UNBELIEF OR FAITH?
Intro: In Genesis, Moses revealed problems in primeval history and then recorded how God resolved those problems.
Look for faith after fall…
Gen 3:20 And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
Gen 3:21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
How God’s 3-fold promise to Abram offsets the 3-fold curse of the Fall:
conflict bet. seed of woman & seed of serpent (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.
overcome by blessing of Abram (12:2b-3)
…I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
difficulty in childbearing/reproduction (3:16)
To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
overcome by giving Abram many offspring (12:2a)
I will make you a great nation; I will bless you
“To your descendants I will give this land.”
difficulty in cultivating land for survival (3:17-19)
Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread…
overcome by promise of a new land (12:1)
Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you.
“To your descendants I will give this land.”
God is promising to overcome His own words of judgment by new words of blessing.
How Gen 12-14 shows both: unbelief and faith leading up to Gen 15:6:
From the very beginning of Gen 12, Abram is afraid he is going to die – first, from a famine and second from Pharaoh.
Gen 12:10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.
God had just told Abram they were home. YHWH was giving the land they were standing on, Canaan, to him and his descendants.
Yet, as soon as adversity struck, Abram left his new home. He thought the paganism of Egypt was safer than the famine in Canaan.
Is God able to spare a man during a famine?
1 Kings 17:4 And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.
1 Kings 17:9 Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.
Gen 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.
Gen 12:12 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.
Gen 12:13 Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.”
What has a God promised Abram? Countless offspring. Who has God promised it through? Sarai.
Now Abram has sold out the wife of promise to join Pharaoh’s harem for the purpose of keeping himself alive.
If Pharaoh takes Sarai as a wife, the paternity of any child she might bear would always be suspect.
This is reckless unbelief.
Abram clearly believes that he is responsible for his own survival. Do God’s promises depend on whether he can keep himself alive?
“If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.”
FAITH OR UNBELIEF?
Gen 13:8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.
Gen 13:9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”
Far from the fevered manipulating that Abram did in ch.12, in ch.13 he resigns himself to the sovereignty of God.
In ch.12 he fabricated a reasonable sounding lie designed to avoid perceived danger. His wife was too pretty for someone not to steal and then murder him. Then he used his position of authority to involve his wife in the scheme.
He made it sound like she had a choice. He made it seem like he was asking for her help. But really, he was making a demand.
Consider her options:
(a) Disobey her husband. Tell the truth and possibly get her husband killed.
(b) Obey her husband. Become the wife of another man and possibly dismantle God’s promise of a future nation with Abram.
Consider his options here:
(a) Pull rank. Order Lot where to take his enterprise. Choose the best-looking region for himself.
(b) Allow Lot to pick where to live. Trust God to sustain him regardless of where he takes his enterprise.
In ch.13 Abram has left deception and manipulation behind.
He now trusts God to keep His promise to bless this unworthy servant. No strife and no demands.
“If it’s going to be, it’s up to Thee.”
FAITH OR UNBELIEF?
The comfortable affluence of Lot was disturbed by invasion. Four kings, led by Kedorlaomer of Elam (part of Iran), conquered the Jordan valley.
Thirteen years later a rebellion by the cities of the plain led to another invasion by the same eastern coalition. The armies of Sodom and Gomorrah were defeated, the cities were sacked, and Lot was taken captive.
Gen 14:14 Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.
Gen 14:15 He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.
Gen 14:16 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.
But Abram, leading 318 men, was able to defeat these foreign armies, rescue all those taken captive and return their pillaged property. That means Abram’s clan would probably have been over 1,000 people in total.
Even though he was a well-known force to be reckoned with from a human perspective, 318 fighters should not have been able to subdue a coalition of armies led by a powerful king.
This was a striking demonstration that God was on Abram’s side.
For Abram, the more difficult battle begins. The attitudes of Melchizedek and the king of Sodom are deliberately contrasted.
They exemplify the two kinds of reaction to Abram predicted in 12:3. Melchizedek is one of those who bless Abram, whereas the king of Sodom clearly disdains him.
Consequently, Melchizedek could expect to be blessed by God, whereas the king of Sodom could look for a curse. Already (cf. 13:13) the fate of the city of Sodom (ch. 19) is being hinted at.
Gen 14:18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
Gen 14:19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
Gen 14:20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.
Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem (Jerusalem), received Abram royally and laid on a banquet for him.
Melchizedek then blessed Abram in the name of God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. Responding to this kindly reception, Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the booty he had taken (20). All this is meaningful only to those who live by faith.
Abram was clear on his mission: honor God Most High by rescuing his family from the seed of the serpent.
This mission did not include enriching himself with the spoils of war.
The text offers two proofs:
1. He gave away 10% of the spoils to a righteous man
2. He utterly refused any gifts from a wicked man
Gen 14:21 Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”
Gen 14:22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth,
Gen 14:23 that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’
The king of Sodom, on the other hand, makes a handsome and businesslike offer. Give me back my people you rescued, and I’ll let you keep the rest of the spoils of war.
The only disadvantage is understood, again, only to those who live by faith.
Abram protested that he had no intention of profiting from Sodom’s misfortune. They got a foretaste of God’s judgment.
“Anything that’s mine must first be Thine.”
FAITH OR UNBELIEF?
The whole matter coming out of these international conflicts and heroic rescues is the faith or failure of one man. More hinged on this than on the most resounding victory or the fate of any kingdom.
Gen 15:1 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.”
Trust is to be in the person of God (I am your shield); Hope is to be in the promise of God (your exceedingly great reward).
Gen 15:6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
No doubt the blessing of the priest helped Abram keep everything in perspective, for it was the Lord who would bless Abram, not some pagan king offering to give him the possessions in exchange for the people.
Abram wanted something far more enduring than possessions and wealth—for these he already had. He wanted the fulfillment of the promises of God. Faith looks beyond the riches of the world to the greater blessings that God has in store.
He wanted to receive everything from God, and not so much as a thread from Sodom.
Devout believers order their lives so that they know that all their successes, joys, comforts, and prosperity come from God.
Abram could have agreed to taking Sodom’s possessions and then explained that “the Lord works in mysterious ways.”
But he knew that doing that would confuse those who looked to him for spiritual leadership. He could not bring himself to equate the blessing of God with the best that Sodom had to offer.