Old Testament Encounters with Christ
Part 4: Abraham Meets Our God
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Dec. 14, 2011
*We have been talking about Christ in the Old Testament. There are hundreds of references to Jesus in the Old Testament, including prophecies, symbolic things and people who point to Jesus in significant ways. But we are focusing on the Old Testament appearances of Christ, those times when the pre-incarnate Christ revealed Himself to man.
*Tonight we will start to look at God’s appearances to Abraham. What an important story! Abraham’s story is so important that God devoted 25% of Genesis to it.
*John Phillips explained: “Abram was 75 years of age and had another full century to live. When one thinks of all that has developed for mankind as a result of the 100-year period that now opened in Abram’s life, it has to be marked down as one of the most significant centuries in all history. (1)
*Abraham’s story was unique in many ways, but as we look at his faith journey, we can see some close parallels to our own faith journey.
-How are we like Abram? -- There are 5 truths that apply to us today.
1. First: We are lost without the Lord.
*God’s Word gives us a clue to Abram’s lost condition in Genesis 11:27-28:
27. This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot.
28. And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.
*The clue here is the city of Ur. Abram was lost without God when he lived in Ur of the Chaldees. That word “Ur” means “flame.” And John Gill explained that the city was so called because it was a wicked, idolatrous place where fire was worshipped. (2)
*John Phillips described lost Abram as a pagan idolater of Ur, and Phillips said: “Abram had already done very well for himself. He was successful in business, happily married to an outstandingly good-looking woman, well established in the affections of his servants, and with a lineage that could be traced right back to Adam. But rich as he was, respected and religious as he was, when the story of Abram opens, he was a poor lost sinner hurrying on to a lost eternity. (3)
*People without the Lord are lost! -- Lost as they can be, -- lost forever.
-Just like us, Abram was lost without the Lord.
2. But God took the first step to save us.
*As we explore the story of Abram’s faith, we will see that, as always, God took the first step. The Lord reached out to reveal Himself to Abram.
*Abram did nothing to deserve God’s call or direction. God’s appearance and call to Abram all flowed out of the Lord’s sovereign grace.
*Genesis 11:31-32 shows us the family on the move.
31. Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram's wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.
32. So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.
*But Genesis 12:1 gives us the clue that God had already revealed Himself to Abram back in Ur: “Now the Lord HAD said (i.e. the Lord had already said) to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you.’”
*The Stephen confirmed this truth to us in Acts 7. Many of you know that Stephen was one of the first deacons. He was introduced to us in Acts 6, which tells us that:
8. . . Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
10. And they (the unbelievers) were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.
*So they arrested Stephen and put him on trial for trumped-up charges. Stephen was stoned to death for the cause of Christ, but in Acts 7, the Bible records his defense before the high court in Jerusalem. And there He confirmed the fact that God first revealed Himself to Abram in Ur.
2. And he (Stephen) said, "Men and brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran,
3. and said to him, `Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.'
4. Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.
*The important thing to see here is that God took the first step. By His grace, the Lord reached out to reveal Himself to Abram. And the same is true for us.
*In Luke 15, Jesus told the parable of the shepherd who went out into the wilderness to find his lost sheep, and searched until he found it. Then in Luke 19:10, Jesus tells us that He came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” And in John 6:44 Jesus said: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
*God always takes the first step to save someone.
*Robert Sumner tells how God used a missionary in Alaska to reach out to someone halfway around the world. Everett Bachelder and his wife, Mina, operated the Nome Gospel Home for over 30 years.
*One of the ways he shared the Gospel was by tossing more than a thousand mayonnaise jars and ketchup bottles into the Bering Sea. These bottles were all crammed with Scripture messages written in 100 languages. Kids from local churches helped Everett prepare the jars and bottles.
*Now that may seem like a waste of time, but over the years, the wind and waves have carried the story of God's love to the far corners of the earth. Everett got responses from as far as 10,000 miles away.
*One time a man in Singapore, was broken-hearted over a romance gone sour. He was about to commit suicide by jumping into the ocean from a cliff, but he saw a bottle wash up against the rocks below.
*The man decided to jump when the bottle broke. But as he watched, it hit the rocks over and over without breaking. He got curious, climbed down the cliff and found the message of God’s Good News!
*God’s Word touched his heart, so he found a missionary in Singapore and got saved! -- But God took the first step. (4)
*How are we like Abram? -- God took the first step to save us.
3. And we must start following the Lord by faith.
*Abraham began to walk by faith. Yes, he stumbled at times. And it was start-and-stop for a while, especially when they delayed at Haran. But Abram definitely trusted in the Lord, and by faith, he started following the Lord.
-Look at Genesis 12:1
1. Now the Lord had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you.
-Then in vs. 4&5:
4. Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran.
5. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.
*Hebrews 11:8-10 tells us that this hero of our faith was looking for a whole lot more than Canaan:
8. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (That’s faith!)
9. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
10. for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
*Abram trusted in the Lord. He followed the Lord by faith.
*The 50th anniversary of D-Day was in 1994, and on that day a TV network had two interviews. In the first interview, a ground soldier said, “I was convinced there was no way we could possibly win.” But in the other interview, an Air Force pilot said, “I was convinced there was no way we could possibly lose.” (5)
*Faith understands that God can see the big-picture. God can see the end from the beginning. Abram didn’t know where he was going. -- But God did!
-And if we trust in Him, there’s no way we can possibly lose.
*How are we like Abram? -- We must start following the Lord by faith.
4. And God still makes great promises to His people.
*In Genesis 12:2-3, God made some wonderful promises to Abram. The Lord made 7 promises to Abram in two short verses:
-I will make you a great nation;
-I will bless you
-I will make your name great;
-You shall be a blessing.
-I will bless those who bless you
-I will curse him who curses you
-And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
*The Lord made wonderful promises to Abram, and He has made wonderful promises to us. Notice that some of these promises to Abram apply to us today. God said: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
*These promises certainly can apply to us! -- On top of this, we could spend all night going through the promises God has made to us.
-For example, we have the promise of His presence. As we see in Hebrews 13:5, “Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
*We also have the promise of God’s peace. As He says in Phil 4:6-7:
6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7. and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
*God guided Abram, and we have the promise that God will guide us too. He will put us on the right path. So Prov 3:5-6 tells us:
5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
6. in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
*God still makes great promises to His people. And we need to apply those promises to our lives.
*Mychal Judge did his best to trust in the promise of God’s guidance. He was the New York City Fire Chaplain who became the first official fatality at the World Trade Center on 911. Mychal had been a firehouse chaplain for ten years and lived across the street from Ladder 24. On the morning of 911, he threw on his fireproof uniform and raced to the burning towers.
*There he was killed by falling debris. And on his body they found this prayer that Mychal had written years before:
-“Lord, take me where You want me to go;
-Let me meet who You want me to meet;
-Tell me what You want me to say,
-And keep me out of Your way.” (6)
*We need to commit our lives to the promises of God. God made some great promises to Abram. And He still makes great promises to His people.
5. But there is one more way we are like Abram: Our Lord is still worthy of worship.
*In Genesis 12:6-8, we see Abram worshiping the Lord:
6. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land.
7. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land.'' And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
8. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
*Abram worshipped the Lord. And our God is still worthy of worship!
-Notice 3 things about Abram’s worship:
 First: It was true communion with God. In these verses Abram met with the Lord. He listened to the Lord. He called upon the Lord.
*Chris Genders comments: “When we gather together for worship, we come to unite ourselves with God -- with the Alpha and the Omega -- the Creator of the Universe -- the Sustainer of Life -- the one who holds eternity in His grasp. . .”
*Richard Foster writes: “To worship is to experience Reality (with a capital “R”), to touch Life (with a capital “L”). It is to know, to feel, to experience the resurrected Christ in the midst of the gathered community. It is breaking into the glory of God, or better yet, being invaded by the glory of God.” (7)
*Our worship should be like Abram’s: true communion with God.
 But Abram’s worship was also consistent.
*In vs. 6&7, Abram was in Shechem, and there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. Then in vs. 8. Abram moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
*Wherever he went, Abram consistently sought to worship the Lord.
-Our worship should be consistent.
 But Abram’s worship was also committed. Abram’s commitment was in building the altar, and in offering those sacrifices to the Lord.
*There must be commitment in our worship, commitment to give to God, commitment to give back something to the One who has given us everything.
-Of course the thing God wants first and foremost is our heart.
*But how could our sacrifices ever compare to the Sacrifice that the Lord has made for us.
*Abram could not begin to comprehend all that we know about the Lord, because we know about the cross and the price that Jesus paid on that cross for our sins. Plus we know about the resurrection!
*Also remember this: The Lord appeared to Abram from time to time, but believers, the same Lord is always living in our hearts!
*How much more should we worship the Lord?!?
-Let’s worship Him right now as we go to God in prayer.
1. “Exploring Genesis” by John Phillips - pp. 106
2. John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible - Genesis 15:7
3. “Exploring Genesis” by John Phillips - pp. 114
4. KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 1182 - SOURCE: Biblical Evangelist - TITLE: Throwing the Word of God into the Ocean - AUTHOR: Dr. Robert Sumner - DATE: 881001
5. “Praying to the God You Can Trust” by Leith Anderson, 1998, p. 56
6. “Walter Scott's Personality Parade,” PARADE magazine, Jan. 6, 2002, p. 2. September 29, 2002 (Source: ChristianGlobe.com sermon “A Tale of Two Brothers” by King Duncan - Matt 21:28-32 - 2005 - Originally preached just over a year after 9-11)
7. Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “Feature Presentation” by Chris Genders - John 4