Man of Promise: Conclusion by Abidan Shah, PhD

MAN OF PROMISE – CONCLUSION by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  Many of you were here for the Night of Worship when I asked if any of you remembered using a carbon copy back in the day. Many hands went up. The top sheet was the original, then the carbon, and then below that was the copy. You would bear down on the original and the impression from the top would transfer through the carbon to the copy on the bottom. The thing about the copy was that you could not retrace it nor alter it. Whatever made it was what would be there. In our Man of Promise series, we come to the final message titled “Conclusion.” In this message, we’re going to learn how the top copy is God’s eternal plan of redemption and the bottom copy is our lives. Main point: Most of life is lived between promise believed and promise received. Unfortunately, it’s in this middle that life gets messy. Here in the middle, we must learn to patiently endure. When we do, we not only see God’s eternal plan of redemption, but we also see his plan in our lives.

Genesis 22       1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your onlyson Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Context: We began this series with the message titled “Man of Promise: Forgotten” where we learned how God’s promise of redemption appeared forgotten under the sands of time until God raised it and gave it to a man named Abram and his wife Sarai. Genesis 12       1Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” I believe that Abram understood that this was a fulfillment of the protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” The promise was given, but the promise was far from being obtained. Hebrews 6       13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. Abram was 75 years old, and it would be 25 more years before the promise would be received.

For starters, Abram thought that this promise was only through him and not Sarai. These next 25 years would be messy, to say the least. Satan would do everything in his power to sabotage the promise of God to Abram. It started with an unholy pact between Abram and Sarai. Genesis 12       11 And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. 12 Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, “This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.” As feared by Abram, Pharaoh took Sarai and would have made her his wife if it were not for God plaguing Egypt. Genesis 12      18 And Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, “She is my sister’? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way.” 20 So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had. What a sad testimony for the man or the woman of God…he had more integrity than Abram did.

Application: Do you have such embarrassing moments in your life?

Next came the unfair treatment of Lot. There was a quarrel between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen. Abram gave Lot the option to pick whichever land he wanted, so listen to Genesis 13     10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. If Lot was any kind of man, he should have offered Abram the first pick. Afterall, God had called Abram and Lot was just a tag along. Abram must have felt cheated.

Application:  Do you have such painful moments in your life?

After this came the account of the invasion of the four kings of the north against the five kings of the south. This was not Abram’s problem until Genesis 14:12 “They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” I would’ve said “Serves him right for not only picking the best land but also moving into Sodom.” Instead, Abram took his households servants and went after the kings of the north and defeated them. As he was returning home, the king of Sodom met him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), but before he could say anything, 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. The bread and wine were not just for physical refreshment; they were for spiritual refreshment. Melchizedek was sent by God to warn Abram against the king of Sodom. After receiving the communion at the hands of Melchizedek, Abram rejected the offer of the possessions from the king of Sodom, a tool of the Enemy.

Application: Do you have those pivotal moments in your life?

No pivotal moment lasts forever. Abram was once again feeling low, and God came to him in a vision – Genesis 15        1 “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Listen to Abram’s response – 2 But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless…” Can you hear the sarcasm in his tone? “Doubt is the Enemy’s choicest weapon against God’s people.” God made a covenant with Abram. He had him cut the animals (three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram) into half but not the turtledove and the young pigeon. If you remember, the vultures came down on the carcass, but Abram drove them away. We have to drive away the vultures that come down on God’s vision for our lives and our children. We have to protect the vision. Then, God showed him how his descendants would suffer in Egypt for 400 years. He even ratified the covenant with the passing of a smoking oven and a burning torch between the pieces. It was a glimpse of the coming High Priest who would make a way for us to the throne of grace by his own blood. What a confirmation of God’s vision to Abram!

Application: Do you have those confirmation moments in your life?

Just when you think you have arrived, you make a dumb mistake. Genesis 16       1Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. Things got really complicated when Hagar got pregnant. 4 So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes. Sarai drove Hagar away and the pre-incarnate Christ had to come to her rescue. Never forget: God’s delays are not God’s denials. Just because he is making you wait doesn’t mean that he has forgotten you or changed his mind or doesn’t care how you feel. When you take matters into your own hands and make a mess, he doesn’t abandon you. Instead, he comes to you and comforts you. He even gives you promises to restore you and use you. He is a gracious God.

Application: Do you have those dumb moments in your life?

Finally, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah. Then, when Abraham turned 100 and Sarah turned 90, Isaac was born. His name “Yitzchak” meant “laughter.” As Sarah said in Genesis 21      6 “God has made me laugh, (Yitzchak) and all who hear will laugh with me.” 7 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.” In many lives and homes, things have happened that have turned off the switch of genuine laughter. With God’s grace, true joy and laughter can return in those lives.

Application: Do you have those joyful moments in your life?

Now comes a test in Abraham’s life. Genesis 21:2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” At first glance, this seems like a cruel joke of some deranged deity. I don’t want to belabor the point. Of course, God is giving Isaac a glimpse of the cross. He is showing him what he would do one day. By the way, Mount Moriah is the site of the Temple Mount (2 Chronicles 3:1). As Abraham raises the knife to slay his son, God stops him. Genesis 22:12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” 13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The–LORD–Will–Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” God gave Abraham a glimpse of what would happen on the cross one day when another father would raise his knife against his son and there will be no one there to stop his hand. 

One reason we go through trials is not only to understand God’s plan of redemption but also to understand God. The best way of knowing someone is walking in their shoes. Identify so we can understand. Unless we walk in his shoes, we won’t understand him. The greatest mystery in life is who is God. Our trials are God’s way of showing us who he is and how wonderful and gracious he is towards us.

There’s one more reason: God sends trials in our lives to show us who we are and make us who we need to be. Hebrews 11       17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. Ultimately, Abraham “concluded” that God was able to raise up Isaac. This was more than just God’s ability. It was also God’s love for Isaac. He concluded that God loved Isaac far more than he could ever love him. 

Why do you love the people in your life? Afraid of being alone, living your personal dream, obeying someone’s command, making yourself look good. Our loves get tainted by the world, the flesh, and the devil. God tests us to teach us to love those in our lives more dearly, purely, properly, and eternally. 

Invitation: How about the lost? They simply find ways to cope with life. We live life on a whole different plane. How are you living life? Are you saved?

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