In message 39 of the Life-Study of Genesis, we come to the first aspect of the experience of God’s called ones, which is the experience of Abraham. Abraham’s experience was one of being called by God, living a life by faith, and knowing grace. In this message we cover the motive and strength to accept God’s calling. The first aspect of the motive and strength to accept God’s calling is God’s appearing. In Acts 7:2 Stephen declared that the “God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran.” God’s first appearing to Abraham was while he was in Chaldea, a part of Mesopotamia. Chaldea means demonic, and Mesopotamia means between rivers, showing that Abraham not only lived in a place full of demons but also in a place that was difficult to leave. This represents our situation before we were saved. But praise the Lord, the God of glory appeared to us! This appearing was the motive and strength to accept God’s calling and by this appearing we were called, saved, and separated. The second aspect of the motive and strength was God’s calling. When God appeared to Abraham, He called him saying, “Come out from your land and from your relatives” (Acts 7:3). With God’s appearing is God’s speaking, which strengthens us to accept God’s calling. The third aspect of the motive and strength to accept God’s calling is God’s promise. In Genesis 12:2-3 God promised Abraham to make of him a great nation, to bless him, and to make him a blessing to all the families of the earth. These promises were the preaching of the gospel to Abraham and implied God’s eternal purpose to express and represent God.
In message 40 we come to the progress in answering God’s calling and the seed of river crossing. As we pointed out in the last message, God first appeared to Abraham while he was in Ur of Chaldea (Acts 7:2). However, God appeared to Abraham a second time while he was in Haran (Gen. 12:1). God needed to appear a second time because Abraham did not follow God’s calling right away. “As far as God was concerned, there was no need for Him to repeat His calling. It was Abraham who needed the repetition. There is hardly one who has experienced God’s calling just once and then immediately crossed the river.” It was not until after Haran, the son of Terah (Abraham’s father), died that Terah took the family from Chaldea to Haran. However, during this journey they did not cross the river as God wanted them to. “This means that they left one Haran and came into another. In the eyes of God, both are the same. Whether Haran is a person or a place, it is still Haran.” It was not until after Terah died that God appeared to Abraham the second time. In this appearing God’s calling was more severe, telling Abraham to leave his country, kindred, and father’s house, but God also gave him the promise of the gospel as an incentive to accept His calling. This time Abraham did obey God’s call but not in a clean-cut way because he brought Lot, his nephew, a part of his father’s house. Lot, which means veil, was not a help to Abraham at all but rather caused him trouble. We need to be unveiled to see that we are saved to fulfill God’s purpose and be brought into God’s goal, which is firstly Christ and secondly the church. After God’s second appearing at Haran, Abraham crossed the river, sojourned through the land, and arrived at the oak of Moreh in Shechem. Here God reappeared to Abraham, confirming that he had arrived at the right place. It was also here that Abraham received the promise of the land (Gen. 12:7) and where Abraham built an altar. “At Babel, men built a tower to make a name for themselves. At Shechem, Abraham…built an altar for calling on the name of the Lord (12:8). This signifies that when we arrive at the place that God has chosen, God appears to us, and we have a deeper, fuller, richer, and more intimate fellowship with Him by calling on His name.”
In message 41 we come to the second aspect of the experience of Abraham – living by faith. When Abraham obeyed God’s call and left Haran, “he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8). While Abraham was journeying from Haran to Shechem, his road map was the living God. “While he was journeying, he had to look to God continually; he could not stop at any place he chose. As he was traveling, God’s presence was his direction, his road map.” Abraham followed God’s presence until he arrived at Moreh, where he built an altar. “Building an altar means that we offer everything we are and have to God… An altar means that we do not keep anything for ourselves. An altar means that we realize that we are here on earth for God. An altar means that our life is for God, that God is our life, and that the meaning of our life is God. So we put everything on the altar.” After building the altar at Moreh and after traveling more through the land that God had given him, Abraham came to a place between Bethel and Ai and here he built a second altar. That the second altar was built between Bethel (meaning the house of God) and Ai (meaning heap of ruins) signifies that in “the eyes of God’s called ones, everything other than the church life is a heap of ruins.” Finally, Abraham built a third altar at Mamre of Hebron. It was here that God came to visit Abraham and stayed with him for a long time. “We need to build an altar at Mamre in Hebron so that we may worship God, serve Him, and have constant fellowship with Him. This is the experience of the third altar.”
We also know that after Abraham built the altar, he pitched a tent (Gen. 12:7-8). In doing this we see that Abraham firstly took care of the worship of God and secondly took care of his living. “With Abraham, the primary matter was to consecrate everything to God, to worship and serve God and to have fellowship with God. Only then did Abraham pitch a tent for his living.” Abraham first pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai, completing his testimony for God to the world. He then moved his tent to Hebron (which means fellowship). “His tent firstly was a testimony for God to the world and then it became the center where he had fellowship with God.” Hebrew 11:10 says, “For he eagerly waited for the city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God.” This city is surely the New Jerusalem and Abraham’s tent was a miniature of the New Jerusalem. “We all need to be those who live in a tent and who look forward to a better country, a country in which there will be the eternal tabernacle where God and we, we and God, will live together for eternity.”
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