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Circumcision and Abraham's Full Obedience to God - Genesis Part 36

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
April 24, 2022 7:00 am

Circumcision and Abraham's Full Obedience to God - Genesis Part 36

So What? / Lon Solomon

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April 24, 2022 7:00 am

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You know, one of my favorite Christian authors was a gentleman named A. W. Tozer.

And one of the things he wrote was this, and I quote. He said, Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late and how little revival has resulted? Considering the volume of prayer that is ascending these days, rivers of revival should be flowing.

That no such results are in evidence should not discourage us, Tozer says. Rather, it should stir us to find out why our prayers are not answered. He concludes by saying, I believe that our problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work.

End of quote. Folks, this is what we're going to talk about today as we return to our verse by verse study in the book of Genesis. We're going to talk about obedience to God, obeying God from the example of the great man of God, Abraham.

So are we ready? Genesis 17 is where we're going to be studying, but a little bit of review before we dig in. Remember in Genesis chapter 16 that Sarah and Abraham grew impatient waiting for the son that God kept promising them, so they took matters into their own hands and they engaged in a legal and acceptable practice in the culture of their day. Namely, Sarah gave her handmaiden Hagar to Abraham. Abraham had relations with Hagar.

Hagar bore a son to Abraham named Ishmael, and according to the society of that day, that son was also considered to be Sarah's son, thus removing from Sarah the stigma of barrenness, of childlessness that she was feeling. Okay, we've been there, so now let's start chapter 17 verse 1. When Abraham was 99 years old, the Bible says, the Lord appeared to Abraham. Now 13 years have passed between Genesis 16 and Genesis 17, 13 silent biblical years.

Ishmael had grown into young manhood. Abraham had apparently given up on the idea that Sarah was ever going to have a son, when suddenly God appears to Abraham and reconfirms the covenant that he's already made with Abraham in Genesis 12 and again in Genesis 15. Watch verse 2. The Lord appeared to Abraham and said, I am God Almighty. Walk before me and have integrity, for I will confirm my covenant between me and you, and I will greatly increase your descendants, and you will become the father of multitudes of people. So first of all, God reconfirms his promise that Abraham will become the father of multitudes of people. In fact, God even changes Abraham's name to reflect this. Verse 5, God says, no longer will you be called Abram, which means exalted father, but your name will now be Abraham, father of a multitude.

Then God goes on. Verse 8, and says in the whole land of Canaan, I will give to you and your descendants after you as an everlasting possession. So second of all, God reconfirms his promise to give the land of Canaan to Abraham's descendants as an eternal possession. But then God adds a new promise that he's never included up to this point. In verse 7, God says, and I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout all generations for an everlasting covenant, watch, to be God to you and God to your descendants. Third and finally, God promises, and remember what we just said. This is new news for Abraham that God is going to single out, that God is going to choose Abraham's descendants to be their God in a special way, in a unique way, in a personal way, in a private way, they're going to have a special relationship with Almighty God that the rest of the human race does not have. They are going to be a specially chosen group of people.

You say, all right, Lon, stop for a second. Let me make sure I really understand what we're saying. All right, what we're saying, if I got it right, is that the Arab people and the Jewish people are both the descendants of Abraham. The Jewish people are descendants of Abraham through Isaac. The Arab people are descendants of Abraham through Ishmael, right? That is correct.

You say, OK. So then based what God is saying here about Abraham's descendants, then first of all, the Arab people are God's specially chosen people, just like the Jewish people. Second, according to what God is saying here, the Arab people have a claim to the land of Canaan, the land of Palestine, just like the Jewish people do.

And finally, the God of the Arab people and Islam, that is Allah, is the same God of the Bible that we Jews and Christians worship. Lon, have I got it right? Well, no. You got it wrong. You got it totally and utterly wrong. You say, but wait a minute.

That's exactly what it sounds like this is saying. I know, friends, but we haven't finished the chapter yet. That's why the end of the chapter is on the beginning of the chapter. We've got to finish the chapter. And when we do, we discover that God limited this covenant that He's making with Abraham only to Abraham's descendants through Isaac.

That is critical. Watch verse 18. And Abraham said to God, Oh, that Ishmael may live before thee.

But God said, No, Sarah, your wife shall bear you a son and you shall call his name Isaac. And I shall establish my covenant with whom? With him, Isaac, for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. God says, As for Ishmael, I've heard you. Behold, I will bless him and I will multiply him and I will make him fruitful. And he shall become the father of twelve princes.

And I will make of him a great nation. Hey, friends, has God done that for the Arab peoples? Huh?

Hello. Yes. Has God kept his promise to the Arab peoples?

Yes, he has. Watch verse 21. But God says, But my covenant I will establish with who?

Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year. So what this means is that even though the Arab people are descendants of Abraham, God's everlasting covenant with Abraham here in Genesis 17 is not for them. Therefore, number one, the Arab people are not God's specially chosen people. Only the Jewish people are. Therefore, number two, God's promise of the land of Canaan does not belong to the Arab people.

It belongs to the descendants of Isaac, the Jewish people. And finally, therefore, number three, God is not the unique private God of the Arab people. Only the Jewish people have this relationship with Almighty God. What this means is that according to the Bible, my friends, Allah is not the true and living God of the Bible. Islam is not a true path to God. And Mohammed is not God's ultimate messenger to mankind. The risen resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is God's messenger to mankind. Amen.

Amen. God's deal here, friends, was not with Ishmael. God's deal here was with Isaac, who wasn't even born yet, and the Jewish people. Now, that's not what I say. That's what the word of God says. I'm just telling you what God says. But you know what? There's more to come.

Look what happens next. Verse 10. God said further to Abraham, This is my covenant, which you shall keep between you and me and your descendants after you.

Every male among you shall be circumcised. This will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. So after reiterating to Abraham all the provisions of this special covenant, God tells him that he wants a custom begun with Abraham and his household and every male that is of the chosen people, the Jewish people, for the rest of time in eternity, they are to be circumcised. And why did God want this?

Well, He says it right here in the Bible. This is to be the sign of the covenant between me and the Jewish people. This is to highlight the Jewish people's special and unique relationship with Almighty God to be a sign of that. So what did Abraham do? Verse 23. On that very same day, Abraham took his son Ishmael and every male in his household and circumcised them just as God told him to do. Verse 24. Now Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised. And Ishmael, his son, was 13 years old.

Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very same day and every male in Abraham's household was circumcised along with them. Now, that's as far as we're going to go in the chapter. Well, that's the end of the chapter. So that's as far as we're going.

But we have a very important question to ask right now. So all of you out there on the Internet, are you ready? Good.

I heard that. And all of you here at Tysons, are we ready? All right. Come on now.

Now I have to tell you the other services today did very well. So, you know, we save tickets for you. So make this a thank you. You save tickets for us. Are you ready?

One, two, three. Hey, that's awesome, man. You all are awesome. You say, Lon, so what? Say, boy, do I feel bad for Abraham. But other than that, goodness gracious, what in the world does this have to do with me? Well, let's talk about it. It's very interesting to me that God made a special point of emphasizing something at the end of this chapter. Did you pick it up? Let's go back.

See if you pick it up. Verse 23, on that very same day. That is the day that God told Abraham to get circumcised. Abraham circumcised every male in his household just as God had told him. Verse 26, Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very same day. And every male in Abraham's household was circumcised along with them.

Now, friends, here's the really intriguing thing. If you look very carefully here in Genesis 17, you'll find that God did not specifically command Abraham to circumcise himself and his household on that very same day. I mean, Abraham could have done this the next day or the next week or even the next month and still have complied with God's command.

But what does the Bible say? Abraham did it that very day. Abraham didn't even put off what God commanded him for one single day.

And you know why? Because Abraham had a wonderful spiritual habit in his life. Namely, that Abraham practiced instant and complete obedience to God. I mean, as soon as Abraham knew what God wanted him to do, Abraham did it exactly the way the Lord told him to do. And we see this wonderful spiritual habit of obedience all through Abraham's life. Let's go back to the first time we meet him in Genesis chapter 12. Listen, verse 1, the Lord said to Abraham, Leave your country, your people, your father's household, and go to the land that I'll show you. So Abraham left.

I love that. He did what the Lord told him just as the Lord had commanded him to do. Hebrews 11, verse 8, By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, the land of Canaan, he obeyed and went, look, not even knowing where he was going when he set out. But he just knew God had commanded him. Now, you know, we see this very same wonderful spiritual habit of obedience at the end of Abraham's life. When we pick up in Genesis 22, Abraham is well over 100 years old. Verse 1, now God tested Abraham and said to him, Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on the mountain that I will show you.

Watch. So Abraham arose early the next morning, saddled his donkey, and set out for the place that God had told him to go. If God appeared to you and told you to sacrifice your daughter or your son, would you get up early the next morning to go do this? Abraham did. And now we've just seen in Genesis 17 that right smack dab in the middle of his life, Abraham practiced this kind of obedience, immediate, complete. Hey, friends, you want to know why God referred to Abraham, Isaiah 41, verse 8, as Abraham, my friend?

Well, you just saw a big part of the answer. Abraham was a man of obedience. Now let's define. What is obedience? Well, obedience means to follow the orders and carry out the instructions of someone in authority over you to do what you were told. And as followers of Christ, we must understand that in God's vocabulary, obedience is a treasured word. The Bible reiterates this over and over and over again. Jesus said this. Jesus said, John 14, 15, If you love me, you will obey what I command. Jesus said, Luke 6, 46, Why do you call me Lord, Lord? And yet you do not do obey what I say.

Psalm 111, verse 10. A good understanding have all those who read God's commandments. No. A good understanding have all they who memorize God's commandments.

No. A good understanding have all they who do God's commandments. And God said to Joshua, Joshua 1, verse 8, This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night. Why? So that you may be careful, Joshua, to do everything written in it.

Why? Because then, Joshua, you will be prosperous and then you will have good success. I suppose James sums it up as well as anyone when he said in Chapter 1, verse 22, But prove yourselves to be doers of the word and not merely hearers only. Folks, over and over the Bible tells us that God is not interested in rituals or creeds or denominations or prayer books or hymn singing or church membership or religious activity, but above all else, first and foremost, God wants obedience. And this is what the prophet Samuel told a disobedient King Saul, 1 Samuel 15. Samuel said to Saul, Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as He does in obeying the voice of the Lord? Samuel said, Saul, behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice. And I would say to you today to obey is better than to sing in the choir. To obey is better than to put money in the offering plate. To obey is better than to have a church membership. To obey is better than to teach Sunday school. To obey is better than to have your quiet time.

To obey is better than anything. Now, knowing this has huge implications for our lives as followers of Christ. Because you see, in our modern day brand of Christianity, we emphasize God's love. We emphasize God's mercy. We emphasize God's compassion and emphasize God's forgiveness and God's understanding. And these are all true things about God.

But so often we emphasize this to such an extreme that I'm afraid we forget something. We forget that our God is a holy God and that as a holy God He demands obedience from His children. Friends, listen, the bottom line is that you and I can never become true men and women of God. Personal friends of God like Abraham until we get serious about obeying God in every facet of our life.

It's just that simple. Many of you know I run, I do tours to Israel and other places and I run these as Christ honoring tours. And with biblical standards and every time we do a tour we get a few applications from people that are living together.

Unmarried. Not brother and sister. You understand what I'm saying?

Right? Okay. And I have to always call them up and say, I'm sorry, this is a biblical tour run by biblical standards. You can't shack up on my tour.

You know, you either got to take separate rooms with roommates or single rooms, but I'm sorry, you can't do this. So anyway, a couple of years ago, I got this registration from a couple, two different last names, same address. You understand? So I said, I'm going to do what I always do. I'm going to call them up and say, can't do this. But just before I called them, I just happened to take a look to see how old they were. Well, the woman was 69 and the man was in his 70s.

Brave new world. What are we going to say? I mean, you know, so I called them up and I got the lady on the phone and I said, ma'am, you know, I don't know quite how to say this, but you can't do this on my tour. And you know, and I went started and she said to me, Lon Solomon, she said, I'm 69 years old. She said, you honestly think that I'm living with some man at 69 years old and it's not my husband? And I said, I don't know.

Brave new world. She said, no. She said, this is my husband. We just haven't changed our names.

Living with somebody at 69? She said, Lon Solomon. I said, well, I'm sorry. What am I supposed to think? I mean, it was two different names.

You know, what am I? So anyway, it turned out to be very funny. They went on the tour.

Everything worked out fine. But while we were on the tour, we got to laughing about this. And she said to me, certainly you don't really have people who try to come on this tour and and live together like that. And I said, well, actually we do. And she said, all right, well, obviously, though, they're not from McLean Bible Church.

And I said, well, most of them actually are. And she said, are you serious? She said, how can they be from McLean Bible Church? How can they come there and sit there and listen to you preach and listen to what the Word of God says and know what the standards of God are and still be living together?

I said, ma'am, I said, that's a very good question. All I can tell you is that a lot of people do what they want to do in life. And it doesn't matter whether they attend McLean Bible Church or not.

And it doesn't matter what the Bible says or not. They do what they want to do. And so that brings us to the issue for today. And that issue is, as a follower of Christ here today, do you do what you want to do in life?

Or do you do what the Lord tells you to do in life? You say, well, Lon, actually that's a very complex question. No, actually it isn't. Actually, it's a very simple question. Because, my friends, you're either living your life 100% under the authority of God's written Word and God speaking to you directly into your heart or you're living your life under the authority of yourself. There is nothing in between as far as God is concerned.

This is a very simple question. Whose authority are you living under? You know, the great evangelist Charles Finney once said, you can't preach against sin in the abstract. And by the same token, we can't talk about obedience to God in the abstract. Because, friends, obedience to God is a very concrete thing. So, let me close by asking you a concrete question. And that question is, what has God been asking you to obey Him and do?

What is it? Maybe He's been asking you to obey Him and give your life to Christ. Maybe He's been asking you to obey Him and surrender your life 100% to His Lordship.

But let's get even more concrete than that, shall we? Maybe God's been asking you to humble yourself and go seek someone else's forgiveness or to forgive someone else that hurts you. Maybe God's been asking you to make restitution for some wrong that you did to someone else or to speak to some relative or friend about their relationship with Christ.

And you know you're going to pay a price for this, but God's been asking you to do it anyway. Maybe God's been asking you to stop sleeping with your boyfriend or your girlfriend or your fiancé or to stop dating that person that you know you got no business dating or to knock off that adulterous relationship and go back to your husband or your wife and confess your sin and rebuild your marriage. Maybe God's been asking you to get help with that secret pornography problem that you've got or to stop undressing women with your eyes every single day. Maybe God's been asking you to get serious about beating that drinking problem or that drug problem or that smoking problem or that rotten attitude problem in your life that is dishonoring Christ every day in your life. Maybe God's been asking you to stop the cursing and the gossip and all the dirty talking that comes out of your mouth every day. Maybe God's been asking you to go back and file amended tax returns and pay what you know you really owe. Maybe God's been asking you to take on some area of volunteer Christian service or maybe even to accept His call into full-time Christian service. Maybe God's been asking you to have a quiet time yourself and to lead your family and your children in devotions. Look, I don't know what God's been asking, but folks, God asks all of us to do some things. And the question is, have we obeyed? You say, well, Lon, isn't it true that we need the power of the Holy Spirit in order to be able to really obey God in our life?

Yes. But, my friends, it takes our determination, it takes our commitment, it takes our zeal, and it takes our seriousness about obeying God first before God activates the power of the Holy Spirit in our life. God's waiting for the Holy Spirit to drop magic dust on you from heaven and suddenly you're going to want to obey God in every part of your life.

You're kidding yourself. God's waiting for you and me to say, Lord, I want to obey you. I'm committed to obeying you. I'm zealous about obeying you.

Help me. He'll turn the power of the Holy Spirit on, but not till you and I say that. And so let me close with the words of Deuteronomy 28. Now it shall be, the Lord says, that if you will fully obey the Lord, blessed will you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall the offspring of your body be and blessed shall be the produce of your ground. Blessed shall you be when you come in and blessed shall you be when you go out. The Lord shall cause your enemies to be defeated before you.

They shall come out against you one way and shall flee before you seven ways. The Lord shall make you the head and not the tail if only you will fully obey the Lord's commands. Folks, above everything else, this is what made Abraham, Abraham, his obedience to God. And this is what God wants from you and me.

Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, after a sermon once you said, this is a hard saying and who can hear it? And Lord, I suppose that that would apply to the message today.

It's a hard message because we all want to go our own way. And many of us have been living under the authority of ourselves, even as followers of Christ. Lord, help us repent from the heart of that today.

And some of us here have prayed about all different kinds of things where we need to obey you. Lord, give us the courage because it's going to take some courage. Give us the humility. It's going to take some humility. And give us the strength and the power from the Spirit that it's going to take for us to follow through.

But Lord, make us serious that we're going to follow through with your help. And Father, give us the lifestyle of Abraham, the lifestyle of the great prophet Samuel, who when you spoke to him, 1 Samuel 3, he responded, speak Lord, for I, your servant, am listening. Lord, may that be the attitude of our heart each and every day. Lord, speak, whether it's through the Bible or directly to my heart. Speak, Lord.

Tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it. For I, your servant, am listening. Change our lives in the way we live because we were here today and sat under your word. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. And what do God's people say? Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-27 22:31:54 / 2023-04-27 22:42:22 / 10

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