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September 17th, 2020

Welcome, everyone! Today we're continuing Part 2 in our 4-part series in the book of Genesis. I'm glad to have you along, and I pray that our time in this section of God's Word will richly bless you as His children. 

God's joy and peace to you in our Savior Jesus!
Pastor Paul

P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom!
Abraham's Purpose

Genesis 12:2-3, Part 2


Greetings

Greetings, everyone! Blessings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus, and welcome to Thursday’s edition of EDiBS. Today we’re covering what we were slated to cover on Wednesday, but with lots of rain, wind, and service outages here in Georgia yesterday afternoon and into the overnight hours, we’ve had to wait a bit for things to go back online. At any rate, as we get going with our Bible study time today we’ll be continuing on with our study of Genesis, a book that in many ways has been hard and harsh in its opening chapters. Still, while there’s been little in the way of soft and sweet thus far, there has been mercy in the middle of it all, and as we move into these new chapters we’re beginning to see a change. Yes, we’re continuing on what will sometimes be a somewhat difficult trajectory, but we’re ultimately moving in a forward direction that points us more and more to the promise of redemption in a coming Savior. I’m glad to have you along today, everyone! Let’s pray as we go to our Bibles. 

 

Prayer 

Father, we thank you for your presence, and we ask in this moment of quiet that you bless us with your Spirit and turn our hearts to the hearing and learning of your precious Word. It is life and salvation to us, and we are grateful for it. Hear us for Jesus’ sake and in His holy name, amen. 

 

Getting Started 

As we get started today, we’ve already seen that the Lord’s coming to Abram, calling him into a new existence, and promising him untold — and frankly astonishing — blessings, has marked a fundamental shift in the narrative of Genesis. But as we begin to look at the larger picture of his life, we need to ask a question: for what purpose did God choose Abram? That’s our focus today.

 

Genesis 12:2-3, Part 2

2”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. 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." 

 

Here in southeast Georgia where EDiBS’ new home is, I’ve been gobbling up the local history since settling into the community. One subject I’ve been unendingly fascinated with is the fact that John Wesley spent time here in the early days of the colony. Though His home base was in Savannah, he made five rather significant trips to St. Simons Island, which is just across the causeway from where our ministry office is. Wesley ultimately spent several months here preaching, teaching, and exercising ecclesiastical oversight over the colonists — none of which was very good in quality, and none of which was appreciated by the people! At that time in his life, Wesley was more of an academic than anything else, and he was by most accounts dry, longwinded, and more than a little harsh. In short, he was exceedingly unpopular, and his days here in the Golden Isles were mostly marked by misery and mishaps. When he returned to England, he was an extremely disillusioned clergyman, and he was even a wanted man: jilted by a young woman he had courted on St. Simons — a woman who chose to marry another man instead — he put her under church discipline, publicly named her sins, and refused to serve her Communion. As a result, he was criminally charged with slander and causing public embarrassment without cause, and he departed for his home country with a sullied reputation.

 

But here’s the thing: those difficult experiences were part of what caused a crisis of faith for John Wesley. Those experiences were part of what caused him to question, on a deep level, his relationship with the Living God. Those experiences, combined with other circumstances in his life, moved John Wesley into a period of searching and contemplation and self-examination, and they became seeds which down the line would sprout and grow into an entirely new understanding of God’s grace. It was a journey (and I’m leaving out a lot of the story due to time constraints), but John Wesley’s time in the then-British colony of Georgia was a big part of what God used to move him from a life of Law to a life of Gospel, and it ended up transforming not just Wesley’s theology, but the entire Methodist movement that would sweep through the United States  some years later. 

 

As we look back on things today, it’s clear that God had a purpose for that Oxford-educated, high-handed, often boring cleric…but for that purpose to come to the fore, there first had to be a dismantling of that which hindered it. Over time, that’s precisely what happened. John Wesley became a person completely changed. The once distant, stuffy, and angry man of the church became a man of God, one who would famously go on to proclaim his life’s purpose with these words: “I want the whole Christ for my Savior, the whole Bible for my book, the whole Church for my fellowship and the whole world for my mission field.”

 

As we begin to follow the life of Abram here in Genesis, what we’re seeing, right from the get-go, is a similar kind of dismantling, reorganizing, and reassembling of a life so that God’s purpose for His servant may be fully realized. That’s why Abram has been called away from his country, his culture, and his kin. That’s why Abram has been called to a new land, one which he  has yet to see and has yet to know about. More than anything, though, let’s remember that chief among these sudden shifts occurring in Abram’s life is that he is being called from a life of pagan idol worship to a life of following the One True God. So it is that In very short order, Abram is becoming a person completely changed. But, for what purpose?

 

Some would say that God chose Abram to be His own so that his life of faith, which would come to be memorialized in Scripture, would be a suitable example for us to follow in our own relationship with God. To be sure, Abram’s faith is offered to us as an example in Scripture — he’s prominently featured in Hebrews 11, which we call the great Faith Chapter of the Bible — but that’s not the purpose of God’s choosing of Abram.

 

Some would say that the Lord chose Abram and ordered his life in such a way as to remind us that God is the God of promises kept, and that just as Abram did, we should in a similar way be ever looking for God to fulfill His promises in our lives. Once again, God is absolutely the God of promises kept, and He is most certainly at work in our lives to bring His promises to bear in each one of us. But that’s not the reason God chose Abram either.  

 

Why did God choose Abram? The reason is a very specific one, the purpose of which is clear. God chose Abram both to make him a blessing…first to the nation that would come from him, the Israelites, but ultimately to all the people of the earth. What is the specific nature of that blessing? It has everything to do salvation. God chose Abram to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. God tapped Abram’s life and told him that his offspring — which is a singular reference, offspring as opposed to offsprings, as Paul explains to us in Galatians 3 — would be the One through whom all the world would be blessed. The offspring being spoken of is Jesus Christ. He is the Seed of Abram. In His time, the fullness of time, this Jesus would bring life and salvation to a lifeless, sin-stained world in desperate need of being rescued. That’s the true blessing of Abram. And that’s the precise purpose, the real reason, for which Abram was chosen by God.

 

Wrapping Up

As we wrap things up for the day, with these things now laid out for us, it’s finally time for us to pack our bags, join Abram’s caravan, and plod along with him as he traipses through the wilderness to, through, and beyond Canaan. Significant trips and side trips await us, adventure will be everywhere present, and not surprisingly, there will be some long stretches in the journey marked mostly by misery and mishaps. What, however, will remain constant, no matter what? Mercy in the middle of it all. Be sure to click in and join us each day as we travel through this portion of God’s Word, everyone — we’ll have so much to learn, so much to take to heart, and so much with which to be comforted and encouraged as we see the promise of Christ over and over and over again on these precious pages. Have a great day; I’ll look forward to seeing you soon. 

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