Genesis 12-50 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight GEN02
The Bible from 30,000 feet. Soaring through the scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Would you turn, in your Bibles, please, to the book of Genesis. Let's begin in chapter 12 tonight. And let's finish the book of Genesis. Now, if you were with us last week-- and I think most of you were, raise your hands if you were? Awesome.
So we moved pretty fast. Did we not? So we're going to move as fast, at least tonight. So I need to have you buckle your seat belts, put your heart in the upright position, and we have now officially taken off. We're the book of Genesis.
The book of Genesis shows to us the beginning of everything, except God. The beginning of everything, except God. It shows us the beginning of the universe, the beginning of mankind, the beginning of God's plan to rescue men from sin. It gives to us the beginning of sin itself.
It shows us the beginning of the Sabbath day, because God rested, the Bible says, on the seventh day. It tells us the beginning of marriage. It shows us the beginning of the family. It shows us the beginning of God's judgment-- we see, in the flood of chapter 6, 7, and 8.
It shows us the beginning of human government, which comes in chapters 10 and 11, the beginning of nations-- and now, now we focus-- the beginning of the nation of Israel. That's what the rest of this book, you might say, deals with. Last week, it was all about the beginning of the human race. From chapter 12 to 50, this is the beginning of the Hebrew race, God's chosen race.
So the book of Genesis, as we said last time can be seen by looking at four great events followed by four great people. The four great events we covered last time-- formation, of the heavens and the earth, fall, of mankind, the flood, the great judgment that encircled the earth, and the fallout of man's rebellion against God-- in those last two chapters, 10 and 11.
Now we go and look at four great people-- Abraham and his son Isaac, and then Isaac's son Jacob, and then one of Jacob's sons, Joseph. Abraham, Isaac Jacob, Joseph. So if chapters 1 through 11 are about primeval history, then chapters 12 through 50 are patriarchal history.
Again, the first 11 chapters are about events. The last section of the book of Genesis 12 to 50 is about people. And one thing you will discover-- that's what God is more interested in. There's more description given to people than to events-- even creation. I mean, God's whole creation is summed up in two short chapters. But when he wants to talk about Abraham, he'll give you 14 chapters. When he wants to talk about Joseph, he'll give you 14 more chapters.
Because that is what God is most interested in-- not the events, but in people. And that is what the book of Genesis does. It is God reaching people. He gets ahold of a man named Adam, a couple named Adam and Eve, a nation called Israel, and finally, the whole world-- when we get to John 3:16, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. So the theme of the book of Genesis, you might say, at least the theme of this portion of the book, is God's selection of a nation so that he can bring forth his son, the Messiah, who will fulfill the promise that he gave in Genesis chapter 3, verse 15, the seed of the woman who will come and destroy the rulership of Satan himself.
So we're going to begin in chapter 12 with Abraham. We have looked at the lineage of Adam. And then the lineage of Adam was very selective in that it eliminated the line of Cain, and the line of Abel, and focuses on the line of the third son, Seth. Now, we're focused on the line of Shem, of Noah's sons after they left the Ark that we saw last time.
Chapter 11 introduces us to Abraham, or Abram, as he is called. But I'm going to pick it up in chapter 12, verse 1. Now Abraham-- that's how we know him best. Abraham is highlighted in three world religions-- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He plays a major role, which indicates his importance. And for our purpose, the amount of scriptural real estate that is devoted to Abraham is noteworthy-- as I mentioned, 14 chapters.
So chapters 1 through 11-- I don't know if you remember from last week-- covers about how many years? 2,000 years. About 2,000 years. 2,000-plus years. Chapters 12 through 50 covered just around 300 years or so. That's what it's limited to. But it's about people.
Now Abraham is important in our Bibles. One chapter in the book of Romans is devoted to him. Two chapters in the book of Galatians is devoted to him. He is called, in those sections, the Father of those who believe. The Father of those who believe. Why? Because it will say Abraham believed God, and God accounted it to him as righteousness.
Then we'll get to Hebrews, chapter 11, where you have a whole listing of people who believed God, and Abraham as one of them. By the way, three times in the Bible, Abraham is known as the friend of God. Isn't that a great title? Isn't that a great nickname? Who are you? Oh, I'm God's buddy.
He is the friend of God. In fact, today, to this day, Arabs refer to him as [SPEAKING ARABIC], which is friend. And [SPEAKING ARABIC] is friend of God, and that's the name they get to Hebron because that was the place that he bought a cave for himself and his wife to be buried.
Well, as I said, the story begins in chapter 11 in Ur of the Chaldees. That's his hometown. He is called to leave that place and go to a place God tells him. His father was a pagan worshipper, and his wife is infertile at the time. That sets the stage for chapter 12, verse 1.
"Now the Lord had said to Abraham, get out of your country. And from your family, from your father's house to a land that I will show you." So he leaves. He goes upriver to Haran, until his father dies, then continues his journey to Canaan. Verse 2, God says, "I will make you a great nation, I will bless you and make your name great. And you shall be a blessing."
Now, can I just say, at this point, I think this shows, at least in part, the irony of God, or even the sense of humor of God. God tells a man, who has no offspring, and has a wife who is completely and totally infertile. He says, hey, you know what? I'm going to make you a great nation. He's thinking, nation? I don't even have a first kid yet.
But God promises him a nation. Against all odds, he tells this man, who has no child, with a wife who can bear no child, that he's going to be a great nation. "I will bless you," verse 3, "and 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." Please notice that verse. Because everything from this verse, all the way to chapter 50, flow out of this verse. All of God's program from now on will flow out of this verse. In you, all the nations of the earth will be blessed. The rest of Genesis, yea, the rest of the Bible, has this as its theme-- how God will bless the world through the offspring of Abraham, namely, Christ.
So Abraham, or Abram, as he is called here, which means exalted father-- departed as the Lord had spoken to him. And Lot went with him. And Abraham was 75 years old when he departed from Heron. Now, God has big blessings in store for this guy.
But before he can see big blessings, he has to separate from old relationships. He has to cut things from the past out of his life before he can go forward. And I think God calls all of us to do the same-- maybe not this, but he calls all of us to make a clean break from our past. It's called repentance in the Bible. And to start all over.
Jesus even said, if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. So, to the extent that we are willing to leave our old life, that will be the extent to which we will enjoy the new life. So he is called to leave, and he is called to be blessed in a new place.
In this section, five times, God says "I will." This is what I will do. This is what I will do. This is what I will do. The emphasis in the early part of chapter 12 is what God is going to accomplish. Why is this important? Because sometimes, brothers and sisters, we get a little bit cocky, do we not, in our Christian walk?
And we think, I'm going to do something great for God. Well good on you with that attitude, but can I just say, you can't do nothing for God until you realize what God has done for you, and what God can do through you. God does not choose exalted people. He chooses foolish people, weak people, insignificant ones. He's on the lookout for those who will admit their deficit and their need of him.
Well, he gets to Canaan, the new land, verse 7. The Lord appeared to Abraham and said, to your descendants, I will give this land-- please mark that-- this land, what today we call Israel, that land of Canaan. God is going to make a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the 12 tribes of Israel for that piece of real estate. It is a land covenant.
"And there, he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountains east of Bethel. He pitched his tent with-- Bethel on the west, and Ai on the east." Now, when you see that little word Ai, I've heard people pronounce it Ai, but it's pronounced I. Think eye. Or pirate, aye, matey. That's how you pronounce it. That's the city of Ai, a little bit in that area in the center portion of the land.
"With Ai on the east, and he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. He called on the name of the Lord. Now in chapters 12 and 13 we have a problem, he's in the land. And the land is called the land of promise, or the promised land. He gets to the promised land, and do you know what he finds? A famine.
A famine in the promised land? I thought it was supposed to be a land flowing with milk and honey. It's a land of promise. He gets there, and he finds a famine in the land. You know, if I were Abraham, what I'd be thinking about now?
Did I hear God right? Was this, was I following the GPS coordinates the right way? Should I have taken a left at Heron, or a right, or somewhere else, kept that Tigres Euphrates River thing going on? Because why is there a famine in the land of promise. Why would God allow this?
Folks, this is called Faith 101. Your physical muscles will never develop unless they meet resistance, unless you add pressure to those muscles. When you lift weights, and you are tearing down a muscle, you are adding pressure and resistance because, in tearing it down, it leaves it now open to be built back up.
So when it comes to faith, our faith muscles will never grow on a steady diet of blessing after blessing after blessing. That's how we like it. I don't want to go through the valley of the shadow of death. I'd like to be airlifted from mountain peak to mountain peak, thank you very much, God.
But your faith won't grow unless you find famine in the land. Because that's where your faith kicks in. That's where you have to trust the Lord, that he has called you here. So there is a famine. He decides to go to Egypt to figure this thing out and to get some food.
He lies about his wife, saying she is my sister. In so doing, he endangers his wife. God resolves it. He gets her back, and he returns back to the land of Canaan. Also, Abraham, or Abram, as he is called still, and his nephew, Lot, get into a little bit of an argument, a little bit of a tiff.
They say, we don't have enough land for our growing families and livestock. So Abraham says look, Lot, you can just pick whatever place you want, and I'll take what you don't want. So he looks at the well-watered plane of the Jordan, and he goes towards Sodom. But wouldn't you know it, God is so good to Abraham-- after a Lot leaves and gets the best portion of the land, so to speak, God says, hey, I want you to look north, and I want you to look south, and I want you to look east, and I want you to look west. Every single place you can see with your eyes in all directions, I've given to you as a covenant with you and your offspring forever.
When we get to chapter 14, we smell war. We have nine kings, five and four, who are battling against each other. Four are Shemite kings against five Hamite kings. You know what I mean when I say Shemite-- descendants of Shem, descendants of Ham. Those kings are fighting each other.
We are told that five kings made a coalition with a guy named Chedorlaomer. He's mentioned in this Bible text. Chedorlaomer is the head king to whom these other nations are paying taxes, or tribute. So he is controlling them for 12 years.
In year 13, they decide to rebel. When they rebel a battle breaks out. Chedorlaomer and his contingency win the battle. He takes the spoils of war with him, but-- and the reason this is in the Bible-- he takes a Lot with him, Abram's nephew. Abram hears that his nephew has been taken captive in this battle. So he gets 318 of his trained servants-- he had quite a household. He had, on his payroll, a militia-- 318 paid, trained servants who were people of war who could fight this battle. And he wins the battle.
So he beats the four kings, and we come to chapter 14, verse 17. And the King of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of the Shaveh-- that is the King's Valley-- after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the Kings who were with him. Then-- watch this name-- Melchizedek. He'll be important in other portions of the Bible.
"Then Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought out bread and wine." That name, Melchizedek, comes from two Hebrew words put together. The first is Melech, which means king, and the second is Zedek, which is righteousness. So his name, Melech-Zedek is king of righteousness, or lord of righteousness. That's what his name means.
Notice what he is the king of-- Salem. Salem means peace. Salem was the name given to a city before it was called Jeru-Salem, or city of peace. That's ancient Jerusalem. So king of righteousness, who is called king of peace, brought out bread and wine-- that's interesting in and of itself. He was the priest of God most high, in Hebrew, [SPEAKING HEBREW], or the sovereign Lord. So whoever Melchizedek was, he was a monotheistic worshipper. He believed in one God, not many gods like the Canaanites believed in, but one God. He was a monotheistic monarch who lived in that region.
Verse 19, he blessed him and said, blessed be Abraham of [SPEAKING HEBREW], God most high, possessor of heaven and Earth, and blessed be God most high who has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him a tithe of all. Now, this is an obscure incident. And everybody asks the question-- who was Melchizedek?
And the reason they ask who Melchizedek was is because this isn't the end of him. We read in Psalm 110, you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. It's a reference to the Messiah who had come. That the Messiah would both be, like Melchizedek, a priest and a king. Now you know, in ancient times, priests were never kings, and kings were never priests. They were always separated. Even in Judaism, the tribe of Judah, the royal line, that's where the kings came from, the tribe of Levi, that's where the priest came from. You'd never mix them.
Melchizedek was both a king and a priest. And so the Psalms say, you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, looking forward to Jesus Christ, who will not follow the line of Aaron. He's of the tribe of Judah. But he is also a king and a priest, our great high priest.
In Hebrews, chapter 7, Melchizedek shows up again. And there, the author says that he is without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life. So who was he, exactly? Well again, I'm going to let you take your pick.
Some say, number one, he was Shem, the son of Noah. How they come up with that, I still really have no clue. But I've read it, so I share it with you. So let's just dismiss that, because I just think that's wacky. But you may not. So you may want to believe that.
Number two, he was simply some monotheistic Canaanite king. He was a guy, a real guy, who lived there in that town, and he believed in one God. That's a possibility. The third-- because of the way psalms and Hebrews treat Melchizedek, some have speculated-- oh, he's much more. If he has no father or mother, no genealogy, if he has neither beginning of days and or end of days, this must be, third explanation, a theophony, a theophony, an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament-- a pre-incarnate representation of Christ. A theophony, or, more directly, a Christophony-- and appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament, our great high priest and King of kings.
When we get to chapter 15, we have the elaboration of an unconditional covenant. Now you're going to hear us talk about covenants as we go through the Bible. They're big in the Bible. You need to know what they are. Basically, there were two kinds. I say basically. I don't want to get into too much detail. There were unconditional covenants and conditional covenants.
An unconditional covenant-- let's call it a unilateral covenant. That is, one party makes a promise and will fulfill it. A bilateral covenant-- that is, a conditional covenant. There's conditions on both sides. Both parties have to do things for that covenant to stay intact.
This is an unconditional covenant that we're reading about here. Now, in chapter 15, Abraham is about 90 years old when God makes his covenant with him. Basically, he makes a promise to Abraham that is going to have what he always wanted-- and more. He's going to have a son. That's what he wanted.
Oh, but he's going to have much more. He's going to have a heritage of offspring. A nation will come out of him. Nations will come out of him. And with that will come many hardships to this family of Abraham. I know you've heard the saying, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Or be careful what you wish for, you might get more than you bargained for?
I heard about a couple, they were in their 60s. They had been married for 40 years. They were having their anniversary party, and people were there. And while they were celebrating, the good fairy appeared to this couple. And the good fairy, said you have been such a loving and wonderful couple all these years, I'm going to grant you each one wish.
And so the wife thought about it. She goes, well I've always wanted to see the world. I'd like to travel the world. So the good fairy waved her little wand, and, poof, tickets appeared, and ready cash for world travel. And then the good fairy said to the man, the husband, time for your wish.
Well, he paused a while, and he thought about, and he said, I think I'd like a wife 30 years younger. So the good fairy said, you sure? He said, yes, that's what I want. So waved the wand-- poof-- instantly, he was 90 years old.
Be careful what you wish for. Abraham will get what he wished for, but much more than that. Chapter 15, verse 1, "After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward. But Abram said, Lord God, what will you give me? Seeing that I go childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus."
And Abram said, look, "you have given me no offspring. Indeed, one born in my house is my heir"-- speaking of that eldest servant. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him saying, "this one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir." Now he is how old at this point? He is 90. That's the promise. Then he brought him outside. Verse 5, I love this. And he said, "look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to number them. And he said to him, so shall your descendants be." Verse six, "and he believed in the Lord, and he encountered it to him for righteousness."
See that little word believed? You know what it is in the Hebrew? Amen. That's the Hebrew word for belief, Amen. So God gave him a promise. And he said, amen. He believed it. That's where we get the idea of amen. It's so be it. I believe it. He believed in the Lord and counted it to him for righteousness.
So, on some clear, dry, Middle Eastern night, God took Abraham outside and said, look up. That's what I can do. And if I can do that-- I just want you to count the stars. See how many you can count. Because I'm going to make you have not just one son, but a whole host of progeny that will become a nation.
And let me just encourage you. When you feel down, when you feel despairing, when life seems overwhelming, go outside at night and look up. And just realize, my dad did that. He just spoke that into existence, and he holds all of that at play so simply, so effortlessly.
Isaiah put it this way. Isaiah 40, "who else has held the oceans in his hand? And who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?" I often like to think of this, especially when I'm out camping, and I look up at those stars, and I realize I'm looking at a portion of the Milky Way galaxy-- just a portion of it. But that that galaxy, our home, the Milky Way, is 10,000 light years wide by 100,000 light years long.
A light year is the time, or the distance, it takes light to travel in a year. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. So get this, if you could go that fast, 186,000 miles per second, you could circle your earth, this earth, which has the circumference of what, 25,000, 24,900 and some miles in circumference, you could circle the earth 7 and 1/2 times in a second. That's the speed of light. 7 and half times in a second.
If you went out to the moon, which is a quarter of a million miles away, you would get to the moon in 1 and 1/2 seconds. Keep going, you're going to get to Venus in two minutes, 18 seconds. You're going to sail past mercury in 4 and 1/2 minutes. You're going to get to the sun in 7 and 1/2 minutes.
But for you to go from one end of your galaxy to the other is going to take you 100,000 years traveling at 186,000 miles per second. You know what God does with that? He says, it's only about that big. Small stuff. Easy for me.
So here's God saying, Abram, look at that. So shall your offspring be. This is the God you serve. This is what I can do. I can handle it. Well, in this chapter is a weird set of instructions. I'm just going to cut to the chase.
It's a ritual that makes no sense to us in modern society. But in ancient times, it was known as cutting a covenant. There are two words in Hebrew at play in this chapter-- [SPEAKING HEBREW] and [SPEAKING HEBREW], which means "covenant" and "cut." Its means to cut a covenant.
And in those days, when you would make a deal with somebody, you would often cut an animal, lay the pieces on either side, and walk between them. You go, that is so gross. What's the purpose of that? The idea is, that's what's going to happen to you if you break this covenant. That was the idea, in ancient times.
So the cutting of the covenant is highlighted here. God is basically saying, this is how much emphasis I place on my promise. When I make a promise, I'm serious about it. So a covenant is cut. Verse 12, chapter 15, "When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon a Abram. Behold horror and great darkness fell upon him. And he, the Lord, said to Abraham, know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs and will serve them and afflict them for 400 years." Also, verse 14, "the nation whom they serve"-- that is Egypt-- "I will judge. And afterward, they will come up, or come out, with great possessions.
Now, as for you, you will go to your fathers in peace. You will be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation, they shall return here for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete. And it came to pass, when the sun was going down, and it was dark, that, behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces." Those are the pieces of the animal.
So Abraham is, like, sleeping, opens his eyes, sees this kind of torch going through these pieces of cut up animals. And a dread comes upon him. After he sees that, God tells him the borders of the land that he promises for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob to inherit.
Now God is making a covenant by himself. Typically both parties, or whoever is involved in making and keeping the covenant, would walk between these pieces of animal. But Abraham looks up and sees this torch-- this is the Lord, represented-- that is moving through these pieces.
Abraham didn't walk through those pieces. He's out. He's sleeping. This is a unilateral covenant, a one-sided covenant, an unconditional covenant. God is making a promise, and he's saying, I'm going to do it. I'm going to fulfill what I said.
If you fail to understand the nature of this covenant, this unilateral covenant that God makes with Abram, Isaac, and Jacob for that land, you will fail to understand the place of Israel in God's plan. It won't make sense to you. God is saying, I'm going to give you-- not based upon how good you are, but based upon my nature forever-- this land for you and your progeny to inherit.
Well, it's such a wonderful promise that in the next chapter, chapter 16, Sarah-- called Sarai at this point-- it's such a wonderful promise that Sarai wants to help God fulfill his promise. It's almost as if-- well, you know, it's such a wonderful promise, God can't really do this on his own. He needs me to get involved, me to help him out.
So her plan is, look, I can't get pregnant. I'm infertile, right? But I have a handmaiden named Hagar, an Egyptian handmaid. Abram, sleep with her, and she will conceive, and that child that is born, we'll call that God's fulfillment.
I remember, when I was a boy, my dad would always say God helps those who help themselves. And I remember because he would always say, you know, the Bible says, that God helps those who help themselves. So I grew up thinking that's what the Bible says.
Then I got saved, and I started reading the Bible. And I said, dad I can't find it. He goes, "it's in there somewhere." And then I remember the day when I found out it was not in the Bible. It was Benjamin Franklin that said that.
I said, you know, I know Benjamin's in the Bible. But that one isn't. And that's not in the Bible.
And I discovered that God helps the helpless-- not those who help themselves. God helps those who can't help themselves. And so this man is growing older, and older, and older. And by chapter 17, he is 99 years old. He cannot help himself, nor can Sarah.
What's funny about chapter 17 is, in this hopeless condition, his name is, what, by this time? It's not Abraham yet, it's what? Abram, which means what? Exalted father. Exalted father. Chapter 17, God gives him a new name-- Abraham, which means father of a whole bunch of people, father of a multitude.
Can I just say-- how embarrassing for Abraham. Look, I can't have a kid. I don't have a kid. You said I'm going to have a nation. My name is exalted father. That's bad enough. But now you're calling me father of a whole bunch.
I've got to tell people, hey, I changed my name to father of a multitude. It's not going to go over well. Also God changes Sarai's name to Sarah. Sarai means, she strives. Sarah means princess.
And it's just a small voice inflection to change it, right, from Sarai to Sarah. But that's how effortless it is for the Holy Spirit of God to change a life, just a single breath. The Holy Spirit means the holy breath or the holy wind. It's just, God goes, [BREATH]-- a life change happens. From Sarai to Sarah.
Now, in chapter 17, verse 9, God said to Abraham, as for you, you shall keep my covenant. You and your descendants after you throughout their generations. It's going to happen. I'm doing it. But it's extended now to them. This is my covenant, which you shall keep between me, and you, and your descendants after you.
Every male child among you shall be circumcised. So this is the covenant I'm going to do. To signify that you're a part of it, that you believe in it-- because you're really not going to do it. It's unilateral. You just have to indicate that you agree with it by just having those babies of yours those male children circumcised. And when-- verse 12-- he that is eight days old. Because of this, every Jewish boy who has ever been born in Judaism, to keep the Jewish covenant, is circumcised on the eighth day.
Why the eighth today? Well, I'm glad you asked.
The blood clotting in the human body does not reach optimal levels until the eighth day. Vitamin K in the human body kicks in between day five and day seven. And another element, called prothrombin, is below normal levels. But it peaks at 110% on-- guess which day? The eighth day.
Now, Abraham didn't know that, but God did. So God initiates this on the eighth day. And so he did it. It was an act of faith. Can I just say something? That when God gives you an order, or a promise, or he tells you to do something, and because Abraham , he says, eighth day, why? Why the eighth day? I'm going to write that into the pastor next week. Why the eighth day?
When God gives you command, you need to create a file in your heart, and you label it, waiting for further instructions, or waiting for further information and you just file that. You don't know the answer now, but later on, as we develop science, we can look back, and go, oh, that's why the eighth day was so important. But at this point, it was an act of faith.
Well, in chapter 18 and 19, three visitors come to Abraham and Sarah in their tent, in the heat of the day. These three visitors look like normal people. But it turns out, one of them is the Lord, and two of them are angels. Which, to me, is just a wonderful thought. God comes to your house. Angels come to your house. What do you serve them for dinner?
You're going to just heat up any old thing? You're going to make them a feast? Angel hair pasta? Maybe? What would you give for dessert?
Angel food cake.
You said it, angel food cake. Or devil's food cake, just to have a little fun with it, maybe? I don't know.
Well, in this chapter, chapter 18, God promises Sarah that she will have a son birthed from her womb. That it won't be Abraham and Hagar. It won't be a surrogate. That she herself, this old woman is, going to birth a son.
Now she is on the other side of the tent flap, and she hears this, and she snickers a little bit. She laughs. And so the Lord, the visitor who is the Lord said, why did Sarah laugh? And she said, I didn't laugh. And God said, yeah, you did.
I heard it. She's 90 years old at the time. She gets this promise. The visitors get up, and they go toward the Dead Sea, to that region where they can overlook the area. And they overlook the area of Sodom.
Now Abraham is concerned because they announce that judgment is coming to these cities of the plain. Abraham is concerned because somebody he knows lives there by the name of Lot. So Abraham sort of enters into Middle Eastern negotiations. Hey God, if you found 50 people who are righteous in this city, would you spare them? God said, I'll spare them. If you can find me 50 people, I'll spare the city.
Abraham thinks about that and goes, not Sodom, you won't find 50 righteous people there. Would you do it for 40? Sure, you find 40 people, I'll spare the city. He thinks about that it. He goes, hey, 30. Would you do it for 30? Works the Lord all the way down to 10 people. Tell you what, God, if I could find 10 people, would you spare the city for 10?
God says, yes. Guess what God did to that city? He destroyed it because 10 righteous were not found. Only Lot was found, and he was only relatively righteous. So God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah.
Now why does he destroy them for what sin? For what sins? You see, I ask that question because we typically, glibly, answer that by saying, it was homosexuality. It was sexual immorality. All of that is true.
But you would be shortsighted if that's all you said God judged them for. In a Ezekiel 16, he said that he would judge them for pride, laziness, gluttony, and because they mistreated the poor and the needy. Along with sexual perversion was pride, laziness, gluttony, and indifference.
Well, the next few chapters are grim. Chapter 18, Sodom's doom is pronounced. Chapter 19, there is a destruction that goes on. After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah-- which, by the way, as far as I know, the world's best living expert on the times of Abraham and Lot, and the cities of the plain goes to this church, and his name is Dr. Steve Collins. Steve might even be here tonight.
Yeah, he's right back here. So any questions about Sodom and Gomorrah, ask him. He's been digging it for 15 years.
We get to chapter 20, and old Abe has a relapse of unbelief. Yeah, he was the guy who went down to Egypt and said, Sarah is my sister, not my wife. Now he does it again. He goes into old style behavior.
And so the chapter is filled with lies and deception. So, by this time, if you are reading through the book of Genesis, by this time, you're ready for a break. You need a little laughter.
And that's good because chapter 21 kicks in. And the Lord visited Sarah, as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had spoken. You're going to have a baby, Sarah. I'm 90. I'm going to laugh about that. That is so funny, what a good joke.
No it's not. It's really going to happen. I didn't laugh. Yeah you did.
So time elapses, and it happens. She ends up pregnant. She has a child.
You know, God is never late. God is always exactly on time. He's always punctual. We say punctual, why did God then make this couple way 25 years from making the promise to fulfilling the promise? Why do they have to wait so long.
Well, wouldn't you agree that would make the fulfillment all that much more dramatic? Because, as the years go by, God is stacking the odds against himself that that could ever happen. You say, well you know a 90-year-old man can't have a child. Well, what about a 100-year-old man? Well, you know a 70-year-old woman can't have a baby. Well, what about a 90-year-old woman? See, God just makes it harder and harder so that when it happens, you go, whoa, I guess God can do anything. It makes the fulfillment more dramatic.
So verse 2 of chapter 21, "Sarah conceived and born Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him." Verse 5, "now Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, God has made me laugh. And all who hear will laugh with me." She also said, "who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children. For I have borne him a son in his old age."
God basically turned a retirement home into a maternity home and made this couple so happy. They're laughing, but they're not laughing a laughter of unbelief. This is a laughter of sheer joy that God pulled it off. They're rejoicing.
Chapter 22 is a pivotal chapter. Verse 1, "Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham." Hardest test he's ever had so far, by the way. And said to him, Abraham. And he said, here I am. And he said, take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him-- there is a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
When Abraham heard this, his first thought must have been, that doesn't make sense. That's counterintuitive. God promised me a son. It took 25 years for that son to come. He was born miraculously, according to God's promise. Why would God want to kill the kid he promised and gave so miraculously?
I want you to notice the wording here. Take now your son, your only son. By this time, he had two sons, not one. He had Ishmael, that was his son. That was his first born through Hagar, the Egyptian handmaid. This is his second son. But God calls him his only son. It's the only son God is recognizing because this is the son of promise, not the son of the flesh, not the son of trying to help God out.
But this is the son of promise. So the wording is interesting. Take your only son, or your only begotten son, if I can add a word, whom you love. Does that mean he didn't love Ishmael? Of course he loved Ishmael. But again, the wording is remarkable. Take your only son, whom you love-- the very first time the word love is used in the Bible is here. And it's the love of a father giving his only begotten son in a sacrifice. That's noteworthy.
What also is noteworthy is he says, go to the land of Moriah. Now Moriah is a ridge system of mountains in Jerusalem. I'm going to throw up a couple of slides and let you look at them. First of all is a shot of modern day Jerusalem. That is the little section of where Jerusalem started. That's Salem, where Melchizedek lived. It became the City of David. That's the very beginnings of Jerusalem.
But then look at how the mountain goes up, and this is the Temple Mount area. See how it rises in elevation from down here? This is the ridge of Moriah. Now notice, in the distance, this area is actually topographically taller than this area. This is modern Jerusalem. Let me take you to slide number two.
OK, I showed you David's Jerusalem, Salem. That's right here. See that little toungue? Mark two and below. And then, above it, you see that area? The Temple Mount? Today there's a mosque on it. That's where the temple stood.
OK, so this is the ridge of Moriah. It goes from the City of David, goes up to the Temple Mount. But then it rises further, north of the city. The elevation here is taller than that. Now go to the next slide. I'm showing it to you again. The City of David, that's that little tongue I showed you. The Temple Mount, Solomon's temple. The peak of Mount Moriah is further north.
So think about it in Abraham's day. Abraham didn't see a temple, didn't see a mosque, didn't see the Hilton hotel, or the Sheraton Hotel, or the bus stops. It was all just mountain ridge. For him to go to the land of Moriah and sacrifice his son on top of Mount Moriah, he would have gone north of, today, the city of Jerusalem because that's the tallest point. Make sense?
What's interesting is that that is the region, north of that Temple Mount area, where it rises up, where we find Golgotha-- the place of the skull. So take now your son, your only son, whom you love, to the mountains of Moriah. And on that place, where Abraham almost sacrificed his only begotten son, God himself sacrificed, indeed-- not almost, but indeed, his only begotten son, probably in the same spot or area where Abraham. So that's a significant chapter. It's a foreshadowing of things to come.
So verse 3, Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, took two of his young men with him, and Isaac, his son. Split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose, and went to the place which God told him. Then, on the third day, Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place of far off. What that means is, his son Isaac was dead to him, in his mind, for three days. For three days, he said, I'm going to kill my son. I'm going to kill my son. I"m going to kill my son. For three days, he had to live with that. My son is going to die.
And Abraham said to the young man, stay here with the donkey. The lad and I will go yonder and worship-- now watch this-- and we will come back. He didn't say, we're going to go to worship, and I'm coming back-- alone. He said, we're going, but we're coming back again.
This is why the book of Hebrews says, by faith, Abraham went to offer or sacrifice his son, Hebrews 11-- listen to what he says-- concluding that God is able to raise the dead. Concluding, or reasoning, in his mind, in his heart, that God is able to raise the dead. So he brings his son to mount Moriah. And as he's bringing up there, he's thinking, God is not a liar. God told me I'm going to have a son. Here is my son. He has to live through this, or else he's going to die, and God's going to raise him up.
That's the faith he lived with. That's the reasoning Abraham went through, as he brought his son. So I want you to apply that to your hardships in life. When you are facing insurmountable obstacles, I want you to think logically about it. Think like this.
I'm going to reason here. God is able to do anything. I'm going to reason based on God's character. I'm going to reason based on God's ability and what God has promised. I'm going to bring God into the equation. And then, that will raise your faith to a higher level, when you start calculating your hardships like Abraham calculated when he was about to sacrifice-- almost-- his son.
Now chapter 23, we come to the story of Isaac. And we're going to sum this up very quickly. Chapter 23, Sarah dies. Chapter 24, Abraham knows his son Isaac needs a wife, sends his servant Eliezer to go back to his hometown to find the right wife to bring a bride for his son, Isaac. Turns out to be Rebecca.
Let me have a little fun with this. We have Abraham sending out his servant to find a gentile bride for his son. Ring any bells? The church? Gentile church? The bride of Christ?
Moreover, the word Eliezer means the helper, or the comforter. So the comforter, the helper, is set out to go to a country to bring a gentile bride back for his son, Isaac. I just think the Holy Spirit has a lot of fun putting this text together. Chapter 24, verse 64. She's coming back. Her name is Rebecca. It says Rebecca lifted up her eyes. And when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from her camel.
I'm glad that this is the translation, the Old King James says, she lit off her camel. That's old English. She lit off her camel and when I read that as a young kid who used to smoke--
I think, wow, Rebecca lit off her camel. She was smoking unfiltered at the time, I guess.
Modern translation, "she dismounted from her camel. Where she said to her servant, who is this man walking in the field to meet us? The servant said it is my master. She took a veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her to his mother Sarah's tent. And he took Rebecca. And she became his wife. And he loved her, and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death."
Did they live happily ever after? Nope. They had kids.
They had Esau and Jacob. And that takes us to chapter 27 through 36. Now Rebecca is also barren. She cannot have children. Isaac prays. She gets pregnant. But it's a very difficult pregnancy.
And now we find out why. Chapter 25, verse 23, "The Lord said to her, two nations are in your womb." Well, that explains it. Two nations in there? Come on. No wonder I have a hard pregnancy. That's a lot. "Two people shall be separated from your body. One will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."
Now the first born, Esau-- he's named that because his name means red or hairy. So he came out all hairy, and so they said we're going to call him hairy. Make sense?
The second born came out grabbing the heel of his brother, so they called him heel catcher. Yakov, Jacob. So Hairy and Heel-catcher are born. Harry was an outdoorsman, liked to hunt and fish. Jacob like to cook soup with mom in the kitchen.
So he waited till his dad got really old and couldn't see, because he wants to take the blessing, which he does, chapter 27, verse 18. So he went to his father and he said, my father. And he said, here I am. Who are you, my son? And Jacob said to his father-- and he probably had the lower his voice, I am Esau, your firstborn. Because he probably didn't naturally sound like that.
"I have done just as you told me. Please arise, sit, and eat of my game that your soul may bless me." Verse 21. "Then Isaac said to Jacob, please come near that I may feel you, or touch you, my son," whether you really are hairy, you know, like Esau, or not. So he steals the blessing. He goes east to Laban land, where his uncle Laban lives, to find a wife for himself.
Esau runs after him. They'll be joined and reconciled later on. But God is still up to fulfilling his promise that the older Esau will serve the younger. That's what this chapter is about. On his way to Laban land, he lays his head down on a rock at night, and he has a dream. He has a vision of angels going from heaven to earth and earth to heaven.
It wasn't a stairway to heaven. It was the stairway to Earth from heaven. It was God invading the scene. And he woke up, and he said, surely the Lord is in this place, and I didn't know it. But I know it now. It was a confirmation to him. Genesis 28, verse 13. "Behold the Lord stood above it and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham, your father, and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie, I will give you and your descendants."
So he goes to where Laban lives. Meets the gentleman at the well. Out comes this beautiful, knockout girl named Rachel. Look at chapter 29, verse 11. "Then Jacob kissed Rachel, lifted up his voice, and wept." One of the funniest verses in all the Bible. Because she's thinking, what? Was it the garlic I ate? I mean, this is a weird date.
He ends up working for her father for 14 years. The labor, it says, seemed but a day to him because of the love he had for her. So now, he gets married. The family grows. He has two wives by this point, Leah and Rachel, two handmaids, Zilpah and Bilhah, and 12 sons, and at least one daughter-- so a large family.
Chapter 32, verse 24. "Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him to the breaking of day. And when he saw that he did not prevail against him, he touched the socket of his hip. The socket of his hip was out of joint as he wrestled with him. And he said, let me go, for the day breaks. But he said, I will not let you go unless you bless me."
And that's what Jacob said to his dad. I want the blessing. Now he's saying it to God. I want the blessing. God changes his name from Heel-catcher, Jacob, one who fights against God, one who tries to grab something on his own, to Israel-- one who fights with God, victoriously fights along with God.
Chapters 37 through 50 ends the book. It is the story of Joseph. It is 14 chapters of Joseph's story. He is the central figure. He was a dreamer of dreams. Remember, he had a dream, and he said, I was out in the field, you guys. Says to his brothers, and there were 12 sheaves. And 11 of them bowed down to my sheaf.
And they hated him because of that. He had another dream, and he said, well, I had another dream of the sun, and the moon, and 12 stars, and the sun, and the moon, and the 11 stars, bowed down to me-- my star. Why is that significant? By the time we get to Revelation, we're going to understand that metaphor is used again. And people say, who is the woman clothed with the sun and the moon and the 12 stars?
We now know, from Genesis, it's the nation of Israel. Because that is how Jacob interprets the dream to his son. It's a representation of all of us, the 12 tribes of Israel, your mom and me bowing down to you. So that unlocks a very important prophetic piece later on.
Well, he is sold to the Midianites. He is taken to Egypt. He is accused falsely of coming onto Potiphar's wife. He is placed in jail with a butler and a baker. They have these wild dreams. Joseph says, one of you will be raised back to pharaoh's employment. Another of you will have your head chopped off.
But remember me, he says to the butler, when you go back to work for pharaoh. Two years go, by doesn't remember him until pharaoh has a dream. Pharaoh has a dream, seven emaciated cows coming out of the river, seven fat cows. Remember the story?
The seven emaciated cows do what? Eat consume, the seven fat cows. But they're not fatter. Then he sees bundles, or sheaves of grain. Seven plump ears of grain. Seven withered ones. And the withered ones consume the plump ones, but they don't grow any bigger.
Genesis 41:25, Joseph said to pharaoh, the dreams of pharaoh or one. God has shown pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years. The seven good heads are seven years. The dreams are one. The seven thin and ugly cows, which came up after them, are seven years. And the seven empty heads blighted by the East wind are seven years of famine.
He tells pharaoh, prepare for seven years of hell on earth, worst famine you have ever seen that will affect this part of the world. He does so. Verse 37, the advice was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, in the eyes of his servants.
And pharaoh said to his servants, can we find such a one as this? A man in whom is the spirit of God? So, he is promoted to the second most important authority in the land of Egypt. So pharaoh's chariot, his license plate, said Egypt 1. Joseph's license plate said Egypt 2. He was like the prime minister. He was second in command.
The famine hit hard. Even the people down in Canaan were hit hard by this famine. Jacob, the Father of Joseph, the Father of the 12 tribes, sends his boys to Egypt to get grain but leave their youngest, Benji.
Benjamin, the youngest, stays at home. I love him. I don't want anything to happen to them. So the boys go to Egypt. They see Joseph. They don't recognize him. He's had an extreme Egyptian makeover.
He's garbed like an Egyptian. He walks like an Egyptian, talks like an Egyptian. He is an Egyptian. They don't recognize him Joseph says, do you have any other boys left at home? He said, well, we have one kid, but our dad told us to leave him. His name is Benji. He says, go home and bring Benji with you.
So they bring Benjamin back. Chapter 45, verse 1. "Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out. Make everyone go out for me, so no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. He wants them to clear the room. Why? Because he's about to get very emotional. And he wept aloud," verse 2, "and the Egyptians in the house of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, I am Joseph." Gulp. I am who?
"I am Joseph. Does my father still live? But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence." They reconcile, eventually. Jacob, and the whole household, comes to be cared for in Egypt. Jacob eventually dies, in chapter 50, last chapter, verse 19, Joseph said to them, "do not be afraid for am I in the place of God. But as for you, you meant evil against me. But God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."
Jacob and the 70 members of the family moved to Egypt. They become a nation. They are there 400 years. They eventually become oppressed. That's when Moses is born. That's where Exodus picks up.
While Joseph is in Egypt, he has two sons. First born named Manasseh, second born named Ephraim. Brings them to Jacob to have Jacob blessed them. Jacob deliberately crosses his arms, to put his right hand on the youngest, his left hand on the oldest, so that the youngest would get the blessing and not the oldest.
You see how God keeps mixing this up? It's always like, I'm not going to prefer that one. I'm going to go this way and prefer that one. And so again with Joseph, Ephraim is the second born, but he is called the first born because he gets the blessing.
Well, I actually had more to share, but time is over. So with that, we conclude the book of Genesis. And we pick up next time with the Book of Exodus. Let's have a word of prayer.
Father, we have seen four great events, and four great men. But all of them point to one magnanimous God man, the Messiah. Those events that shook the world, that reformed the Earth in the early part of Genesis, but then you shift to consider a nation, a people, because, through that lineage, you want to bring the savior of the world, who will be a blessing to the whole world. And that is Jesus Christ.
Lord, thank you that we know him. Thank you that he has chosen us. Thank you that we are your children because of what that one God man did on Mount Moriah 2,000 years ago in Jesus' name. Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this Teaching from the Bible from 30,000 Feet.