Today we are in Genesis 12-25 as we look at the story of Abraham. Abraham not only went through a name change, but he went through a change of heart.
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good morning calamari that's greek if you're edward my greek teacher is here today so i'm not going to speak any greek at all it's not going to happen all right okay so i have a question for the married couples out there when you leave the house do you ever take your wedding ring off if you do why there could be work related reasons right maybe you operate machinery or something like that and the ring is going to cause your hand to get stuck a normal ringtone that's pretty good so maybe you have some good reasons for that i don't know but if you do this is your spouse okay with it do they know now some people are definitely not okay with this and so they come up with this remedy they get the wedding ring tattooed on the finger it seems to work i actually know people who have done this i'm not gonna name names but for example the johnsons they did that so you know i guess it works but anyway now here's another question if you take the wedding ring off are you still married does it still count many moons ago i got married almost 20 years ago now hard to believe and when we got married you're kind of nervous right a lot of emotions it's normal big day not cold feet though we had a nice long engagement and courtship just normal nerves now heather might have been a little more nervous than me because when it came time to exchange the rings her turn came and she put the ring on the wrong hand so i let her do it i didn't want to ruin the moment it might have been my fault i could be wrong right learn a lesson guys it could have been my fault if i was like black belt level married i would have said it was totally my fault i mean i had the right hand a little too far forward and it just you know hands they both kind of look the same you know so what are you going to do anyway my fault she put it on so i just didn't say anything as it was happening i didn't want to ruin the moment but after the ring was on i looked at the officiant and i said does it still count we need to do this over again all right today we find ourselves in genesis chapters 11 through 20ish that's a lot i'm not going to read it all to you i'm going to paraphrase a bunch of it we're going to talk about abraham or abram he's kind of a big deal in the old and new testament jesus says before abraham was i am in john 8 to proclaim his deity they want to kill him for that because abraham's a really big deal if you like the parables and you jump over to luke you get to chapter 16 and you have the parable of the rich man and lazarus lazarus is a poor guy he's got sores all over him he's not doing so good and the rich man doesn't care passes by him doesn't even give him anything to eat there are sores all over him and dogs are looking at him it's kind of gross well he dies and he goes to heaven the rich man dies and well he goes to hell but if you read the greek it is called heaven the bosom of abraham that is where he is that's how important abraham is and the rich man has a dialogue with him basically you're not getting out of here i can't give you anything to drink sorry you had your chance anyway the point is abraham big big deal we're in chapter 11. and we get to more genealogies more people we go from noah his son shem and now shem's line his descendants we go through about seven ish super generations starting at people who live 500 something years old and then it starts narrowing down here it's about 230 years old and then we get to terra this is abram's dad and it talks about his family you might know some of them lot sarah or sarai at this point i will explain later then you get to 12 and it says this genesis 12 verse 1 the lord said to abram leave your native country your relatives and your father's family and go to the land that i will show you i will make you into a great nation i will bless you and make you famous and you will be a blessing to others i will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt all the families on the earth will be blessed through you so abram departed as the lord had instructed and lot went with him abram was 75 years old when he left tehran he took his wife sarai his nephew lot and all his wealth his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at haram he headed for the land of canaan when they arrived in canaan abram traveled through the land as far as shechem there he set up a camp beside the oak of mora at that time the area was inhabited by canaanites then the lord appeared to abram and said i will give this land to your descendants and abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the lord who had appeared to him so just a note did you notice that it is god who decides who gets to be famous another little reversal of babel it is said that abraham had great faith the book of hebrews defines faith for us 11 1 faith shows the reality of what we hope for it is the evidence of things we cannot see that is my mistake there it is hebrews 11 1. i just typed it wrong i was wrong make robert feel good today too everybody i can do that for you you learn that in pastor school now i've i've told you before that the new testament is the best commentary we have on the old testament so let's hang there for a little bit in hebrews because of abraham hebrews says this 11 8 it was by faith that abraham obeyed when god called him to leave home and go to another land that god would give him as it is inheritance he went without knowing where he was going and even when he reached the land god promised him he lived there by faith for he was like a foreigner living in tents and so did isaac and jacob who inherited the same promise abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations a city designed and built by god today we're going to skip around a little bit we're going to look at larger sections of scripture so i get it the verse of the day can be nice sometimes when you read a chapter you get a little better idea of what's going on the context but when you read whole books or large sections you really get to know the context and you begin connecting dots on certain topics the bible does that it'll kind of go in and out especially when it tells stories like movie scenes it'll cut away to something else going on either before after or at the same time so this morning what we're going to do is skip around and connect the dots look at this story topically two weeks this week and next week on abram then abraham and we'll see what's going on here so eventually here's what happens they're traveling and lot and abram separate why they're herdsmen you have lots of sheep probatos anyway and they have lots of workers and they're they start quarreling there's problems there so abraham does this he says look pick any land out there he does and so we see something very important the sodom story actually begins when lot walks by sight and not by faith begins right here at this choice so they outgrow one another abraham says pick lot picks the beautiful but wicked land this gets him to sodom and again before we get to that sodom and gomorrah account there's another important thing that happens lot gets enslaved so we can see that choosing the thing that just looks beautiful can sometimes get you enslaved this is where the married men need to be quiet something happens lot gets to sodom then cut away seen kettley omer he's this king people don't like him for whatever reason 12 13 years goes by and there's a series of battles against him then you get to the valley of the dead sea sit him and there's like this final battle there you have catalina and three kings and then you have on the other side sodom the king of sodom the king of gomorrah and three other kings four against five but there's tar pits in this area and the people from sodom get stuck so kettley omer defeats them takes a bunch of plunder and the people including lot abram finds out about it or abraham finds out about it and he takes 318 trained men he attacks kettley omer and gets the stuff back the plunder all the stuff and lot as he's going back home he runs into a guy we've talked about in the past melchizedek very mysterious character hebrews tells us about him hebrews 7 starting at verse 1. this melchizedek was king of the city of salem and also a priest of god most high when abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings melchizedek met him and blessed him then abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to melchizedek the name melchizedek means king of justice and king of salem means king of peace there is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors no beginning or end to his life he remains a priest forever resembling the son of god resembling the son of god he's a christophanies a type of christ that appears what was the point in the book of hebrews the whole point the whole thing jesus is superior to all of these old testament things so the author a preacher picks a great high priest it goes on to say even better than aaron and that priesthood from levi the priests in the law of moses melchizedek is even better than him he uses something very interesting to make that point he says that the seed of levi was in abraham when he tithes to him so priests from the law of moses tithe to melchizedek making him better but the point is that jesus is superior even to that great high priest good point good connection to jesus let's keep going after this lot he goes back to sodom so we're going to take a little jump into 18 19 of genesis but just before it you have this interaction with these three men very interesting we'll get to that interaction between sarah and abraham and these three men and well next week we'll do it next week but it's important because after the interaction two men go to sodom the lord is going to destroy it third one the lord stays so those are the two angels that go the lord stays and he says well should i tell abraham about this what i'm about to do he said okay i will so he tells him abraham intercedes we see people do this with god in the old testament moses for example intercedes for the israelites but abraham he's kind of like a good lawyer he starts lawyering god he says wait a minute you shouldn't punish the righteous people with the wicked people so what if there are 50 righteous people there would you still destroy and god's like nah you know what i'll spare it for the 50 people i don't mean to interrupt you and you're destroying here god but what about 45 how about that okay i'll spare 45. excuse me don't be mad at me god but what about 40 okay 40. he keeps going 30 20 10. okay we get him down to 10. he's a really good negotiator remember that then you get to the typical story sodom and gomorrah most of you kind of know it even if you've never read the bible you get it right you have the angels they're there to get lot and his family out of there and then place gets destroyed and his wife not a very good listener maybe she has an itch i don't know she looks back and turns to a pillar of salt that's what you know but there's some pretty gross stuff going on in this story we're going to get disgusting today so here we go there's kind of like a courtyard scene in sodom if you're paying really good attention when you read your bible it kind of resembles another story in judges 19 the levite and the concubine another gross story we'll get to that later but in that story it causes quite the rift it's a very similar scene similar things happen tribe benjamin gets in a little bit of trouble we'll get there later but just connecting dots for those of you know or you can jot it down judges 19 i hope i said judges but anyway going back courtyard scene the angels come into town lot sees them and they're going to stay in the town square lot says nope don't do that don't stay in the town square lot probably knows the people there are really evil bad dudes so if you stay out here there's going to be trouble i insist wash your feet eat stay at my house tonight no no we'll stay at the square finally he convinces them to do it they go in the house well sure enough the men there are evil this is why sodom gets destroyed they're wicked they are engaged in sexual sin so they're demanding that lot sends the angels they think they're men i guess we want to have our way with them lot's like no take my virgin daughters again similar to judges 19 what happens here they say no we don't want them we want the men angels are like all right we had enough blind them they get confused and kind of scatter then he grabs lot's family or the angels grab lot's family his daughters his wife lot and lead him out of town gets destroyed pillar of salt but the angels say go to the mountains go there well it's like no no no i don't want to do that what about that little town zohar it's a little place they say okay fine so they go lot and his two daughters and live there for a time but it says lots scared of the people he leaves and he goes and lives in a cave well the daughters must have forgotten that there are still people in the world like in the little town they think there's no one else in the world to populate with so the best solution to this problem is of course to sleep with your father so that's what they do first the oldest then the youngest now you may have known that but you might not have known that what happens here actually connects to jesus a lot of people don't know the oldest one is moab from father it sounds like in hebrew interesting well if you know about ruth you know she's a moabite she's from this genealogy and ruth makes her way into jesus's genealogy a story of redemption will get there they didn't have faith i guess now as i said abraham being an important figure he's written about an old and the new testament as we saw from hebrews paul talks about him in galatians and romans we're going to save galatians for next week but here's what it says about him in romans actually it says a lot about him in chapter four no one got that it was just that bad romans 4 3 for the scriptures tell us abraham believed god and god counted him as righteous because of his faith now we're going to look at covenants today this is going to be really important and we'll see that even before abraham did anything like it circumcised he had faith but abraham is a little worried because he doesn't have a son and so he thinks eleazar is going to get all his stuff he's going to be his heir so the lord says genesis 15 4 the lord said to him no your servant will not be your heir for you will have a son of your own will be your heir then the lord took abram outside and said to him look up into the sky and count the stars if you can that's how many descendants you will have and abram believed the lord and the lord counted him as righteous because of his faith so we're into a little more hopping around here we have genesis 15 and 17. where we see covenants they're kind of two parts of this covenant the initiation and the promise and then what abraham has to do or abram abram we'll find out in a minute at the beginning here i want you to think of covenants as a marriage you can think of it like a business deal an arrangement between two parties but as this is initiated let's just put that in our minds this morning covenants as a marriage first genesis 17. so we're going to look at the covenant itself we'll hop over there genesis 17 4 this is my covenant with you i will make you the father of a multitude of nations what's more i am changing your name it will no longer be abram instead you will be called abraham for you will be the father of many nations i will make you extremely fruitful your descendants will become many nations and kings will be among them the name change abram exalted father to abraham father of many sarai gets a name changed too but hers is kind of similar sarah both kind of mean princess so that's that maybe she was like jealous like hey i want a name change too you know so they're like fine sarah means the same thing but whatever shut up it doesn't say any of that in there just so you know so covenants as we in the message version it says that so stop all right covenants have a sign noah everybody knows this what's the sign of the covenant noah a rainbow very good now let's look at the slightly more painful sign of this covenant with abraham genesis 17 starting at verse 7. i will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you from generation to generation this is the everlasting covenant i will always be your god and the god of your descendants after you and i will give you the entire land of canaan where you live as a foreigner now to you and your descendants it will be their possession forever and i will be their god then god said to abraham your responsibility is to obey the terms of the covenant you and all your descendants have this continual responsibility this is the covenant that you and your descendants must keep each male among you must be circumcised you must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the covenant between me and you circumcision is a sign of this covenant it is the removal of the foreskin the surrender of the first portion of the bodily instrument used to fulfill this covenant and the command to be fruitful and multiply it is a sign of a willingness to submit yourself a very very important part of yourself to god that's what it's all about now jesus fulfilled this when his parents had him circumcised we see that in luke chapter 2. but there is something you probably don't know that is the rest of this story it is said that throughout church history there is such a thing as a holy foreskin jesus's and it was a relic that had miraculous power and speaking of wedding rings saint catherine of siena this is in the mid 1300s to symbolize her marriage with christ was said to wear the holy foreskin as a ring on her finger you guys can say you now it's okay if we go back to about 13-ish years before the circumcision i'll change the topic now guys got really uncomfortable there there's an initial blood covenant in the ancient world you would have a blood covenant what would happen is you'd split animals apart and then the parties would walk through the blood as if to say if i break this covenant this should happen to me that's what's going on here so this is what happens between abraham or abram and god at this point so a cow a ram and a female sheep i think they're all three years old and there are a couple birds a turtledove and a pigeon but they don't get ripped in half just the animals i don't know why anyway it happens and then this is what happens genesis 15 17 after the sun went down in darkness fell abram saw a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses this is god passing through but there's a deeper purpose and foreshadowing of what we're going to see in exodus if you know your bibles you know about the passover account what's going on here they're in egypt enslaved god is now redeeming them from egypt it's going to lead them out then this happens exodus 13 21 the lord went ahead of them he guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire sound familiar this allowed them to travel by day or by night and the lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or the pillar of fire from its place in front of the people the lord initiates the covenant and leads the people with this pillar of fire and the cloud or smoke there's also another foreshadowing of egypt if we go back to chapter 12 of genesis there's a famine in canaan this is the reason that abraham goes to egypt get food same reason later in the joseph account we'll see that his family comes from canaan to egypt also god had told abram in the first part of the covenant that although he would greatly multiply they'd be enslaved for 400 or 430 years and this is what happens in the exodus account and also there's a foreshadowing of the plagues when this happens why it happens in exodus and it happens in genesis 2. because abraham or abram didn't always have faith genesis 12 it tells us that sarai at this time is very very beautiful even though she's 65 years old nothing wrong with that but i'm gonna get in trouble for that one but so but because you'd be thinking of them as young people they're not but abram is still worried that they're going to take his wife and kill him so he tells sarai to tell everyone i'm his sister right so they had the shirts they got to change them not i'm with so-and-so or i'm with that's my brother that's my sister and so she does this causes pharaoh in egypt to take her into his household not a lot of details about what happens after that i don't know but the lord inflicts plagues on them sound familiar right then they give sarai back to abram and escort him out of there but here's the thing it won't be the last time he does this if we hop over to chapter 20 we have a guy named abimelech and abraham now does the same thing she's my sister abimelech and his family get hit with a plague of infertility he gets kind of upset and he asks abram after god comes to him in a vision a dream tells him what happened he's like why did you do this so here's what it says genesis 2011 abraham replied i thought this is a godless place they want my wife and will kill me to get her and she really is my sister four we both have the same father but different mothers and i married her when god called me to leave my father's home and to travel from place to place i told her do me a favor wherever we go tell the people that i'm your brother because he is it's true so that seems pretty gross i told you today's going to be gross but even if you knew that most people don't realize that if we go back to genesis 11 there's more grossness going on abram's brother nehor married his niece that's haran his dead brother's daughter so abraham or abram took the wedding ring off a couple of times when we take it off does it still count you guys said yes that's true it does count if we are faithful it does if we're married in our heart if we're living faithfully and not by sight going after that which is beautiful like lot did and getting enslaved but living faithfully we must wear the ring on our hearts if we go to deuteronomy in chapter 30 we're coming near the end of israel's wanderings so they wander around for 40 years because they're disobedient after this redemption well there are blessings and curses pronounced the idea here is if the israelites are faithful to god they'll get the blessings right so they're pronouncing these things or they're gonna but if you are not faithful you'll get the curses so before you quote and deuteronomy to me about blessings read the rest it's pretty bad in fact through the prophet moses god tells them it's going to be bad you're going to be disobedient and all these very horrible things will happen to you but in the midst of it there's hope deuteronomy 30 6 a future time the lord your god will circumcise your heart and the hearts of all your descendants so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live it's not the only time the bible says that jeremiah 9 god is going to punish those with uncircumcised hearts tells it in reverse paul writes this no a true jew is one whose heart is right with god and true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law rather it is a change of heart produced by the spirit and a person with a changed heart seeks praise from god and not from people if we are faithful to the covenants that we've made in our hearts and not simply putting on a show with mere symbols or outward signs that can be taken off that which is planted in a fertile heart becomes deeply rooted remember the parable of the sower a fertile heart these things cannot easily be uprooted or taken off our faith will bring us into right relationship with god our firm belief in our mind and our heart that jesus christ rose from the dead and that he will come again and we too will rise with him in this way we live by faith and not by sight romans 4 20 abraham never wavered in believing god's promise in fact his faith grew stronger and in this he brought glory to god he was fully convinced that god is able to do whatever he promises and because of abraham's faith god counted him as righteous and when god counted him as righteous it wasn't just for abraham's benefit it was recorded for our benefit too assuring us that god will also count us as righteous if we believe in him the one who raised jesus our lord from the dead and he was handed over to die because of our sins and he was raised to life to make us right with god and therefore since we have been made right in god's sight by faith we have peace with god because of what jesus christ our lord has done for us because of our faith christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing god's glory amen