Thursday, March 2, 2017

The call of God is the Lord’s saving action.

Genesis 12:1-4 “The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go 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.’ So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out.”
The Bible alone explains to us how in the perfect creation that God had made, man, employing his free will, defied God and fell, bringing sin and death into the world. Without the Scripture we wouldn’t know why men behave as abominably as they do. Then the Bible is eager to tell us how God himself acted to effect deliverance, to bring man back into a right relation with himself, a descendant of our first parents, the last Adam, is going to come and save us. Then the next decisive step in God’s work of in the salvation of the world was his choice of Abraham.
It is almost an understatement to call the passage before us a ‘pivotal’ passage. It’s been referred to – would you believe? – as ‘the single most important passage in all the Bible.’ Now that may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but everything else that follows Genesis 12 throughout the Old Testament, the coming of Christ, the establishment of the church, the spread of the kingdom of God all over the world, ourselves being here today, and finally the new heavens and the new earth – they all flow from this great divine promise to Abraham, Today I have to justify that statement to you, while making your heart burn within you.

We are told that God homed in on this one man, Abraham, an idolater living in a pagan culture. There is not the slightest hint in the passage that at this time Abraham was agonizing, seeking, praying and looking for God, but rather that the whole initiative in the call of Abraham was God’s. He came seeking and finding Abraham. From that moment on we find this is the pattern of God’s saving enterprise throughout the Bible. Moses is in the back side of the desert, a shepherd caring for his father-in-law’s sheep. He has been doing that work for forty years and suddenly one day he is confronted by a bush burning and not being consumed. He did not light that fire; God lit it, and from the midst of the fire God reveals himself to Moses, speaks to him, calls him and commissions him. That is the picture of the call of Abraham repeated. Once you see it then you notice it throughout the Bible. Samuel is a little boy lying in his bed in the temple and suddenly he hears the voice of God speaking to him, “Samuel, Samuel!” God meets with a teenage girl in Nazareth called Mary; “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you . . . you have found favour with God . . . you will be with child and give birth to a son . . . he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk. 1:28-31). Two brothers are casting their net into the lake and unannounced the Lord appears at their side and says to James and John, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” A man named Matthew was sitting at the tax-collector’s booth and the Lord came up to him and said, “Follow me.” Zachaeus the tax-collector was perched in a tree in Jericho when the Lord called him. Saul of Tarsus was on a road walking to Damascus when the Lord said to him, “Saul, Saul.” The call of God is the Lord’s saving action.

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