The Story: Chapter 2. “God Builds a Nation”. (1/22/17)

January 22, 2017

The Story: Chapter 2. “God Builds a Nation”

Genesis 11-36

Hebrews 11:1-20


Children’s Sermon - “Father Abraham” 

Tell me everything you know about the guy in the OT called Abraham.

He was pretty old when God asked him to do something.  Do you know what it was?  He told him to go somewhere, but didn’t say an exact destination.  Let’s see what that would be like.  Stand up and go.  I’ll tell you when you get there.  (Have them end in the middle aisle)


Abraham had something going for him that nobody else had at the time - he was faithful to God.  What does that mean, to be faithful?  What does being faithful to God look like today?


Is it always easy to stay faithful to God?  There were a couple of times that even Abraham didn’t do what God told him to do, but God forgave him, just like he does us when we forget to be faithful.  But it sure makes God delighted when we obey!  Let’s ask him to help us be faithful because we are his children and a part of Abraham’s many children.


Say, that reminds me of a song!  Let’s do it! 


Intro:  Let’s review.  Chapter one covered Creation, Adam and Eve, their choice to reject God and choose sin, the consequences of their sin and it’s following history through the time of Noah and the flood and after the flood.


Chapter two covers a ton of ground between Abraham and his grandson Jacob and there was a lot that happened in between.  You can reference the timeline and events at the bottom of page 13 in your book. If you want to read the whole story in your Bible, start with Genesis 11 and read through chapter 36.  A lot of ground is covered in these 205 years of history.


The purpose of the story in these chapters of Scripture serves to tell us what God is doing to win back the people he created from the sin they have become trapped in.  If we pay attention we will find that God has and continues to pursue us with passion, patience and persistence.  We will also see what happens when a Faithful Creator makes a promise to a faithful man.  


Let’s read Hebrews 11:1-20 as it defines and gives examples of faithfulness from the characters in The Story that we have already met.  READ. (ppt)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.


By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 


6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.


By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.


 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.


17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[a] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.


God is not haphazard in his plan to win back his dear ones.  He has a plan and he starts with the building up of a nation from among all the nations that had come into being at Babel.  The task was not without risk - God was using humans, after all! But with passion, patience and persistence, God has always been committed to pursuing us.


Let’s take a look at the map and where all of this begins.  (PPT)


The Place where the people are: Ur

    On your Bible map find the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. In this area the             Tower of Babel was being built by many nations who all had one                 language. God confounded their language and the nations scattered. God             chose to create a new nation in this area of the world.  You could mark it             with and arrow pointing up to symbolize “you are here”.


The People God Chose to begin the New Nation

Having read through the account of the first people God interacted with, were they all perfect saints?  Nope.  They were people who erred, made mistakes, sinned.  Kind of like us, eh?  And now he is going to choose two people, a couple who are mature in years to join him in the building of a nation that will point the world to God’s authority and salvation.


Why them?  If we know nothing else, we know this:  Abraham was faithful and believed God.  He did not have youth or popularity going for him.  He had faith.  What if that is all that God is after from us?  He wants us to believe the things he has said and to be faithfully obedient to them all.


And through this new nation, God is going to continue to pursue the heart of his creation with passion, patience and persistence.


The Risky Business of Nation Building

Following where God is leading is risky business.  You can’t always see where you’re going and you most usually have to leave what is known and comfortable behind.  You have to believe in the impossible (like bearing a child at 90).  You have to place your lives in the hands of God and go where he sends you because you don’t have a map and you know you can’t go back to where you started from.


What kind of risks did God take when he called you to follow him?  When God called you to leave what you knew behind and follow him to take part in building his Kingdom that will last forever, did he get the perfect person for the job? Or is he continuing to work out some glitches in your life?  He is certainly continuing to work out some glitches in His Church! (And that’s who we are!)


Is there something you are nervous or anxious about that God is calling you to step out in faith to do?  You have a choice. 1) Refuse.  Refuse God.  Tell him you’re not going to do it, that you think it’s impossible, that you think he’s got it wrong.  2) Obey.  Do what he asks even if you can’t see the purpose, or the good, or the value in it.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a nudge from the Spirit to do something and I have obeyed and then said, well what was that for? But I know I obeyed and have to have faith, that in my obedience, God was pleased and his purpose accomplished even though it had no effect or value to me personally.


Today we have to people who are choosing to take the step of faith to become Covenant Partners with us.  They have rich faith stories and you should ask them to share them with you some time.  We have folks from outside the congregation who have become part of a small group for The Story.  That’s a risk and who knows what will become of it but it will help build God’s Kingdom.  

When we become a community of faith, risk abounds.  When we trust each other there is the risk of being let down.  When we try new things there is the risk of failure.  When we stick our necks out to suggest something new (and remember that everything is new at its beginning) we risk being shut down by others who don’t share the same vision.  And God, mercifully, does not just shut us down when we get it wrong.  He continues to pursue us with passion, patience, and persistence because he loves us and longs for us to be and extension of the nation he called forth Abraham to start so many years ago.


Foreshadowing: One last thought

If you’re doing the small group this week, I will warn you that this is a spoiler but it has so blown me away that I can’t not share it.


Turn to the cover of your book again and find Jerusalem.  Draw a little campfire there. Or an altar.  


Genesis 22:1-14


It is believed that Mt. Moriah of Abraham’s day was the Jerusalem of Jesus’ day.

An only son, a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of God’s only Son

A test of Abraham’s faithfulness, a foretaste of God’s faithfulness in giving His only Son.

A ram in the thicket, a lamb to take away our sins. 


We are a people pursued by a patient and persistent God.  Never forget how valuable you are to the One who Created you and continues to call you to be his own kingdom. Amen.