God Builds A Nation

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God's Plan Continues

Chapters 1-11 of Genesis detailed the Beginnings of God's Plan.
We saw the Preparation of the Place, the People and the Perfect Life.
We saw the Problems that came about due to the People's rebellion and the continuing results of that rebellion - most notably the removal from God's Presence in the Garden and banishment to the east.
Thirdly, we saw the Promise-Plan of God in the Promise of the Seed, the Promise of the serpent's demise and the Promise of the Savior.
As God's Story continues to unfold we saw that the people - our ancestors - continued to think, act and plan selfishly and continued to try to rule themselves and determine their own good instead of submitting to God's rule and his decision of what was good. These are the very same struggles you have today in your life.
God got fed up with people's foolishness but He was not about to scrap his plan so he started over with Noah, a righteous man from the line of Seth. Noah was not the only righteous man who had lived since Adam as Genesis 5 points out that one of his ancestors' Enoch had "walked with God" and God took him. Thus it was possible to choose God, it was just not popular - just like today. The rewards, like today, were future - when God took Enoch - there is an implication that he is now with God. However, while on earth he had to endure the same struggles all people face.
Well the flood and Noah didn't fix things either. Almost immediately the Story tells us that Noah got drunk and his sons disrespected him.
Noah's story end in Gen 9 and then we encounter the genealogies in Chapter 10. However, Genesis 10 and 11 are not chronologically in order. Genesis 11 occurs before Genesis 10. Remember, the Bible as it was put together was not arranged always chronologically but for various structural and theological reasons. The drama of disobedience continues as the people God made and blessed continue to try to focus on their own agenda. In Genesis 11 they try to make a name for themselves, among other things. This is in direct contrast to God's desire to making his name great. Additionally they seem to refuse to scatter and fill the land so God confuses their languages thus forcing them to scatter as He planned. This also ends their attempt at power making and fame for themselves. This idea of getting fame for themselves is also indicated back in Genesis 6 just prior to the flood with the men of renown or the nephelim.
So we find ourselves today in the 12th chapter of Genesis.

The same structure observed in the first eleven chapters of Genesis continues into the patriarchal period: “The account of …” (25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2). Many

The story picks up with God’s call of Abraham, where God uses the term bārak, “to bless” five times in the transitional section between the pre-patriarchal and patriarchal times (12:1–3). Abraham (and later, his offspring) is to be a “blessing” to all the families of the earth (12:3). Thus the promise of God is embedded in the “blessing” of God, used in its verbal and nominal form some 88 times in Genesis.

A new progress in the divine revelation begins with Genesis 12. In this new era, there is to be a succession of individuals who now serve as God’s appointed means of extending his word of blessing to all humanity.
God began His plan by speaking as we saw in Genesis 1 and 2 and now we will repeatedly see that God continues to speak - directly to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - as well as through dreams, visions and the Angel of the Lord. God continues to interact with people and he moves forward with his promise-plan for all of humanity.
These words of God in our portion of the Story today focus heavily on God's blessing and God's promise - both of which are tied together. To Abraham this one promise appeared in four stages of development, which are to be found in Genesis 12:1–3; 13:14–16; 15:4–21; and 17:4–16 (and perhaps also 22:15–18).
The content of this promise was basically threefold: a “seed,” a “land,” and a “blessing to all the nations of the earth” of the gospel.
On five separate occasions the patriarchs were designated to be a blessing for all nations: Abraham in Genesis 12:3; 18:18; and 22:17–18; Isaac in 26:3–4; and Jacob in 28:13–14. Indeed, worldwide blessing was the whole purpose of God’s promised blessing ever since the very first statement of that promise in 12:2–3.
Let's look together at these words of promise found in Gen 12:1-3 (p. 13 The Story).
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”” (Genesis 12:1–3, NIV)
In order to understand the rest of that story we must understand this foundational passage of Scripture. In fact, Genesis 12:13 is the bed rock of the rest of that story that we find in Scripture. Here, and these few verses we find huge promises made both to Abraham and to all people on earth. These promises and God's plan to make them a reality are the plot line for the rest of the events encountered in God story.
There are three promises made specifically to Abraham and two promises made for all other people.
I will make you a great nation.
I will bless you.
I will make your name great.
1. “I will make you a great nation.”
2. “I will bless you.”
3. “I will make your name great.”
Regarding this third statement, Walter Kaiser says, The quest for a “name,” that is, renown, reputation, and even superiority, had been the driving ambition of those tyrannical kings called “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1–4 and the architects of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:4. Now God himself would give to one man, on God’s own divine grounds, what others had so selfishly sought but failed to attain (Kaiser). Here we have echoes of Genesis 6 and Genesis 10.
4. “I will bless those who bless you.”
5. “I will curse those who curse you.”
But to whom was Abraham to be a blessing? And how was Abraham to be a blessing? Those questions appear to be answered in the next three clauses. First, the Lord added two more promises in Genesis 12:3, again using the Hebrew cohortative form of the verbs.4
All peoples on earth will be blessed through you!
This is the goal.
When Yahweh appeared to Abraham, after the patriarch had arrived at Shechem, that ancient word about a “seed” (3:15) was again revived. Now, however, it was directed to Abraham (Ge 12:7 and p. 14 top). Abraham and each of the successive sons of promise were to be the source of genuine blessing; indeed, they were to be the touchstone of blessing to all other peoples on the earth. All nations of the world would be blessed by them, for each was the mediator of life to the nations (of Abraham—12:3; 18:18; 22:17–18; of Isaac—26:3–4; and of Jacob—28:13–14).
The apostle Paul would later point to this phrase (“all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you,” Ge 12:3), and declare that it was the same “gospel” he preached (Gal 3:8). Simply put, the good news was that “in [the promised seed] all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gal 3:8). Thus the embryo of God’s good news could be reduced to the linchpin word “blessing.” The one who was blessed was now to be the conduit of blessing of universal proportions to the whole world. In contrast to the nations who sought a “name” merely for themselves, God made Abraham a great name so that he might be the means of blessing all the nations on earth.

how were the nations to receive this blessing mediated by Abraham or any of his successive sons? The method must be the same as it was for Abraham. It would be by faith: “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Ge 15:6).

Genesis 12:7 HCSB
Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your offspring.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.
From there on, the importance of this gift of a child who would inherit the promises and blessings became one of the dominant themes in the patriarchal narrative, appearing, all told, some twenty-eight times (Kaiser 56).
As Gary Schnittjer says in The Torah Story
The focus through the remainder of Genesis is on the offspring (or seed), Exodus and Leviticus underscore the blessing in terms of relationship to God, and Numbers and Deuteronomy demonstrate progress to the land and offer instruction are living in the land.
And this is where the Eight Crises in Abrahamic Narrative come into play (Gen 12-25:11). How will this plan actually play out? Well Abraham be able to pull it off? Or will he mess it up? Or is it God will have to make everything work out?
Story opening: Sarai has no child (Gen 16.1). Canaanites are in the land (Gen 12.7).
Sarai & Pharaoh (Gen 12:10-20)
Possible child not from Abraham
Not in the land (Famine Gen 12:10)
Yahweh intervenes
Lot Heir? Lot, heir apparent, eliminates himself by separating from Abraham and moving (east) out of the land (Gen 13)
Promise Reiterated (Gen 13.15)
Eleazar Heir? Abraham pursues Lot's attackers opening himself up to retaliation from neighboring "kings" (Gen 14; Gen 15.4).
Promise Reiterated (Gen 15.1; 8-23)
Ishmael Heir? Impatience drives Sarai to local customs and Hagar becomes pregnant via Abram.
Promise Reiterated (Gen 17.2)
Sarah still barren (Gen 17:15-21)
Sarai & Abimelech (Gen 20:1-18)
Possible child not from Abraham
Not in the land
Yahweh intervenes
Ishmael or Isaac (Gen 21) Heir?
Isaac to be sacrificed (Gen 22)
Promise Reiterated (Gen 22.15-18)
Sarah dies, No land owned (Gen 23)
Isaac has no heir (Gen 24)
Genesis 24:1 HCSB
Abraham was now old, getting on in years, and the LORD had blessed him in everything.
Genesis 24:27 HCSB
and said, “Praise the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not withheld His kindness and faithfulness from my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”
Genesis 24:34 HCSB
“I am Abraham’s servant,” he said.
Summary of Abraham's life
Genesis 11:30 HCSB
Sarai was unable to conceive; she did not have a child.
Genesis 25:11 HCSB
After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who lived near Beer-lahai-roi.
As the blessing Abraham received in Genesis 12:1–3; 15; and Gen 12:17 was transferred to Isaac in Gen 26:3–6 thus the focus now moves from Abraham to Isaac and the obstacles continue
Rebekah is barren (Gen 25:21)
Ruling monarchs threaten the line of the seed (Gen 26:1-11)
Isaac's life mirrors Abraham's journey as he learns to trust God. He makes some of the same mistakes his father made when he's in crisis situations, he schemes his way in but God has to deliver him out.
As Isaac moves off the scene in God's Story, the promise is passed along to Jacob, whom Isaac blesses (Gen 27.29), God re-iterates the promise-plan to in a dream at Bethel in Gen 28:13–14, and then again at Paddan Aram (Gen 35:9–12; cf. Gen 46:1–4)
The focus now moves to Jacob who like Abram will be renamed. The new name, Israel will become the name of the nation bearing this name. The obstacles to the promise-plan continue in Jacob's life as well. His story, like his father's and his grandfather's begins with an obstacle to producing an heir/seed.
Rachel is barren (Gen 30:1)
Judah, the fourths son of Jacob/Israel will receive the blessing in Gen 49:8-12.

True, Joseph did receive a double portion in the inheritance, since his two sons were in a sense adopted by Jacob (cf. bekōrāt of 1Ch 5:1), but Judah became the “leader” (nāgîd) among his brethren. The oldest son, Reuben, lost his birthright because he dishonored his father’s marriage bed (Ge 35:22). Simeon and Levi, Jacob’s second and third sons, were bypassed because of their outrageous revenge on the Shechemites (34:13–29). So the mantle of leadership fell to Jacob’s fourth son, Judah.

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