All posts by Disciples Church

Saturday Study

Saturday Study

Genesis 11-15 (1-20-18)

In Genesis 11-15, we move out of the Creation Era and into the Patriarch Era. Here we are introduced to one of the true fathers of our faith: Abraham! Abraham takes up a good portion of the Genesis narrative from his first mention in Genesis 11:26 all the way to his death in Genesis 25:8. But in Genesis 11-15, we are introduced to God’s covenant with Abraham that is truly so critical to us and the work of God in redemption through Jesus Christ.

Abraham’s story picks up in Genesis 12.

In the first three verses, we see the call of Abraham by God and one of the greatest and most critical promises of God in all of Scripture.

The Abrahamic Covenant

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

In this passage, we see the foundations for God’s covenant with Abraham (then named Abram).

The two primary promises to Abraham are:

1)          The promised land (of Canaan) and temporal blessings for those in the covenant.

2)          The spiritual promise of the seed/offspring to come–being the Redeemer, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

These promises lay the foundation for what will later be called the Abrahamic Covenant (established in Genesis 15 and ratified in Genesis 17).

What really makes Abraham special is that he obeyed God.

Genesis 12:4 records that after God called Abraham, and he went “as the LORD had told him.”

For his faith, the author of Hebrews “enshrines” Abraham in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 11:8 (NIV) By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

Surely, we have all had moments in our lives when we have had to trust in God despite not knowing what was ahead of us. This was life-changing and big for Abraham, and yet he knew and recognized the call of Yahweh, the LORD, and obeyed willingly, not hesitantly.

Now, Abraham was a fallen man and didn’t always do what was right.

Read again Genesis 12:10-20.

It is easy for us to look out only for ourselves–to ask others to lie or cheat or steal for our good.

In this moment, Abraham was not walking in accordance with his faith. Instead, he feared the hand of man and manipulated his situation for his own benefit. By the grace of God, this did not ultimately cause him or his wife harm, for God had bigger plans for them.

Abraham and Sarah were without a child of their own. This was a real source of shame in that culture and time, and yet God promised that Abraham would have a son.

Read again Genesis 15:1-6.

Abraham believed the promise of God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

It is important to see the work of imputation here again. We’ve seen that Adam’s sin was credited to the human race as our federal head, and, for the elect, Jesus was later credited with our sin and we were credited with His righteousness. Paul speaks of this in Romans 4.

Read Romans 4:1-8.

It is so important to see that we are not saved or credited with righteousness by God for anything we do on our own. The righteousness laid upon Abraham and us is God’s righteousness. It is not something Abraham produced. The Bible says that even the faith we have in God is a gift from God (cf. Philippians 1:29; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Therefore, Paul says we have nothing to boast about, for God’s righteousness and renewal is a gift of grace.

Romans 4:7-8 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Abraham, who is considered the “father of the faithful,” surely had his moments of doubt and disbelief, yet he still is exalted among men as an example of the faithful life. There are a few significant things we can learn from Abraham.

  1. Faithful

Abraham’s faith wasn’t an ignorant faith; his faith was a settled assurance and trust in the One who had proven Himself faithful and true: God Himself.

If we were to look back on our own lives, we would see the hand of God’s providence all over it. God doesn’t have to speak from burning bushes or part the sea waters to be active in our lives. God is orchestrating the events of our lives. Sometimes it may not seem that way, but Abraham’s life is evidence of this. Even Abraham’s failures demonstrate that God, while not removing us from the earthly consequences of our sin, graciously works His will in us and through us; nothing we do will thwart His plan.

  1. Obedient

Abraham’s life also shows us the blessing of simple obedience. When asked to leave his family, Abraham left. When asked to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham “rose up early the next morning” to do so. From what we can discern from the Biblical narrative, there was no hesitation in Abraham’s obedience. Abraham, like most of us, may have agonized over these decisions, but when it was time to act, he acted. When we discern a true call from God, or we read His instructions in His Word, we must act. Obedience is not optional when God commands something.

Romans 3:28 says, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

Theologically speaking, Abraham’s life is a living example of the doctrine of sola fide, “justification by faith alone.” Abraham’s faith in the promises of God was sufficient for God to declare him righteous in His sight. Abraham did nothing to earn justification. God’s grace is enough. The faith God gives His people is enough to set us free because of the perfect work of the redeemer, Jesus.

We see the workings in this of God’s grace very early in the Old Testament. The gospel didn’t start with the life and death of Jesus, but rather it was promised all the way back to Genesis. In Genesis 3:15, God made a promise that the “seed of the woman” would crush the head of the serpent.

The rest of the Old Testament chronicles the outworking of the gospel of God’s grace through the line of promise beginning with Seth (Genesis 4:26). The calling of Abraham and the familiar promise of Seed was just another piece in the story of redemption (cf. Galatians 3:16).

  1. Faith is not hereditary

Another big take away we must see in Abraham is that faith is not hereditary. All through the Gospels (cf. Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8; John 8:39), we learn that it is not sufficient to be physically descended from Abraham to be saved. The application for us is that it is not sufficient to be raised in a Christian home; we cannot ride into heaven on the coattails of someone else’s faith.

God is not obligated to save us simply because we have been raised in a godly family. Paul uses Abraham to illustrate this in Romans 9, where he says not all who descended from Abraham were elected unto salvation (Romans 9:7). God sovereignly chooses those who will receive salvation, but that salvation comes by grace through the same faith that Abraham exercised in his life. Each of us must have our own saving faith in Jesus and not lean on someone else’s.

  1. Faith that does not show fruit in righteous works is not real saving faith

Finally, we see that James uses the life of Abraham as an illustration that faith without works is dead (James 2:21). The example he uses is the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. Mere assent to the truths of the gospel is not enough to save. True saving faith will result in good works of obedience that show a living faith. This is not perfection; rather, it is a growing in obedience to the revealed will of God. The faith that was enough to justify Abraham and count him as righteous in God’s eyes (Genesis 15) was the very same faith that moved him into action as he obeyed God’s command to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham was justified by his faith, and his faith was proved by his works.

  1. God fulfills His promises

Finally, God called Abraham out of the millions of people on the earth to be the object of His blessings. God used Abraham to play a pivotal role in the outworking of the story of redemption, culminating in the birth of Jesus. In Matthew 1, we read about Jesus’ genealogy and in its opening, we read the critical understanding that Christ was a son of Abraham:

Matthew 1:1-2 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

The redeemed in all generations are called the “children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). The work that God set out to do for us all in Christ came through Abraham. Aside from Moses, no Old Testament character is mentioned more in the New Testament than Abraham. Abraham is a living example of faith and hope in the promises of God. Our lives should be so lived that when we reach the end of our days, our faith, like Abraham’s, will remain as an enduring legacy to others.

By grace, through faith in Jesus, may we, too, be a part of the legacy of blessing that comes through God’s covenant with Abraham and is fulfilled in Jesus Christ–that we, too, would not only be blessed but be a blessing to others.

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church

Patriarchal Era – Genesis 15

Genesis 15

15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

(ESV)

Patriarchal Era – Genesis 14

Genesis 14

14:1 In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.

Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. 11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.

13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said,


  “Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Possessor of heaven and earth;
20   and blessed be God Most High,
    who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.”

(ESV)

Patriarchal Era – Genesis 13

Genesis 13

13:1 So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.

Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD. And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.

Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.

14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

(ESV)

Patriarchal Era – Genesis 12

Genesis 12

12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.

10 Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.

17 But the LORD afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” 20 And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.

(ESV)