Richard Agee

Abraham: An example of hope and trust in God, part 1

Richard AgeeThis is the first part of a recap of Abraham’s life, looking at about two dozen key events that show why God picked him to be the start of a special group of people on Earth and to be a key example of trust in God being considered righteousness.

God set the stage with Abraham first. We can see God’s pattern in the lives of Abraham, Yitskhak (Isaac) and Ya’akov (Jacob). 

We will look at how Abraham respond to God but also how God responded to Abraham. In Genesis 11, it starts with the world having one language with one goal. God intervened and changed the goal and changed the history of mankind. God changes history even though people like to believe that they make and change history. They are simply God’s instruments. 

God scattered all the people all over the earth, and at that point, we see God sets his attention on Terah, Abraham’s father. At this point, Abraham may have had no idea that God was dealing with him too. We read that God called out Terah, Terah’s sons, nephew and daughter in law out of Ur. This is when we meet Abraham. 

When we look at our lives, God started moving us even before we acknowledged Him. This movement is not always pleasant. For example, Terah lost his son Haran when he started moving towards God’s will. 

The Jewish world teaches that Terah was a pagan idolator, but that is not what we read in Genesis. These events occurred plus or minus 500 years after the world. They were fully aware of the events of the Flood and the scattering of the people and languages. This was relatively recent history to them. They knew this El Shaddai very well. We need to stick with what is written in scripture. 

Some of us read this story and just consider it a fascinating piece of history. 

The second profound event in Abraham’s life was when God called him to leave his father’s house and to go on his own. Terah’s family was a special family that Terah was willing to pick up his family and move them. The place that Terah established in Haran is where Isaac’s wife was born and raised. Haran was also the place where Jacob found his wives. They were a people who knew the one true God. 

They were no different than us and we are no different than them. Their walk with the Lord had ups and downs too. 

Abraham did not go alone, his wife, his nephew, his niece and their children left Haran with him to obey God’s call. 

Without Abraham, we would be in a totally different world, a world of doubt and unbelief. Because of Abraham, we can be called the sons and daughters of Abraham and know his God. 

God started with Abraham because Abraham trusted God and Abraham past those tests. 

The third event occurred after he arrived in the Promised Land. He arrived in the area of Shechem. God appeared to Abraham and told him that his descendants would inherit the land. Abraham built his very first altar there in gratitude to God. This place became a very important place for Jacob later as well.

At this time, Abraham did not have a single child. He was already 75 years old and Sarai was 65 years old, yet Abraham responded in faith and built the altar there. 

After this, Abraham kept walking south and got caught in the world’s first recorded drought. There was no rain so he went to an area that had more water, the land of Egypt. When he arrived there, he met the Pharaoh. We read that Abraham “lied” to the Pharaoh about Sarai identity. God had mercy on Abraham despite Abraham’s “lie” and blessed him anyway.  

Each of us have to walk in a the wilderness for a time by ourselves and wait, sometimes it takes a while and we wonder if God is mad at us. Sometimes God has to separate us from everyone that makes our lives comfortable to move us closer to Him. Just as Job says, “God gives and takes away.” God gives blessings and sometimes He takes them away too. God gave you life and He can take it back anytime He wants. 

When Abraham left Egypt, he received a lot of material wealth and honor and returned to the Promised Land. The scripture doesn’t tell us that Abraham was wealthy before he went to Egypt but when he returned, he had livestock, silver and gold. 

When Abraham returned to the Promised Land, he went straight to the area near Bethel. He called out to God. We don’t know what God and Abraham discussed with each other. Abraham went back to the first place he had spoken with God. 

After this, there was a battle between Abraham and Lot’s herdsmen and the Canaanites. This is how Abraham and Lot went their separate ways.

“Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere — this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah — like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar.” (Gen. 13:10)

If you visit there today, it’s so barren and desolate you can’t even grow weeds there but in Lot’s time, it was a beautiful, bountiful land, good for cattle. God was deliberately separating Lot and Abraham. 

After Lot left, God tells Abraham that all the Promised Land was for his descendants, not to Lot’s descendants. 

From there, Abraham moves his household to Hebron in the plains of Mamre and he built a second altar there. After this, a war broke out in the land when four kings from the east came to Canaan to try to the five Canaanite kings, including the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. The foreign kings pillaged the land, including kidnapping Lot’s family. Abraham made an allegiance with some of the Canaanite tribes in the area and went to war to get his family back. Abraham’s victory in his battle created a leadership vacuum in the east and save Canaan from foreign control. The eastern kings were not a threat to them any longer.

Abraham delivered the kidnapped people and the goods back to the Canaanite kings. Abraham’s victory was an act of mercy on behalf of those Canaanite kings but we read later that they didn’t learn the lesson and ended up burning in flames. 

Abraham meets with the King of Salem, Melchizedek, and received a blessing from him.

“He blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’” (Gen. 14:19-20)

After this, Abraham talks with God again, this time in a vision. God showed Abraham something. At this point, it doesn’t seem that Abraham had anything to fear. Abraham was a powerful, wealthy man. Yet God tells Abraham not to fear what He was going to show him because God had some heartbreaking news to show him. God is showing Abraham what he is going to do. God gives Abraham a prophesy about the Israelite’s sojourn in Egypt and their bondage there. The first generation in Egypt were treated well but by the fourth generation, they were very oppressed. It was at that point that God freed them and brought them back to the land. 

After this, Sarai gave Abraham her Egyptian slave girl, Hagar, to try to produced the promised heir through her and this is how Ishmael was born. Hagar took advantage of the position and mocked and oppressed Sarai, but Hagar’s exaltation was short-lived and she fled from Sarai. Hagar met the Angel of the Lord and he sent her back to Abraham and Sarai. The Angel also gave Hagar a prophecy of her son’s future and this begins the division between Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael had a father in his life until he became a teenager, when Ishmael and Hagar were reluctantly evicted from Abraham’s house.

God showed compassion to Hagar, but she had to return to Sarai to receive it. She submitted to God in this point and returned. This prophecy doesn’t seem like a blessing but God will redeem the children of Ishmael the same way He redeemed the children of Isaac and all the nations: through the death of His son, Yeshua. 

The prophecy the Angel of God gave to Hagar said, “He will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers” (Gen. 16:12).

We see on the nightly news how Hagar’s descendants are against everyone and everyone is against them. They even go against each other. The rejection they were given is the same rejection they dish out. We praise God there are descendants of Ishmael who have accepted the God of Abraham, Yitskhak and Yaakob.

Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.

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