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God Chooses a People

 

Gen. 12:1-7, 15:5-17
Bible Studies for Life, June 9

 

One truth clearly taught in the Bible is that God has taken the initiative when it comes to the establishment of a relationship with us. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” Genesis 12 gives us the first steps that God took to bring people into a right relationship.

Our relationship with God is not determined by our works or worthiness. We cannot work enough or be worthy enough to receive God’s grace and love. Our relationship is based on God’s love, initiative, and faithfulness.

We are called on to respond with faith and obedience to God’s intervention in our lives to bring us to where we need to be.

In Genesis 6:5 we read: “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In the first eleven chapters of Genesis, we see that man’s sin and rebellion cause him to get further and further away from God’s plan and purpose.

Someone has said, “Sin will take you further than you want to go, cost you more than you want to pay, and keep you longer than you want to stay.” Genesis 1-11 sets the stage for the rest of the book of Genesis.

In chapter 12, the story changes and begins to reveal to us God’s action in bringing His creation back into a right relationship with Himself.

That action by God is namely to bless the whole world through Christ, who was Abraham’s seed. The rest of the Bible is the unfolding of the promise that God made to Abraham.

 

A plan for God’s blessing - Genesis 12:1-3

It is hard to leave the familiar and go to the unfamiliar, but that is exactly what God called on Abram to do. He was to leave his home, relatives, friends, and all that was recognizable and go to a land God would show him.

The call Abram received from God came with a plan to bless him and his descendants. A great nation would come from Abram, and he and his descendants would receive the gift of land. These events would become the basis of major themes of the Bible.

Abram learned what all of us must learn – God usually shows us His plan one step at a time. That first step is the important step; if we do not take it, the other steps won’t matter. If we are to participate in the blessing of God’s plan and purpose, we must take many steps of faith and move out of our comfort zones when God calls.

 

A procedure for God’s blessing - Genesis 12:4-7

Someone has said, “You would think that Abram was leaving an unfamiliar place to go to a familiar place, rather than a familiar place to an unfamiliar place, as fast as he obeyed God.” In verses 1-3, we read about the call and commission of Abram and in verse 4 we read about his immediate obedience.

Nothing pleases God more than the immediate obedience of His children. We must obey God even when we do not understand the why, the what, and the when.

One of the things that can help us with our obedience to God, even when we do not understand fully what God has asked us to do, is to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). In Genesis 12:7, we read where Abram built an altar to worship God. One of the best definitions that I have heard of worship is that, “Worship is being preoccupied with God.” If we are preoccupied with God in worship, there will be a sense of assurance and confidence; even though we do not understand, God will always lead us in the right direction.

 

A promise of God’s blessing - Genesis 15:5-8, 13-17

The promise that God made to Abram and his descendents was to be appropriated by the faith of Abram and those who followed him. One of my favorite faith passages in the Bible is Romans 4:20. Notice what Paul said about Abraham: “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.”

I often tell people that God has given me the privilege and responsibility to shepherd, “A promise from God is better than having something in your hand.” If God has said it, you can count on it, you can take it to the bank. God is always faithful and He always keeps his promises.

The promise that God made to Abram was not because of Abram’s goodness or righteousness; it was because of his faith (Gen. 15:6). This passage is quoted several times in the New Testament (Rom. 4:3, 22-23; Gal. 3:6, James 2:23) and is a part of the plan of God for salvation.

In Genesis 15:18 the Bible says, “ In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” A covenant is an agreement between two or more people which is based on a promise. God made a promise to Abram that he would make of him a great nation, that he would bless him, and make his name great so that he might be a blessing to others (Gen. 12:2-3).

God is obligated to fulfill the covenant He made with Abram and his descendants. Just as the covenant with Abram was based on the initiative of God, so is the covenant (salvation) He has made with us through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.