************ Sermon on Genesis 12:3 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 11, 2011
"God's Promise to Abraham"
Girls and boys, thank you for reminding us of God's promises. We've been looking at God's promises this year for Advent and Christmas. Promises that are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Tonight, I want to look at God's promises to Abraham. Read Genesis 12:1-7 ...
Did you hear God's promise to Abraham? God said, "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
Now, let me begin by saying Pastor Godfrey and I do something with our hands at the end of each worship service. Do any of you boys and girls know what I am talking about? GET RESPONSE OF RAISING OUR HANDS.
Do any of you know what words we say as we raise our hands? GET RESPONSE OF "THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE LOVE OF GOD, AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH YOU ALL."
Why do we raise our hands and say this? What are we doing? Are we hot and trying to cool ourselves down? Are we stretching? What are we doing? GET RESPONSE OF PRONOUNCING GOD'S BLESSING.
Now the most important question: Does this blessing mean anything? Or are these just empty deeds and words that say nothing and mean nothing?
There is a story in the Bible about two brothers. The father blessed one of the brothers. The other brother came in and asked for his father's blessing. The father basically said, "Too late. I already blessed your brother." The other brother asked again, "Bless me – me too, my father." But the father said, "Your brother took your blessing." The other brother asked, "Haven't you reserved any blessing for me?" The father replied, "What can I possibly do for you, my son?" The other brother wept and cried, "Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!"
Does anyone recognize this story? Do you know who the story is about? GET RESPONSE OF JACOB AND ESAU (cf Gen 27).
Jacob and Esau were grown men when this happened. Their father Isaac was an old man. Jacob stole and lied and deceived to get the blessing. Esau cried and wept when he did not get the blessing and, afterward, he wanted to kill his brother. And Isaac trembled violently when he realized the blessing was given to Jacob instead of Esau.
Does the blessing mean anything? Does the raising of hands and the pronouncement of words count for anything? You bet it does. Jacob and Esau and Isaac and Rebekah certainly thought the blessing was worth something.
Let me tell you boys and girls four lies about blessings. Lie number one: Blessings don't mean anything. Lie number two: Blessings were given in the Old Testament but in the New Testament they are old-fashioned and myth. Lie number three: Blessings are nothing but symbols. Lie number four: Blessings only have to do with things like food, clothing, and shelter.
Jacob and Esau and Isaac and Rebekah certainly knew better. And we should too. I want to tell you boys and girls that blessings are worth living and dying for.
Can any of you think of any other blessings in the Bible? GET RESPONSES. Let me tell you of some other blessings in the Bible. On the fifth day of creation God blessed the birds and the fish that He had made (Gen 1:22). On the sixth day of creation God blessed the man and woman He made in His image (Gen 1:28). After His work of creation, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy (Gen 2:3). God blessed Noah and his sons (Gen 9:1). Melchizedek, king of Salem, pronounced a blessing upon Abraham (Gen 14:18-20). Even Pharaoh, the wicked king of Egypt, asked to be blessed (Ex 12:32). And, in our Bible reading we see the word "bless" five time as God's blessing is given to Abraham.
The word "bless" is related to the Hebrew word for "knee." GRAB YOU KNEES. What's the connection between bless and knee? Those who are being blessed normally get down on their knees and bow their heads in order to receive the blessing. Think of Isaac putting his hands on Jacob's head. Think of Jacob touching and blessing his twelve sons before he dies.
I want you to think, for a moment, about Jesus. Listen to these Bible verses and listen for one thing Jesus does every time:
(Mk 1:41-42) Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" (42) Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
(Mk 7:33-35) After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue ... (35) At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
(Mk 8:22-25) They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him ... (25) Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
(Mk 10:13) People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.
(cf Mk 3:10; 5:27-29; 6:56)
What does Jesus do every time? GET RESPONSE OF TOUCHING. When Jesus touches someone they are blessed and healed. In fact, almost every time a blessing is given in Scripture it comes with a touch.
Let me show you how blessings are done in Bible times. DEMONSTRATE BLESSING WITH A VOLUNTEER ON THEIR KNEES AND HEAD BOWED. LAY MY HAND ON THEM, AND SAY THESE WORDS: "THE LORD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU; THE LORD MAKE HIS FACE SHINE UPON YOU AND BE GRACIOUS TO YOU; THE LORD TURN HIS FACE TOWARD YOU AND GIVE YOU PEACE" (NUM 6:24-26).
Does anyone know where these words of blessing come from? Have any of you ever heard these words before? GET RESPONSE. Pastor Godfrey and I sometimes use these words as the blessing at the end of the worship service. These words come from God. This is how God commanded Aaron and his sons to bless the Israelites.
Who does the blessing? Me? Pastor Godfrey? No, the blessing comes from God. It is God Who blesses us at the end of our worship service. It is God Who blessed Jacob instead of Easu. And, it is God Who blessed Abraham.
God promised Abraham that "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Gen 12:3). When we look through Genesis we hear God making this promise four different times to Abraham (Gen 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4). Now, when God promises something, it is not a wish, it is not a hope, it is not a desire. When God promises something it becomes reality because God remembers His promises and keeps His promises from generation to generation. So, how does God keep this promise? "And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
How does God keep this promise? In the book of Acts, Peter said all peoples on earth are blessed when they turn from their sins and believe in Jesus Christ (Acts 3:25-26). Why is this a blessing? Because when we repent of our sins and believe in Jesus we receive the biggest and the greatest and the most important blessing of life: we are saved.
"And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." When God made this promise to Abraham He was talking about the manger and the cross and the grave. He was talking about a promise that would not come to pass for another two thousand years.
Who remembers promises so long? Not you and me. We not only forget our promises but we break our promises too. But not God. As you boys and girls reminded us tonight, God remembers and keeps His promises. To Abraham God made a promise to bless us. And, in Jesus God keeps that promise so that all who repent and believe are saved.
"All people on earth will be blessed through you" (Gen 12:3). Are you blessed? If you repent of your sins and believe in Jesus then you have been blessed.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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