Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Big Picture/The Big Promise 全体像/遠大な約束

A number of years ago there was an ad on TV that started like this: There was a woman sitting in a car. She's minding her own business, and suddenly this man comes out of the blue, rips the door open, grabs her, and pulls her out of the car roughly. It looks like he's attacking her, and we look on in horror. Then the camera pulls back, and we see that the car is actually on fire, but the woman didn't know it. The man wasn't assaulting the woman; he was rescuing her. The advertisement finishes by saying, "You need the bigger picture. Channel 10 News gives you the bigger picture." 

The same can be said for things found in the Bible. Even for those going through the events, they have no real idea what is going on, I am sure. But it all was part of the Big picture and the Big Picture was that God was doing something special. Today, we will be looking at a very special moment in the life of Abram – who later became Abraham.  God was making a big promise to him and to those who would follow him—his tribe, —was going to be really blessed! 

 ‘Covenant’ means promise. It comes from the Hebrew word “to cut”, and then a covenant is ‘cutting in two’. God is solemnly called to witness the transaction, as in the marriage compact because the marriage was made in God’s Name. 

Listen now to the passage found in Genesis 15:1-20,  創世記151-20

This morning, we will look at this promise God made to Abram. We will seek to understand it in light of the rest of scripture—as much as we can in the time we have. Not like last week, when we looked at seven people’s lives in the course of many years, here the situation seems to be between a night (15:5) a full day that ends with a sunset (15:12) and a little after the sun set (15:17). A promise given at night-lasted all the next day and into that next evening.  That promise would change not only Abram’s life completely but also alter the events for the rest of humanity.  God was choosing a People for Himself!

The covenants of Scripture: 9 Covenants with significance.

Eternal Covenant: Hebrews 13:20; Edenic covenant, Genesis 1:26-28; Adamic covenant, Genesis 3:14-19; Noahic covenant, Genesis 8:20-9:6; •Abrahamic covenant, Genesis 12:1-3 Mosaic covenant, Exodus 20:1-31:18; Palestinian covenant, Deut 30:1-10; Davidic covenant, 2 Samuel 7:4-17, 1 Chr 17:4-15; New covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-33; Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; Hebrew 8:8-12

Today, we will talk about one of these covenants: アブラハムの契約創世記121-3

 Abrahamic covenant, first seen in Genesis 12:1-3 

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. ;  “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

It was confirmed to Abram-exalted father, in  #2  13:14-17; 15:1-7-what we are looking at today. 

#3; 17:1-8: The covenant of promise where his name is changed to Abraham-father of many, circumcision given as a sign. Abraham's posterity was to be a great nation. In him (through Christ) all the families of the earth were to be blessed.  #4 (Galatians 3:16; John 8:56-58).   Merrill F. Unger, The New Unger's Bible Handbook,  Revised by Gary N. Larson, Moody Press, Chicago, 1984, p. 595.

Let’s begin—. “I am…”  わたしは
God starts His conversation with His friend with “Do not be afraid.” I would guess that would be a good place to start.  “So, Abram, don’t be afraid. I am with you and I am calling you to be something in My plan for Mankind.” Here, God takes the initiative.  He provides a Promise that only HE can provide AND keep. He promised People, land and a Blessing that all that who believed like Abram would be credited to them as righteousness.  Salvation comes by Faith alone!

THEN He says: “I AM your shield.”  Meaning: I will guide you. I will hold you up.  I will protect you. I will be your front guard. I will be there for you.

Is this a promise we can hold onto? Yes and no. Because of Faith, Abram was blessed and yet the promise was given to one man.  His generations would be blessed. And yes, once a person believes and enters God’s Forever Family by accepting the Death of Christ as our payment for our sins, then God can become our shield.
And God said, “Your very great reward…” Reward? For his belief. For his trusting God. For Abram was already holding onto what was already related to him in Gen 12.

God rewards them who put their trust in Him.

· Acts 17:27 God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us.

· Hebrews 11:6 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.

IS that where you are today? Are you reaching out to Him? Are you earnestly seeking Him? Do you believe in Him as your Lord? Or is it passive? I’ll do it later. Too busy now. Know full well that THIS is THE most important relationship you are to deal with in life: this deserves serious attention.  Know full well that it is His deepest wish for each of us to follow Him and to call Him our Lord. Like Abram, we too can have This God be our shield—not only in times of conflict but also in times of joy, darkness, uncertainty, pain, unbelief, times of great need and during times of great blessing. He IS our shield!  We need Him as our shield! It is not a sign of being weak-just smart! A fool says there is no God.  Don’t be the fool.

God also said, (v7) “I the Lord.” わたしは He is God, the one and only God worthy of praise.  He also was the Lord who took Abram out of familiar surroundings. He set his feet on ground that was way out of his comfort zone. God sent him into Canaan among some of the most evil people known to mankind. Remember Abram? I am the Lord!

It was to these people, God sent Abram to be a witness of God’s Grace. These people who came from the offspring of Canaan- where the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites and Hivites and others come from.  They worshipped a god called Baal ; a bull/man; the god of fertility. Moloch was another Canaanite deity associated esp. with infant sacrifices. A bronze statue with the head of an ox and a body of a man with out stretched arms to receive the children into his belly were burned to death regularly.  

These tribes were a wicked people. Abram was NOT to join in with them. His relatives did and look where that led. Lot had sexual relations with his own daughters and produced two evil offspring tribes; the Moabites and the Ammonites. Incest and a preoccupation with sin (lasciviousness) was part of their lives. The Jewish nation was to keep as far away from them as possible. The opposite happened. 

But this “I am the Lord” was the one who brought Abram out of Ur and, as it said in verse 8: “to give you this land to take possession of it.” 

In later covenants, God would spell out just how much of that land was to be theirs.  But it was at this point Abram asked a strange question. “How can I take possession of it?”  Bizarre thing to doubt now—after he already believed God in verse 6!  He did not have children and he did not have any way of getting them. He was an old man!  His wife—though she was beautiful—was well be on the childbearing age.

It was at this point, God took out the big guns!

“Bring me a heifer 若い雌牛, a goat ヤギ and a ram , each three years old, along with a dove 大きめな and a young pigeon 若い小さめな.”

With these animals, the Lord God will make His case with the divided bodies of the larger animals. 1.) Blood was needed.  Something had to die. It was cut in two just like it would happen to the one who broke this promise. There is a shedding of blood—remember Able’s offering? That was accepted by God.  In the New Testament times, Jesus shed His blood—for us. He paid the price for our warpness, our bending the rules of life, our strained and distorted attitude toward Him. That is where we fail.  

Note that the birds of prey came down on the carcasses. I believe this is a picture of life itself. When we make a cut with the past, when we make a promise, all sorts of ‘birds of prey’ attack us, trying to mess up our minds and hearts. The birds in this event symbolize Satan and his evil agents. 

 John 10:10a “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” ヨハネ10:10b A わたしが来たのは、羊が命を受けるため、しかも豊かに受けるためである。

 The diligence of Abram kept the birds away.

 2 John 1:8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.

Now that Abram has brought all that the Lord requires, God reveals, or makes known to him some of the future events. Their time spent in Egypt, and how they were going to be treated there.  The fact that God will punish わたしは罰するであろう that country for their evil ways and that they would come out of it, not only as free men but also with great possessions! In the fourth generation, the tribe of Abram will return to the Promised Land. It was not to happen yet as God had something else going on.  It had to do with the people Abram was living with now.  

 Look at end of verse 16: “for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

God is interested in the lives of the evil. This people group had time to repent. They had time to turn from their wicked ways, like the people of Nineveh, who, when faced with divine destruction, repented and was saved.   

 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. ペテロの手紙3:9 ある人たちは、遅いと考えているようですが、主は約束の実現を遅らせておられるのではありません。そうではなく、一人も滅びないで皆が悔い改めるようにと、あなたがたのために忍耐しておられるのです。

He is waiting for many in Japan to come to Him in repentance. He is waiting for some of you and some of the members of your family to surrender to His Love and come to know Him as Lord. And when that happens, like Abram, He will give (“To your descendants I give this land “),わたしは与えるであろう His Salvation and a place with Him in Glory. 

John 10:10b I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ヨハネ10:10B 盗人が来るのは、盗んだり、屠ったり、滅ぼしたりするためにほかならない。