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Preaching The Bible

08 Jun

This week’s segment turns to Genesis 18 and I am going to skip the first 15 verses as I feel too many sermons have been given on those words. Lets start at verse 15

16 Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 since Abraham will surely become a great and [r]mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?

One of the first things we need to look at is the fact that God did not have to do this and we need also to note that he did not need to appear at Abraham’s home at all as we read in the opening verses

Now the Lord appeared to him by the [a]oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him;

God could have taken any number of routes to his Sodom destination but he chose to visit Abraham first and we need to ask why? Yet in a search of a couple of commentaries we do not get an answer to that question. Matthew Henry says

God graciously visits those in whom he has first raised the expectation
of him, and manifests himself to those that wait for him.(Vol. 1)

There was some reason why he visited Abraham’s tent first , for God could have roused Lot and his family out of Sodom without informing Abraham of his intent. What comes to my mind is the verse that tells us that God’s ways are not our ways and he will do what is best for all concerned. I think we can see part of God’s reasoning in verse 19 as it reads

For I have [s]chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”

and it is the words that are in bold that i want to draw to your attention and the attention to the pastors and church leaders who fill important roles in God’s church. Now the 5 preceding words are very important for it reminds us that God makes the choice of who will lead his church, some may volunteer but they are not always chosen to continue in that step. Men who feel the call of God upon them to be missionaries, church leaders and pastors, need to use that call to sober them up and motivate them to find the truth and present God’s message to his people in the best way that they can.

They need to honestly follow scripture and set the example for all the people and not give God’s word simple lip service. Now look at the bold words and what God says about Abraham. Being blessed like Abraham was comes with a price and we can relate this blessing of Abraham to being called to the ministry as the words in verse 18 remind us of how the world will be blessed

18 since Abraham will surely become a great and [r]mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?

How is God blessing the world today? Through true Christian missionaries, pastors and church leaders and they are charged with ‘commanding their flocks and households to keep the way of the Lord…’ Far too often I have been in the company, some of them old friends, of pastors who joke far too much about the people they are called to lead to righteousness and justice and treat them with disrespect and that is not the attitude a pastor, or missionary should have.

I am not leaving Jesus out here or replacing him because how do the people hear about Jesus, his life and teachings if the pastors and church leaders, etc., do not proclaim the truth to them? Jesus did it all but God still uses people to tell other humans what they must do  in order to please him and if the leaders fail so fail those congregations.

Being a pastor and missionary is serious business and instead of looking to other humans for strategies or listening to the unchurched world on how to reach people, the pastor , etc., should be looking to God for guidance clearing away the dead wood from their lives that hinders that reception. Notice what the other non-bold words say

so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”

And the pastors, etc., can also expect such return on their faithful service

knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Col. 3:24)

BUT again, they should have the same upright and just attitude that God wants to see in his people. God will lead us to the right people to help with the church work but one must be careful as evil will seek to insert the wrong person thus you have to be cautious and not let outside pressures hurry your decisions on whom will aid your ministry

{If you want other verses talking about rewards here is a link to them– https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=reward&qs_version=NASB }

But there is more to chapter 18

22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord. 23 Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not [t]spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?

Keep in mind that while Abraham is making his plea for the inhabitants of Sodom and the other cities, God already knows the answer and that he needs Abraham to see the reality of the situation so that he can understand why the destruction is being done. God already knew that the only possible righteous person in those cities was Lot, and even if Lot wasn’t righteous,  God was going to save him and his family for Abraham’s sake.

God does things for his people that they do not deserve simply because they follow God’s instructions correctly. Yet as we go down through that passage we see God making promise after promise to Abraham, all the while knowing that Abraham needed to learn how to deal with God’s punishment upon other people. I have been in a discussion with others some weeks back on the destruction of the Midianites and the people I was discussing with kept calling God a mass murder, a genocidal maniac and other harsh words yet they refused to see that their standard for judging God’s actions were inferior and fell far short of God’s standard.

This is something Abraham probably had to learn as well. He probably needed to learn that God does not just punish people out of some blood lust or childish kick but that they people were so disobedient there was not even 10 people following the ways of God and his patience finally wore out. Unbelievers cannot see this standard nor accept it for the blindness that covers their eyes and it makes it difficult to explain why God acted the way he did.

They also do not see sin as a crime that needs to be punished but their ideas do not count for their standards are all too subjective and sin influenced. This fact makes it difficult for us to explain to church people as well and many a church person has rejected the explanation and followed their own ideas about God’s actions which in turn gives evil an open door to work in their lives, destroying their faith because it is they who do not understand.

Sometimes, all we can do is simply trust that God knows what he is doing and that he is not murdering people but bringing justice upon those who refuse to obey. And then we must turn back to verse 19 to learn part of the reason for the passage on Abraham’s pleading. Abraham must know about God’s righteous judgment ‘so that he may…’  In other words, God is teaching Abraham in order for Abraham to pass it on to his children and their descendants. That is done so that they may know and can pass it on to others.

Then in turn we can tell it to the unbeliever so that they can compare and see what true justice is. Whether they accept it or not is another matter. God had Abraham go through this little exercise to learn a valuable lesson which in turn he could pass it on to his descendants who were going to be God’s people thus they had to know as well in order to learn how to obey and avoid God’s anger.

We learn about it by reading the Bible and believing God’s word by faith and we learn something important about God. That he is not like the secular world describes him but that his ways are better than ours and we need to defer our judgment to him because he is perfect, holy and can make the right judgment and then we keep ourselves from sinning when it comes time to punish those who have broken the law or parental rules because we rely upon God’s instructions and not our own emotions.

God has given us examples to learn from thus we do not discard any part of the Bible nor call them myths. They are real events which we need to learn from and implement the lessons into our and our families’ lives.

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Posted by on June 8, 2015 in Bible, church, faith, family, leadership, theology

 

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