Hello Project Ezra! This week’s reading is Genesis 15, and we will be addressing several aspects of God's character that we see in this chapter. One claim that is often made, and sometimes even by professing believers, is that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are radically different, with the God of the Old Testament being harsh and angry, and the God of the New Testament being loving and merciful. But if you really read the Old and New Testament through, you will see clearly that is not the case. Though it is certainly true that some of the ways God has chosen to deal with His people is different under the New Covenant, that has nothing to do with God's character or nature, but rather will the progression of God's plan and fulfillment of His promises over time. God has not chosen to reveal Himself and His purposes all at once, but gradually over time. So this week we will be encouraging people to take a step back, so they can see God revealing His sovereignty, fulfilling His promises, and showing us that He is trustworthy through the story of Abraham. And ultimately, we pray that they will also see His mercy and grace provided through the cross.
All for His glory, Dan
BRIEF INTRO TO TEXT – You might want to give a brief introduction to the passage. Talk about Abram vs Abraham, Issac and Jacob, how their decedents became nation of Israel, etc.
In order to truly understand this passage, you need to understand some things about who God is
First, our God is a Sovereign God. That means he is in complete control over all time and eternity
All that happens in this world, in this universe only happens because He either causes, or allows is
Psalm 115 tell us “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”
And Ephesians 1 reminds us again that it is He who works all things after the counsel of His will
God had a plan from the beginning of time, and that plan continues today
He knew the history of creation from Adam and Eve to the final judgment before you or I were born, and He knows our future as well.
It was because He knew Abraham's future that He could tell him what his descendants would do, hundreds of years later.
It was because he knew the future that He prophesied the exodus to Egypt, and even that Abraham's descendants would be there 400 years, which they were.
It was because of His perfect knowledge that He could promise to bless Abraham's descendants and bring them into the promised land, which He did
This shows us that God is a God of promise
His actions are not random or arbitrary
He has a plan, and His promises are based on that plan
And God's plan cannot be thwarted by any power in heaven or on earth
In Isaiah 46 He says “for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
He promised Abraham that his heir would be his own son, and he was, even though Abraham and his wife were too old for children
He promised to give the land of Canaan to his descendants, which He did, though many hundreds of years later.
He even promised, from the time of Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the garden (Genesis 3), and through the prophets (Isaiah 7, Isaiah 53), to bring a savior through Abraham’s family, which He did in Jesus Christ
Because God is Sovereign and can control all things, and because God keeps the promises He makes, we can also see that God is trustworthy
Abram did not know or understand everything God has planned, but he trusted Him, and that faith was rewarded.
Like Abraham, and many of the great men of scripture, we will never see all the details on this side of eternity
God may or may not choose to reveal what He has planned for your life
But you can trust God, that what He has commanded, and where He has placed you, and what He has directed for you, is good.
Do you believe that? Do you believe that God is good, and has a good plan for you? Many people don’t.
Many people look at the world around them, and see reasons to believe God is not trustworthy, is not good, or even does not exist.
But we all know in our hearts that He does
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us God has put eternity into the hearts of men
Romans 1 says this: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
And the second chapter of Romans reminds us that the work of the law is written on our hearts, and our consciences bear witness, so that we are without excuse.
GO THROUGH THE LAW TO BRING THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN
The truth is that God is Just, and we are guilty
Because of our guilt, we deserve His justice, His punishment
And His punishment will be carried out in a very real place called Hell, a place of fire, and darkness, and eternal pain and despair
But though Hell is what we all deserve, we do not have to go there
God is not only just righteous, but also good, and patient, and kind
He is a God who is merciful and gracious
Mercy is not getting what you deserve. In our case, that means we do not receive the justice we deserve
Grace is receiving what we don't deserve. We receive God's love and all His good gifts and blessings. And one day, we will even spend eternity with Him!
But God's mercy and grace did not come cheap. Justice still needed to be satisfied, because God always acts consistently with His justice as well as His mercy.
So God did not ignore our sins. He paid for them.
Jesus Christ, God the Son, for whom and through whom all things exist, humbled Himself and came to live among His creation
He lived the perfect life we could never live. Though He was a man, and was tempted in every way as we are (Hebrews 4), He never sinned once.
Then He went to a cross and was killed, a perfect sacrifice, slaughtered to put away sin
Isaiah 53 even tells us that it pleased the Father to crush Him, for the sake of our sin
Then, three days later, as He has prophesied He would, He rose again from the dead
Now, because of that sacrifice, because He paid our debt, we can go free!
We are told that freedom is received through repentance, and believing the gospel
That means you must abandon your sin, and trust in Christ, and in Him alone, to save you
And when you do, God will change your heart, and you will be born again
The Bible says you will be made a new creature. It tells us God will remove your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh, one that loves Him and desires to please Him
So trust in the sovereign God of the universe, that He will save those who trust in Him, as He has promised