Genesis 088 – It Pays to Obey

Genesis 088 – It Pays to Obey
Genesis 22:15-19 • Dr. Andy Woods • August 7, 2022 • Genesis


Genesis 088

It Pays to Obey

Genesis 22:15-24

August 7, 2022

Dr. Andy Woods

            Take your Bibles and turn them to the Book of Genesis chapter 22. We’re looking this morning at verses 15 through 19, maybe if the Lord leads, even finishing the chapter. And you notice everybody started chuckling under their breath when I said that. The title of our message this morning is “It Pays to Obey.” It pays to obey, because after all, if eternal security is true and “once saved, always saved” is true, why obey God? I guess it doesn’t matter because I’m going to heaven anyway. No, as we’re going to see here from our passage, it pays for the blood-bought saint to, in their walk with God, continue to obey God. So, to help us understand that we’re looking very carefully, as we have been the last several months, at the life of Abraham in our verse-by-verse teaching through the Book of Genesis. And the reason that we’re focusing on Abraham is because Abraham is a strategic character that God is using to create a nation: the nation of Israel. In Isaiah 43:1 it says, “But now, thus says the Lord, your creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel” -Israel is the only nation that has ever existed in the history of mankind that was a special creation directly by God. God created the nation of Israel in the same way that He created the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1. And when you track those words, “Creator,” “formed,” there in Isaiah 43:1, you’ll see in Hebrew, those are the same words used in Genesis 1 to describe the creation of the heavens and the earth. And when God does a work in this regard, He selects a man; that man is Abraham.

Genesis 12‒21 Abraham’s Early Journeys

    1. Unconditional promises (Gen. 12:1-3)
    2. From Haran to Canaan (Gen. 12:4-5)
    3. In Canaan (Gen. 12:6-9)
    4. In Egypt (Gen. 12:10-20)
    5. Abram and Lot Separate (Gen. 13:1-13)
    6. Reaffirmation of Abram’s promises (Gen. 13:14-18)
    7. Abram Rescues Lot (14:1-24)
    8. Abrahamic Covenant (15:1-21)
    9. Hagar & Ishmael (16:1-6)
    10. Circumcision (Gen. 17:1-27)
    11. Sodom & Gomorrah (Gen. 18‒19)
    12. Abraham & Abimelech (Gen. 20)
    13. Isaac’s birth (Gen. 21:1-7)
    14. Ishmael’s expulsion (21:8-21)
    15. Abraham & Abimelech’s covenant (21:22-34)
    16. Abraham sacrifices Isaac (22)
    17. Sarah’s death (23)

And he becomes a pivotal character in the formation of Israel. And without Israel, we would not have the Savior, because Jesus was a Jew. He was Hebrew. And so, we come to Genesis 22 that we’ve studied for the last couple of weeks, which is really a pivotal chapter in the life of Abraham.

Genesis 22 Abraham Sacrifices Isaac

      1. Abraham tested (1-10)
      2. Substitutionary provision (11-14)
      3. Covenant reaffirmed (15-19)
      4. Rebekah’s lineage (20-24)

We found that Abraham was tested, verses 1 through 10. He was given a command from God that seemed completely irrational. He was told to leave Beersheba and travel fifty to sixty miles away to Mount Moriah and to take Isaac- who is now in his thirties; that Abraham and Sarah had so diligently waited on the Lord for- to take him and offer him as a sacrifice.

Genesis 22:11-14 Substitutionary Provision

      1. Call to Abraham (11)
      2. New instructions (12)
      3. Provision of the ram (13)
      4. Naming (14)

And then we saw in verses 11 through 14, that God told Abraham upon the imminent death of Isaac, to stay your hand, it was never My intent to kill Isaac because God has provided a sacrifice. That sacrifice is the ram caught in the thicket. And that sacrifice ultimately points towards Jesus Christ. And it’s at that point you start seeing names being given Gen 22:14. And one of the great names that comes out of this section is Jehovah Jirah, which means the Lord will provide. God has worked in human affairs to such an extent that He has provided every single one of our needs, including the greatest need that we have, the forgiveness of our sin debt through the person of Jesus Christ. We just celebrated that at the Lord’s table earlier, and this whole historical account prefigures what God would do on that same track of real estate, Mount Moriah or Mount Zion, 2000 years later through the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. And now this morning we move into Gen 22:15-19 where the covenant that God originally gave to Abraham all the way back in Genesis 15 is now reaffirmed. And so, as we look at these verses, we’re going to use this very cursory outline.

Genesis 22:15-19 Covenant Reaffirmed

      1. Call to Abraham (15)
      2. Basis (16)
      3. Provisions (17-18a)
      4. Basis restated (18b)
      5. Return to Beersheba (19)

And you’ll notice, if you will Gen 22:15. It says, “Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven,” Now, when was the first time? The first time was back in Gen 22:11, when the Angel of the Lord told Abraham to stay his hand and not sacrifice Isaac. One of the things to understand about Abraham is he was a man that God said, I will bless you, going all the way back to Genesis chapter 12. And one of those blessings is the fact that Abraham heard God’s voice audibly. Here is a paragraph that we have referred to:

“This is the first of seven times that Abraham receives a direct revelation from God. In 12:1–3 is God’s initial call to Abram outside the Land of Canaan; in 12:7 is the first appearance to Abraham in the Land; in 13:14–17, Abraham encounters God after the separation of Lot; in 15:1–21, God signs and seals the Abrahamic Covenant; in 17:1–21, Abraham receives the token of the covenant; in 18:1–33, God speaks to him in conjunction with the destruction of Sodom; and in 22:1–2 and 22:11–18, God directs Abraham to offer Isaac.”

It’s the seven times prior to Genesis 22 that Abraham heard the voice of God. And this is now in our verses here the tenth time that the Lord actually spoke to, actually appeared to Abraham. And you might be sitting there thinking, you know, I’m kind of jealous because I don’t hear God’s voice in the same way. But here’s the truth of the matter: you have something far better. You have something that Abraham did not have- the completed word of God through which you can discern the will of God, the mind of God, and the word of God. These 66 books, there’s a promise associated with them that when you heed the Scriptures, study the Scriptures, apply the Scriptures, they will equip you for every good work. It’s just a matter of taking the time to read the Bible. Very, very sadly, most Christians by way of surveys, have never really read the Bible through in its entirety. If that describes you, I would challenge you to do that as a bare minimum. There are all kinds of Bible plans and programs that you can get on. And if you read about three chapters of the Bible per day, within roughly a year, you’ll have the whole thing read.

And one of the great tragedies of our day is people can go to church and they can hear kind of a TED talk, a motivational talk, a motivational speech, with very little reference to the Bible. And this is what makes Sugar Land Bible Church different. We don’t teach about the Bible. We teach the Bible. The Bible, the whole Bible, nothing but the Bible. Amen. A lot of Christians today are going to pep talks, masquerading as church. The truth of the matter is you don’t need another pep talk. What you need is the word of God, how it’s understood historically and how it applies to our lives. And so, Abraham heard, and he saw God and God here is speaking directly to Abraham, just as God wants to speak to you, primarily through His word. And He makes Abraham, as He reaffirms the Abrahamic covenant, and we’ll see more on that and what that means in the subsequent verses. but God gives the basis for the covenant and why Abraham should believe the covenant. Notice, if you will, Gen 22:16: “and said” -that’s the angel of the Lord- “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord.”

Why in the world should Abraham believe this covenant that he has been given? Well, the primary reason he should believe this covenant is it comes from the mouth of God. It comes from the voice of God. It comes from the lips of God. And whatever God says, you can take to the bank. Amen. Why is that? Because God cannot lie. Numbers 23:19, of God, says: “God is not a man, that He should lie.” Titus 1:2, God who cannot lie, it says. Hebrews 6:18, it’s impossible for God to lie. People can deceive you; religious authorities can deceive you, but what God has revealed to you in this book is absolutely ironclad and you can take it to the bank because it comes from God. And God’s character is such that He cannot lie. And what God is telling Abraham to do is to build your house, metaphorically speaking, on My promises. The truth of the matter is, in this book there are, for the church age believer, roughly 7000 promises. Do you realize that? And at the end of the day, that’s what you build your life on. You build your life on promises coming, not from a church, not from a denomination, not from a religious leader, not from a human book, but from God himself. And those promises are 100% reliable because of the character and the nature from whom they come. They come from God. Now, when you look at the second part of verse 16, if you’re not given some teaching on this, it will throw you into a state of confusion. All of Gen 22:16 says: and said “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son.”

And then in Gen 22:17-18, it mentions the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. Now there are many, many theological systems, one of which is called replacement theology, which is the idea that the church has replaced the nation of Israel in the outworking of God’s purposes. God is through with Israel, in other words. And one of the things that they will say is that must be true because the Abrahamic covenant is conditional. I mean, it says it right there in the Bible. The provisions of the covenant are yours because you have obeyed My voice. And it makes it look like if Abraham, in this situation where his faith was tested, had not obeyed God’s voice, then the covenant would have been canceled. And the replacement theologians will go on and they will say, you know, Israel didn’t accept their Messiah. They broke the bonds of the covenant. Therefore, God is finished with the nation of Israel and He has transferred all His blessings to the church. Classic replacement theology, sometimes called supersecessionism, the idea that the church supersedes Israel’s place. And so, at first reading it looks like, oh my goodness, this covenant is somehow conditional. But let me introduce you to a concept that if you understand it, it will revolutionize your understanding of the covenant. And if you understand it, it will revolutionize God’s dealing with you as a Christian.

And here is the concept: The Abrahamic covenant is an unconditional covenant, meaning it rests totally upon God’s shoulders for fulfillment. It is an unconditional covenant, but with a conditional blessing. You might hear that and say, wow, you sound like a politician there. That’s double speak. But track with me on this, because if you understand it, it will revolutionize your understanding of the whole Bible. An unconditional covenant, but with a conditional blessing. We know very, very clearly that the Abrahamic covenant is unconditional. We know that because of our study back in Genesis 15, where Abraham himself was put to sleep by God, as God alone, as represented by the oven and the torch pass through the animal pieces. Go back to our prior lessons on Genesis 15, and we showed very clearly that the covenant is unconditional. In other words, it rests completely upon God’s shoulders. But people get confused because it says right there in Gen 22:16, the covenant provision is coming, 22:17-18, because you, Abraham, have done something. You’ve not withheld your son, your only son, so the provisions of the Covenant are yours. And the replacement theologians say, aha, we told you all along. The covenant is conditional. Israel, in the course of time has not fulfilled her condition, so God is now through with the nation of Israel. But that whole concept fails to understand an unconditional covenant with a conditional blessing.

Now, I put up the statements of my teachers on this, just to show you that I am not making things up when I give you this concept. Notice the words of J. Dwight Pentecost, he writes:

“As before, God responded to the obedience of faith. He said to Abraham, ‘I swear by Myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed Me’ (Gen. 22:16–18).”

That information is forthcoming, in the paragraph that we’re looking at here this morning. But notice what Dr. Pentecost says about those verses:

“Here again God promised Abraham that he would become the recipient of the covenant blessings. The covenant was not based on obedience, nor was the perpetuity of the covenant based on obedience—but rather the reception of covenant blessings was conditioned on obedience—” Did you catch that? The blessings are conditioned on obedience, but the covenant itself is unconditional and not based on obedience. Dr. Pentecost says, and here’s our verbiage, “Remember, an unconditional covenant may have conditional blessings. Thus, on the basis of faith that had produced obedience, Abraham would experience the blessings of the promises and the covenant.” an unconditional covenant resting only upon God.

However, if you want to be blessed in the covenant that already exists, obedience is necessary. That’s why we have entitled this message, It Pays to Obey. Dr. Charles Ryrie says essentially the same thing about these verses.

“Since the covenant had been firmly established several times before these events,” i.e., chapter 15. Chapter 15 comes before chapter 22. Amen. “Since the Covenant had been firmly established several times before these events, it would seem incongruous to view these passages-” like the one we’re reading right here in verse 15- “it would be incongruous to view these passages as conditions imposed after the clear statements of unconditionality. Rather, in these instances God acknowledged the worthiness of Abraham to remind him and his descendants that faith and obedience were necessary for participation in the benefits of the unconditional promises of the covenant.” Here is the truth of the matter: God’s word is going to be accomplished. Everything that God said He’s going to do in the Abrahamic covenant for the nation of Israel is going to be fulfilled. That issue is off the table. What is on the table, is whether Abraham is going to be strategically used the way God wants to use him. Because if Abraham is disobedient and fails, God doesn’t say, oh no, what am I going to do? My work can’t get accomplished.

No, it’s a done deal that God’s work is going to get accomplished. The issue, Abraham, is am I going to bless the world through you, as an individual? And if I’m going to use you to accomplish my work- which automatically will get done regardless of your obedience. If you want the benefit of being used by me- because if I can’t use you, I’ll just use somebody else. If you want to be used by me, then you better get into a mindset of obedience. Not obedience to be saved. I mean, we know that Abraham’s salvation is secure. It was announced all the way back in Genesis 15:6. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness. That issue is taken care of. He’s going to heaven. But what kind of quality of life is he going to enjoy this side of heaven? I mean, is his life going to be such that God is funneling his purposes through this man, Abraham, to bless the world? Is Abraham going to have that kind of quality of life or not? Heaven is guaranteed. But Abraham’s usability in the outworking of God’s purposes is on the table. That’s why God took Abraham and put Him through a test. The test was not to determine, oh what am I going to do with the covenant? The test is not to determine, oh is Abraham saved? The test is really to determine his usability in the outworking of God’s purposes.

It’s very, very similar to what Jesus said to the eleven disciples, Judas already having left the room in John 15, where He says, I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know what His master is doing. But I call you friends. And He goes on and He explains how you become a friend of God. You keep His commandments, He says. You obey. And at that point, Jesus, as He’s gathered the eleven in the upper room, is not questioning whether they’re Christians. He’s not questioning their salvation. He’s questioning their usability. He is questioning His desire and His ability to disclose His wisdom and knowledge and insight to them for the benefit of the rest of the world. And they graduated from just being believers to being friends of God through a demonstrated pattern of obedience. Because why in the world would God disclose His secrets to somebody that has their fire insurance paid up and is going to heaven, but they’re disloyal in their lifestyle?

That’s the whole point of this test. The test is not to determine salvation. The test is not to determine the execution ultimately of the plan of God. The test is to determine Abraham’s usability. And Abraham, like the disciples 2000 years ago, passed the test because he didn’t make Isaac an idol. He didn’t fall in love with the gifts of God at the exclusion of falling in love with God himself. That was the purpose of the test. Abraham, like the disciples, eleven of them, 2000 years ago, graduated. And now they’re ready for friendship. Now they’re ready for disclosure. Now they’re ready for usability. This is why God constantly tests you. Constantly tests me. It’s an ascertainment of the condition of our heart. Are we qualified to be stewards and custodians of eternal things to the point where we can be a blessing to others? I mean, we’re blessed so that we can be a blessing. Does anybody here not want to be a blessing to someone else? We all want to be blessed. And we all want to be used as a blessing in the maximum sense. We all want to reach our potential. But there’s a condition. The condition isn’t a condition for salvation. The condition is a condition for quality of spiritual life. Quality of usability. Quality of usefulness.

It’s quite like what Paul told Timothy at the end of Second Timothy chapter 2, where he said, you know, in the Lord’s House there’s different kinds of instruments. There are instruments for common use and there’s instruments for noble use. Common use is, you know, paper plates, plastic cups. But then there’s the really nice silverware and things that you bring out when special company comes to town. And he says, Timothy, do you want to be a paper plate? Or do you want to be a special vessel?

The choice is yours.

Whether you’re going to rid your life of youthful lusts or not. It’s what he says. It’s the same type of challenge that Abraham was facing here and successfully passed because the covenant is unconditional, no doubt about it. But it has attached to it a conditional blessing. Now, if you understand that, it opens the whole understanding of the Mosaic law. If Israel already had a covenant from God, Genesis 15, then why did He take them 600 years later to Mt. Sinai and put them under another covenant called the Law of Moses with blessings and curses? So if Israel doesn’t obey the law of Moses, does that mean that God has cut the cord on Israel? That’s impossible, because God’s promises to Israel are ironclad in Genesis 15. Well, then what’s the Mosaic law for? It’s for any generation, to enter the blessings of the covenant and consequently be used by God. See, the execution of the promises of God, the execution of the covenant of God is not ever an issue. Israel will always be God’s firstborn son, but whether a generation of Jews in the nation is used by God or not, that’s an issue that’s left to be determined. And God evaluates that by what they’re doing with the Mosaic Covenant. You put the whole covenantal structure together, and it’s an unconditional covenant, but with a conditional blessing; exactly what Dr. Ryrie said; exactly what Dr. Pentecost said.

And that’s what the prophets are doing in the Old Testament. They’re showing up to different generations, typically, during times of national disobedience, where the nation under the Mosaic Covenant is starting to experience curses and the prophets say,

Hey, do you all like these curses?

No, we don’t like them. Mr. Prophet, what happens if we keep disobeying?

Well, you’re going to be kicked out of your land. You want that to happen?

No, we don’t want that to happen. Well, how do we change our circumstances as a generation? Not as a nation but as a generation? How do we get this generation blessed?

And the prophets will say, Well, that’s easy. Just go back to the Mosaic covenant and obey the Mosaic covenant. And when you understand this unconditional covenant but with a covenant blessing, not only does it rescue your mind from the connivings- if I can put it that way- of replacement theology. You’ll never be confused by these passages again. But suddenly every single prophet in the Old Testament will make perfect sense to you because the prophets are inviting the nation back to the Mosaic covenant so that specific generation can be blessed. An unconditional covenant with a conditional blessing. Unconditional covenant, Abrahamic. Circumstances for a conditional blessing, Mosaic. And where does the whole concept start with Israel? Starts right here. It starts with these statements that God is making to Abraham, that at first glance appear to be a conditional Abrahamic covenant. They are not a conditional Abrahamic covenant. They are a condition for Abraham to be blessed in the covenant. So as Dr. Pentecost would say when he taught these things, “Selah”- which you will recognize from the Psalms. It means to consider carefully. Consider this carefully because your life will make sense as a Christian- as I’ll explain in a minute- and the Bible itself will make sense. And so, what we have here in verses 17 and 18 is a re-articulation of the Abrahamic Covenant blessings that Abraham now is a full participant in, in terms of usability, because he did what God said. When he did what God said, that did not get him saved. He already was saved. When he did what God said, that didn’t mean, okay, the Abrahamic Covenant can go forward. We know it’s going to go forward because it’s unconditional. When Abraham did what God said by being willing to sacrifice his only son, Abraham qualified in terms of daily life to be blessed and to be usable in the hand of God. See, have you ever wondered why you, as a Christian, many times will say, well, how come God uses that person over there? -But He doesn’t use that person over there? I mean, the person over here might have more talent than the first person, yet God’s using them more. They’re both saved, they both love Jesus. Why does God use person A more than He uses person B? It’s not a question of talent. It’s a question of a condition of the heart in the Christian, because the Christian has the capacity to quench the Holy Spirit. If the Christian did not have that ability, the command in the book of 1 Thessalonians 5:19 would make no sense. Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. The command in the book of Ephesians chapter 4 wouldn’t make any sense. Don’t grieve the spirit. Why would books written to Christians say that, if Christians didn’t have the ability to disobey God? Well, once saved, always saved. You know, I can just live however I want. We’re saved by grace. We’re all going to heaven anyway, right? Yeah. True. But what kind of quality of life do you want now? And what kind of reward do you want at the Bema Seat judgment? I mean, do you want to be used by God or not? Do you want to be a custodian of the deep things of God or not? It’s not a question of gifting. It’s not a question of intelligence. It’s a question of obedience. The obedience of the human heart. It pays to obey. See, I’m a little bit afraid that in our teachings here at Sugar Land Bible Church, where there’s an such an emphasis on grace, such an emphasis on eternal security, that somehow we’ve forgotten that obedience, as far as God is concerned, is a big, big deal.

There’s a reason the Bible says if you’re faithful with the little things, He’ll trust you with greater things. God, I want you to do great things with my life. God says, okay, join the club. Many people want that. But what are you doing with the little things? The secret sins that no one else knows about or can see. What are you doing there? Because what you do there will largely be a barometer to what I can trust you with later. I mean, if you’re running a business, that makes perfect sense. You don’t entrust your trade secrets to an employee that’s disloyal. There’s always a character test, a pruning time. Is certain employee loyal or not? And the ones that are loyal are promoted within the organization. Why would God be any different? He says in Gen 22:17, as these provisions are being articulated, “ indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gates of your enemies.” Sort of a re-articulation of the Abrahamic Covenant promises. I’ll multiply your seed. That seed is going to be numerous. It’s going to be like the stars of heaven. It’s going to be like the sand of the seashore.

He actually says here your seed shall possess the gates of their enemies. Charles Ryrie on that particular point says,

Your seed shall possess the gates of your enemies. This anticipates the conquest of Canaan under Joshua.”

God never forgot that promise that he made. Abraham, your seed, because you have obeyed my voice, will possess the gates of your enemies. Abraham is dead and gone but roughly, oh, I don’t know, 600 or so years later, God fulfills His word, right on time in the Book of Joshua. That’s why when you back up to Gen 22:16, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord.” Everything God says is going to happen because it comes from the One whose character is such that He cannot lie. He says, also there, first part of Gen 22:18, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” I’m going to bless the world through you and your seed. Reminds us of what He said back in Genesis 12:3, “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” And boy, has God made good on that one.

Do we understand that as predominantly Gentile Christians, living in our time period, every single blessing we have today has come to us through the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?

Israel’s Three Blessings to the World (Gen 12:3b)

  • Scripture (Rom 3:2)
  • Savior (John 4:22)
  • Kingdom (Isa 2:2-3)

Had God not worked strategically through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we wouldn’t have a Bible because to them the Jewish nation was given the oracles of God. We wouldn’t have a Savior because Jesus was of the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And quite frankly, we’d be stuck in this world with the pagans running the government of the world. And we all know that they have no idea what they’re doing in terms of governing. They have no idea how to govern the nation. They have no idea how to govern the world. And we look at them and say, Lord, deliver us. And the Lord says, oh, I’ve already planned for that. I taught you how to pray, thy kingdom come, right? -Where I’m going to replace all of the pagans masquerading as leaders. I’m going to run this world from the city of Jerusalem on David’s throne for a thousand years. That promise wouldn’t exist- Thy kingdom come- had God not strategically worked through the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Genesis 22:15-19 Covenant Reaffirmed

      1. Call to Abraham (15)
      2. Basis (16)
      3. Provisions (17-18a)
      4. Basis restated (18b)
      5. Return to Beersheba (19)

But it is interesting. Did you catch the very end of Gen 22:18? “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because-” this is basically what is given in verse 16, repeated in verse 18. “Because you have obeyed My voice.” And here comes the replacement theologian. Ah! There it is in your Bible! Replacement theology is true because God built a condition into the Abrahamic covenant. and then you politely say, oh, but see, I attended Sugar Land Bible Church this morning and what I learned is this is an unconditional covenant, but with a conditional blessing. And I guarantee you, if you tell them that, that will sort of end the conversation because they will have never heard of this concept that we’re giving. An unconditional covenant with a conditional blessing, as spoken and articulated by J. Dwight Pentecost, Charles Ryrie, and many others. Well, Pastor, I just wish you would preach something relevant. The truth of the matter is, because you are in Christ, you’re on a fast track to glory. Do you realize that? It’s right there in Romans 8:29-30, where God through Paul, outlines the phases of our salvation. “For those whom he foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom he justified, He also glorified.” Describing the phases of our salvation, the promises that are yours the moment you placed your personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Your arrival in glory is so sure that God takes “glorified” and puts it in the past tense and acts like it’s already happened. And as I’ve said before, I’m looking out at you guys and you’re looking at me and you all don’t look glorified at all. Neither do I. But God says you’re already glorified.

So, He puts our future glory into the past tense, just like He does with all the other facets of our salvation. Just as He called us, just as He justified us, just as He foreknew us, just as He predestined; all in the past. Our glory? You might as well put that in the past too, because that’s a done deal. You’re on a fast track to glory. And you’ll never grasp that until you grasp the completed sacrifice of Jesus. When Jesus says it is finished, He did not mean I’ll buy the lunch, you leave the tip. That’s not what He meant. He said, “It is finished.” And when you place your faith in Jesus, you’re on a fast track to glory. Your arrival in glory is so sure, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. How tragic it is that Christians walk around wondering if they’re going to heaven or not? I ask people all the time.

Well, pastor, I’m just not sure I’m going to heaven.

Well, why not?

Well, I haven’t prayed enough. I haven’t studied my Bible enough. I haven’t been generous enough.

And then at that point I stop them and say, do you see the problem there? You just mentioned yourself three times. If you’re looking at yourself, you’ll never have the assurance of salvation. You have to look at Jesus and what He has done. And if you live your life looking at that, I guarantee you your level of assurance will rise. And as your level of assurance rises, you’re going to live a more joyful life. And if you’re living a more joyful life, more people are going to be attracted to what you have, which they don’t have.

So, if all of that is true, Pastor, why obey God? It doesn’t matter. What did Jesus say to the disciples in the upper room in John 13:17? You realize what Jesus did in the upper room? He got down on His hands and His knees and began to wash the disciples’ feet. The Incarnate Son of God, the One who spoke, and the heavens and the earth leapt into existence, is washing the feet of eleven saved, yet sinful disciples. I mean, who else could have written a book like this, other than God? -to the point where Peter doesn’t even like it, and then Jesus says to Peter, if you won’t let Me do this, have no part with Me. Peter says, okay, well then just give me a shower. But what does Jesus say after he does that? It says something very interesting in John 13:17. “If you know these things-” What things? What he just did for them in terms of washing their feet. “If you know these things, you are blessed if you-” anybody know the next word? – “if you do them.” The blessings in the Christian life come to those who don’t just say, well I’m saved and I’m going to heaven, and I can do whatever I want. They come to those who obey the Lord. That’s what it says. “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” Notice, the blessing doesn’t come to people that know these things. Knowing these things is important because you can’t do what you don’t know. But the blessing, the depth, the quality of Christian experience where God is using your life to eternally expand His purposes on the earth; who does that blessing go to? Not just to the believer. Not just to the Christian. But to the Christian who does what God says. You want to be used by God? I would say this: Everything He tells you to do- do it. Didn’t Jesus’ mother say that In John 2:5. Water into wine at the wedding of Cain of Galilee. Remember what His mother said? “Whatever He says to you, do it.” And they did. And what did they get? They got the first miracle in the book of signs. The first miracle of seven that Christ did that are recorded by John, showcasing the deity of Jesus Christ. Why did they get that miracle? Because they did what He said. They followed the advice of His mother: “Whatever he says to you, do it.”

What does the Book of James 1:22 say? “But prove yourselves–” what? – “doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” I mean, hearing the word is a wonderful thing. It will wash your mind of worldly thinking, but it sure doesn’t end there. The blessed Christian life- and I’m not talking about positional blessings- those are yours forever. What I’m talking about is experiential blessings. Your life is going to be radically blessed in that latter sense, not simply by hearing but doing the word of God. You see, Pastor, I don’t know everything there is to know in the Bible. How do I obey God? Well, first, join the club. None of us know everything there is to know about the Bible. But I’ll tell you this much, and I can guarantee you this much: There’s something in here that you do know that perhaps you’re not faithful with. And the moment I say that the Holy Spirit will surface things in your mind of things done or left undone; things you know you ought to do or not do that you haven’t been faithful with. Why not change that? You change that, God starts to give you greater insight into things, because the one who is faithful with the little things can be trusted with the greater things.

Here is the cold, hard reality of the situation as simple as I know how to explain it: God’s work is going to get done. God is not up there in heaven saying, oh no, what am I going to do? Joe Biden’s in the presidency. What am I going to do? I’m so worried about inflation. What am I going to do? Gas prices are too high. What am I going to do? The church is going apostate. What am I going to do? Here’s the reality of the situation. God’s work is going to get done. Period. The question is, is He going to use you to do it? That’s the question. This is not a question of salvation. This is not a question of maybe God’s work is going to get done, maybe it’s not. That’s settled. The question is: you as an individual– what is your level of usability? I don’t even think God is looking for talented people. That doesn’t hurt, I guess. God is not looking for the Michael Jordan of spirituality. He’s not so much looking at ability. He’s looking at availability. That’s the test that Abraham passed. It’s not a question of position. It’s a question of experience.

And so how does this paragraph end? Gen 22:19, “So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and they went together to Beersheba; and Abraham lived at Beersheba.” He went back to where he dwelt previously, before God gave him the revelation about going to Moriah to sacrifice Isaac.

  1. Covenant’s Results Genesis 21:33-34
      1. Abraham plants (33a)
      2. Abraham worships (33b)
      3. Abraham sojourns (34)

It was the place where Abraham was minding his own business before God tested him this way, where he was planting, Genesis 21:33-34, and he was worshiping and he was sojourning. That place is about fifty to sixty miles south of where Abraham was at Zion. In fact, this map has Jerusalem on it. You might as well erase that. Jerusalem didn’t even exist yet. That city wouldn’t even exist until 1000 years later under the reign of David. It was just a mountain. But it was a special mountain. It was the mountain of the Lord. For God tested Abraham and God provided. In fact, so special is that place that Jerusalem would eventually be located in that area. So special a place was it that Solomon, 1000 years later, 2 Chronicles 3:1, would build the temple on that very spot. And of course, 1000 years after the time of Solomon, Jesus would do there what we celebrated this morning. at the Lord’s table; His sacrificial death for the sins of the world. Jehovah Jirah, God provides. So, Abraham went back and he dwelt in Beersheba. You’ll notice that these are real places. That’s why these places of geography keep being given, because this is real history with real people and real events. This is not Jack and the Beanstalk time. This is not mythology time. This is history.

So, Isaac’s life is spared but Isaac has to marry somebody, doesn’t he? He’s got to marry someone named Rebecca. I mean, if there is no Isaac and Rebecca, there’s no Jacob. And if there’s no Jacob, there’s no 12 tribes. And if there’s no 12 tribes, there’s no tribe of Judah. And if there’s no tribe of Judah, there’s no Jesus. Because Jesus came from the Tribe of Judah. So, we’ve got to get Isaac hitched. And the problem with us is we think humans can put a marriage together. They cannot. God is going to put a marriage together. And you can’t see that marriage coming together– it will happen in Genesis 24– unless we learn the genealogy of Rebecca. Where did she come from

Do you see what’s happening here? Long, long, long before Isaac met Rebecca, God was putting the marriage together. And I have a story from my personal life that I’m going to share with you the next time I’m with you. How God put my wife and myself together, depending on whose side of the story it is, before we were born. Now my wife will say, no, we were three years old. Whatever. God put Andy and Anne together before we ever knew each other. Now, in this age of dating websites, you don’t think this is a message the youth need to understand? To wait upon God for their future spouse and partner? When Sarah was very little, I started praying for her, audibly over her so she would hear me, that God would prepare and bring to her at the right time, her future husband. I say, Lord, bring forth a man and I didn’t ask that he’d be rich, although, Lord, that wouldn’t hurt. I said, bring her a man that loves you first and foremost. I started praying this over her and she looked at me like I was insane. But the reason I was praying that way is because of what God did for me. And the reason God did what He did for me is not because I have some kind of corner on God. This is how God has always worked. Look at how he’s going to put Isaac and Rebecca together. God is working behind the scenes to create a marriage before these two ever knew each other. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Amen. Do you tell your children and your grandchildren this? Because they’re lost in a maze of insanity in our world. And they need to understand this. And do you publicly pray this over your children and your grandchildren? So how that marriage came together, we’ll begin looking at next time.