Genesis 12:1-9 Faith and God’s Blessing
A man took his girlfriend out for dinner and when they sat down, he laid an elaborate box on the table for her birthday. All the while they were eating dinner, she just kept thinking about this box, because it was a big box, and she wanted to know what was inside. She could hardly eat. The waiting to open the gift was killing her, but her boyfriend told her to open the gift after dinner. All she could think about was what was in the box.
Finally dinner was over. “Can I open the box now?”
“Yeah, you can open the box.”
She opened the box and pulled out a pillow. “Oh, wow, I mean, this is a nice pillow … but it’s a pillow.”
She turned the pillow over, thinking that something was taped to the backside. There was nothing.
“Well, thank you.” It was obvious she was disappointed that she got a pillow.
Her boyfriend got up, took the pillow from her, and laid the pillow on the floor. He got down on one knee, took her by the hand, and said, “Will you marry me?”
She forgot about the pillow. The one who gave her the pillow now became a lot more important.1
Don’t you want God’s favor? That’s the definition of blessing. God’s blessing is His acceptance, approval, and help than brings happiness. God is the only one who can provide happiness in your life. He is the only One who can truly provide help when you need it. This is all part of God’s blessing. Like the pillow in the story, we have to trust the Giver more than the gift. During this month, we are going to look at God’s blessing. We will see how faith, giving, conflict, and prayer in the life of Abraham were all tied to the happiness that God gave Him. Today, we want to look at the role of faith (or trust) and God’s blessing. When we look at this passage, there is a question that pops up. It is a human question, but it is contrary to God’s blessing.
Our first question is to ask HOW. How is God going to get Abraham to the country? How will He make Abraham a great nation? How will God make Abraham’s name great? How will God make Abraham a blessing?
Many times we want to ask how. But that is often not how God works. God teaches us through faith. When we want to learn from God, it is through faith.
“Look, his ego is inflated; he is without integrity. But the righteous one will live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4, HCSB)
So when a person accepts Jesus, the have to learn to follow God in faith. Yet, many times, when we look at our situation, our challenge, our difficulties, we often ask HOW. We want to know now how will God make the impossible possible. How will He bring things to pass. Yet when you look at what the Bible says, and specifically at the example of Abraham – who did live by faith – you see a process. You find that rarely did God answer the question HOW at first. As a matter of fact, God is answering other questions as we follow Him.
The reason God does not answer the HOW question is because He wants us to trust Him.
PROCESS OF FAITH2
1. God will first tell you the WHAT (12:1-2)
The WHAT is an issue of REPUTATION.
“The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:1–2, HCSB)
God is going to do something or some things in the life of His child. What God does, will change with other people think about you. God is going to build His name through your name. That makes life special.
2. God will then tell you the WHERE (12:1, 7)
The WHERE is an issue of POSSESSION.
“To a land that I will show you”
“Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your offspring.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.” (Genesis 12:7, HCSB)
Abraham is still asking how. After God shows Abram in Genesis 15 that God will give him an inheritance, Abram asks for confirmation. God gives Abram a vision.
“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “I give this land to your offspring, from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates River: the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”” (Genesis 15:18–21, HCSB)
God never denies that the land belonged to someone else. But God claimed the land for His people Israel. God never denied that the land belonged to Ham’s descendants through Canaan’s family.
God told Abram that He would give Ham’s descendants’ inheritance to Abram as his inheritance. Why did God decide to give the land to Abram through Shem and not Ham? Because Ham – the father of Canaan – looked upon the nakedness of his father. “So what?” you may say. Ham was engaging in pornography and starting to place his faith in what he thought was right instead of God and His promises. (By the way, Ham was not cursed because he was black. Canaan was cursed because his parents – specifically his father was not living a life that God expected.) God calls Christians to a higher standard. God wants to give His best to us, but we got to quit looking somewhere else for what we think is best. We have to quit thinking that what society says is best for us is true. It ain’t true. As a matter of fact, what society says about you most of the time hurts you. You think its good, but it is not nearly as good as what God has for you. But for God to do the impossible best for you, you have to look to Him, and not something or someone else.
Promises are made in relationships and locations. People make promises. Here, God made a promise to Abram. The promise was simple. The land which Abram is on would later belong to his children. This promise is based on a previous promise in Genesis 12:1-3. There, God said to go to a land He would Abram. God would make Abram into a great name and bless him. Now that promise has a place. The promise has a location from which the previous promise could take place.
When God makes promises, He makes them to certain people in certain places. There is a time and space to His work. We also learn more about God when these promises are made. Because these promises are made, a relationship develops between the receiver and the giver. God gives promises. We learn about Him when these promise come true.
This is why Abram worshiped God when God spoke a second promise. God had fulfilled the first promise in Genesis 12:1. God had shown Abram the location. So Abram believes that God will fulfill the second promise. That is why Abram calls on the name of God as Yahweh. Yahweh is the personal name of God. Because promises are made by people in places.3
God continually calls Christians to pay attention to Him. God wants us to seek Him and what God wants for our lives. When we do, when we trust Him in faith, then God does more than we can possibly imagine. God sets the vision for His children. He tells them, you will possess something great. God makes a promise about the where, about the ENTIRE where. God sets the boundaries of his vision for Abram.
3. God tells you the WHEN (Genesis 17:1)
The WHEN is an issue of PREPARATION
“When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, “I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1, HCSB)
When God gets ready to do the HOW, He expects you to get yourself ready. That is why the WHEN comes before the HOW. God expects you to have a level of spiritual maturity to handle what God is going to give you. God wants to give you a blessing, a possession, but you have to be mature to handle it. One of the reasons why some of us don’t have it is because we are not spiritually prepared for it. It is like when a son wants to drive a nice new car, but the son is 8 years old. He can’t handle the car until he can handle the bicycle. He can watch and learn, but he certainly can’t drive. Of course he could drive, but not safely. He can’t even see over the hood to safely drive the car. So he has to grow some more physically and emotionally to handle the task. The same is true with what God gives His children. But God says: “walk before Me and be blameless.” He says: Mature yourself. Get yourself ready. I am going to do something and I need you ready for it.
What is that something? God gives more detail about the blessing.
Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, (WHAT)and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. (Genesis 17:19 NKJV)But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” (Genesis 17:21 NKJV)
God says that Sarah will get pregnant. But never says HOW Sarah will get pregnant. This is still the WHAT and WHERE of the faith journey. But God does say WHEN – next year.
Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time (WHEN) I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. (WHAT)” (Genesis 18:14 NKJV)
Abraham sees that the way God is going to help Abraham fulfill the promise is through the son Isaac. God has shown Abraham the way that God will give what He promised.
4. Then God tells you the HOW (Genesis 21:1-3)
The HOW is an issue of EXPECTATION
“The Lord came to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time God had told him. Abraham named his son who was born to him—the one Sarah bore to him—Isaac.” (Genesis 21:1–3, HCSB)
The way God was going to make Abraham a great nation was through the birth of a son. Not the son that was born because Abraham got impatient (Ishmael). Abraham went and tried to do the HOW before God showed him the HOW. God said HOW. But He never showed HOW.
What seemed like a biological impossibility became possible for Abraham. Abraham had to trust God even when it did not make normal sense. 99-year old women do not have children. This just does not happen. But God made it possible.
And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. (Genesis 21:1 NKJV)
The Bible never says HOW Sarah was able to conceive. We might just think it was God changing Sarah so that she could have children. The Bible never tells you completely how. But God said how. He said He would visit Sarah and that Sarah would have a son.
We live in a rational, scientific world, where all things are expected to be calculated, explained, and solved. We like to approach problems with solutions – solutions that are have a logical, rational, explanation. God can live in this rational world. But He is not defined by our rational world. When God says that Sarah will have a son, it may not take a logical, rational form or conclusion. God can make Sarah pregnant, and it may be unexplainable. This is important to know. It is important because when God says something will happen (WHAT), and He shows us the place and time (WHERE and WHEN), then He already has a plan for the HOW. We don’t have to worry about the HOW. Especially when it comes to things that seem so impossible, so big, so – more than what we can do alone – so God-sized. When it comes to things like that, all we can do is live by faith. You are going to have to let God visit you for Him to share with you how He is going to accomplish something in your life.
5. You learn to see the WHY (Genesis 12:2,7-9)
The WHY is an issue of PERCEPTION
But at each step of the way, God will continue to reveal Himself to you as you take you journey. The only reason why God did it was to bless Abraham. This is the only WHY we hear, see, and read throughout the entire journey.
God wants to bless Abram. So Abram worships God in return.
“I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2, HCSB)
“Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your offspring.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. He built an altar to Yahweh there, and he called on the name of Yahweh. Then Abram journeyed by stages to the Negev.” (Genesis 12:7–9, HCSB)
This pattern of God wanting to bless Abram and Abram’s response repeats itself throughout Abram’s life. God will bless Abram with descendants. All Abram has to do is have faith that God will do what He says.
“He took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then He said to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous.” Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:5–6, HCSB)
God wants to bless Abram. He makes a promise about that blessing.
“I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell facedown and God spoke with him:” (Genesis 17:2–3, HCSB)
God wants to bless Abraham. He blesses Sarah with a son. So Abraham obeys.
“The Lord came to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time God had told him. Abraham named his son who was born to him—the one Sarah bore to him—Isaac. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded him.” (Genesis 21:1–4, HCSB)
God wants to bless you. The blessings for you may be different than it is for anyone else. The blessings for Abraham was different than for David or Jeremiah or Isaiah or Daniel. Like Abraham, you may not see the purpose of those blessings for quite some time. The only requirement is to follow God in faith. Trust in God unlocks the blessings. I’m not talking about being wealthy. I’m talking about being used by God. Whether it is through your children or grandchildren, through your place at work, through your activity or opportunities that God gives you, He wants to bless you.
But in order for God to bless you, you are going to have to follow Him. You are going to have to trust Him.
One of the reasons that we don’t recognize the goodness of God is that we confuse the means of delivery with the source. Many times we think that unless a blessing falls miraculously from heaven into our laps that it didn’t come from God. We mix up medium and source.
When we listen to the radio, we can do so only because the radio is a method of delivery. There are no drums in the radio. No horns and no guitars reside inside the equipment. The radio is only a conduit—a point of contact. Even when your radio stops working, there’s music in the air. All the radio does is receive a signal that comes from another source and deliver it to you. If you lose sight of that fact, you’ll give the radio more credit than a radio ought to have. If you place too much weight on the medium, you’ll forget the source.4
You have to say: God knows better than me in this situation, now I need to listen to Him. When He shows you what to do, then you need to obey. You need to respond to God’s leadership and blessings. When you trust God in faith, your life will never be the same. Your journey will never end. God will do more in your life when you stay with Him. Start your journey today. Don’t walk this life alone. Ask God to take you on a trip and then follow what He wants to show you.
1 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 27.
2 Jim Erwin, “Genesis 12:1-3 When You Take a Trip with God in Faith – Making the Impossible a Reality Part 3,” sermon, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2007/01/04/genesis-121-3-when-you-take-a-trip-with-god-in-faith-making-the-impossible-a-reality-part-3/, 4 January 2007, accessed on 5 August 2016.
3 Jim Erwin, “Promises Are Made in Relationships and Locations,” Simple Thoughts 2016, Logos Bible Software Note, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2016/01/06/promises-are-made-in-relationships-and-locations/, 6 January 2016, accessed on 5 August 2016.
4 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 26–27.