CHINA EXHORT 7/1/07 Reading: Genesis 13-14 Bro Des Manser
2007年1月7日劝勉词 读经：创世记第13－14章 德斯•曼塞尔 弟兄
As we commence a New Year our daily readings traverse the book of Genesis and at the present time, the life of Abraham.
Abraham is the most important character in the Old Testament as far as we are concerned because of his central position in God’s plan of redemption for mankind and the message of the gospel itself.
This is clearly shown to be true by Paul’s explanation of Abraham’s place in the hope of the gospel which Jesus proclaimed, which is found in Galatians Chapter 3:27, 28。Gal 3:27-29：“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
The promises which v29 says we can inherit are in fact the very core of the gospel message which is necessary for us to believe in order to be saved
Gal 3:8: “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.”
The promises which God made to Abraham all depended upon the birth of a son when at the time his wife Sarah was barren and he was old and past being able to produce a child.
In the reading for today in Genesis Ch 17 we read of the specific promise which God made about the birth of this child who was called Isaac. At this time God changed his name from Abram , meaning “exalted father” to Abraham meaning “father of many nations” by inserting the fifth latter of the Hebrew alphabet into his name. In addition to this, God gave to Abraham the covenant of circumcision [Gen 17:10] to impress upon him the fact that the son to be born was not to come merely by the will of man but by the intervention of God. Of course we can look even further ahead in God’s purpose to when the true seed of Abraham was born, Jesus Christ our Lord. In his case there was no human father involved at all. In our case we are in the Truth not because of our own will or merit but because of God’s call and we will be in the kingdom because of God’s working in us through the effect of his word upon our lives. All these great principles were demonstrated in the life of Abraham.
In Romans Ch 4:17 Paul argues the fact that circumcision was but a sign of the faith he had already developed when he believed that God was able to perform what was humanly impossible because of the inability of Abraham and Sarah to have a child.
Rom 4:9 -11: “Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also”
罗马书4:9 –11 ：“这福是单加给那受割礼的人吗？不也是加给那未受割礼的人吗？因我们所说，亚伯拉罕的信，就算为他的义。是怎么算的呢？是在他受割礼的时候呢？是在他未受割礼的时候呢？不是在受割礼的时候，乃是在未受割礼的时候。并且他受了割礼的记号，作他未受割礼的时候因信称义的印证，叫他作一切未受割礼而信之人的父，使他们也算为义。”
Paul is referring to the record in Gen 15 which was at least 15 years before the events of Ch 17
And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Gen 15:4-6)
Paul records in Romans 4:17 that it was the quality of Abraham’s faith, not just what he believed, but how strongly he embrace d God’s hope which had been given him and how it governed how he lived his life
(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. (Rom 4:17-22)
Furthermore in v23-25 Paul says that it was not recorded just for Abraham’s benefit but for our benefit as well. We have to believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Resurrection is not humanly possible and we have never witnessed a resurrection and yet we believe in faith all that is recorded of the Lord’s resurrection. All that God promised Abraham depends upon it and the salvation of all who believe depends upon the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive for evermore.
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Turning to the second chapter of our daily reading which is Gen 18 we learn of the close relationship which God had with Abraham. We read of how the angels who came to destroy Sodom confided in Abraham because of their confidence in the fact that he would not only have children but he would instruct them in the same great truths which God had given him and which motivated him in all aspects of his life
And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
This intimacy between Abraham and God which was based on Abraham’s faith and trust in God is the reason for Abraham being called “the friend of God” in three passages of scripture
1] 2 Chron 20:7 In this passage king Jehoshaphat is praying in circumstances which were out of his control or ability to handle. Faced by a massive military invasion of the land which threatened Israel’s very existence. In his prayer he places his confidence in the promises which God made to Abraham about the land and his seed, and calls Abraham “the friend of God
1）历代志下 20:7 在这一经节中，约沙法王正在他没有能力控制局面的情况下祷告，当时他们正面临被大军攻击的危险，威胁着以色列的生死存亡。在他的祷告中，他把他的信心放在了神给亚伯拉罕的关于这片地和后裔的应许之上，并称亚伯拉罕为“神的朋友”。
Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? (2Ch 20:7)
2] Isa 41:8 This passage is in a context about God’s great purpose with Israel and includes a challenge to the nations to produce their arguments and attempt to refute God’s ability to foresee the future and fulfill his purpose
2）以赛亚书 41:8 这一经节是在神对以色列的伟大目的的情况下，包含了对列国的挑战，以使他们产生争执和企图，想要驳倒神的预知未来和实现预定计划的能力。
But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. (Isa 41:8)
3] James 2:23
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (James 2:21-23)
Again the context of this chapter is very instructive. It tells us that Abraham was called the friend of God because he was prepared to act upon his faith not just confess it. He was prepared to believe that God could raise his son Isaac from the dead. All of the promises depended upon the birth of Isaac and so Abraham correctly reasoned that God would raise him from the dead if he had to sacrifice him. As we know from Gen 22 it was not necessary for Abraham to put his son to death, but this incident pointed forward to the time when God would be prepared to offer his own son for our salvation
So we have seen from the scripture that Abraham was called the friend of God because he was prepared to act upon his faith and to obey God, and to instruct his family and those around about him in the great truths of God’s purpose
It is instructive for us to learn that on the night before his death Jesus called his disciples his friends
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:14-15)
So we are his friends if we obey him and live the life which he has commanded us to live.
A friend can be relied upon, they are loyal, they are prepared to sacrifice their own will for us and above all they can be trusted and we trust our friends. Jesus taught and demonstrated all these qualities and we need to follow his example and live our lives the same way as he did.
Moses is another character who God called a friend.
And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle. (Exo 33:11)
In Numbers 12:3 we are told why Moses was also called a friend of God (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) (Num 12:3)
在民数记 12:3中，我们被告知摩西也被称为神的朋友（摩西为人极其谦和，胜过世上的众人）（民数记 12:3）。
It was his meekness which commended him to God. The word has the meaning of being debased in ones own opinion of self. In other words not being exalted in our own mind and opinions and hence teachable, this is another meaning applicable to the word meek. This is how we should be. Jesus quotes Psa 37:11 in his discourse on the mount in Matthew 5:5 to show that such people will one day inherit the earth which is exactly what God promised Abraham.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matt 5:5)
Returning again to the qualities of Abraham’s faith which made him the friend of God we are told in Rom 4 that his life can be a pattern and example to be followed in our own lives. Commenting on Genesis 17 which we have read the apostle says
And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. (Rom 4:11-12)
So then we are asked to walk “in the steps” of Abraham. When God gave him the promise of the land of Israel he was in fact asked to do exactly that he was told to walk upon the land thus giving substance to his faith
Gen 13:17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
创世记 13:17 我也要使你的后裔如同地上的尘沙那样多，人若能数算地上的尘沙才能数算你的后裔。
We need to also make a reality of our hope. Make it like something solid beneath our feet
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only life which can really be a pattern for us to follow because his was the only perfect life. However the scripture invites us to look at what Abraham did in response to God’s promises to him and to walk in the steps of that faith. We have much to learn from his total belief and trust in what God had told him. We see him like us at times, in weakness, failure and even fear but he always maintained his hope and trust in God. He was God’s friend and we can be Christ’s friends if we also maintain our faith in what we believed when we made our decision to be baptized and follow our Lord.
Let us remember his perfect example and his willingness to give his life for “his friends” as we take the emblems this day and model our lives upon his, so that we can stand approved before him in the day of his return.