Posts Tagged ‘Abram’

Genesis 15

1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram. 
   I am your shield,[a] 
   your very great reward.[b]”
…but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”
6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
7 He also said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”
8 But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”


Do you have a dream?  Ever since I was about 8 years old, I’ve had a dream.  From that point, through my early teen years, I was driven by that dream.  I spent time- lots of time, investing in that dream with a determined focus.  I had posters on my wall that would inspire me.  I spent time training my hands and my mind.  When I wasn’t doing that I would listen very carefully to things that inspired me, and would try and try and try to imitate them as nearly and perfectly as I could.  I’d read news magazines, and books about the things and people who inspired me (this was before the Internet).  And I would dream.
High school- when I was getting close to getting there, I thought for sure my prospects would burst open, vast and plentiful, ready to be plucked, and it would be an amazing supernova of opportunity.  Then, I thought, real freedom to pursue with vigilance would come when I received my driver’s license.

Then God came along.  And not long after that, graduation.

Did the dream die?  Hooo no.  Something like that doesn’t just go away.

I thought I was going to go to college, then on to seminary.  My mom was proud, and it seemed like a noble direction.  But then I got to college, and seminary stopped looking right to me.  But I began to see how my blood-dream and my new path might meet.  Did the dream die?  Nope.  It got bigger.  And now- now I had God on my side.
Four years later, I’d tried on 3 or 4 majors before settling on the highly revered and ancient discipline of Philosophy.  Did I mention the burgeoning new industry surrounding that academic path?  I didn’t?  Huh.

12 years later, 1 marriage (still going), 4 jobs (I might be hiding a couple), 2 houses, 2 dogs, and 4 kids later, and 26 chickens (okay, we’re down to 14, but we’re holding).  Dream still intact.  Sort of.

You see God will have His way.  But I still struggle, push, work, wriggle, (maybe scheme?) and wrestle with my circumstances, working, working, working to “make my dream happen.”

Abram had a dream too, it seems.  He wanted a family.  He had a wife, he had wealth.  He even had God on his side.  But for what?  He wanted to to give all of that to somebody.  He wanted to have a legacy.  I bet it scared him to be 75+ years old, and not have a family to carry his well established legacy.  And who would watch out for him when he got old?  You know, like 150?  Lot?  Psht.  He was living it up in the city.

Has God built you with a dream too?  Is there something that is so a part of your identity that it doesn’t really seem like an ambition, but more like a function of your existence?  Like if it stopped, you might die?

Maybe, like me, you’ve actually trained yourself to do something- or there’s some cause that drives you- propels you through your weeks.  And you can’t believe how much time has passed and how little ground you’ve actually covered?

God took Abram outside and told him to look up at the sky.  Not your sky, not my sky.  The sky that hung over the Saudi Arabian desert sky.  Before street lights and giant industrial parks.  Before oil wells and highways.  That night sky.  Have you ever seen that sky?  I saw it one clear night, high in the Cascade mountains.  Early summer.  Sun Mountain.  Bam.  Stars.  Wow.  We’d gone into the lodge for supper, and it was daylight.  People still mountain biking down the runs.  But when we left it was pitch. black.  Oh- except for all of the stars.  I don’t remember if there was a moon or not- just all the stars.

That’s the sky God showed to Abram when He said, “Count them, Abe.  Go on ahead and try.  THAT’s how big your family is going to be when I’m done.”

And the text says that Abram believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

But then, just a couple of moments later, Abram asks God, “but how will I know?

And God said, “Nevermind, you insolent, disbelieving worm.  I take back your credited righteousness.”

Wait- nope.  Sorry.  He didn’t say that.

So Abram’s righteousness- his “belief” remains intact.  Even though he questions God.  Even though he doubts?  Doubt and belief and righteousness can coexist?  Maybe the feeling of doubt isn’t strong enough to counteract the action that belief impels.

God builds dreams into us.  He builds strengths and abilities, and even desires for greatness.  Why?  Because it all suits His ambitions.  It becomes the thread he uses to weave his work.  He promised Eve to bring about a redeemer.  God doesn’t change his mind.  He changes ours to suit His.  And He LOVES LIFE.  He builds us to LIVE in our strengths, in our pleasures, and with great excellence, finesse, and ability.  Because how else would a HUMBLE God who rebuilds the LIFE and LIVING He loves work?

Look up at the sky.

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Genesis 14

1 At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar,[a] Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, 2 these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). 4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

 

That is a LOT of names.  No pun intended (if you’re not already aware of this, the heading in my Bible version for this passage is “Abram rescues Lot”).  Here’s a couple more for you (these are good biblical names, Moms)…

17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth. 
20 And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Kinda dry, I know.  And frankly, when names start rolling by like that, my eyes get a little hazy.  So I decided to chart this out a little bit and try to clear it up.  Here goes:

So, Kedolaomer is a BIG-SHOT.  He’s a super-power king.  Amraphel, Arioch, and Tidal- they’re his… “GIRLS,” we’ll say.  Please- don’t read into that.  I just didn’t want to out and out call them his “b*tches.”  I’m racy, but not insensitive.  So anyways, these three, “the GIRLS” bring tribute (read: pay heavy taxes) to “BIG-SHOT” to keep him from totally destroying them.  

So they go out to pillage and subdue outlying people-groups, to great success.  And they’re headed back, and to pass the time, and monetize the return trip, they take out a couple more villages.

So, on the way back, some more of BIG-SHOT’S  “GIRLS” decide they’ve been slapped for the last time.  That would Bera, Birsha, Shinab, Shemeber, and then another “king”.  Unfortunately for them, though you might think a returning army is tired, and ready to go home, they’re also well-practiced, and totally battle hardened.  Slap. Slap.  Whadjou say?!

So Bera and Birsha run back to their rooms, and BIG-SHOT’S army chases them back and then totally trashes the place.  In the process, Lot (estranged nephew of “Abram, the Hebrew”) gets swept up and taken as a prize.  Well, one lucky fella escapes and is running out across the desert when he runs right into brother Abram’s camp.  

After hearing that his nephew has been taken as war-booty, Abram rounds up three of his BFF’s (who happen to be stinging from just being trounced by BIG-SHOT too, and probably already have their blood up a little bit), and over 300 men to go straighten this mess out.

And he does.  Our 75+ year old Abram cleans up.  I mean he chases BIG-SHOT out of the neighborhood, back to HIS house, and then OPENS-A-CAN on BIG-SHOT.  And leaves with all the booty that he just picked up on his tour of the city (where he whipped five or six new neighbors into the fold).  So I’m thinking Abram had himself a pretty good haul.

Okay.  Deep breath.  Still here?  Good.  So Abram returns with all that stuff, and all those people.  And a new character emerges: Melchizedek, king of Salem, and priest of the “Most High God.”  And there is party.

It says in the passage that Melchizedek brings out bread and wine.  It says that he offers a blessing on Abram for his heroism and his Jack Bauer-ly rendering of social injustice.  Then it says that Abram gave Melchizedek a full tenth of all that booty he’d just picked up.  AND it says that one of the two kings that had previously took off running decides to generously reward Abram for his un-wimpiness, which Abram declines (which by the way would be quite an affront, and would probably induce great perspiration and heavy huffing).  And then that’s it.  Chapter over.

What?  What the heck was that?  I started looking a little deeper, using footnotes and such, and uncovered some very interesting stuff.  SO MUCH stuff that I’ve decided to write a sequel.  Not to the bible- to my blog entry.

What if I told you that Melchizedek was actually Jesus?  That Abram met Jesus right there in the desert, A COUPLE THOUSANDS YEARS BEFORE JESUS IS BORN.  Okay.  Commercial break.  Hang out, and after these messages, we’ll be riiiiiiiiiight back.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Genesis 13

1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.

The voice of God can be a very elusive thing.  This voice which has been heard from mountaintop of Sinai, and rumbling like thunder on the road to Damascus has also been a whisper to a hiding man.  It has even been silent in a dark garden.

How do you perceive what God is speaking?  If I say that God is for me- if I say that he has a special purpose and design for me, my strengths, my life- why is it so hard to hear Him answer when I seek direction?

Yesterday’s reading had Abram, called by God to leave his home and all that he knows to follow him to a place He would show him.  It’s interesting to note a couple things here.

A bit about Abram’s background.  His father had 3 sons.  His father was actually of a mind to move from Ur (think southern Iraq) to Canaan (modern day Israel).  The scripture from yesterday mentions that one of Abram’s brothers died, leaving Dad (Terah; several generations descended from Shem, son of Noah) with Abram and brother.  Abram and brother marry, and Terah decides that it’s finally time to move on and begins the family’s move from Ur to Canaan.  This is a seriously long walk.


The text doesn’t say why Terah was motivated to move from Ur to Canaan.  But it does say that he never made it.  It says they set out for Canaan, but they stopped in Harran.  He stopped.  In Turkey.  It says they “settled” there and that’s where Terah died.  A few pages to the right, and God is telling Abram, Terah’s son to leave, and that he would be made into a great nation of peoples.  So Abram, like his father, decides to leave.

I wonder though; Maybe God had spoken also to Terah?  Maybe Terah had been on the same mission, but somehow, somewhere along the way he lost faith?  Lost sight?  Stopped hearing?  Got discouraged somehow?  But God perservered.  Across generations, God prevails.  He calls Abram to pickup this mission, to go to the right place so that the right things could happen in exactly the right way.

So Abram and Sarai, (and Lot) pull their tent stakes, and leave Harran, and set their gaze south, on Canaan, this far off land that Abram’s father spoke of, and this land that God was calling them towards.  In fact, he doesn’t just go to the edge of it and stop.  He walks all the way through the other side.

Maybe what he saw at first wasn’t good enough.  Maybe he wanted to see just how far this awesomeness could spread.  I don’t know.  It just says he traveled to the far edge of the land, and built an altar.  Maybe he just didn’t want to fall short like his father had.  So he made sure he traveled ALL the way there.  God lays out the welcome mat and says: “well?  here it is!  Whaddya think?”  And stops.  Puts down his stuff, builds an altar and worships the Lord.

But he didn’t stay.  Huh?

Nope, he pulls up his stakes again and starts to travel again.  To a better place for a herder.  So he stops there and builds another altar.  And he “called upon the name of the Lord.”  But guess what?

He didn’t stay.  Again.

This time he begins to travel across the desert, across the vast Saudi Arabian peninsula, towards the land of Egypt.

So his dad had the courage to leave home and begin the journey, but got comfortable halfway there and quit.  Now, Abram has the courage to finish the journey, but walks right past the welcome mat.  Twice.

So he ends up in Egypt, worried for his safety, scared of losing his wife.  Sounds pretty great, eh?  So he and she conspire, and begin to lie about who they are.  When Pharoah discovers all of this, guess what he does?  Turns their butts around and what?  Sends them back.

Hmm.  So what does God sound like again?

Maybe God doesn’t sound like comfort.  I know, that’s lame.  I don’t think comfort and obedience are exclusive- God had made Abram a wealthy man.  But he was still plagued by insecurity and discontent, wasn’t he?

It’s tough though.  I think I’ve often used my circumstances and the way the tides move to be the flesh on God’s hands in my life.  But maybe it takes more than perceiving the direction of the wind.  Maybe it takes something deeper.  God welcomed Abram home, yet the land was soon rocked with a famine.  I guess the promised land has it’s bad days too.

Maybe the contentment that is illumined by God’s hand and our obedience is satisfied by something more than simple comfort.  I must seek the whisper, rather than the thunder.  Abram did religious things, building altars everywhere he went.  He was obedient, mostly.  But it still seems like he missed some key points.

What does this say?  To me, I hear him saying not to cheat the depth of contentment by looking at comfort and confusing the two.  They are different, profoundly.  But if you need a 2nd chance?  Look no further than this God.  God laid it out for him.  God appeared to Abram.  More than once.  And he still messed up.  Yet he is Father Abraham!  His descendants outnumber the stars in the sky, and the sands on the shore.  God uses 2nd chance people.  It would appear God uses 3rd and 4th chance people too.

Why?  Because God is perfectly Holy.  He is infinitely merciful.  He also NEVER breaks a promise.  And he promised Eve and Adam in the Garden that he would make a way, send a savior, through her lineage.  Why?  Because he loves LIFE, and that is what he made all of this to be.  ALIVE.

Genesis 12:

For the last two weeks, I’ve been examining Genesis, chapter by chapter, a day at a time.  Within the first two days, two clear thoughts were in the forefront of my mind:  Everything I need to know about God’s character- about who God really is, is made evident in the Creation account’s telling of God’s response to Eve and Adam’s fall into sin at the behest of the serpent.

When God confronts Adam and Eve about their disobedience, He curses the serpent, who drew their disobedience out, like a lure draws the prey.  He also chastises and disciplines Adam and Eve for the disobedience, and shows them the consequences, the  disalignment, that their disobedience will create.  God shows himself Holy and Just, and will never violate Himself or His requirement for perfection and Holiness.

But God also promises Eve to deliver a Redeemer, somebody who will be able to restore the communion of God and man.  God sends them out of the garden to prevent them from reaching out to the Tree of Life, and living forever in this broken state.  He shows Himself to be a merciful repair-er of broken things.
These two threads are pulled through the entire tapestry of the Scriptures.

By the time we get to Genesis 12, much has happened.

As children of Eve, we have watched generations come and go, and the promised deliverer has not come.  It’s been disappointment followed by disappointment.  From the first children, no deliverer came.  In fact, one killed the other.  Shortly, the chaos became the norm, and there was no hope in sight.  It was like Bangkok at it’s slummiest, everywhere.

God found one righteous man in that generation, and saved him and his family.  But he was still not the deliverer.  After the floods subsided, and the favored man’s family grew and grew and grew, again, they banded together to build a tower “that would reach to the heavens.”  This great tower would be their shelter, their pride, their stronghold.  And God came down to see this great work, but He was not pleased with it.  This tower represented the beginning of the end, again.  If they put their hope in brick and mortar, there would be no communion with God.  And so he scattered them, by confusing their language.  Still no deliverer.

And now we meet Abram.  God says to Abram, “leave everything your family has built for you, your comfort, your power, your wealth- leave it all and go to the place that I will show you later.”  The bible doesn’t describe the nature of God’s coming to Abram- whether it was a dream, or a vision, or whether it was just a pricking of the conscience.

God’s promise is an interesting one:

“I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you; I will make your name great.”

God’s way of making Himself true, God’s way of making His promise to Eve come as He promised, was to make Abram great.  Here, I believe we begin to see traces of the Servant King.  Maybe this will be a third cord in the tapestry.  He will be exemplified by Servant types.


As he did with Noah, and with Eve and Adam, He binds himself by a covenant to a mortal man.  He binds himself by a covenant to something He himself created.

Would you bind yourself in a promise to your cat?  Or a goldfish?  Let’s go a step further.  Would you bind yourself, unwaveringly, to a pancake?  Probably not, even if you somehow managed to make the pancake into a replica, and image, of yourself.  It would have to be a pretty good pancake.

This the Maker making a promise to the made.  Insanity.  Again we see God’s inclination to lower his stature.

Interestingly, Abram follows God’s calling to leave his comforts, leave his home, and follow him to a place unknown.  Abram goes, God confirms his call by coming again and making yet another promise (“To your offspring I will give this land,”).  Abram responds with worship, building an altar, and presumably burning a sacrifice.  But the next this we read is that there is a great famine.  Abram goes where God calls him, and there is hardship.  The kind of hardship that might cause a person to reconsider his direction.  So Abram goes down to Egypt.

I wonder if that was part of the plan?  Or if it was a blip.  Abram goes into Egypt looking to find relief from the famine in Canaan.  He’s concerned that the Egyptians will kill him for his smokin’ hot wife (it’s worth stating here, that the record says Abram is 75 years old).  So he lies.  He lies, and she lies.  These don’t seem like the kind of thing that God would have them do.  I don’t know.  I’m just spitballing here.  But Abram’s suspicions ring true and the Egyptians treat Abram well because they think Sarai is smokin’ hot.  But God, not to be derailed, sends illnesses and the such to Pharoah’s household such that Pharoah actually sends Abram and Sarai away.  Maybe puts them back on the right track?

God blesses what He has made to further show Himself true.  He protected Abram and Sarai, even when they went off track.  He’s demonstrated his humility again in lowering himself to make a promise to a mortal.  All of this in pursuit of His first promise to send us a savior capable of repairing the damage of Sin.