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sermon19 Gen14-25 Guide

Gen 15:1-7,17:1-7,21:1-6,22, 22:1-4,9-12,16-18 recitation verse Gen 17:1

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks true worshipers who worship Him with the Spirit and truth.

In the previous week, through the Scriptures from Genesis 11:27 to 13:18, we learned that after the incident of Babel Tower, the descendants of Noah were secularized fastly and began idolatry after they were scattered all over the earth. And even Terah and his sons who were the descendants of Shem became to live as idol merchant, worshipping idolatry, under the influence of idol worship prevalent in Ur of the Chaldeans. At that time, God called Abram and instructed him to leave his country, his kindreds, and his father's house and moved them to Canaan. During the process of settling in Canaan, God led Abram to put down his merchant skills, improvising cleverness and his nephew, Lot, that he had been relying on and changed to the person who relies fully on God. This week, we would like to see how God continue to transform him as the person of faith, endurance, and obedience, to learn from it together.

1) During the process of settling in Canaan, we saw that when, Abram encountered a famine, he freed into Egypt. In order to protect himself from killing, he lied to the Egyptian and Pharaoh that his wife Sarai was his sister. As a result, Sarai was taken by Pharaoh to be his wife. However, through God's divine intervention, she was returned to Abram, and they could come back to Canaan. And later, since conflicts arose between the herdsmen of Abram and those of Lot, they decided to separate so that Lot chose and moved to the Jordan Valley region and Abram remained in the mountain area. And then when Abram was alone, God appeared to him and reaffirmed the promise regarding the land and his descendants.

2) Afterward, a war erupted among the kings in the Shinar region and the kings in the Sodom area. In the midst of this war, when Lot and his family were taken captive, Abram led 318 trained men from his household, pursued the captors as far as Dan, defeated them, and rescued Lot and his family and all the seized possessions by pursuing them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Through this triumph, Abram became a man of power in Canaan.

3) At this time, God appeared to Abram and told him that a child from his own body would be his heir, and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. And Abram believed in the LORD and God counted it to him as righteousness. It was a significant moment when Abram's faith began to grow. And then Abram asked God for a sign to confirm the promise. As the ancient Near East culture when two parties make a contract, God made a torch covenant. In other words, God told Abram to bring a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon and cut them half and laid each half over against the other, and He split them in half and then a flaming torch representing God passed between these pieces, when it was dark, signifying His commitment to fulfill the promise. This ritual carried the symbolic meaning that if either party broke the covenant, they would be cut in half like the animals. However, only God passed through the halves, while Abram did not, indicating that it was a unilateral covenant from God's side based on God’s grace, since human beings, being imperfect, could not fully keep the covenant. And also through this torch covenant, God foretold that Abram's descendants would be strangers in a foreign land, serving as slaves for four hundred years. God also prophesied that He would bring them out with great possessions. This prophecy was fulfilled during the time of Joseph when a severe famine led Jacob's entire family to migrate to Egypt and after four hundred years, they became a great nation and were returned to Canaan, as the Exodus event.

4) As around 10 years passed, after Abram made the torch covenant with God, they could not have a son, so Abram had a son, Ishmael through Sarai’s maid servant because of Sarai’s urging. This not only led to domestic discord but also became the root cause of the perpetual conflict between Israel and Arab Muslims in the distant future. And then, when Abram reached the age of 99 and Sarai's womb was closed, God appeared to him again to establish the covenant of circumcision. God told Abram to be blameless before Him, promising him great prosperity and making him a father of many nations and God gave Abram new name of Abraham, meaning "father of many," and gave Sarai new name of Sarah meaning "princess." God also promised that He will give a son by Sarah and called his name Isaac. And God commanded that all males in Abraham's household should be circumcised. This circumcision became a symbol that they were God's people, akin to the baptism instituted by Jesus in the New Testament.

5) And then, when Abraham had an encounter with three angels and feed them, who came to his dwelling place, he heard God's plan to destroy Sodom due to its wickedness and Abraham displayed courage by interceding on behalf of the righteous inhabitants there. However, despite his plea, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their sinful deeds. Nevertheless, Lot and his family, who saved three angels from the hand of the Sodomites, were rescued. from the destruction. After this event, for reasons not entirely clear, Abraham moved to Gerar in Philistine territory. There, he once again lied that Sarah was his sister so King Abimelech took her as his wife. Yet, God intervened again and returned Sarah to Abraham. While residing in Gerar, Sarah eventually gave birth to Isaac, as God had foretold, and they named him Isaac. At the time of Isaac's birth, Abraham was 100 years old.

6) Afterward, Abraham came back to the land of Canaan, specifically to Beersheba, and resided there. And then the king Abimelech of Gerar made a covenant of peace with Abraham, after witnessing that God was with him in all that he did, And then, when Isaac became 15 to 30 years old (varies among biblical scholars), God commanded Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering in the land of Moriah on a mountain that He would reveal. In the early next morning, Abraham woke up early, took Isaac, and embarked on a three-day journey to Mount Moriah. There, he built an altar and bound Isaac, placing him on top of the wood. As Abraham raised his knife to sacrifice his son, God stopped him, saying, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." God further reiterated His promise to bless Abraham greatly and multiply his descendants, who would become a blessing to all nations. In this scene, we can witness the obedience of both Abraham and his son Isaac. As John 3:36 says, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life" and also Romans 1:5 and 16:26 says that obedience is the result of faith, we can know that faith and obedience are like two sides of the same coin. Abraham's faith, enduring various trials, ultimately led him to obedience.

7) Through today's passage, we would like to learn couple of lessons. Firstly, as we observe the transformation of Abram, who was once an idol merchant, into the forefather of faith, Abraham, we see that God's calling leads us to discover our identity, mission, and the true meaning of life as God’s calling demands that we leave our comfort zones, including our country, kindred, and father's house, to follow Him and then it makes us to put down our own strength, wisdom and people who relied on, and makes us to be transformed into people of faith, endurance, and obedience. Like Abraham, after we were called by God to embark on our own journey of faith, after leaving behind, putting all down and being matured, where through leaving behind, letting go, and maturing, I pray that we may truly discover our identity, realize our mission, and find the meaning of life that God has given us after becoming people of faith, endurance and obedience. Secondly, we would like to meditate on the endurance. As we look at Abraham's life, after he received his calling at the age of 75, it took around 10 years until he made a torch covenant and covenant of circumcision, after various trials, and also took around 15 years more to get the promised child, Isaac, in addition to 15 to 30 years more to re affirm God’s promise after the test to offer his son Isaac. All these ups and downs, until Abraham was built as a man of faith, it required a lot of time with endurance as the path of following the Lord, receiving His calling and promises, requires endurance. As mentioned in James 1:4, until God build us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, I pray that we, like countless witnesses and Jesus Christ Himself, may learn obedience from the patience of faith to be faithful and obedient servants.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 In Romans 1:17, it says, "For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from first for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'" Through the process from idol merchant Abram to be the father of faith, Abraham, witnessing how the seed of faith, sown by grace, eventually grows into a complete faith to receive, yet even offer him to God again, we can understand somewhat the meaning of "from faith for faith." I encourage us to reflect on our own lives and see how far our faith has grown and share our thoughts and insights with one another.

(Through this question, I hope we could understand that our faith, which looks like a small mustard seed in the begging, can grow bigger and bigger through the trials and endurance. As team members share their diverse experiences and thoughts, please listen and empathize with them, occasionally asking why they have such thoughts. I hope it will be a time of active listening and empathetic conversation with team members.)

Q2 As Hebrews 12:2 introduces Jesus as the "pioneer and perfecter of faith," He is the one who implants faith in us and perfects it. And also in John 15, as Jesus invites us to abide in Him, in His words, and in His love, while meditating and obeying to His words and keeping His new commandment to love one another, our faith grow while we are obeying to His words even with hardships. I invite you to look at whether you are truly abiding in Jesus, in His words, and in His love and to share your thoughts with your team members.

(Through this question, I hope we can understand that our faith grows as we dwell in God's words and strive to live a life of love and obedience even with trials. As team members share their diverse experiences and thoughts, please listen and empathize with them, occasionally asking why they have such thoughts. I hope it will be a time of active listening and empathetic conversation with team members.)

Love you. Thank you. God bless you.

Prayer Note

Dear ( God’s attribute which you found Today ) God!

Thanks for ( something you received through the sermon or even during the week )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( the sin God reminded through the sermon ),

please forgive (or heal) me and help me not to repeat ( the sins you recognized ).

I learned that ( something you learned through the sermon )

Please help me to live in that ( learned way of life )

I pray in ( Jesus’ attribute you find ) Jesus’ name. Amen.


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