Going Deeper

Going Deeper

Genesis chapters 11-15 (9-23-17)

In Genesis 11-15, we move out of the Creation Era and into the Patriarch Era. Here we are introduced to one of the true fathers of our faith: Abraham! Abraham takes up a good portion of the Genesis narrative from his first mention in Genesis 11:26 all the way to his death in Genesis 25:8. But in Genesis 11-15, we are introduced to God’s covenant with Abraham that is truly so critical to us and the work of God in redemption through Jesus Christ.

Abraham’s story picks up in Genesis 12.

In the first three verses, we see the call of Abraham by God and one of the greatest and most critical promises of God in all of Scripture.

The Abrahamic Covenant

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

In this passage, we see the foundations for God’s covenant with Abraham (then named Abram).

The two primary promises to Abraham are:

1)          The promised land (of Canaan) and temporal blessings for those in the covenant.

2)          The spiritual promise of the seed/offspring to come–being the Redeemer, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

These promises lay the foundation for what will later be called the Abrahamic Covenant (established in Genesis 15 and ratified in Genesis 17).

What really makes Abraham special is that he obeyed God.

Genesis 12:4 records that after God called Abraham, and he went “as the LORD had told him.”

For his faith, the author of Hebrews “enshrines” Abraham in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 11:8 (NIV) By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

Surely, we have all had moments in our lives when we have had to trust in God despite not knowing what was ahead of us. This was life-changing and big for Abraham, and yet he knew and recognized the call of Yahweh, the LORD, and obeyed willingly, not hesitantly.

Now, Abraham was a fallen man and didn’t always do what was right.

Read again Genesis 12:10-20.

It is easy for us to look out only for ourselves–to ask others to lie or cheat or steal for our good.

In this moment, Abraham was not walking in accordance with his faith. Instead, he feared the hand of man and manipulated his situation for his own benefit. By the grace of God, this did not ultimately cause him or his wife harm, for God had bigger plans for them.

Abraham and Sarah were without a child of their own. This was a real source of shame in that culture and time, and yet God promised that Abraham would have a son.

Read again Genesis 15:1-6.

Abraham believed the promise of God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

It is important to see the work of imputation here again. We’ve seen that Adam’s sin was credited to the human race as our federal head, and, for the elect, Jesus was later credited with our sin and we were credited with His righteousness. Paul speaks of this in Romans 4.

Read Romans 4:1-8.

It is so important to see that we are not saved or credited with righteousness by God for anything we do on our own. The righteousness laid upon Abraham and us is God’s righteousness. It is not something Abraham produced. The Bible says that even the faith we have in God is a gift from God (cf. Philippians 1:29; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Therefore, Paul says we have nothing to boast about, for God’s righteousness and renewal is a gift of grace.

Romans 4:7-8 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Abraham, who is considered the “father of the faithful,” surely had his moments of doubt and disbelief, yet he still is exalted among men as an example of the faithful life. There are a few significant things we can learn from Abraham.

  1. Faithful

Abraham’s faith wasn’t an ignorant faith; his faith was a settled assurance and trust in the One who had proven Himself faithful and true: God Himself.

If we were to look back on our own lives, we would see the hand of God’s providence all over it. God doesn’t have to speak from burning bushes or part the sea waters to be active in our lives. God is orchestrating the events of our lives. Sometimes it may not seem that way, but Abraham’s life is evidence of this. Even Abraham’s failures demonstrate that God, while not removing us from the earthly consequences of our sin, graciously works His will in us and through us; nothing we do will thwart His plan.

  1. Obedient

Abraham’s life also shows us the blessing of simple obedience. When asked to leave his family, Abraham left. When asked to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham “rose up early the next morning” to do so. From what we can discern from the Biblical narrative, there was no hesitation in Abraham’s obedience. Abraham, like most of us, may have agonized over these decisions, but when it was time to act, he acted. When we discern a true call from God, or we read His instructions in His Word, we must act. Obedience is not optional when God commands something.

Romans 3:28 says, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

Theologically speaking, Abraham’s life is a living example of the doctrine of sola fide, “justification by faith alone.” Abraham’s faith in the promises of God was sufficient for God to declare him righteous in His sight. Abraham did nothing to earn justification. God’s grace is enough. The faith God gives His people is enough to set us free because of the perfect work of the redeemer, Jesus.

We see the workings in this of God’s grace very early in the Old Testament. The gospel didn’t start with the life and death of Jesus, but rather it was promised all the way back to Genesis. In Genesis 3:15, God made a promise that the “seed of the woman” would crush the head of the serpent.

The rest of the Old Testament chronicles the outworking of the gospel of God’s grace through the line of promise beginning with Seth (Genesis 4:26). The calling of Abraham and the familiar promise of Seed was just another piece in the story of redemption (cf. Galatians 3:16).

  1. Faith is not hereditary

Another big take away we must see in Abraham is that faith is not hereditary. All through the Gospels (cf. Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8; John 8:39), we learn that it is not sufficient to be physically descended from Abraham to be saved. The application for us is that it is not sufficient to be raised in a Christian home; we cannot ride into heaven on the coattails of someone else’s faith.

God is not obligated to save us simply because we have been raised in a godly family. Paul uses Abraham to illustrate this in Romans 9, where he says not all who descended from Abraham were elected unto salvation (Romans 9:7). God sovereignly chooses those who will receive salvation, but that salvation comes by grace through the same faith that Abraham exercised in his life. Each of us must have our own saving faith in Jesus and not lean on someone else’s.

  1. Faith that does not show fruit in righteous works is not real saving faith

Finally, we see that James uses the life of Abraham as an illustration that faith without works is dead (James 2:21). The example he uses is the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. Mere assent to the truths of the gospel is not enough to save. True saving faith will result in good works of obedience that show a living faith. This is not perfection; rather, it is a growing in obedience to the revealed will of God. The faith that was enough to justify Abraham and count him as righteous in God’s eyes (Genesis 15) was the very same faith that moved him into action as he obeyed God’s command to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham was justified by his faith, and his faith was proved by his works.

  1. God fulfills His promises

Finally, God called Abraham out of the millions of people on the earth to be the object of His blessings. God used Abraham to play a pivotal role in the outworking of the story of redemption, culminating in the birth of Jesus. In Matthew 1, we read about Jesus’ genealogy and in its opening, we read the critical understanding that Christ was a son of Abraham:

Matthew 1:1-2 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

The redeemed in all generations are called the “children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). The work that God set out to do for us all in Christ came through Abraham. Aside from Moses, no Old Testament character is mentioned more in the New Testament than Abraham. Abraham is a living example of faith and hope in the promises of God. Our lives should be so lived that when we reach the end of our days, our faith, like Abraham’s, will remain as an enduring legacy to others.

By grace, through faith in Jesus, may we, too, be a part of the legacy of blessing that comes through God’s covenant with Abraham and is fulfilled in Jesus Christ–that we, too, would not only be blessed but be a blessing to others.

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

By His grace and for His glory,


Soldiers for Jesus MC