< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Contrasting Genesis 1-11 and 12-50

Friday, February 28, 2014

Contrasting Genesis 1-11 and 12-50

With the call of Abraham, God begins a new departure in His dealings with humanity. We’re going from talking about the entire human race to one man, Abraham, and his family. By the book of Exodus, this family reaches the status of a nation.

There was a need for a new beginning. Even after the flood man continued to degenerate. God had promised to never again destroy every living thing because of the sin of man, but how was mankind to be delivered from this encroaching corruption that would bring everyone and everything to ruin on its own?

With Abraham, God initiated a new area of concentration that would ultimately affect all nations. Side by side with other nations, God now proceeds to call out and prepare one special people – the Hebrews (or Israel) to become His means of revelation to all people. To this end they needed to be separated from the idolatry and moral corruption of surrounding kingdoms and to be uniquely related to God himself. God would entrust His oracles of revelation – the Bible – that pointed to Christ’s coming and God’s plan of salvation to this special people. In this way, God intended that Israel should witness throughout all generations to faith in one God, Creator of the universe.

And until Christ came Israel alone worshiped the one true God. Meanwhile God allowed the other nations, called Gentile nations, to walk in their self-determined way.

So Abraham now becomes the central figure in Genesis. He is the father of the Hebrew nation. Christ descended from him. In Genesis 15:6 we’ll see that God credited him with righteousness because he believed God’s promise that looked toward his offspring (which was Christ). All of us who are born again by faith in Christ are called spiritual children of Abraham. We are counted righteous by believing God’s Word concerning salvation in Christ.

Abraham’s life of dependence upon God is full of daily practical illustrations. He was very human with doubts and failures. But he trusted God. He obeyed him. And God rewarded Abraham. Abraham experienced companionship with God and was called God’s friend. Abraham became a blessing to not only his own generation, but to all succeeding generations.

Abraham spent his early years in Ur, whose ruins are about 120 miles north of Basra, near the Persian Gulf. Today it is a desolate spot amid a shimmering expanse of desert. Back then it was at the mouth of the Euphrates River and full of fields of corn and barley and stately palm groves. Spacious estates were irrigated by an intricate system of straight canals and ditches. It was an advanced civilization. A bill of lading from about 2040 BC was found that showed that a ship had come up the Persian Gulf after a two-year cruise laden with copper, ore, gold, ivory, hardwoods and alabaster. There were libraries and businesses. But they worshiped idols there. Abraham’s father, Terah was said to “serve other gods’ and worshiped the sun and moon.

God called Abraham to leave this city in the heyday of its power and prestige and go six hundred miles north to Harran and then six hundred miles south to Canann. Abraham was 70 years old when he left Ur and 75 when he left Haran. And he didn’t know where he was going. Just the first step. But God had set him apart for Himself. This is very symbolic of becoming a Christian too. We’re to set ourselves apart from sin and an evil lifestyle and focus on God. And Abraham would be God’s instrument of blessing to the world which is what we’re supposed to be too.

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