- Turn to Genesis:21
- Faith: We all seem to have various versions of it
- Tendency is to think of our faith as pristine/needing protection
- Reality = God sees our faith as a starting point that He is able to instruct and correct and draw toward a more complete form of faith, HIS faith, the faith that HE better needs us to have, what we will call throughout this sermon "The Faith" or "The Real Faith".
- Honestly God is the only one that can rightly say what that "Real Faith" precisely is, but I have every confidence that HE is wanting to lead everyone of us there and HE is using each and every opportunity daily that we are willing to show us the way there. Problem is we are not always wanting and willing for HIM to show us what this faith "The Real Faith" actually is.
- So instead of viewing the faith of the bible characters that we'll be watching today as having some mythical complete and wholesome faith right from the start, what we will see is God taking what faith they do have and making something better of it, that HE'll continue this process over and over until finally HE gets ourselves there.
- Hopefully I can show this spiritual process to you in these peoples lives, perhaps I can show you where so many bible characters drift off, so that you then will be able to allow it to happen more fully in each of your own lives.
Sermon - Genesis 21
"Lessons from the University of Real Faith"
Randy Pritts 7/8/2018
nkjv@Genesis:21:1 @ And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken.
- After much delay Abraham and Sarah are finally having the child that LORD had promised and that they had so rightly believed in. By bringing them through this difficult time/allowing them to make their mistakes believing as they did - What was the Lord really doing here? What HE is always doing!
- Big picture? Fulfilling a plan drafted before the foundations of the world.
- Big picture? Establishing a pathway to redeem mankind through HIS Messiah.
- Big picture? Establishing that this redemption will be the result of an unconditional covenant based upon HIS Grace/HIS Works/Our Faith
- Mid range picture? Drawing a people who were not a people unto HIMSELF to be HIS trumpet to the rest of the world.
- Smaller picture? Answering the prayer the prayers of a barren elderly wife and her righteous husband.
- The better question might be why it took so long for God to go ahead and do this?
- In order for Abraham to receive this by faith, first he had to be brought into the kind of faith capable of receiving from God this mighty work.
- In recording this 20+ year delay we today are privileged to see this time for what it really was and see in our faith the need for a similar spiritual process.
- In my sermon today I would like to present the idea of there being a "University of Real Faith" that each of us have to attend regularly in order to be brought into this type of faith.
- Just as in university there are prerequisite class that must be mastered.
- The initial lessons always to be learned are:
- God only does things according to HIS own purposes.
- HIS purposes are always to reveal HIMSELF to HIS, establish HIMSELF by covenant, separate what HE is doing (and who HE is doing it on) from all the dead works of the flesh.
nkjv@Genesis:21:2-3 @ For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him--whom Sarah bore to him--Isaac.
- Let's for a moment consider the world that Isaac was being born into:
- Fall - The spiritual death (universal)
- The first major rebellion (universal)
- The Flood
- Noah's descendants (70 nations) rebelling at Babel (universal)
- The faith of men was any faith other than the faith Jehovah was seeking to establish in man.
- World (universal) proven repeatedly/consistently to be spiritually dead and at complete enmity with Jehovah.
- So Jehovah (for the first time) reaches through this mire by one man Abraham and HE schools Abraham into the kind of faith that is capable of receiving what is to come.
- Abraham will be used to pass along that specific faith to Isaac along with Isaac's own schooling given by God. The cycle of transmitting real God given faith then begins.
- The set time for this miraculous birth to happen was one year after the LORD had every male in Abraham's household circumcise themselves as a token reemphasizing the "Covenant of Faith" previously made with Abraham and accounted to him as righteousness.
- Though Abraham and Sarah had a faith that they would have descendants, they did not yet have "the faith" in how God had said that HE was going to accomplish it nor "the faith" as to how to receive it. They failed in their own fleshly attempt.
- Thus a correction was needed to be made by God to their faith - Thus my phrase "The University of Real Faith" and there is always further correction yet to come.
nkjv@Genesis:21:4 @ Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.
- Let's spend a moment considering the topic of circumcision (closely related - Infant Baptism)
- Two types of circumcision biblically speaking: of the flesh/of the heart
- Circumcision is an outward sign/token of a covenant between man and Jehovah based not upon the works of the Law but of the righteousness previously accounted Abraham by Faith.
- Circumcision of the flesh alone means little other than a mere symbol of national/religious identity if it is not more importantly an indication of a circumcision of the heart. Without the circumcision of the heart the circumcision of the flesh "availeth nothing".
- The Apostles quickly settled the matter doctrinally at the First Council of Jerusalem kjv@Acts:15. "No yoke"
- Infant Baptism is said to be the NT equivalent of circumcision but suffers from the very same glaring fleshly insufficiency.
- The "University of Real Faith" is not a place of knowing what you already think you know, it is a place where even some of our long held core beliefs are challenged and hopefully corrected.
- In the Covenant of Faith being established with Abraham God bares the responsibility alone, Abraham's faith in God's unfolding work is already accounted to him as righteousness. Later, after Abraham mis-applys his understanding of it, God then better illustrates to him this covenant of faith (in terms a man can better understand) by commanding him to remove his own flesh from the equation, the token of painfully removing a part of his own flesh (and the flesh of his own household) in everlasting remembrance.
- Many lesser faiths get this spiritual truth exactly opposite, they view circumcision as something man are willing to do for God. The work of the flesh based covenants are adding flesh unto themselves spiritually speaking.
- Abraham (we) has to be brought to a place through his own faith applications where he now understood how the real faith side of things had to happen.
nkjv@Genesis:21:5 @ Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
- Abraham 100
- Ishmael = 14 (100-86 or 13+1)
- Sarah = 90?
nkjv@Genesis:21:6-7 @ 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."
- Women's birthing stories - "can you top this"
- Sarah can top that - 90 years old
nkjv@Genesis:21:8-9 @ So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing.
nkjv@Genesis:21:10-11 @ Therefore she said to Abraham, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac." And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham's sight because of his son.
nkjv@Genesis:21:12-13 @ But God said to Abraham, "Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed."
- Bondwoman vs Freewoman: (please turn kjv@Galatians:4:22-31)
- Which things are an allegory; Familiar things (temporal) explaining long kept (spiritual) mysteries
kjv@Galatians:4:22 @ For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
kjv@Galatians:4:23-24 @ But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
kjv@Galatians:4:25-26 @ For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
- Consider in context with today's message
- God is using an obvious allegory using a temporal illustration in order to explain to us an essential spiritual truth; the existence of two possible spiritual paths: bondage of flesh/freedom of spirit or the works of the flesh/the works of God.
- Interesting to note that the bondwoman allegory naturally would apply to the descendants of Ishmael (suggesting Islam) but, Paul applies it spiritually to Israel and the covenant of Law (both are religions of law and works, perhaps being as different as they are they are both have become bonded from the same bondwoman)
- While it is possible for the two opposing directions to coexist together (somewhat), it is God's better intention always to set apart HIS free works from the indentured works of the flesh.
- Just as God left it to Abraham to separate the two in obedience, so to HE leaves it to us to separate ourselves from the same (as displeasing and difficult as that may be).
- God will bless certain activities of the flesh (the child of the bondwoman) but, even then by blessing them it would be because of the believers standing being accounted as righteous by the covenant of faith. There must remain that constant separation of the two at all times.
- Perhaps we can see now why Jesus spent so much time emphasizing the "Kingdom of Heaven" and not merely the Kingdom of Judah.
Lets examine now the type of coursework require at this university.
(Remember that each course level is prerequisite to the next.)
nkjv@Genesis:21:14 @ So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba.
nkjv@Genesis:21:15 @ And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs.
- Course Level - Abraham?
- 100 Introduction - promised numerous descendants + singular Messianic Seed. Shown the land descendants are to inherit.
- 200 Field Study - Sarah, not Hagar to conceive child.
- 300 Field Study - this sending Hagar/Ishmael away (certain of God's promise/providence?)
- 400 Graduate Test - (401 = Test/Sacrifice Isaac)
- Graduate later memorialized in the University's "Hall of Faith" nkjv@Hebrews:11
nkjv@Genesis:21:16 @ Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, "Let me not see the death of the boy." So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.
- Course Level - Hagar?
- 100 Introduction -
- Effected by Sarah and Abram's faith.
- Being personally used by them to solve their unfamiliarity with God.
- Coming to despise her mistress.
- Leading to first wilderness experience (first acquaintance with Jehovah: "He who sees me") and going back in submission to her mistress.
- 200 Field Study -
- Son's scoffing leads to second wilderness and separation from son near death.
- Sorrow overwhelms her motherly sense.
- 300 Field Study - (?)
nkjv@Genesis:21:17-18 @ And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, "What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation."
- Course Level - Ishmael?
- 100 Introduction -
- Child other than him chosen
- Observed by Sarah scoffing at chosen child
- Separated from clan by adoring/reluctant father
- 14 year old near death, left under the brush, distant and helpless mother
- Note: God heard his desperate cry over his mother's sorrow
- cries answered by Jehovah via Jehovah opening mom's eyes
- 200 Field Study - (?)
- If considered as allegory:
- Spiritual Abraham is reacting to things brought upon him by God (reacting from the flesh at times)
- Hagar and Ishmael are reacting to things brought upon them by others in the flesh (reacting from the flesh at all times)
nkjv@Genesis:21:19 @ Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink.
- Quick review of our context:
- Why would Hagar need for her eyes to be supernaturally opened?
- Allegory = Hagar/Ishmael represent mankind's immediate/terminal bondage to the flesh
- The flesh is spiritually dead - it cannot produce spiritual good
- Even with a brief and growing familiarity with Jehovah it is unable to successfully graduate the "School of Faith" because of what it thinks itself better to do.
- Flesh cannot be brought to see the much bigger (vastly different) spiritual picture God's works are attempting to show it.
- In the scriptures God certainly has open many an eye - Cases:
- What is more important presently to understand is how is it that we are blind in the first place (spiritually):
- In the Case of Israel:
- Israel by their leaders:
- Israel by their interpretation of the Law:
- World by god of this world:
- World through ignorance of God's revealed nature:
- All by bondage to the former corrupt nature/not partaking of the divine nature:
nkjv@Genesis:21:20-21 @ So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
- Eventually the majority of Ishmael's descendants adopted the religion of Islam:
- Abraham = root of 3 major "Abrahamic" world religions.
- Only one of the major Abrahamic religions is based upon Jehovah and Abraham's original "covenant of faith". The other two are based on human "covenants of works" of the flesh mixed with God's supposed election of them based on bloodline.
- Islam borrows significantly from the original 5 books of Hebrew cannon, but only in a way that de-emphasizes sin/present spiritual death/the need for the Son of God to pay the purchase price of our redemption.
nkjv@Genesis:21:22-23 @ And it came to pass at that time that Abimelech and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, "God is with you in all that you do.
nkjv@Genesis:21:23-24 @ Now therefore, swear to me by God that you will not deal falsely with me, with my offspring, or with my posterity; but that according to the kindness that I have done to you, you will do to me and to the land in which you have dwelt." And Abraham said, "I will swear."
- The importance of covenants: (General)
- Security - "that you will not deal falsely with me"
- Abraham's reputation precedes him (as does any of Abimelech's/ours)
- Now and in the future after we are gone.
- Insisting upon a mutual benefit - "according to the kindness that I have done to you"
- To hold the good character and good name of both parties liable for any mis-conduct
- The Well of Seven Ewes remains today in (Bir-Es-Seba) as a testamony to this covenant.
- The covenant Jehovah made with Abraham (Abrahamic Covenant) is:
- Unconditional - (God Himself promised/God alone walk through the cutting)
- It is based upon one thing primarily - God performing the work on our behalf
- as a second importance - our faith/trust in the all sufficiency of God's work
- as a third importance - our obedience to His will (which this is) with these primary concerns fully in mind.
- It is completely of God's Grace - no flesh shall boast.
- It is backed by HIS good name (not our corrupted image of who HE is but who HE actually is).
- It all has been performed according to a plan made before the foundations of the world (not in reaction to anything man himself has caused or necessitated).
- It has all been performed through the intermediary party of God's only begotten Son, that Son's subsitutionary work/purchase of our redemption, the Son to whom all things are currently being regathered.
nkjv@Genesis:21:25-26 @ Then Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water which Abimelech's servants had seized. And Abimelech said, "I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor had I heard of it until today."
- Abraham is a righteous man, gradute University of Real Faith (in the "Hall of Faith"), but even righteous men have their blind spots.
- Abraham is judging Abimelech before he has even inquired.
- The classwork never ends.
nkjv@Genesis:21:27-28 @ So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant. And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
nkjv@Genesis:21:29-30 @ Then Abimelech asked Abraham, "What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves?" And he said, "You will take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that they may be my witness that I have dug this well."
- The "Well of Seven Ewes" exists even today
- A testament to the covenant once made man to man.
nkjv@Genesis:21:31-32 @ Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because the two of them swore an oath there. Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba. So Abimelech rose with Phichol, the commander of his army, and they returned to the land of the Philistines.
nkjv@Genesis:21:33-34 @ Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines many days.
- Importance of always properly representing Jehovah to all peoples, especially those that have little or no acquaintance with Jehovah. All of our daily dealings.
What "University of the Faith" lessons have we gleaned from this chapter here today?
Perhaps it can best be summarized in the quick analysis of this memorable benediction:
kjv@Hebrews:13:20-21 @ Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
How I wish that I could go back to the time before Abraham did all of this and tell him these very things so that he wouldn't have to go through all of this extra study and correction but, it's more likely that he had to go through all of this so that he could travel to me through the scriptures to tell me that I do not have to blindly repeat all of this.