The Psalm 23 Adventure, Part 55
September 1, 2017
We were just getting started last week in the picture of God's goodness and mercy in the life of Abraham, and the constant display of that goodness and mercy as Abraham slowly but surely overcame the fears that had so programmed his life during his early years in Ur of the Chaldees, and the subsequent 25 years he spent in Haran prior to his father's death. Let's pick up this narrative where we left off last week.
Before God can continue with his development in Abraham’s life, there must now be a separation between he and his nephew, Lot. Lot is not part of the covenant, and Lot cannot participate in what God is about to unfold.
As we see what happens, it is clear why Lot could not be a participant in that covenant and the blessing and approval of God that would come with it. As is always true when you have a relationship — particularly a family relationship — with someone who is unresponsive to the things of God, strife and division take place.
Genesis 13:7-13: And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
Now, with the separation of Lot from Abraham, a new dimension in the realm of the Spirit is going to unfold for him. Great change is taking place.
Genesis 13:14-18: And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.
And for the third time in Abraham’s adventures, we see worship. The first time was when he first arrived in the land of Canaan. The second time was when he returned from Egypt. Now, with the promise of God and an expansion of God’s covenant with him unfolding, he builds an altar again — smack dab in the middle of the land of the Amorites, a people who were, perhaps, among the most wicked and evil of the nations inhabiting the land; and there he establishes a monument of worship to the Almighty God!
Without reciting all of the details of Genesis 14, we see that there has been real progress in Abraham’s deliverance from the Fear of Death. It isn’t complete yet, but — wow— what a demonstration! A holy boldness has been developing in his character because of the constant demonstration of God’s presence with him. It is also a picture of what God has been doing in our lives as we have followed the Lord in these Paths of Righteousness. His goodness is developing in us!
What follows is a narrative of the four most powerful kings of the earth joining forces together and making war against the king of Sodom. Four kings of the Amalekites, the Hittites, the Amorites and the Hivites join forces with the king of Sodom to fight in this war. A slaughter takes place of unimaginable proportions with families many of the giants in the land being taken and killed: the Rephaims, the Zuzims, the Emims and the Horites.
In the process of the unfolding war, the king of Sodom is taken captive, along with Lot, his wealth and substance, along with the wealth and substance of Sodom.
A young man escapes the battle to tell Abraham about what has just taken place. The holy boldness of the Lord rises up in Abraham. Brother, has something ever happened to him by this time!
Over the years, Abraham has developed and trained a household of servants who are skilled warriors: 318 of them! In what would normally appear to be a suicide mission, he takes those servants and chases after the four kings who’ve taken Lot captive. And let’s not forget that these are easily the most powerful kings on the planet at that time. Sounds nuts, doesn’t it? But the Lord is with him.
Genesis 14:17 tells us that Abraham and his 318 servants literally slaughtered those four most powerful kings and their armies. David sure understood the principle when he wrote the following.
Psalm 91:7-8: A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Moses, likewise, understood what God had done with Abraham when he wrote this:
Deuteronomy 32:30-32: How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up? For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:
Part of the description of the Hebrew, toob, translated “goodness,” is “Kingdom.”
Abraham had the Kingdom of God working with him when he went out against those kings and their armies with only 318 servants. God had positively shut up and shut off the military might of those armies when Abraham came up against them. They were powerless against the might of God’s Kingdom!
Abraham returns from the battle after recovering Lot, along with the king of Sodom and we see another expansion of the blessing of the Lord and His covenant with Abraham.
Genesis 14:18-20: And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he (Abraham) gave him (Melchizedek) tithes of all.
Notice that Melchizedek brings bread and wine to Abraham. These are the elements of covenant and they are the manifestation of a rich blessing. I don’t want to get off-track here, but it is really incredible to me when I look back and see that Shem (who is Melchizedek) was the recipient of the blessing following the flood. Whereas God pronounced a curse on the seed of Ham because of his homosexual act against his father, Noah (see Genesis 9:21-27), the blessing is pronounced on Shem and on his seed. Abraham is the 10th generation descendant of Shem.
Genesis 15 expands again the covenant God made with Abraham. We continue to see the progression with Abraham’s development in his walk with the Lord and the growth of God’s goodness in Abraham.
Genesis 15:2-6: And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Now the Lord prepares Abraham for a dimension of His covenant with Abraham and instructs him to do the following:
Genesis 15:7-11 (NASB): And He said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.”
He said, “O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will possess it?”
So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
The covenant that God has made with Abraham now takes on a physical demonstration with an illustration that Abraham will never forget, and something that will be a constant visual in his memory. Watch what the Lord does.
Genesis 15:12-21 (NASB): Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,
“To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”
The Hebrew metaphors abound in these verses. The smoking oven and the flaming torch are a picture of the passion of the Lord. HE is the one who is fulfilling every part of this covenant — including the part that Abraham might have normally played in it, but couldn’t because he was ineligible.
The significance of what God has done here will never be lost on Abraham because he understands the nature of covenant and realizes that God is performing something on his behalf that is absolutely supernatural. The goodness of the Lord towards Abraham is preparing him, not only for the years to follow in Abraham’s life, but also for the generations to come — including all of us who follow and walk in that same faith that Abraham did as he believed God.
The years pass. Abraham is now 86 years old. He sees nothing that evidences the covenant and promises that God made to him. And he falls into a trap. Sarah convinces him that he must do something in order to see the fulfillment of the covenant. After all, God helps them that help themselves! Right?
Hogwash! (Excuse me, but God help them that get caught helping themselves!)
And Sarah (still Sarai at this time) convinces Abraham to take her maid, Hagar, as a concubine, have a child with her who will become Sarah’s child.
We all know the story of Ishmael, what a pain he turned out to be, and the centuries of opposition and persecution his descendants became to the real covenant child of promise, Isaac.
If it seems like I’m belaboring this whole story, it’s just because I want you to see how God continues to generate His goodness in spite of Abraham’s screw up. It’s the same goodness that is eventually going to follow Abraham for the rest of his life, once his obedience to the Lord and his final act of faith in the face of death are complete. Let’s not forget. Abraham has suffered with the Fear of Death his whole life. God is about setting him free from that fear — not only for Abraham’s sake, but for the sake of his descendants.
We will finish this picture of Abraham next week and consider the goodness of the Lord being demonstrated in him and with him.
For those of you who’ve been participating in our Monday night Healing Prayer Conference Call, we just want to let you know that beginning with the month of July and continuing until the first Monday night in October, we will be taking a break for the summer. We’ve found during the past three years of doing this call that participation during the summer months drops significantly because of folks taking their vacations, and being involved in other activities. That said, we will resume our prayer calls on Monday night, October 2nd.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#. We are now making these gatherings available by Skype. If you wish to participate by video on Skype, my Skype ID is regner.capener. If you miss the live voice call, you can dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later. The video call, of course, is not recorded – not yet, anyway.
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Temple, Texas 76504
Email Contact: CapenerMinistries@protonmail.com
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