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Now if you’ll come back with me then once again to Genesis chapter 12 and picking up the backdrop that out of a pagan society we know, as we studied a few weeks ago, that even the father of Abram, (or Abraham) Terah served other gods. And then if you know anything about your Old Testament stories, you remember that when Jacob was on his way back with his wives and his children and all of a sudden his father-in-law, Laban came chasing after him. And what was he all upset about? Oh, his daughters had brought their gods with them. g-o-d-s.
And so even at that late point in Jacob’s life, even his wives were still hanging on to their idols. So even the relatives of Abraham and Sarah and Jacob were still steeped in idolatry even though they were not part of a Canaanite tribe or anything like that, but by the time we get to Genesis 12 every one are idolaters. There is no knowledge of the true God whatsoever.
And in that set of circumstances, God sees the heart of this man Abram that it was fertile, it was open and so God revealed Himself to him in rather simplistic language. And all He says now, if you’ve opened your Bible to Genesis 12, we’ll look at it once again, where verse 1, "The Lord had said," remember that was back in chapter 11.
"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 show thee. (and then here’s the Covenant) 2. And I will make of thee a great (underline the next word) nation, I will bless thee, and make thy name great; And thou shalt be a blessing: 3. I will bless them that bless thee, (Underline that if you haven’t before.) And curse him that curseth thee:..." Now this is God speaking. This is God’s Word. And He cannot go back on it.
And we know that over the last 4000 years of time this has held true for the last jot and tittle. Any nation, any empire that has come down on the nation of Israel has seen its own demise. You can start with Babylon. You can go to the Meads and Persians, the Greeks, the Romans and now in modern history, you can take the likes of Napoleon, Bismarck, Great Britain, France, they have all stabbed the little nation of Israel in the back politically, economically and it isn’t long after wards until they fall. And so this Word is sure, it’s true, that any nation that blesses Israel will be blessed of God. Any nation that curses Israel will be cursed of God.
Now I’ve had people ask me, and very appropriately, "Les how many Jews do you know that know you have a love for Israel?" I don’t know a one. I’ve only known one I guess in all my life as a young gentleman, while I was in service. And I didn’t even know he was a Jew. But I love the nation of Israel simply because the Bible says to.
They are His Covenant People and once we understand what we’re going to be showing over the next several weeks, I think you will agree with me, that it is a blessing indeed to understand how God has used this little – and they’re so small, a nation. You want to remember that over the years of time, the nation of Israel has never been more than 15 or 16 million – total. And that’s about what they are today. All through the antiquities, they were only about 5 – 10 million. Now that’s not a lot of people when it comes to nations. But yet this is the little nation of people that God has seen fit to separate unto Himself and give them this Covenant. Now we didn’t quite finish it, come back to verse 3 where he says
"…and in thee (that is through Abram, through Abraham) shall all families of the earth be blessed." Now I know there will be some people that will violently disagree with me when I point out that at this point in time from Abram’s viewpoint, not from God’s necessarily, but from Abram’s viewpoint, this is what he saw that God was going to use the nation of Israel to come back into the mainstream of the nations of the world and bring them a knowledge of Himself.
Now Abraham had no full view of the cross as we know it, we pick that up from our New Testament, but granted the Old Testament is full of prophetic utterances that Christ would die, the Psalms says, "He would be buried, He would be resurrected from the dead, He would ascended to the Father’s right hand." Sure that’s all in the Old Testament, but Abraham back here certainly didn’t know that. Abraham just understood that God was promising him a posterity that at one time in the future would be used of God to bring a knowledge of the God of Abraham to the masses of humanity.
Now latent or dormant within this Abrahamic Covenant are three categories that I’d like you always to remember. Number one, He is promising Abraham that out of him will come a nation of people. Now it doesn’t necessarily have to mean 200-250 million people as we think of nations today. But they’re going to be a group of people who have a nationalistic character; I’m going to even qualify them as a set aside race of people. Now even a lot of Jews today do not seem to realize that to be a Jew is not just to embrace a certain religion. A Jew first and foremost is a unique race of people and to that race of people God gave a unique "religion," and you know I don’t like that word but I can’t think of a better one, when He gave them the Law.
But it wasn’t that keeping of the Law, it wasn’t that particular system of worship that made them Jews, it was their birth. It was their bloodline. Now, we’re living in a time when the whole Middle East is a boiling pot, isn’t it? And it’s not over by a long shot. And here’s why it is so thrilling, I think, to teach especially this Abrahamic Covenant, the whole mess in the Middle East began with that one man. Do you realize that? All of your Middle Eastern people are intrinsically connected to this man and all the problems present in the Middle East tonight have their roots in this man Abraham.
Number one the Syrians, who are not Arabs, the Syrians are not per se – the sons of Abraham, but Jacob and Isaac got their wives from the Syrians who, remember were the offspring of Abraham’s other brother and his father, Nahor. And Laban, from whom Jacob got his two wives, they were Syrians, but they were relatives of Abram back there as they came out of Ur of the Chaldees. Then when Abraham began to have his first son, Ishmael. And you remember the story; we’ll be coming to it in the weeks to come. Who are the people that come from Ishmael? Well, your Arab people.
And you’ve got another segment of Arabs coming out of the other son of Isaac, Jacob’s brother, Esau. But that all came from Abram. And then you see, as you come on through the account of the Old Testament, even Lot, a nephew of Abram, or Abraham, had sons by his two daughters after the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah, they also then become part of the Arab world. They are the ones in the Old Testament referred to as Moab and Ammonites and some of those. So, your whole Middle Eastern boiling pot all goes back to this one man, Abraham.
Now of course, it wasn’t that God goofed, so to speak. But as God let the human race operate under their free will, all these things began to happen. For example, Ishmael the father of the Arab people, who have been a thorn in the side of the Jew since days immemorial, you go back to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Read it carefully, and as they were trying to rebuild the Temple and the wall, it says that they had to build with a trowel in one hand and sword in the other. Well who was opposing them? The Arabs. And tonight, and most of the American people, and I think too many people in our government, can’t seem to comprehend that all of these Arab people have blood relationship with their arch enemy – Israel. And visa versa. But, what we have to realize from the Scripture is that even though all these people have these kinsmen, or a bloodline relationship with Abram, it’s only the Covenant line coming through Isaac and Jacob that God is going to use in this little, let’s call it a little creek of fresh water coming out of this old polluted filthy river of humanity.
They’re steeped in idolatry and now this little fresh water creek, God is going to purify with the idea of bringing it back into this old polluted river and by a miraculous chemistry of God Himself, He would be able to purify.
All right, so in this Abrahamic Covenant is a promise of a Nation. And you cannot have a nation of people unless they have what? They’ve got to have land to live in. They have to have a geographical area. So God’s going to promise them a piece of this old earth’s surface, the land. Now you put people within a geographical area, what do they have to have? They’ve got to have government. And so that’s going to be the third part of this Covenant, is that they’re going to have to have a government.
Now what we want to do in these next moments as much as we’ve got going on into the next couple of half-hours, is to chase down through the Scripture how that indeed God is over and over promising that these people are going to become a Nation living in a designated land. And with a future government that is beyond human comprehension. And this government would be when God Himself would be their King.
Now we also call that person, what? Messiah. The other words, let’s go a little further. The Greek is Christ. Messiah and Christ are synonymous. When you speak of Jesus the Christ, you are actually saying Jesus the Messiah. There’s no difference in the terminology.
All right, now let’s chase some Scriptures. Turn with me to Genesis chapter 15 and we’ll be coming back and taking these more or less verse by verse in weeks to come, but for now let’s just establish the fact that indeed when God made this Covenant with Abraham, that He promised them to be a Nation - let’s take that first, not the land, but to be a Nation. Genesis 15 and come down to verse 2. And all these things just point up how human all these patriarchs were. Now even Abram, as we have learned over the years, a great man of faith, wasn’t he? His name is as the Covenant says, he would be known worldwide and indeed there’s probably a name not as well known as Abram.
"And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me seeing I go childless,…" Now see how human he is and you want to remember he’s a man of over 80 and God’s promised him a posterity of people. How can you have people if you haven’t even got that first child?
"…and the steward (or the manager of my estate) is Eliezer of Damascus. 3. And Abraham said, Behold to me thou hast given no seed: (no child) and lo, one born in my house is my heir.’" In fact I like to qualify that – "my only heir." Who’s he referring to? Lot. His nephew. He’s the only thing I’ve got. He’s the closest next of kin. He’s the only one I can really rely on.
"And behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; (it’s not Lot. I’m not talking about him) but he that shalt come forth out of your own innermost being shall be thine heir. 5. And he (God) brings him forth abroad, and said, Look toward heaven, and count the stars, if thou be able to number them; (and of course he couldn’t could he?) and he said unto him, so shall thy seed (or your offspring) be." Now that must have been mind-boggling to an old man, well up in years. His wife’s just as old and they’d never had a child. And he looked up and he sees the stars and you mean to tell me that I’m going to be the beginning of that many people? God says, yes you are Abram.
"And he (what’s the word?) believed in the LORD (in other words, what He said) and He (the Lord) accounted it to him for (what?) righteousness." Now we have to go to the New Testament for a second, I didn’t intend to do this, but turn back with me to Romans because as we come up through the Old Testament I think the only way we can really get a comprehension of all that’s taking place is to see that it’s all happening for the reason of making a New Testament lesson, or an illustration.
"What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found? 2. For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; (or he could brag, he could boast) but never before God." Oh, he could tell all his peers, just look what I’ve done to merit favor with God.
You know I’ve always told my classes, and it makes people smile but I don’t say it to be funny, I say it in all the sincerity of my heart, can you imagine what Heaven would be like if we’d have to listen to everybody tell us all they did to get there? Oh hey, it would be the most boring place you’ve ever dreamed of. If every time you turned around you had to listen to somebody else tell you all that they did to get there. Oh, but it’s not going to be that way. None of us are going to be able to boast about what we did to merit Heaven, not even Abraham.
"But what saith the scripture?..." Not some denomination. Not some ecclesiastical group. But "What saith the scripture?" And this is all we can go on, and the Scripture says.
"…Abraham (what?) believed God, (and what did God turn around and do?) counted it to him for righteousness." He saved Abraham on the spot. Now there’s no works whatsoever in believing is there? Oh we’ve got to use the mind if you want to call that works. But there is nothing that we can do physically to merit something like this from God. But like Abraham, all God looks for is our faith, our heart believing. Now I’m not an easy-believer teacher. I do not subscribe to that and those of you who have been with me over the years know that. But for the person who honestly, completely with all his heart believes and trusts what God said, God does the same for us as He did for Abraham.
Now this is probably a good place to point out, I’ve had people come up to me after a class and say, "Well Les when we become a Christian, do we become a Jew?" You know what I always say? "Hey, I’ve been a Christian for a long time, do I look like one? Do you look like one? I’ve never seen anyone that did yet." And they’ll say, "Well no." "Well" I said, "if you became a Jew when you were saved, then you would have immediately have gotten the Jews black hair and his dark eyes and his large nose and all the other things that go with being a Jew. But you haven’t." "Well, somebody told me that as soon as I became a Christian, I became a Jew." No you do not become a Jew. That person told you wrong.
Now spiritually – spiritually we come into that position with Christ that Israel enjoyed as a Nation, I’ll grant you that. It’s a positional thing. But you don’t physically become a Jew at salvation. But, we do have an affinity to this man Abraham. And what is that? Well now if you’ll remember all through the Old Testament, no one came into a salvation relationship with God apart from some kind of work.
They brought a sacrifice. They worshiped at the Temple and all these other things. Granted it was based on their faith first and foremost, but it wasn’t faith plus nothing, like I teach to you tonight. It was faith plus – bring Me that sacrifice. And to make that clear, I always have to ask my classes, had someone back in that Old Testament economy, whether it was under Law or whether it was before the Law, if they would have tried to tell God, now look Lord, I know I’ve sinned but I don’t see any need for going to get my best lamb and bring it to you. Was that man accepted? No! He had to follow his faith with the works that were required.
Abraham did no such thing. All the references to Abraham’s saving faith is that he what? He believed. Plus nothing. Now that’s where we have a connection then to the man Abraham is that we too in this Age of Grace, are now brought into a relationship with God as Abraham was by faith and faith alone. By being obedient to what God told Paul for us in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and is known as Paul Gospel of salvation, "how Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again." So if you want to mentally connect yourself to Abraham, that’s the only way you can do it, that as he was brought into a relationship by faith and faith alone, so am I. And that’s where it has to stop because we do not physically become a son of Abraham in the flesh.
"Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." And remember all the things that so many people think we have to "do" today to merit God’s favor are works. And works is anything that we can do by just simply saying, "Hey, I guess I’ll do this or I guess I’ll do that. I guess I’ll go join that church. I guess I’ll go get baptized." Hey, those are all things that we can do in the flesh. But faith is something beyond the flesh.
"But to him that worketh (what’s the next word?) not,…" Now of course, I use the Old King James, I’m sorry for those of you who’ve got newer translations, but you’ll get the meaning.
"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Boy, that shocks people. I can always think years back of one man in particular who had just literally hit the skids and he had gotten down to the bottom where he was as he termed it himself – ungodly. God was so far from him that finally in desperation, he cried out one night. And he said, "God if you’re out there, save me!" But you see, that’s what I’d told him before - the only person God can save is the one who says I’m ungodly. And that’s the only person that God can save yet today.
All right, now let’s come back quickly to Genesis. We’re not even going to finish our references here on the Nation part, but let’s at least find a couple of them. Genesis 15, we just saw that Abraham is going to have people following him as numerous as the stars of the heavens. Now if you’ll come over to Genesis chapter 46. By now we’ve already come clear though the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and Joseph just recently has become the head man in Egypt.
And you remember the account of the seven famine years and the seven good years and so now there’s grain in Egypt. Joseph’s in control of it and Jacob the old patriarch father, now longs to be down there in Egypt. And in our closing moment, look what it says:
"And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: Now a lot of people don’t understand where the Nation of Israel came from, but it came as a result of Joseph being rejected by his brethren. He ends up in Egypt – God blesses him and he’s able to break the famine for his family up in Israel and they come down into Egypt, seventy souls. And for the next four hundred years they’ll be in Egypt and in that period of time, Israel becomes a Nation of people.
Now in those 400 and some years, they go from 70 some souls, and by the time when Moses will lead them out on that night of the Passover, there’ll be anywhere from three to seven million people, not counting the mixed multitude that came with them. So always remember that the nation of Israel became a Nation of people while they were in slavery in Egypt. And that’s when Joseph laid a requirement on them, remember what it was? Oh, someday God is going to take you back to our homeland, to Canaan. And when you go whenever it is, be sure you do what? "Take my bones with you." Now there again, someone had imparted to Joseph that the day was coming when God would take those people out of Egypt and put them back in their own land.