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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Abraham: Fact-Checking Your Future

Skip Heitzig - Abraham: Fact-Checking Your Future

Skip Heitzig - Abraham, Fact-Checking Your Future
Skip Heitzig - Abraham, Fact-Checking Your Future
TOPICS: Fact-Check, Abraham, Salvation

Well, for some people, age is a limitation. And the older a person gets, the more limited they become. And that is why there is something called a retirement age. Sometimes it's mandated. Federal employees, they have certain mandated ages for different jobs. If you're in federal law enforcement, like the FBI, i was astonished when I was an FBI chaplain, and they said that the mandatory retirement age for FBI is 57 years old. And I just thought, boy, a guy gets to his prime where he has learned so much and amassed so much working knowledge and then to be kind of pushed aside and forced into retirement. But they want them at optimal physical capacity. So there's a 57-year-old mandated retirement for federal law enforcement.

Now for some people, they're just getting started at 57 or 60 or 70 or 80 years of age. Get this. Golda Meir became prime minister of Israel at age 71. That's when she started her leadership stint. Ronald Reagan retired from his second term in office when he was 77 years old. Benjamin Franklin became a framer of the Constitution of the United States at age 81. George Bernard Shaw had his first work published when he was 94 years old. Then you think in the Bible. Moses, 80 years old when God called him. Caleb, 85, and he said, give me this mountain. Love that text. It's like, give me a whole new assignment of faith. I'm ready to face the enemies once again.

Well, with that as a background we come to somebody else in this hall of faith in Hebrews 11, and that is a guy by the name of Abraham. "Father Abraham Had Many Sons," do you know that song? I won't make you sing it. So Father Abraham was 75 years old when God got a hold of him, told him to leave his pagan environment and go to a new land. That's when it all started for him, age 75. But he would be 100 years old when he had his first born child through Sarah, his wife, a son by the name of Isaac.

Now let's just have a little quick review of what we have learned so far in Hebrews. 11 we've looked at Abel. We've looked at Enoch. We've looked at Noah. Abel was an example of worshipping faith. Enoch was an example of walking by faith. Noah was an example of working, let's call it working off faith because he did what God told him to do. He obeyed instructions. Abraham, let's call him a prime example of a wandering by faith. God told him to leave without any further detailed instructions just to get up and go. And he was willing to go by faith. So he is next on the radar screen in Hebrews Chapter 11.

Now I do want to paint a little bit of the background before we jump into these verses. And there are more versus what we're going to cover. So we're going to go swiftly through his life, which is written about in a lot of places in the Scripture. But the writer of Hebrews is trying to make a very important mega point here. And that is he is showing that salvation by faith is always how God has been approached. It's not like a new approach. It's not like a New Testament only approach. It's not like there were works in the Old Testament, a person was saved by doing things and ceremonies, and then God changed his mind and now it's just salvation by faith.

The writer of Hebrews is saying, God has never changed. It has always been by grace through faith even in the Old Testament. And why is he doing that? Because he's trying to show that this New Testament covenant, this new covenant through Christ is not some aberrant, antinomian, against the law theology. It is the way Abel approached God, by faith. It's the way Enoch approached God, by faith. It's the way Noah approached God, by faith. Remember he's writing to Hebrews. And the Hebrews that he is writing to, the Jewish audience at that time did not have the pure form of Judaism as God intended it to be. It was, by that time, the New Testament, a perverted, legalistic, works-induced form of religion. They believed that by their works or by their circumcision or by their genealogical records, they would be saved.

So the writer of Hebrews is really underscoring this salvation by faith. When we look at the flow of history, we understand that God created Adam and Eve, and they had kids. And you know the story. God made himself available to mankind generally at that time. To the human race, he made himself available. He was available to the world. But by the time of Noah, only eight people believed him enough to get into a box. Everybody else was destroyed from off the face of the Earth. So though God revealed himself generally in creation, made himself available to all upon the Earth, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He believed God. He walked by faith. And he and his family was saved.

And then the flood came. And then after the flood, God still made himself available to people on the Earth as they repopulated, as they expanded on the Earth, as they spread out and multiplied once again. But something monumental happened to change it all. It was called the Tower of Babel. They once again decided to rebel against God, be free of God's revelation, and make their own way to God, their own religious approach. So they created a tower, a ziggurat. I'll explain what that is in a minute. Because where Abraham lived, the place was full of them. So they tried to approach God that way. God confounded their language. So now people cannot communicate to one another. It's very confusing. It's very difficult because of the language barrier, cultural barriers also.

So the revelation of God became stifled, became slowed at that point after the Tower of Babel. So God begins to isolate a family, a person, gets a hold of a guy by the name of Abraham who becomes the central figure, at that time, in redemptive history. Now he's going to follow a genealogy through the scripture, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, 12 tribes, all the way down to the tribe of Judah and Jesus Christ. So Abraham becomes the central figure in redemptive history. And he becomes the Father of the Jewish nation. "Father Abraham Had Many Sons." OK? So he becomes the Father of the Jewish nation, what Jewish tour guides call Grandpa Abraham. That's how they refer to him in Israel. They talk about grandpa. Like we're related all the way back to Abraham.

So the Jewish nation then became, for a number of years, the central repository of divine revelation. All that God was doing, he did through the Jewish nation. The Jews became the evangel. That's what God intended them to be, the evangel, the light, the ones who would open up the darkened eyes of the Gentiles around the world. God said that throughout the Old Testament. They failed to do it, but that was God's intention. So Paul picks us up in Romans Chapter 9 Verse 4 and 5. He speaks about the Israelites to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, the promises of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came who is overall the eternally blessed God. Amen.

So to shorten it up, Abraham begins the long lineage and journey to the cross. It begins with Abraham. 14 chapters of the book of Genesis are devoted to this one man, Abraham. Right in the middle of the book of Genesis, the central swath of Genesis is devoted to Abraham. And great sections of the New Testament are devoted to Abraham. One chapter in the book of Romans is about Abraham. Two chapters in the book of Galatians are about Abraham. He is called the Father of them who believe. So he becomes the progenitor of faithful living. He is called three times in the Bible the friend of God, very unique title, only given to him, the friend of God. To this day, Arabs will refer to Abraham as Al Halil. Halil is Arabic for friend. Al is God. So the friend of God. That's how he is affectionately referred to in many Arab places.

So what I want to do, in the section we're going to look at, it's an expansive section. It's a little bit longer section. There are 12 versus altogether, eight of which specifically deal with Abraham. And then others more generically deal with people of faith. But what I'm going to do is quickly, and we're going to have to kind of move rapidly. And this really deserves weeks, if not months, if you know me. But we're going to go through it in one fell swoop. So I'm going to give you five faith facts about Abraham.

Number one, he lived as a pilgrim. He lived as a pilgrim. Hebrews Chapter 11 Verse 8, by faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place where he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out not knowing where he was going. That's a pilgrim. That's a wanderer. That's a Bedouin in a modern sense. If you go to Israel, you've seen the Bedouins. They're just wandering from place to place with their animals, so they can have a bit of drink and something to eat. Abraham was, many of you know, from a place called UR. U-R, that's how you spell his city. Ur of the Chaldeans. Ur in Chaldea. Today, it would be located in southern Iraq.

And the spade of the archeologists has found that UR was not some little podunk outpost. It was a central vantage point of civilization at the time. It was the capital city of Sumer, S-U-M-E-R. It had a population of around 300,000 at the time of Abraham. It had an advanced civilization. Advanced musical instruments were found. They specialize in the study of math and astronomy. They had a university and a large ancient library. But it was pagan. And specifically, it was polytheistic. You know what polytheism is, many gods, the worship of many gods. But the main God they worshipped, interestingly, the patron God of the city was the moon God by the name of Sin, S-I-N. I mean, that's how we would transliterate it into our language. So they worshipped Sin, the moon God.

Now what's fascinating, I don't have time to really chase it down. But many scholars believe that the moon God worshipped in Ur of the Chaldeans was where the Arab cultures later on worshipped the moon God called Allah before Muhammad came along and said there should be one, not many gods, but one. But that deserves a study all to its own. Don't have enough time to chase it down. So what I do want to do is give you a few verses out of that large swath that is found in Genesis that deals with Abraham. In Chapter 12, I'm going to read just three verses. It says this. Now the Lord had said to Abraham, get out of your country. This is where he begins the pilgrimage.

Get out of your country, from your family, and from your father's house to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you. I will curse him who curses you. And in you, all the families of the Earth will be blessed. This is God's first words to Abraham. It's not like, his introduction isn't like, hi, Abraham. I'm God. Nice to meet you. His first words to him are get out. Like our tour guide Steve in Israel, I love you. Get out. So God says to him, get out. Didn't even tell him where to go.

We hate the life of faith because it's one step at a time. Sometimes God just says, get up and go. Well, where? I'm not telling you where. Just go. Now I don't like that. I would much rather God give me two or three. Or better that, just download the entire itinerary of my life because then I don't have to live by faith. I can live by sight. But God gives him one step. Now God gave to Stephen two steps in the New Testament. He said, get up and leave this area of Samaria and go to Gaza, which is the desert. Didn't give him step three, which is you're going to meet an Ethiopian eunuch. He gave him just two steps, leave here and go there.

But here, Abraham didn't even get that. He just get up and go to the land I will show you. God says, you're to leave your country. You're to leave your family. You are to leave your father's house. Your country, your family, your father's house, all those things are influences that mold a person's life. Now he didn't know where he was going, as I mentioned. He says, just go to the land I will show you, not I am showing you. I will, future tense. I'll give you a step two later on after you do step one. So imagine the moving van pulling up in front of Abraham's tent. And they load up all the belongings. Mrs. Abraham Sarah tells everything where to go. And then the guy driving the moving truck, I guess pulled by camels, says, where are we going? Where do we drive? And he goes, I don't know.

You don't know? I mean I'm here moving your stuff, and you don't know where to go? No. Well, how will we know when we get there if you don't know where we're going? And of course, the answer would be, I can't tell you that either. But I believe God will tell me when it's time to stop. That's how he was told to begin his life. Now God tells us to do the same. God tells every believer to make a clean break from your past, from those things that molded and influenced your life and start over. Jesus said, if anyone come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. And to the extent that we leave our old life determines how much we enjoy our new life.

You enjoy your new life to the extent that you leave your old one. If you don't leave much of your old one, you're not going to really enjoy your new one. If you really leave the old one, you'll really have more space and time to enjoy the new one. When I came back home from San Jose, California, where I received Christ watching a Billy Graham crusade on television, I went back down to southern California. I told my mom and dad and brothers that I had come to Christ. They were not excited. They tried to pull me back into their religious system. All my old friends tried to pull me back into their party scene system.

And I had all of those factors in my life trying to pull me back. And I remember the battle I was facing. And it was a summer afternoon end of July, probably beginning of August. And I was reading this. This was my Bible back then. It's a little New Testament here called The Good News for Modern Man. It really is today's English version of the New Testament. But this was my first Bible. And the reason it was is because I could understand it. A regular Bible was just like, I don't know what they're saying. So I'm reading through the first book. I'm reading through the Gospel of Matthew.

And in Matthew Chapter 5, what happens in Matthew Chapter 5? Any pastor or scholar? Sermon on the mount. Sermon on the mount happens. So Jesus teaches the crowd on the Sermon on the Mount. And he gives the Beatitudes. Here translated, happy are those who know they're spiritually poor. The kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. So I thought, yeah, OK, good. I get that. I'm reading. I keep reading. Happy are those who mourn, for God will comfort them. Didn't quite understand what that meant. Happy are the meek. They will receive what God has promised. I think I understood that one. So I'm going for the ride. Then this verse hit me. Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires. God will satisfy them fully.

I remember reading this. And I put this down, and I thought, OK. I haven't been doing that. But now I am. Now, Lord, I am all in. I'm in it to win it. I'm all yours. I'm going to follow you wherever you lead me. That, for me, was my Abraham pilgrim moment, where I finally let go and I said, my aim will be to please Him. So fact check, not knowing where you're going is better than going in the wrong direction. Going where you have no clue where it's going to be is a whole lot better than going in the wrong, so if you're going in this direction and it's the wrong direction, and you know where it is, it'd be better to not know where you're going but go any direction but the wrong direction. So not knowing where you're going is better than going in the wrong direction. I did not know where my life would lead me. But I surrendered fully to the Lord's call on my life at that time. And I found out that God knows a whole lot better than I do.

So God called Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldeans. He migrated up the Euphrates River to a place called Haran, H-A-R-A-N, before he finally made it into what we call the promised land, the land of Israel. So number one, faith fact number one, he lived as a pilgrim. Faith fact number two, he lived by a promise. Not only did he live as a pilgrim, but the only thing he had to live by was a promise that God revealed to him. Verse 9 of Hebrews 11, by faith, he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. God made promises to Abraham about his family, about children that he would have, of what God would do with him and through him, about a land that would be his and his descendants forever.

Joseph Parker, who was a great preacher, a contemporary of Charles Spurgeon, said, great lives are trained by great promises. You want to hear some great promises? Here they are. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you. And I will curse him who curses you. Notice God doesn't say, Abraham, you will be awesome. You will be cool. You will be influential. You will do great things. He says let me tell you, Abraham, what I'm going to do for you. Here's the promise I am making to you.

Essentially, he promises what he'll do for him. I'll make you a great nation. What he'll do in him, I'll bless you. And what God will do through him, in you, all the nations of the world, of the Earth, will be blessed. Now what is Abraham doing as God is telling them all this? Is he in the background working it out, how he is going to work hard for God with his new plan and new vision to reach his community for God? No. All he's doing is listening. He's taking notes. He's going, OK. You're making the promises. Not me. He's not doing anything. Now why am I hammering this? Because too often, we make the emphasis about what we should do for God. When really, the Bible makes the emphasis about what God does for us. You couldn't do anything for God unless God did something for you.

I remember as a kid, I was six years old, and I remember the president of the United States on television, 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. That's how old I am, Tam. That's really old. So on his inauguration day, he stood up on that plaza in Washington D.C. And his probably most famous speech, he said, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country, and immortalized kind of his whole platform.

Too many Christians say, it's not what God can do for you. It's what you should be doing for God. The Bible says, we love Him because He first loved us. You couldn't even love God unless God loved you. You certainly couldn't work for God unless He energized you and gave you the ability to do so and makes it happen by His work. This is God's work that God has called him to do. So he's a pilgrim. But he's living by a promise. So here's that promise once again. Genesis Chapter 12 Verse 2, I will make you a great nation. Stop right there. How many children does Abraham have when God makes him this promise? Zilch. Zip. Nada. Zero.

Now it sort of sounds like God has a sense of humor. I'm telling a guy who has no kids, whose wife is barren, can't have children, not, you're just going to have a son. I'm going to make you a great nation. How's that going to work out? How are you going to pull that off? Today, though, guess how many right now we figure are direct descendants of Abraham? 380 million people on Earth. If you add up all the Jewish population on Earth and the Arab population on Earth, you have an easy conservative 300, 400 million plus perhaps. Now if you add mixed marriages of different cultures, you have far more descendants of Abraham. I'm going to make you a great nation he says to this childless man.

Back in Hebrews Chapter 11, our text, go down and look at Verse 13. Now he's speaking generally, including Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and all people of faith. It says, these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the Earth.

Get this. Abraham never really owned land in the promised land. He was promised land. But he never really owned land. It was in sight but not really in his hand. He lived in it. He died in it. But there was only one place that was his, and that was a place he purchased with money, a plot of ground to bury his wife Sarah. Down in Hebron, the caves of Machpelah. It became the family burial plot for Abraham, Sarah, and the patriarchs. You can visit that place today, the cave of Machpelah in Hebron. But that's really the only place that was his.

Now I want you to think about your life. You might say, well, I own my own home. Do you? So you might live there for 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, 60 years. But the only permanent plot of land you'll really ever reside in for a long period of time is a six foot hole in the ground. So it behooves us to have a light touch, right, to live as pilgrims like Abraham. Now God called him. God made promises to him. Those promises weren't completely fulfilled. Many of them were but certainly not the land promised to Abraham in his lifetime. But the promises that he would become a nation.

Now most people read this and they think automatically, well, this doesn't apply to me because I'm never going to become a nation. Abraham did become a nation. But I'll never become a nation. What is a nation? A nation is simply the expansion of one person. A person gets married. A person becomes a family unit. The family unit grows. And so a nation is simply the expanse of one person.

Ray Stedman put it this way. In the Bible, every nation begins with a man. And then there is a family. And as the family grows and expands, there is finally a nation. Every nation is but the continued expanded life of a single man. So here's the fact check for your faith. Even the little things you do in life can have great influence. The little steps of faith you take that expand your influence in people's life make a huge difference.

OK, faith fact number three. He lived by his patience. What do I mean by this? Well, God made him a promise, but years went by. Now he's already old when God made him a promise. He's 75. And God said, I'm going to make you a great nation. He's 75. He won't have a kid, well, he'll have Ishmael. I'll get to that. But he won't have his son Isaac until he's 100 years old. Well, this requires patience because I don't know how long you've been waiting for what you think are God's promises to you, but 25 years he waited.

Now in Verse 11, we meet his better half. I guess that could be debated. We meet Mrs. Abraham. We meet Sarah. Verse 11, by faith, Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore, from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

Abraham and Sarah had, I suppose, a normal life, maybe a three bedroom tent, a two camel garage, right? They had each other. But they'd had no child. And even though God said, I'm going to make a nation out of you. I'm going to bless you. And you all the nations of the Earth will be blessed. Great. But time passed, and he's not getting the younger. In fact, he's getting quite a bit older. And one night, God says to him, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward. And this is wonderful. But you can just almost feel Abraham's resistance because he's been patient and waiting so long.

He says, what will you give me, seeing that I am childless? And I have this guy named Eliezer, who's my heir, this dude from Damascus. But he's not like mine. What are you going to give me?

So when he says that, God says, Abe, step outside. Let's do some stargazing together. Check those stars out. Can you count them? I'm going to make your offspring more in number than the stars that you can count in the sky. And it says, after God told him that, another promise, says, Abraham believed God. And God accounted it to him as righteousness, just going, OK. I believe it. Amen. Sure. . Whatever He just made a statement of faith, and God said, OK, that's enough for me to account you as righteous.

Now in that conversation, Abraham is now 86 years old. From 75, 11 years pass, and he says, look at the stars. I'm going to make your descendants like the stars of Heaven. It has been 11 years since Abe gets the first promise that his wife Sarah is going to have a child. So month after month, year after year after year after year, same question. Are you pregnant yet? Nope. I can't get pregnant. And I'm a really old person. So the odds are not in my favor.

Now you know that Abraham is a name that means exalted father. That's what his name means, exalted father, which is an embarrassing name for a guy who can't have a kid. So the caravans come by. And they go, hey, how you doing? He goes, great. And the caravan leader says, what's your name? He goes, exalted father. And so the caravan leader would say, oh, great. Well, how many do you have? How many children do you have? He goes, well, I don't have any. He's a laughing stock.

By the time Abraham gets to be 99 years of age, still no kid, God changes his name from exalted father, Abram, to Abraham, which is father of a multitude. And I can see Abraham going, please, no, Lord. Don't make me wear that name. But remember Abraham believed God. And there is no indication that he balked at that. So he took the name father of a multitude because he believed God. OK, now here we have Sarah's faith in what we just read highlighted in Hebrews 11. When we read, however, the text back in Genesis, it seems to read a little bit differently. We're not struck by her faith, right? Because in chapter 17 of Genesis, she basically says, Abe, look. I'm old. You're old. This ain't going to work.

I have a handmade named Hagar. I think what God meant by that promise, we can't really take the Bible literally. So I think what God really meant is that you can just go in and have relations with Hagar. And they'll have a baby. And that baby will be, let's call that the promise of God, OK? It's a spiritualized promise. So there's not an indication of faith. Ishmael is born. And there's a lot of lessons that could be learned with Ishmael. We think we may know what's best and order God to do it our way. We don't really know the full scoop. So don't ever do that.

I love the story about a girl who went to a computer dating service, and she knew exactly what she wanted in a suitor and a husband. And she was very specific on the computer. She wanted somebody who was short because she herself was a wee little lass. So she said, I want somebody who is short, somebody who prefers formal wear, and somebody who loves water sports. So the computer sent her a penguin, short, formal attire, loves water sports. OK.

Here's the point. Even when we order up a penguin in life, an Ishmael, God is still faithful. So they go ahead and have a child named Ishmael. Chapter 18 of Genesis, God comes to Abraham again and says, Sarah is going to have a baby. And Abraham goes, oh, Lord, this is getting so old.

Let Ishmael live before you. Oh, that Ishmael might live before you. Just fulfill your promise through him. We went through this rigmarole to have him. He's here. Use him. And God says, nope. I'll bless Ishmael. I'll make him a great nation. But your wife Sarah is going to have a natural born child.

Now when Sarah heard that promise because it says the Lord and these angels appeared at the tent, and they're eating a meal and made this promise, it says that Sarah laughed within herself. So she just went that's funny because there ain't no way I'm having a baby. And then the Lord said, hey, Abraham, why did Sarah laugh? And she goes, I didn't laugh. The Lord says, yeah, you did. I heard it. I know it.

So she laughed. That was not a laughter of faith. It was not a laughter of joy. It was a laughter of I don't believe it. Yet, in remarks here about her faith. Yet, before the year ended, she was pregnant, delivered a child, and named the child laughter. Isaac means laughter. And she said, the Lord's made us laugh.

And now this second laughter different than the first laughter. The first laughter was a laughter of unbelief. The second was just a laughter of sheer joy. God did it. God did it. God turned a retirement home into a maternity ward. And it's just so weird, all they could do is laugh with joy.

Here's what I love. Hebrews 11 doesn't mention her unbelief, doesn't mention her laugh of mockery, mentions only her faith, which must have been right at the end as she grew in her pregnancy and delivered her child. So Hebrews 11 makes no mention of her initial doubt, only her eventual faith. Why? Well, there's a principle in 1st Corinthians 13. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Here is God not even acknowledging the bad part of her testimony and just includes the good part because He is the God of second chances.

Now through all of this, 25 years, Abraham was patient. Verse 12, notice it again. Therefore, from one man, and him as good as dead, he's 100 years old, were born as many as the stars in the sky in multitude, innumerable as the sand which is on the sea shore. Reproductively, his body was dead. Physiologically, Sarah was barren. But Abraham is not thinking of human frailty but of divine faithfulness.

Circumstances, I've said this on many occasions, I just want to resurface it. Circumstances don't make you. And they don't break you. They reveal you. When things get good or things get bad, the real you comes out.

And I think we could all say about COVID-19 with all the restrictions and all the stay at home and some of us have lost jobs and our faith is on the line, it really reveals who we are, loving or not loving, filled with faith or filled with doubt, really sweet or really grouchy. Whatever it is, circumstances simply reveal who we are. And we have, during this time, had to come face to face, not just with our kids and our wives and husbands and pets and projects at home, but us. We have to face us everyday. And hopefully, God is using this to get us here to be men and women of great patience, endurance as God is working these things out in us.

OK, let me give you faith fact number four. He lived for permanence. Abraham lived for permanence. Verse 10 tells us, for he waited for a city or for the city which has foundations. Remember he's wandering around in a tent. He's a pilgrim. For he waited for this city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Go down to Verse 14. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly, if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have oppor, excuse me, opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Abraham was a Bedouin. He wandered in tents while he was on the Earth. And though he was promised land, and he was in that promised land, he was waiting for the ultimate promised land. A heavenly country it is called in Verse 16.

And then in Verse 10, Heaven is compared to a city. I find this interesting. He waited for the city which has foundation. He came from a city of 300,000. He is wandering along the Euphrates River out in the wilderness, out in the open. But he's waiting, looking for the ultimate town, the ultimate city.

So the Bible here refers to Heaven as a country, refers to Heaven as a city. Most often, we're used to hearing Heaven described as a kingdom. In the book of Daniel, the words of Jesus, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Heaven, we think of Heaven as a kingdom. Here, it's referred to as a city.

Do you know in the book of Revelation at least part of Heaven is a big city, which isn't typically how most people would imagine heaven. It's like, a city? I don't want to go. Like right now, COVID, you don't want to be a New York City. You want to be in Colorado or New Mexico with wide open spaces, right? You want to be as socially distanced as you can. The idea of coming to a city with tons of people, it doesn't sound like Heaven to us. We think Maui, not New York, right?

But Revelation talks about the New Jerusalem. And that is a city that is 1,500 miles cubed. So 1,500 miles, the distance, 1,500 miles, if you went from Albuquerque to Spokane, Washington, that is 1,500 miles. Or from Maine to Florida, that's 1,500 miles.

So if you took that and made a cube, 1,500 miles cubed, that's how big the New Jerusalem is. It comes out of Heaven toward the Earth, not this Earth, but a new Heaven and a new Earth. But part of our environment in the future will be a heavenly city called the New Jerusalem that we will enjoy.

Why is the city important? City is a place of fellowship and proximity. There'll be nothing that separates us in Heaven. That's the idea, at least, of the motif of the city, I believe. Also, a city is secure. Keep in mind, 2,000 years ago, people weren't dreaming of ranches in Montana or Colorado or New Mexico. They were dreaming of living in a city with walls because it protected them. It kept them safe from intruders.

So the idea of a city for ancients was it was a place of fellowship. It was a place of security. And it was a place of wealth, of storage. You store things in cities. There's resources. There's amenities in cities.

So we are, he was looking for a city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Now there's a fact check here. When the people around you who are unbelievers are telling you, well, look, all there is is right now, right here, the Earth. This is all there is going to be. This is all that you can expect, period. That's fake news. There's a whole other real, really real world besides the real world that exists that we are awaiting. And that is the heavenly city, the heavenly country, the heavenly kingdom. And he lived for permanence.

And then fifth and finally, the fifth faith fact, boy, say that 10 times fast. The fifth faith fact for Abraham is that he lived in God's power. Abraham lived in God's power. Verse 17, by faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. Now we're taken forward at Genesis chapter 22 in this verse.

By faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promise offered up his only begotten son of whom it was said, in Isaac, your seed shall be called. Concluding that God was able to raise him up even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. Abraham, when he was tested, Genesis 22 Verse 1 opens up by saying, God tested Abraham.

He said, go to Moriah, go to the land, I'm going to show you this mountain, and offer your son Isaac as an offering, as a burnt offering. The word test in Hebrew means to prove the quality of something by adversity or suffering, to prove the quality of something by adversity. And God tests people. God does not tempt people.

Sometimes the Bible uses the word tempt. That's like the Old King Jimmy. Modern translations will correct it. God tests. He never tempts people. The devil tempts. God tests. There is a big difference. Satan will tempt you to bring out the worst in you. God will test you to bring out the best in you. That's his intention.

Now for us, it's not easy to tell the difference. How can you tell the difference, is this a test or a temptation? Can I give you some advice on that if you're wondering? I'm going through this hardship. I don't know if it's a temptation, or if it's a test.

It doesn't matter. In the end, it doesn't really matter. Because in that circumstance, I would say Satan is trying to trip you up, but God is trying to temper you. So God would even use the temptation as a test to make you stronger. So in the end, it doesn't matter. Joseph, when he was, you know what he went through. He said to his brothers, you meant it for evil. God meant it for good. Same circumstance. So you know what the test was. It was offering up his son. God touched the most sensitive nerve that God could touch in Abraham's life, kill Isaac.

Why was that the most sensitive? Because for one simple reason. Think of all that we've studied so far. All of God's promises to Abraham were wrapped up in the existence and the continuation of Isaac. He waited 25 years for Isaac. Isaac represented his progeny of faith. Isaac represented the inheritance in the land of promise. Not only that, Isaac represented future salvation, Messianic hope. In you, all the nations of the Earth will be blessed. That's a prophecy of the coming Messiah.

So when God says, hey, Abe, take your son that is the son of promise and go kill him, he's faced with a dilemma. He's faced with an ethical and spiritual dilemma. Because the promise of God, all the promises of God require that Isaac live. But the command of God requires that Isaac die. That's the dilemma. Am I dealing with a self-contradicting deity Here because He says, here's Isaac, the son of promise. I'm going to bless the world through Isaac. And now he says, go kill him.

So notice what it says in the text. We'll wrap this up. Verse 19, concluding, concluding that God was able, this is Abraham concluding, God was able to raise him up even from the dead, which he also received in a figurative sense. Now here's what's noteworthy about the original story. We're not going to turn to it but back in Genesis 22. When Abraham and Isaac and their servant come to the land of Moriah, Abraham takes Isaac and says to the servant, you stay here. The lad and I will go yonder and worship. And listen to what he says. And we will return to you. Not I will return to you. We're going to go and worship. And we will return to you.

Wait a minute. God said, leave him on an altar dead. But Abraham says, we will return to you. Why is that? Well, probably, the night before, he's not sleeping well. I'm thinking if you're going to kill your son the next day and you know it because God said it, you're not having a good night's sleep. It's very, very unnerving, unsettling. It's that dilemma. It's that dilemma you go through. Some time in the night, it clicked. I get it. I get it. So you see the word concluding in Verse 19? The Greek word is logizomai. Logizomai is where we get our word logic.

So I'm going to give you a bad translation because it's not even a word. He logicized it. He applied logic to this situation. And so he reasoned, came up with one of two conclusions, either, number one, God is erratic and can't be trusted, or, number two, God is faithful and sovereign and can be trusted. Which means that I'm going to go up there and plunge a knife into my son. And God's going to raise him from the dead in front of my eyes. And we're going to come back and see the servant that I said we'd come back to. We're going to go worship. And we will be back.

Sometime in the night, he concluded that God is going to raise his son from the dead because God said kill your son, but God said your son must live for all the promises I gave you to be fulfilled. There's only one conclusion, logically, I can come up with. God is going to miraculously raise my son to life in front of my eyes. So we'll be back. He lived in God's power. What did he believe? Verse 19, that God was able. Hang on to those words, brother and sister. God is able. What are you dealing with? God is able. What are you fearful of? God is able. What are you struggling over? God is able.

And another secret of Abraham, it said, stay here. The lad and I will go yonder and worship. Never forget to worship in the calamity, like Job did, like Abraham did, like you and I must. Pause on the ash heap and worship God. Are you discouraged as you're looking ahead? Are you unsatisfied because you wish businesses were at 50% or 75% or 100%, and they're not? And the economy is slow. And you might face a very uncertain future, even a dire future.

I'm certain I'm speaking to some who feel discouraged. God's plan cannot be thwarted. And God has all power at his disposal to take care of you. So this is another in the hallmark of faith, the hall of fame of faith. "Father Abraham Had Many Sons." Many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you if you live by faith because he is the father of all those who believe.

I'm going to lead us in a prayer of faith, prayer of trusting Him for the miraculous even in the midst of this crazy time we're in. But I'm also going to give you who are watching an opportunity to give your life to Christ because, truth is, some of you are shaken by this. And you should be shaken. I hope God gets your attention because this life is temporary. And all of us will only have for a longer period of time than our house, place we live in that hole in the ground. But you can have hope beyond that. You must have hope beyond that, or life is pretty hopeless.

Father, I pray for peace for your people. I pray you will strengthen the hands and the knees, the hands that hang down, the feeble knees, as the book of Hebrews describes the life of faith, getting up from the ground once again and becoming strong. And I pray for brothers and sisters who have been dealing with a number of struggles even before COVID hit. And now that has been amplified and exacerbated by this coronavirus. But, Lord, I pray that your children would find their peace in you, would find their hope in you, would be firm-footed, and clear thinking, and filled with faith not in themselves, but as they listen to the promises of a faithful God. It's not what we do. It's what you do for us and what you enable us to do through your help and your power in us. Because you live, we live also. Lord, I pray for those who don't know you. And I pray that they will commit to you.

And if you're watching here by television, or you're watching by your phone or your computer or whatever medium you're on, you're joining us in this live streaming, you can have peace with God right now. You can have your sins forgiven, your past taken away. And you can have a certain future. I want to lead you in a prayer. And I want you to pray this prayer with me. You can pray it after me. Pray it out loud, if you will. I think that's better because it sort of is a confirmation of what you are saying you believe in. So pray with me and say:

God, I give you my life. I'm a sinner. I admit that. I have fallen short. I admit that. I'm sorry for my sin. I believe in Jesus, your son, that he came from Heaven. He came to Earth and died on a cross, but he rose again. And he's alive right now. I turn from my sin. I repent of my past. I turn to Jesus as Savior. I want to follow him as Lord. I want your peace. I want your purpose. I need you. I'm yours. In Jesus' name, amen.

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