said when Pharaoh was plagued, he “inquired of the priests how he might be freed from these calamities, they told him that this his miserable condition was derived from the wrath of God, upon account of his inclinations to abuse the stranger’s wife.” When Pharaoh talked to Abraham, he asked why Abraham had done it to him.

Genesis 12:14-20…when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh…commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore…take her, and go thy way. And Pharaoh commanded his men…and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

God protected Abraham in Egypt from his ignorance of asking Sarai to say she was his sister. Many times God protects us from things we do ignorantly. Even when Abraham didn’t ask God about going to Egypt, God prospered him while he was there. God prospers us as he gives us time to grow, to listen to him and learn how to depend on him as our defense.

Genesis 13:1-3 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went…to Bethel…where his tent had been at the beginning…

When four kings came to make war against Sodom where his nephew Lot lived, we don’t see Abraham being afraid. He armed his 318 servants to go to war against the thousands of the four king’s armies. His strength was in the Lord.

Genesis 14:13-16 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram…And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them…And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

Years after God said to go to Canaan when Abraham was 86, he doubted God’s promise that his seed would inherit the land. Abraham asked how he’d know. God reassured him as creator of everything and said he’s Abraham’s shield and to not fear.

Genesis 15:1-8…the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the Lord came…saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness. And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?

Abraham believed and God counted it for righteousness.

James 2:23 And the scripture…saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness…

Sarah had doubts about having a child and gave her maid to Abraham. She saw it was wrong and blamed Abraham.

Genesis 16:1-6 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened…Abram’s wife took Hagar…after Abram had dwelt ten years in…Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar…when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid…and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee. But Abram said…thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee…Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled…

When Abraham was 99 years old, God said Sarah was going to have a child in the next year. It had been 25 years since God gave the promise of his seed inheriting Canaan. Abraham had doubts and fears but God always encouraged him.

Genesis 17:1…Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord…said…I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

Romans 4:18-22 Who against hope believed in hope…according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when…about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God…fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

God gave the covenant of circumcision. If Abraham hadn’t believed God, he wouldn’t have circumcised himself and the others.

Genesis 17:21-25 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear…in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and…every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said…Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen…

Abraham didn’t stagger at the promise of God, but he still had fears and told Sarah to say she was his sister. God told Abimelech that Abraham was a prophet. Once again God protected Abraham and Sarah.

Genesis 20:1-7 And Abraham…sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech… took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said…thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken…is a man’s wife. But Abimelech had not come near her…said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not…She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. And God said…I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me…therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live…

Abraham said that he saw the fear of God was not there and that’s why he said Sarah was his sister.

Genesis 20:8-14 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said…What hast thou done unto us? …that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin?…What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake. And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. And…when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother. And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.

God wanted Abraham to learn that God was his shield and defense. It took 25 years until Abraham had his son Isaac because God wanted him to learn to persevere and to let God do things in his time.

 

(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)