God the Father Working in Ages Past
Abraham: Jehovah will provide (JEHOVAH – JIREH)
- If you are unfamiliar with this account, I’ll give you a quick summary. Abraham was a man called by God to father a nation. This nation would be used to bless surrounding nations while serving God. They would be a people set apart for the plan of God. The problem was that Abraham didn’t have any kids, and he and his wife were getting old, like really old. God Abraham to follow Him, promising Abraham that not only would he would have a son, but his descendants would be as numerous as the stars.
- Well, flash forward many years, some estimates are 30 to years later, Abraham has his boy Isaac. Abraham is over 100 years old, Isaac is about 15. God decides to test Abraham. He asks Abraham to give his boy as a sacrifice. This is indeed a difficult test. The foreshadowing of a father giving up his son for the sake of others is sobering and shocking.
- Long story short, Abraham passes the test. No harm befalls Isaac. Abraham was willing to give up his son as an ultimate sign of faith and obedience. The book of Hebrews gives us some insight into Abraham’s faith and frame of mind.
“17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”
- Abraham was put into an impossible situation. His response in faith, was that God can do the impossible. God will somehow keep His promise. Abraham don’t know how. Yet he believed God could work the impossible to keep His promise to father a nation through Isaac.
- Abraham passes the test and has faith that God could even bring his son back from death! Abraham truly was a man of tremendous faith. But remember, Abraham went to mountain to offer a sacrifice. They didn’t bring a lamb or any other animal.
Genesis 22:13 – 14
“13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”;[b] as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”[c]”
- Here we see God providing for an impossible
situation. The LORD, Jehovah, provided. So, let’s ask our two questions.
- What truth is God revealing? There are many
things going on in this account.
- God creates an impossible situation, to showcase His power to provide the impossible solution.
- We see Abraham bringing a sacrifice to God. Yet, God provides a substitute sacrifice. There is another that will take the place of Isaac. Isaac will live because something died in his place.
- God introduces this impossible idea of a father giving up his son. This is such an outrageous part of the story! Maybe when you hear this story, you want to push back against God. I’ve got 2 kids. I can barely imagine something minor happening to them. Sacrificing my kid, even for something noble?! That is ridiculous!
- What is the human response?
- Abraham’s tremendous faith and trust in God. He believes God can work the impossible. Even without seeing how it could be done, Abraham considered God able to do the impossible. God would provide. God has provided the promised birth of Isaac. God provided an impossible solution to an impossible problem.
- Abraham passes this impossible test through faith, because of the work and provision of God.
- What truth is God revealing? There are many things going on in this account.
- Let’s look at our next account. Flip to Exodus chapter 3.
Moses: I AM Who I AM (JEHOVAH)
- God’s hand was on Moses’s life from the start. Moses was born at a time when the Hebrew people were enslaved by the Egyptian Empire. At the time of Moses’s birth, the Egyptian Pharaoh began to implement a genocidal program where every Hebrew baby boy would be killed. Long story short, God saved Moses’s life by some pretty miraculous circumstances. Moses, though born as a Hebrew slave, would be raised in the Egyptian court.
- Flash forward many years, Moses is an old man. He is working as a shepherd. One day, while out with the sheep, Moses encounters God. Moses sees a bush that is on fire. However, the bush is not consumed by the fire. Moses goes to investigate. As he approaches the fire, he hears to voice of God. God has a mission for Moses.
- God has seen the oppression that His people are facing. He has heard their cry for help. The nation that God had promised to Abraham, was now in great oppression under the hand of the Pharaoh. What is God’s solution? Moses, you will go before Pharaoh to bring freedom for the people of Israel. Moses will go before the people of Israel and declare that God has sent you. It is here that Moses asks a question. Who should I say sent me?
Exodus 3:13 – 15
“13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”[a] And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord,[b] the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”
- I AM who I AM. If you are thinking to yourself,
“I don’t get it”, you are not alone. God is revealing truth about himself to
Moses. When God identifies Himself as I AM, He is speaking to some fundamental
truths about Himself.
- God is self-existent. He is independent of anything else.
- He also states, that He is the same God of Abraham. Remember, the God who provides. The God who brings an impossible solution to an impossible problem.
- That is the same God who is speaking to Moses! This God who provides, is announcing His plan to rescue His people. And what was Moses’ s response?
“Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’””
- The LORD then shows Moses a set miracles as proof of God’s power and validation of Moses’s position as God’s chosen leader. In the midst of these miracles, Moses gets caught up in the fact that he is not a good speaker. Some suggest that Moses may have even had a speech impediment. We don’t know the details, but Moses is not ready.
- In response, the LORD promises the give Moses the words and to teach him what to say. Maybe you have heard the saying, God equips the called, not call the equipped. The LORD is certainly supplying Moses with what is needed for an incredible task. What is Moses response now? “Please send someone else”.
- The LORD’s anger is kindled, yet, the LORD meets Moses and provides. The LORD provides Moses’s brother, Aaron to speak for Moses. God would teach both of them what to say.
- So what about our 2 questions.
- What truth is God revealing?
- I AM who I AM, God is the self-existent one.
- We God’s great patient and provision in dealing with Moses.
- God sees the oppression of His people and acts to free them.
- God is working to free the Hebrew people so they would be free to follow and serve God. God would honor His Covenant to save His people.
- What is the human response?
- Fear. Moses was afraid. He didn’t see how he could carry out God’s calling. He didn’t see how people would believe that God had sent him. God meets Moses in his fear, and patiently provides for Moses, and His people.
- Next, let’s quickly look at another figure in the Old Testament. Turn to Psalm 23.
David: Jehovah is my shepherd (JEHOVAH Raah)
- If you know anything about David, he led an extraordinary life. He had some amazing highlights and some of the lowest lows you will find anywhere. He was the young shepherd who said, I’ll face Goliath, God has delivered me before and He will deliver me again. As a king, David displays a cunning mind for political and military leadership. David came to be adored by the people and hunted by his rivals.
- David has some of, if not the lowest lows recorded in scripture for a man of God. When all others go to war one year, David stays back, not doing His job. This time of leisure gives opportunity for adultery. In the cover up, David orders a murder. For months on end, David thinks he has gotten away with murder. The Lord rebukes and confronts David through Nathan. David confesses and repents.
- Through all the ups and downs, David is recorded to be a man after God’s own heart. This is the main thing that God was concerned over when Samuel went to anoint a new King.
1 Samuel 16:7
“7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.””
- Is LORD concerned about our outward behavior? Certainly. But God is just and gracious. He saw something in David that made him the top candidate. He wasn’t the tallest. He wasn’t what everyone else pictured as King. But God knew the heart of David.
- The previous King, Saul, looked the part, but did not have the heart. Saul all too often would go his own way. He wouldn’t wait on the LORD. He would take matters into His own hands. The LORD was looking for someone how would follow. Like a sheep and a shepherd.
Psalm 23:1 – 2
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
for his name’s sake.”
- In following God whole heartedly, David would lead a nation. Remember our 2 questions?
- What truth is God revealing?
- The LORD looks at the heart. He is looking for whole hearted followers.
- What is the human response?
- We see David follow like a sheep follows a shepherd.
Jesus’s Claim to be God
- So you may be wondering, what does all this have to do with Jesus? Wasn’t this series supposed to be about Jesus?
- Have you ever walked into the wrong classroom? I did one time. In the first week, I misread which classes were MWF, and which ones were TT. I was supposed to be in something like statistics but sat through a few minutes of history or something. I had to sneak out and figure out what day it was!
- You are not in the wrong class! We will finish our time tonight in the book of John. Let’s look at John 8:53
- Before we read, let’s set the scene. Jesus is in a heated discussion with the Jewish leaders. The discussion concerns, who are the true disciples of God. The Jewish leaders are arguing that their heritage of descending from Abraham makes them disciples of God. Jesus asserts that their heritage does make them disciples of God. But rather, the content of their s hearts and their actions, make them disciples of the devil and not God. Jesus points out that they do not abide in the truth.
- We will close tonight looking at the climax of the conversation. Let s read in John 8:53. The Jewish leaders are asking Jesus a question.
John 8:53 – 59
“53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’[c] 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”[d] 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”
- Did you catch it right there at the end? “Before Abraham was, I Am”. Jesus is revealing the truth of who He is. The truth that He is God. He is Jehovah. He is the God who provided for Abraham. He is the one who met with Moses. He is the one led David. Jesus boldly and clearly makes His claim of deity. Specifically, that He is Jehovah.
- Do you see their reaction? In their eyes, Jesus has just committed blasphemy. In their eyes, Jesus set himself up as a false god and was enticing others to sin by following Him. When the truth of God was revealed, they did not believe it. They sought to suppress the truth. As Jesus had pointed out earlier, violence was in their hearts and bubbled up to the surface. On many occasions they sought to kill Jesus. They picked up stones to throw at Him.
- What happens next is astonishing. As they are gathering stones to throw at Him and kill Him, Jesus hides himself and goes out of the temple. Some commentators will describe quite an incredible scene. While we don’t know the details, we know that the time for Jesus lay down is life had not yet come. When others tried to kill Jesus before His time, they failed. His life was not taken, but laid down.
What do you believe?
- What is your response to this truth? The truth that Jesus is God. Jesus is one with Jehovah. We have God the Father, Son, and Spirit. One essence with 3 persons. We tend to think of Jesus as a man. Or even a baby at Christmas time. He is fully God. He is the God who provides. He is the self-existent one. He is the good shepherd. He is working to free his people from sin.
- Jesus came to brings us Gospel, which means good news. If there is good news, there must also be bad news. We’ve spent much of tonight looking at what the Jesus has to say about himself. Jesus also has much to say about you and me.
- You don’t need to look far in this world to see the effects of sin. We live in a broken and fallen world. We are broken and fallen people. We all have done things we wish we could take back. We have all done something to hurt others. We all have been by hurt someone else. We all have sinned against God.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
- It is not only in action that we have sinned. Our hearts, the core of ourselves, is fallen.
Matthew 5:21 – 21
“21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[c] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[d] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[e] of fire.”
- Remember earlier how we talked about God looking at the heart? For us, it is not good.
- The bad news gets worse. Our sin has earned a consequence.
“23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Here is the worst part. Our sin has earned us physical and spiritual death. Separation from God.
- But! Through Jesus Christ, we can have eternal life! It is a free gift. It has to be a gift because we could not earn it ourselves. We couldn’t attain it on our own.
Romans 5:6 – 8
“6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- We earned a penalty of death. Jesus Christ stood in our place. He died in our place. He was condemned in our place, so we could be forgiven and free.
- It is no accident. God has chosen you for salvation.
Ephesians 1:4 – 5
“4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[b]for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,”
- For those who believe, the old ways of life are to pass away, and a new life takes its place. One that seeks to follow God.
2 Corinthians 5:17
“17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
- What is your response tonight? Will you believe and trust in Him?