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Note on Chapter 11
The earth was of one language and one speech. The decedents of Shem wanted to build a city for them selves to make a name for themselves. They built a city and tower as to reach higher than the heavens~ This was not an act of worship, but rather an act of pride. We are to reflect the ways of the Lord and not of ourselves.
And the LORD came down to see the city and tower that the children of men built. The LORD spoke and confounded their language so that they may not understand one another's speech, and he scattered them over the face of the earth.
More on the Tower of Babel
More on the Tower of Babel
The Obedience of Abram, Divine Promises, Offering of Issac
These verses are of fundamental importance for the theology of Genesis, whereas chapters (1—11) generally portray man’s rebellion, chapters (12—50) detail God’s bringing man into a place of blessing.
By placing the call of Abraham after the dispersion of the nations at Babylon (Chapter 11), the author intends to picture Abraham’s call as God’s gift of salvation in the midst of judgment.
1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 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. 3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Individual blessing depended on individual obedience. God unconditionally promised blessing through Abram’s descendants to the nation of Israel, to the church through Christ (Gal. 3:16, 28-29), and to the Gentile nations (12:3). Individuals (e.g., Pharaoh,12:17; Abimelech, 20:3, 17) and nations (e.g., Egypt, chs. 47—50; Exod. 1—15) that proved favorable toward Abram’s seed would experience divine blessing, but those that proved hostile would experience divine cursing (12:3; cf. Matt. 25:31-46).
Christians are called upon to trust God as Abram did and so enter into the spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant, which covenant inaugurated the dispensation of promise (Rom. 4:11, 16,23-25; Gal. 3:6-9)
Abram had only a promise from God. We see his faith in his willingness to obey God strictly in the confidence that what God had promised He would perform. This divine promise was the seed from which the Abrahamic Covenant grew (ch. 15). The promise here included few details; it was only a general promise of descendants and influence.
The Hebrew text says, “be a blessing” (v. 2), not “you shall be a blessing.” This was a command rather than a prediction. However as Abram blessed others he would become a blessing (i.e., enriched, as in enriched uranium or plutonium). God would make his life more rich and powerful, and he would enrich the lives of others.
Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. 15The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. 16And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. 17And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife. 18And Pharaoh called Abram and said, what is this that thou hast done unto me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? 19Why saidst thou, She is my sister? So I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
Abram’s fear for his physical safety in a strange land (v. 12) led him to take an initiative that was not God’s will. He should have told the truth and continued trusting God. Yet even in his disobedience and lack of faith God blessed Abram (v. 16) and preserved him (v. 20) because of His promises.
15:1 After these things the word of the
Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield1 and the one who will reward you in great abundance.”
Abram asked God to strengthen his faith. In response Yahweh promised to give the patriarch innumerable descendants. This led Abram to request some further assurance that God would indeed do what He promised. God graciously obliged him by formalizing the promises and making a covenant. In the giving of the covenant God let Abram know symbolically that enslavement would precede the fulfillment of the promise.
From chapters 12 through 14 issues involving God’s promise to Abram concerning land have predominated. However from chapter 15 on tensions arising from the promise of descendants become central in the narrative.
Abram was legitimately concerned about God’s provision of the Promised Land as well as his need for an heir. He had declined the gifts of the king of Sodom and had placed himself in danger of retaliation from four powerful Mesopotamian kings. God had proven Himself to be Abram’s “shield” (defender) in the battle just passed. Now He promised to be the same in the future and to give Abram great “reward.” This was God’s fourth revelation to Abram.
Abram used a new title for God calling Him Master (Adonai) Yahweh (i.e., Sovereign LORD). Abram had willingly placed himself under the sovereign leadership of God.
“In the middle of this chapter occurs what is perhaps the most important verse in the entire Bible:
Genesis 15:6. In it, the doctrine of justification by faith is set forth for the first time. This is the first verse in the Bible explicitly to speak of (1) ‘faith,’ (2) ‘righteousness,’ and (3) ‘justification.’’’
Trust in God’s promise is what results in justification in any age. The promises of God (content of faith) vary, but the object of faith does not. It is always God. Technically Abram trusted in a Person and hoped in a promise. To justify someone means to declare that person righteous, not to make him or her righteous (cf. Deut. 25:1). Justification expresses a legal verdict.
This covenant has not yet been fulfilled as God promised it would be. Since God is faithful we believe He will fulfill these promises in the future. Consequently there must be a future for Israel as a nation (cf. Rom. 11). Amillennialists interpret this covenant in a less literal way. The crucial issue is interpretation. If God fulfilled the seed and blessings promises literally, should we not expect that He will also fulfill the land promises literally?The sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. .. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
22:1 Sometime after these things God tested 1 Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am!” Abraham 2 replied. 22:2 God said, “Take your son – your only son, whom you love, Isaac – and go to the land of Moriah! 5 Offer him up there as a burnt offering 6 on one of the mountains which I will indicate to you.”
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him….And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you… And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?.... My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.9And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood….Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I…. He said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. … And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time saying.. By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Isaac demonstrated his own faith clearly in this incident. He must have known what his father intended to do to him, yet he submitted willingly (v. 9). “If Abraham displays faith that obeys, then Isaac displays faith that cooperates. If Isaac was strong and big enough to carry wood for a sacrifice, maybe he was strong and big enough to resist or subdue his father” The possibility of Isaac resisting may be why Abraham bound him on the altar. “The sacrifice was already accomplished in his [Abraham’s] heart, and he had fully satisfied the requirements of God.” “The test, instead of breaking him, brings him to the summit of his lifelong walk with God.
In obedience to God’s command Abraham took his promised heir to Moriah to sacrifice him to the Lord. Because Abraham was willing to slay his uniquely begotten son God restrained him from killing Isaac and promised to bless him further for his obedience. Abraham memorialized the place as “the Lord will provide.” God called on Abraham to make five great sacrifices: his native country, his extended family, his nephew Lot, his son Ishmael, and his son Isaac. Each sacrifice involved something naturally dear to Abraham, but each resulted in greater blessings from God.
Abraham’s “seed” (v. 18) refers not only to Isaac but also to Messiah (cf. Gal. 3:16).
The Four Seeds of Abraham in Scripture
All physical descendants of Abraham
(Genesis 12:1-3, 7; et al.)
Believing physical descendants of Abraham
(Romans 9:6, 8; Galatians 6:16)
Believing non-physical descendants of Abraham
(Galatians 3:6-9, 29)
Abraham then returned to the well he had purchased at Beersheba and lived there (v. 19).
Moses probably preserved the details of this story because this test involved the future of God’s promised seed, Isaac, and, therefore, the faithfulness of God. He probably did so also because this incident illustrates God’s feelings in giving His Son as the Lamb of God (cf. John 1:29; 3:16). Other themes in this chapter include testing and obedience, the relationship between God and man, and the relationship between father and son. Every time Abraham made a sacrifice for God the Lord responded by giving Abraham more.
Abraham left his homeland; God gave him a new one.
Abraham left his extended family; God gave him a much larger family.
Abraham offered the best of the land to Lot; God gave him more land.
Abraham gave up the King of Sodom’s reward; God gave Abraham more wealth.
Abraham gave up Ishmael; God made Ishmael the father of a multitude of Abraham’s posterity.
Abraham was willing to give up Isaac; God allowed him to live and through him gave Abraham numerous seed.
In each case God gave Abraham a deeper relationship with Himself as well as more material prosperity. Note the closeness of this fellowship in Abraham’s response to God’s revelations: “Here I am”
This test of Abraham’s faith is the climax of his personal history. It is the last major incident in the record of his life. “. . . God does not demand a literal human sacrifice from His worshippers, but the spiritual sacrifice of an unconditional denial of the natural life, even to submission to death itself.” The faithful believer will surrender to God whatever He may ask trusting in God’s promise of provision and blessing.
God has not promised Christians great physical blessings (cf. 2 Tim. 3:2), but whenever we make a sacrifice for Him He gives us a deeper relationship with Himself at least (cf. John 15:14). For this reason we should not fear making personal sacrifices for God.
Sometimes God tests our faith by asking us to give back to Him what He has supernaturally and faithfully provided, not just what He has provided through regular channels.
With Love In Christ,