Monday, March 6, 2017

not like most people I know

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today:
Genesis 13:5-14:24
mark this: Genesis 14:22-23
I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, `I made Abram rich.'
Abram (henceforth referred to as Abraham) is the original Bible hero. Certainly, that's not to say that there were not any godly people before him; there certainly were. But Abraham is the first man in scripture where we have a real significant amount of background, history, and family dynamics recorded. I can't say that I would have wanted to be in his place- because in page after page in Genesis, we see his legacy: strengths and weaknesses, highs and lows, faith and doubts, all play out in his life and within the next three generations. There is no hiding- its all there, the good, the bad and the ugly. Most people I know couldn't take that kind of scrutiny.
In yesterday's reading, we saw the first reason that Abraham was the patriarch of all patriarchs: his faith. In today's, we see main reason number 2, his willingness to make the right choices.
In these chapters, you can't help but admire good old Abe as a stand up guy. He's a successful business man, yet his god is not the bottom line. He patiently and graciously deals with his less than grateful nephew, Lot, by deferring to him the right to the first pick of the land. He's not going to let a little thing like his net worth ruin his family relations. He says nothing when it seems that Lot scams him of all the "well watered" land, leaving him with the less desirable land of Canaan. Most people that I know would have sent Lot packing, but Abraham is not like most people I know.
Sometime later, Lot finds himself tangled up in some serious political unrest and battles. He wanted the fertile lands, but is now paying the price for his proximity to such notorious neighbors. He's captured, along with all that he owns. But with unending loyalty and the equivalent of 318 Green Berets, Abraham rescues Lot (and inadvertently, the Kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar). Most people that I know would have said, "to hell with Lot. He made his bed, now he has to sleep in it!" But Abraham is not like most people I know.
And it is here in the last 8 verses of chapter 14 where Abraham demonstrates exactly why he is a hero of faith, why we are still talking about him some 4000+ years later. Two polar opposite figures interact with Abraham, and we see two contrary reactions. The first is that mysterious Melchizedek- certainly a type, and foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Melchizedek provides the bread and wine and blessing, and Abraham rightly respond by giving back to one greater than himself. (There is so much more to be said here- look for it in Hebrews 7:1-14) Most people that I know would have missed the significance of this mysterious stranger, but Abraham is not like most people I know.
But now take a look at the second figure, one King of Sodom. After rescuing Lot and the various goods from these defeated kings, Abraham has the right to take a huge cut of the spoils for all his heroics and hard work. The king of Sodom gives him a "blank check" kind of offer. Most people that I know would have gladly collected the money, but Abraham is not like most people I know.
He, with little tact, tells the king to get lost. It didn't take fire and brimstone for Abraham to recognize Sodom for what it was. He wanted nothing to do with it. He, like Joseph and Moses and Daniel after him, learned to say no. The world could not bribe them. All of them, literally or figuratively "regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because they were looking ahead to His reward. (1)"
Today's passage hit me hard, because I realize that far too often, I am much more like most people I know. That's exactly why I need an example like Abraham who can point me towards Jesus Christ.
(1) Hebrews 12:26

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