Sermon 2523. Abraham's Double Blessing
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JUNE 27, 1897.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 8, 1885.
"I will bless you, and you shall be a blessing." Genesis 12:2.
THIS was to be the double result of Abraham's coming out from his own country and his father's house. Those Orientals clungwith great tenacity to their native homes. We, in these latter ages, are not so restful-we think nothing of crossing the Atlanticand many think little of going to the other side of the globe-but those Easterns trembled, even, to cross the Euphrates orthe Tigris! They spoke of the land beyond those rivers as "across the flood," and a journey of two or three hundred milesseemed to them to be an event only second to death, itself. Yet when the Lord said to Abraham, "Get you out of your country,and from your kindred, and from your father's house, unto a land that I will show you," he, "departed, as the Lord had spokenunto him." His obedience was an act of heroic faith!
Now, Brothers and Sisters, in consequence of this obedience, Abraham obtained the double blessing of which our text speaks.He is called the Father of the Faithful, that is, the father of all such as believe in God, so that, if we truly believe inGod, we shall do what Abraham as a Believer did. Children are like their father. Believers are like the father of all Believers,so that there will be a going out for them as there was for him. We may not be called to actually leave our homes and ournative land, but we shall have a great deal more troublesome task than that, for we are to be separated from the people amongwhom we dwell-to dwell among them, yet not to be of them-in the world, but not of the world! This is not an easy thing. Itis far easier to become a monk, or a nun, and shut yourself up alone, than it is to live in the midst of ungodly people andyet to be, yourself, godly-to trade with the usual followers of commerce and not to fall into their business customs-to mixwith the usual host of thinkers, yet not to think as they think, but to endeavor to think the thoughts of God and to obeythe will of the Most High.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was the most perfect Man among men. In no respect, in dress or in anything else, did He separate Himselffrom the rest of mankind by anything merely external. He ate and drank just as they did. He sat at their tables, slept intheir houses and talked with them by the way-yet was He always "holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners." AllBelievers are called thus to live in the world a separated life, in obedience to the Divine command, "Come out from amongthem, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." There is no necessity for us to wear either thebroad-brimmed hat or the collarless coat, or anything whatever by which we shall be marked off from the rest of men. We areto be separated in realityrather than merely in appearance, to be separated by a higher tone of morals, to be separated bya truer life-a life with God, a life in God-to be separated by faith in the unseen, to be separated by an enthusiasm to whichthe rest of mankind will not pretend, which, indeed, they will even despise! This is the high, hard, holy, heavenly task towhich Believers in Christ are called. Oh, for Grace to accomplish it!
In proportion as we accomplish it, the words of my text will come true to us-"I will bless you, and you shall be a blessing."As far as Abraham did not live the life of separation, so far he missed the blessing. You remember that he went down intoEgypt and you know what trouble he got into there-and he brought more trouble away with him. As I said, this morning, (seeexposition at end of sermon), very likely Hagar was one of the slaves given to him by Pharaoh when he dismissed him and Sarah-andyou know what trouble Hagar brought into the family. (Sermon #1869, Volume 31- Hagar at the Fountain). If Abraham had livedthe separated life and had not fallen into the customs of those round about him, he would not have had that sin and sorrowconcerning Hagar.
Nor would he have had that righteous rebuke from Abimelech, the king of Gerar, when again he had acted deceitfully with regardto his wife.
Whenever you see Abraham living alone before the Lord, you see a man of God, blessed of God, even as the Lord said, "I calledhim alone, and blessed him." But when he goes and links himself with others, he loses the fullness of the blessing and getsinto serious trouble. And you, Christian men and women, will find that as long as you keep close to your Lord and Master,you will enjoy His blessing. You may have cares and trials, but they shall be blessed cares and blessed trials! But if yougo into the world and act as men of the world act-if you sow your wild oats, you will have to reap them! Depend upon it, thechild of God will feel the weight of his Father's rod if he begins to play with the boys of the street. If he is not carefulof his company, keeping with his Father's children-and careful of his life and conversation, doing and saying what his Fatherwould have him do and say-he will find the rod fall heavily upon his shoulders, even as the Lord said of old to the childrenof Israel, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."
The blessings of which I am about to speak belong to those who live the separated life, to those who keep in the narrow way.Just in proportion as the Grace of God helps us into that separated life and keeps us there, we shall be blessed and shallbe made a blessing.
I. First, let us consider THE FIRST BLESSING promised to Abraham in our text-"I will bless you." Notice that the personalblessing comes first. You cannot be a blessing to others unless God has first blessed you. We do not encourage selfishnessin anything, but we do say that you must fill your own pitcher before another man can drink out of it. You must have breadin your own hands before you can break it for the multitudes. It is no use for you to attempt to sow out of an empty basket,for that would be sowing nothing but wind. First of all, then, you must get the blessing yourself, for until it can be saidto you, "I will bless you," it cannot be said, "You shall be a blessing."
What was the blessing which God gave Abraham? It was the blessing which He will give to all who live as Abraham lived andbelieve as Abraham believed! And, first, Abraham had the rest of faith. He had no home except his tent- always an uncomfortablestyle of dwelling-and no plot of land to call his own. He was a mere gypsy, moving about from place to place. "By faith hesojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of thesame promise." Yet, surely, there never was a man more restful than this same Abraham! Wherever you meet him, he stands outbefore you as a calm, quiet, noble figure. Jacob is always cunning, bargaining, plotting and scheming. But Abraham has nothingof that sort of character-he is a plain, simple man-believing in God and going about his business with that leisure whichcomes of perfect trustfulness. If God says to him, "Leave your country," he leaves it. Go and ask him, "Where are you going,Abraham?" He does not know. God has told him to go out and he is going. The Canaanite is still in the land of promise-is henot afraid to go there? May not the inhabitants cut him off, directly, if he comes near them?
Abraham is not afraid! God has told him to go to the land of Canaan and he feels that he has a right to be there. God causesa superstitious dread to fall upon those Canaanites-a voice seems to whisper in their heart, "Touch not My anointed"-and soAbraham dwells securely among them. An invading host comes from a distance and carries away his poor nephew, Lot, who hasgone to live down Sodom way, that he may be more comfortable in a city. Abraham does not deliberate about his course of action-itis his business to set Lot free-so, with the few young men who are around him, the old man pursues the five kings, drivesthem before him like stubble driven before the wind, and brings back his nephew Lot and all the spoil! He never sets his handto anything but he succeeds in it, and he never seems to worry himself about anything! God's will is the one rule that heis always content to obey and he feels perfectly satisfied wherever he may be. Kings fall down before him, for he is a moretruly royal personage than those who are draped in purple, and who wear crowns! They say that he is one of nature's true princesand so he is. God had made him a prince by one touch of faith, for it was faith that did it all-he believed in God and thatbelieving made him truly great!
Do not say, dear Friends, that this faith was only possible to Abraham. Brothers, Sisters, it is possible to us, also, ifwe will have it. May God help us to believe the promise and not to be staggered at it through unbelief! If we will but trustGod through thick and thin, through dark and light-if we will but believe God more than we believe our eyes or our ears-ifwe will but believe steadily, even though our own body seems as dead, that God will keep His promise to the very letter. Andif we will, through that faith, always do the right, and never be daunted or turned aside, then shall our peace be like ariver and our righteousness as the waves of the sea-and there shall be a kingly majesty about our character, simple and unadornedas it may be, and open as it may seem to be to the jests and sarcasms of an unbelieving age!
Whatever men may say, they will really respect and reverence the man who believes in God and lives as a man of faith shouldlive. If you want perfect rest in this life-and it is worth more than thousands of precious jewels-if you would wear in yourbuttonhole the herb called heartsease-if you would go through the world content, quiet, happy and free from care and fear,"trust in the Lord, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and verily you shall be fed." Has not God said, "I will blessyou"? He will bless you by means of your own faith, making you a peaceful, happy person while all the world besides seemsto be up in arms, worried and anxious!
Beside the rest of faith, Abraham had the victory of faith ' 'This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith."Abraham was not a fighting man, but when he was called to fight, he fought in real earnest, and his adversaries fell or fledbefore him. The victory of Abraham's faith, when he vanquished Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, was not onlya victory on the battlefield, but a victory afterwards! Those kings had taken the spoils of the kings of the cities of theplain and had carried away all the booty, but Abraham recovered it all, so that he might have claimed it as his own-and eventhe king of Sodom said to him, "Give me the persons, and take the goods to yourself." It was a fine pile, no doubt, and ordinarymen do not look at such treasures without some kind of longing for them, but Abraham answered, "I have lifted up my handsunto the Lord, the Most High God, the possessor of Heaven and earth, that I will not take from you a thread even to a shoelace,and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich.'" "No," says the Patriarch,"what I receive shall come from God, and not from the king of Sodom."
It was a real victory of faith for him to be able to act like that. It is a great thing for a Christian to conquer sin, butI reckon that it is a greater thing for him not to yield to that which looks dubious, or that which is selfish although itmay be just. It is a victory for faith when the man says, "No, no! I might do this, or that, or the other, but I am a childof God and, therefore, I shall not do it. I trust in God and I will not do it, lest at any time in my future life someoneshould say, 'That was not acting as a Christian should act.' No, I will not take from a thread even to a shoelace that belongsto the king of Sodom, lest thereby my God should be displeased or dishonored." What a glorious victory Abraham had that dayin the king's dale!
A Christian, if he lives to God by faith, will often have just such a victory as that. If he has not as much of this world'sgoods as others have, he will not fret and pine after them. He will say, "I am happy enough without them." And if God shouldbe pleased to give him riches, he will live above them and he will never let them get into his heart. "No," he will say, "Iam not enriched by these things. My treasure is of a higher and nobler kind." There are many men who could not be trustedto be rich, for if they were to attain to wealth, they would become proud and make an idol of their gold. But the true heirof Heaven has received this blessing from God-that he knows, with Paul, both how to be abased and how to abound, how to befull and to be hungry. He has learned, in whatever state he is, to be content. And the man who has learned that lesson isa blessed man!
Another blessing which Abraham had, and which all Believers may have, is this-he had power with God. Oh, that every one ofus possessed such power and constantly used it! God was about to destroy the cities of the plain on account of their horriblelusts and He said to Himself, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" Was not he a blessed man concerning whomGod asked that question? God goes to Abraham and tells him what He is about to do. And Abraham, at once, with the power thathe had with God, begins to plead with Him in that famous dialogue between the man of God and the God of the man! You knowhow he pleaded-"Will You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Perhaps there are fifty righteous within the city: willYou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are there?" The next plea was, "Will you destroy allthe city for lack of forty-five?" Then he brought the number down to forty, to thirty, to 20 and, at last, to 10 righteous.Was it not a glorious thing for this man, this sheik, this Bedouin of the desert, to plead and wrestle thus with the eternalGod?
Talk not to me about the grandeur of kings upon their thrones-Abraham speaking thus with God is greater than all of them puttogether! Tell me not of brave warriors returning from the fight amid the acclamations of the throng! This lonely man, graspingthe arm of Jehovah and urging his suit for mercy for the people of these doomed cities, is a greater man than all mortalsbesides! They used to say of Luther, as he walked along the street, "There goes the man who can have of God anything he likesto ask." And there are some I know to whom God has given this same privilege! And if we will but walk alone with God and willfully trust Him, He will give us carte blanche-He has given it to us in those wondrous words of Christ, "If you abide in Me,and My Words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you." "Delight yourself also in the Lord;and He shall give you the desires of your heart." It is as if the silver keys of Paradise swung at the belts of the saints!Have they not had the keys of the rain? Did not Elijah turn the key and shut up the clouds for three years and six months-andthen turn it the other way and bring a blessed deluge on the land? Oh, if we have but faith, we shall have this high privilegeof coming to the Mercy Seat, just when we will, and asking of our God according to our need-and His promise shall be fulfilledto each one of us, "I will bless you."
I must add, yet further, that Abraham had from God the great blessedness of being sustained under trial Have you ever noticeda certain little record concerning Abraham? It is after he had offered up his son, Isaac. That was the sharpest trial thatcould have befallen mortal man-to be commanded to go and offer up his own son, his only son, his beloved son-the son who hadbeen miraculously given to him! But he, with stalwart faith, felt sure that God would keep His promise and that He would raiseIsaac from the dead, if necessary, so it was not for him to reason about the matter, but to do what seemed to be the terriblewill of God. Some little while after that great trial, it is written, "Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and theLord had blessed Abraham in all things." That is the short history of his long life- God told him that He would bless him-andHe did. "The Lord had blessed Abraham in all things." What? When He commanded him to slay his son? Yes. He "had blessed himin all things." What? When He took away his wife Sarah? Yes, for, "the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things."
Perhaps, if his life had been without troubles, that sentence would not have been true! Just look at this matter a moment,dear Friends. When you and I, with all our cares, trials, poverty, suffering and pain shall get to our journey's end, if wehave faith like Abraham's, it will be written of each one of us, "The Lord had blessed him in all things-blessed him in histroubles, blessed him in those cruel tests of faith as they seemed to be-blessed him by sustaining him under them all." Ithink that if I were an old sailor, I would not like to have had a life on a sea of glass. If I were at home, say at 70 yearsof age, and my grandchildren had gathered around me to hear the story of my life, I would not like to have to sum it all upby saying, "Boys, I do not know anything about storms. I never was in one in my life. You see, I never went to sea withouta favorable wind. Whenever I got on board ship, all storms ceased and I had nothing to do but just to watch until I reachedthe port." I expect the boys would ask, "But, Grandfather, were there never any big waves?" "No, never." "Were you never castaway on a rock?" "No, never-it was all smooth with me from beginning to end."
There would be nothing to tell about a life like that and a man would not make much of a sailor that way. Or suppose it isone of our soldiers who, when he has retired from the army says, "I never smelt gunpowder." I pray God that our soldiers maynever have to fight, but still, a man will never make anything of a soldier if that is the fact with him. And you and I willnot make stalwart Christians without trials and troubles! And when we get to Heaven, we shall not have so much for which toglorify God if we have had our bread and butter spread for us from the first day to the last, and have never had any lackof food, never any hard labor, never any stern affliction, never any bitter pain, never any deep distress! But how blessedare they who have done business in great waters, who have seen the white teeth of the storm furies and sailed through thevery throat of death and come out safely! How blessed are they who have had much reason for fear, but who have had no fear,God having lifted them above it by the supernatural energy of His Grace! So, Brothers and Sisters, you may often have blessingcome to you, not in the shape of a rolled path all the way to Heaven, but in the shape of a faith that endures to the end,so that you shall stand firm in every temptation and, at the last, shall enter into your rest and say at the end of all, "Godhas blessed me in all things, blessed be His holy name!"
Another special favor that Abraham had was God's Presence. I think that the greatest blessing God ever gives to a man is Hisown Presence. If I had my choice of all the blessings of this life, I certainly should not ask for wealth, for that can bringno ease. And I certainly should not ask for popularity, for there is no rest to the man upon whose words men constantly wait-andit is a hard task one has to perform in such a case as that. But I should choose, as my highest honor, to have God alwayswith me. Who would choose between the burning fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar and a bed of down if God was equally with usin both cases? It matters not! We might be just as happy in the one case as in the other. If God is with us-if His Divinelove surrounds us-we carry our own atmosphere wherever we go, we take our own abode with us wherever we journey! And withMoses we can say, "Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations." That heart is full of Heaven that is full ofGod. That man is blessed to all the intents of bliss who dwells in
God and in whom God dwells! And that is the privilege of all who truly believe in Jesus, all who come out from the world andlive a life of faith as Abraham did.
Bow your head, Believer, and let the Lord God pronounce on you this benediction, "Surely, blessing I will bless you." Sorrowing,suffering, weary, burdened, yet receive this blessing as from God's own mouth, "I will bless you." Poor, despised, slandered,yet is the blessing not one whit curtailed! So, take it home with you and go on your way rejoicing!
II. Now let us turn to the second part of the text and consider THE SECOND BLESSING promised to Abraham. "You shall be a blessing."When God has blessed any man, He makes that man to be a blessing to others. The Lord fills him that he may overflow with blessingfor those around him. The Holy Spirit puts into the man the life of God that that life may flow out of him to others.
How, then, do we bless other men? I answer-genuine Christians bless other men by their example. I will give you one instance-sometimesan instance is better than an explanation. I suppose that there is hardly a person here who has not heard of that famous preacherof the Gospel, Mr. John Angell James. I remember, 33 years ago, taking a journey from Cambridge to Birmingham, that I mightbe able to say that I had heard Mr. John Angell James preach. And I did hear him preach, greatly to my comfort and joy. Youknow that he wrote that book, The Anxious Enquirer, which has been the means of bringing so many to Christ, but did you everhear how John Angell James came to be a Christian and a preacher? He was engaged as a clerk in an office, as many of you maybe, and he slept upon his master's premises. He had been accustomed, when he retired for the night, to get into bed withoutany prayer or any reading of the Scriptures, but there came into the same office a new clerk, a young man. James went upstairs,undressed himself as quickly as he could, and got into bed, when, to his surprise, the new clerk moved the candle, went tohis box, took out his Bible, drew his chair up, sat down as if he was quite at home, and read a chapter!
Then, with equal deliberation, he knelt down at his bedside and prayed. He never said a word to John Angell James about notpraying, But he did what was a great deal better-he, himself,prayed. Within a few months from that time, Mr. James was a convertedman! Within two or three years, he was a minister of the Gospel, and I cannot help tracing the usefulness of the preacherto the decision of that young unknown clerk who dared to do the right thing come what might! "I will bless you," said Godto that young clerk, "and I will make you a blessing." I wonder whether, afterwards, he used to say to himself, "I thank Godthat I knelt down and prayed that night, because, by that simple act of mine, that man of God was brought to the feet of Jesusand tens of thousands were converted by his instrumentality"?
"I will make you a blessing." Oh, that our example might be such that, wherever we go, we may be a blessing! Some of you,perhaps, have lived in very poor neighborhoods-you have got into poverty and have to dwell in a back slum. As soon as youare converted, you want to move away and I do not blame you-who would like to remain there? At the same time, it seems a pitythat the moment there is a lamp lit, we should take it out of the dark corner. That slum is where your example is needed,my Brother! Where do you put the salt? Why, of course, where there is something that, without it, will rot! So there mustbe children of God who will say, "We mean to live here and drive the devil out. We do not intend to leave this corner, butwe mean to stay here and fight the foe till God shall give us the victory."
Further, dear Friends, those whom God uses are made a blessing by their prayers. Does anybody know the full extent of theblessings which come upon us in answer to the prayers of others? Unhappy is the man who has not somebody praying for him!But rich is that one who is daily the object of the prayers of saints. O dear Friends, if God has saved you, never stint yourprayers for others! I ask a share in them-I count myself rich in having the prayers of so many-how often am I gladdened andcomforted when I know that there are thousands of Christian people who have pledged themselves never to pray either morningor evening without remembering me in their prayers! I thank them from the bottom of my heart-they can do me no greater kindness!Pray for all ministers of Christ, pray for all Christians and pray day and night for this great wicked city of ours, steepedup to its throat in sin! God have mercy upon it! Get to your chamber, child of God, and bow your knees and cry mightily untothe Most High, for these evil days sorely need it. If ever we needed intercessors, it is now! If John Knox's prayers savedScotland-and they did-we need a man like he to save England and to bless our country at this present moment. You can be madea blessing by your intense and vehement prayers! Therefore, all of you who are Believers "pray without ceasing."
Moreover, if God has blessed us, we ought to try to be made a blessing by our ordinary life. Sydney Smith, the witty clergyman,often said some very good things and one I remember was, "Always make it a rule to make somebody happy every day, even ifit is only by giving a child a farthing, or helping a poor woman to carry a parcel that is too heavy for her." There reallyis so much misery m the world that it is a pity for us to cause a child to cry, or even to cause a dog to go howling downthe street! I think that we ought to make everyone happy wherever we are, for our Master went about doing good to all sortsand conditions of men. But certainly in our own family we who love the Lord should have the brightest eyes and the most cheeringcountenances. I know some professed Christians who are so dreadfully good, so painfully pious, that I cannot live near them."You shall not, you shall not," seems written across their very foreheads! All that we must notdo, they perfectly understand,but wherein there is anything of joy and delight and pleasure in this holy faith of ours, which came from our blessed joyousSavior-for such He was, though He was the Man of Sorrows- all that they seem to forget!
Let it not be so among us, dear Friends, but let us try with all our might to be a blessing to everybody and, most of all,to be a blessing to those for whom nobody cares. Let us go out of our way to remember the forgotten, to help the helpless,to succor those who are in the deepest need. You know how it is in this world, everybody will give something to the personwho does not need it-but why not give to the poor, the needy and the helpless? That is where our gifts should go most freely.These cannot make us a return, but we shall have a reward at the last if we do them good. Oh, for the faith which is trulya blessing because we endeavor to make other people happy wherever we may be!
"I will make you a blessing." When this promise came to Abraham, surely the very essence of it was that Abraham was to bemade a blessing to the world by virtue of his connection with Jesus Christ Our Lord was descended from Abraham-"He took noton Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham." Our Savior was a Jew. He took upon Himself the natureof that race and therein Abraham became a blessing to the whole world! And now, spiritually, we who believe are the childrenof Abraham. We come not into the Covenant as they do who are merely descended from Abraham after the flesh, but we come inwith Isaac, the child of the promise, born not after the flesh, but after the power of the Spirit! And so we become heirsof salvation by virtue of that faith which was in Abraham and which dwells also in us by the gift of the Holy Spirit!
Beloved, if you and I are to be made a blessing to others, it must be by our bringing the Lord Jesus Christ to those whomwe meet from day to day. Do not talk to a friend without speaking of your Savior. Do not be long in a house without introducingthat dear name-there is so much of savor, of sweetness, of comfort, of healing, of life in that precious name of Jesus, thatyou cannot too often speak of it, or too frequently introduce it into all sorts of companies! I heard, some time ago, of aman handcuffed and being taken away by the police for a term of imprisonment-a horrible wretch with a face that was scarcelyhuman, a man who seemed as if he was cut out for a murderer-and as he stood in the station and few cared even to look at him,a little girl went near and, looking up to him, said, "Poor man, I pity you." He was wretch enough to utter some lewd andprofane expression and the child, astonished, ran back to her father. But she could not stay long. There seemed to be a charmto her about that wicked man, so she ran into the room, again, and said, "Poor man, Jesus Christ pities you-He does!" Thepolice said to the governor of the jail, when handing over their prisoner, "That man will give you a world of trouble. Heis the most horrible brute we ever came across, it took a great many of us to capture him."
The next morning he was found quiet and subdued-and during all the term of his imprisonment there was not a better prisoner!And he went out of the jail a changed man. He told the chaplain that it was the little girl who had done it when she saidthat she pitied him and that Jesus Christ pitied him. If we would more often bring in that blessed name of Jesus, then wouldour text be fulfilled, "I will bless you, and you shall be a blessing." Oh, that we would all first come to Him and find theblessing that is treasured up in Him-and then go forth and be a blessing to our own family and to all around us! O Lord, grantthat it may be so, for Your dear Son's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: GENESIS 12:1-7; 14:17-24; 22:15-18.
We will read two or three passages in the Book of Genesis concerning God blessing His servant Abraham. Turn first to the 12thchapter.
Chapter 12, verse 1. Now thee lord had said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from yourfather's house, unto a land that I will show you. It was God's intention to keep His Truth and His pure worship alive in theworld by committing it to the charge of one man and the nation that should spring from him. In the Infinite Sovereignty ofHis Grace, He chose Abraham-passing by all the rest of mankind-and elected him to be the depository of the heavenly Lightof God, that through him it might be preserved in the world until the days when it should be more widely scattered. It seemedessential to this end that Abraham should come right out from his fellow countrymen and be separate unto Jehovah, so the Lordsaid to him, "Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father's house, unto a land that I will showyou."
2, 3. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing:and I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.There, you see, was the missionary character of the seed of Abraham, if they had but recognized it! God did not bless themfor themselves, alone, but for all nations-"In you shall allfamilies of the earthbe blessed."
4. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old whenhe departed out of Haran. He had already attained a fine old age, but he had another century of life before him, which hecould not, then, foresee, or expect. If, at his age, he had said, "Lord, I am too old to travel, too old to leave my countryand to begin to live a wandering life," we could not have wondered. But he did not talk in that fashion. He was commandedto go and we read, "So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him."
5, 6. And Abram took Saraihis wife, and Lot his brother's son, andall their substance that they hadgathered, and the soulsthat they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. AndAbram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.Fierce and powerful nations possessed the country! It did not seem a very likely place to be the heritage of a peace-lovingman like Abraham. God does not always fulfill His promises to His people at once, otherwise, where would be the room for faith?This life of ours is to be a life of faith and it will be well rewarded in the end. Abraham had not a foot of land to callhis own, except that cave of Machpelah which he bought from the sons of Heth for a burying place for his beloved Sarah.
7. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto your seed will I give this land and there built he an altar unto the LORD,who appeared unto him. Thus, you see, Abraham began his separated life with a blessing from the Lord his God. Further on inhis history he received a still larger blessing when he returned from his victory over the kings.
Genesis 14:17-19. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedor-laomer, and of the kings that werewith him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's valley. AndMelchizedek, King of Salem, brought forth bread and wine:and He was the Priest of the most high God. And He blessed him. In the name of God, Melchizedek blessed Abraham. This mysteriousPersonage, the highest type of our Lord Jesus Christ, blessed Abraham, "and without all contradiction the less is blessedof the better." "He blessed him."
19, 20. And said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of Heaven and earth: and blessed be the most high God,which has delivered your enemies into your hands. And he gave Him tithes of all. Abraham recognized the Priest of God as hisspiritual superior "and he gave Him tithes of all."
21. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, give me the persons, and take the goods to yourself. It was according to the ruleof war that if persons who had made an invasion were afterwards, themselves, captured, then if the new captor gave up thepersons, he was fully entitled to take the goods to himself.
22, 23. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hand unto the LORD, the Most High God, the possessor of Heavenand earth, that I will not take from you a thread even to a shoelace, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lestyou should say, I have made Abram rich. The Patriarch is greater than the king. He has a right to all his spoil, but he willnot touch it, lest the glory of his God should thereby be stained. Abraham will have nothing but what his God shall give him!He will not take anything from the king of Sodom. I like to see this glorious independence in the Believer. "I have a rightto this," he says, "but I will not take it. What are mere earthly rights to me? My chief business is to honor the God of whomI am, and whom I serve. And if the taking of this spoil would dishonor Him, I will not take even so much as a thread or ashoelace."
24. Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre;let them take their portion. ' 'Though I am willing to give up my share of the spoil, that is no reason why these men shoulddo the same." Christian men ought not to expect worldlings to do what they cheerfully and willingly do, themselves and, indeed,it is not much use to expect it, for they are not likely to do it!
Now let us read in the 22nd Chapter of this same Book of Genesis. Abraham had endured the supreme test of his faith and had,in full intent, offered up his son Isaac at the command of God, his hand being withheld from the actual sacrifice only byan angelic voice.
Genesis 22:15-17. And the Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of Heaven the second time, and said, By Myself have I sworn, says theLord, for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son: that in blessing I will bless you."Whenever I am engaged in blessing, I will bless you. I will not pronounce a benediction in the which you shall not share-'Inblessing I will bless you.'"
17, 18. Andin multiplying I will multiply your seedas the stars of the Heaven, andas the sand which is upon the sea shoreand your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; andin your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; becauseyou have obeyed My voice. See the result of one man's grand act of obedience and note how God can make that man to be thechannel of blessing to all coming ages! Oh, that you and I might possess the Abrahamic faith which thus practically obeysthe Lord and brings a blessing to all the nations of the earth!