Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bible Study - Redeemed (3) - Redeemed From a Critical Spirit - Numbers 12:1-11, 13-15 - May 1, 2016

Bible Study – Redeemed (3) – Redeemed From a Critical Spirit – May 1, 2016

This is lesson three (3) in our series of study entitled “Beauty from Ashes: Redeeming Your Broken Moments.”

Our focus scripture is Numbers 12:1-11, 13-15.

A critical spirit damages our lives.

A critical spirit is much like cancer, especially when you do not know that you have cancer, it destroys your body without you knowing it until it is too late to treat. As with cancer early detection and treatment is critical and so is a person seeing and knowing that he or she has a critical spirit. Just as with cancer the person must do something about it.

A critical spirit among friends is one thing but a critical spirit among family is even worse. Christians represent the family of GOD. They are the structural building materials used to form the true Spiritual body of which CHRIST is the head. Unity and harmony is a must for the Spiritual body to function according to GOD’S plan and purpose.

In our lesson today, we learn that sibling rivalry happens among GOD’S chosen people. Such rivalry not only impacts those around them but the families of the siblings as well. It also sends the wrong message among GOD’S people and breaks fellowship with GOD.

Our lesson reveals that GOD’S chosen can let jealousies come into their lives. 

Let’s explore!

The Book of Numbers is an account of the journey of the Israelite's from Egyptian slavery to the Promised Land with hiccups for forty years. In Exodus 32:1-2, we read about the nature of Aaron, the brother of Moses, when Moses was delayed on the mountain communing with GOD. We also see the nature of the Israelite's and how quickly they wanted a substitute god when Moses was delayed on the mountain. These are serious natures that GOD needed to deal with among HIS chosen people.

The Golden Calf

1 When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, "Come, make us a god who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt-we don't know what has happened to him!"

The Israelite's placed their faith in Moses rather than GOD. Often, we as Christians can worship our pastor rather than our LORD JESUS. 

2 Then Aaron replied to them, "Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters and bring [them] to me."
Aaron took matters into his own hands and GOD was very angry as we read in 

Exodus 32:9-11:

9 The Lord also said to Moses: "I have seen this people, and they are indeed a stiff-necked people.

10 Now leave Me alone, so that My anger can burn against them and I can destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation."

This was Moses’ opportunity to be the father of a great nation. GOD was testing him. Did Moses pass the test? Let’s read on.

11 But Moses interceded with the Lord his God: "Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people You brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand?

Yes, Moses passed the test! Moses reminded GOD of the covenant HE made with the Israelite's. Had GOD forgotten? No! GOD tested the character and heart of Moses. Was he interested in leading the people according to the direction and leadership of GOD or was he interested in having power? The test proved that Moses desired to lead the Israelite's according to GOD’S plans and purposes. But we also know that Moses had his moments, which GOD dealt with him accordingly.

GOD is still dealing with us humans and our natures as they relate to HIM. We often attempt to define GOD according to our standards and notions. But GOD tells us in Isaiah 55:9:

9 "For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Let’s read Numbers 12:1-3:

Miriam and Aaron Rebel

1 Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because of the Cushite woman he married (for he had married a Cushite woman).

Miriam was Moses’ eldest sister and Aaron was Moses’ eldest brother.  Thus Moses was their young brother. How do siblings look on the young sibling in the family? Often, the younger sibling needs to grow up or never measures up; he or she is always their little brother or sister. Moses had married a Cushite woman. The Cushite name came from Ethiopia which means that Moses’ wife could have had dark skin. Could this have been prejudice? Could it have been that since Moses, their brother, had married such a woman, they questioned why GOD would work more directly with him than them? Or was Moses marriage to a Cushite only an excuse for them to criticize GOD? We do not know but for sure something was perking in their relationship and it was not coffee. Our next verse reveals the issue.

2 They said, "Does the Lord speak only through Moses? Does He not also speak through us?" And the Lord heard [it].

Don’t many of us want to have a special relationship with GOD? Yes and each of us can but when it causes us to be puffed up with pride it becomes a problem and reveals our true self-centered hearts. When we are in right relationship with GOD through CHRIST, we naturally take on the character that JESUS taught in the Beatitudes. Notice the nature of Moses as we read our next verse.

3 Moses was a very humble man, more so than any man on the face of the earth.

When Christians walk in step with GOD through their relationship with CHRIST, they do not have an arrogant attitude but one of humility. They realize that GOD has forgiven them of so much that they can never repay and that GOD loves them unconditionally.

Let’s read Numbers 12:4-11:

4 Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, "You three come out to the tent of meeting." So the three of them went out.

The LORD GOD had heard enough and HE needed to intervene, just as an earthly father needs to intervene when his children are fussing over something that requires an authority figure to settle. GOD stepped into the situation. In essence, “Enough is enough, you three are dealing with a critical issue in MY House and I need for the three of you to step outside and listen to ME!” Moses, Aaron and Miriam were obedient and went outside for a teachable moment with GOD.

5 Then the Lord descended in a pillar of cloud, stood at the entrance to the tent, and summoned Aaron and Miriam. 

When the two of them came forward,GOD made HIS presence known to all three, without question. 

HE manifested Himself in such a manner that all three knew that GOD was addressing them. HE descended in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting and called for Aaron and Miriam to approach HIM. This is much like a human king would issue an invitation for his subjects to approach his presence. This revealed GOD’S authority over them as HIS called servants. Unity and harmony is a must for those who obediently serve GOD.  

6 He said: "Listen to what I say: If there is a prophet among you from the Lord, I make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream.

"Listen" was a stern command. Or pay strict attention to what I AM going to tell you. GOD made it clear that HE speaks to those who obediently serve HIM in specific ways. GOD speaks to HIS children in many ways.

7 Not so with My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My household.

GOD made it clear that Moses had a special calling and he had responded with humility, thus Moses and GOD had a special relationship that required direct communication.

8 I speak with him directly, openly, and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. So why were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?"

GOD spoke to Moses directly because GOD’S instruction had to be clear and followed precisely. Moses saw the form of GOD but never HIS face.

Exodus 33:12-23:

The Lord's Glory

12 Moses said to the Lord, "Look, You have told me, 'Lead this people up,' but You have not let me know whom You will send with me. You said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.'

13 Now if I have indeed found favor in Your sight, please teach me Your ways, and I will know You and find favor in Your sight. Now consider that this nation is Your people."

14 Then He replied, "My presence will go [with you], and I will give you rest."

15 "If Your presence does not go," Moses responded to Him, "don't make us go up from here.

16 How will it be known that I and Your people have found favor in Your sight unless You go with us? I and Your people will be distinguished [by this] from all the other people on the face of the earth."

17 The Lord answered Moses, "I will do this very thing you have asked, for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name."

18 Then Moses said, "Please, let me see Your glory."

19 He said, "I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name Yahweh before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

20 But He answered, "You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live."

21 The Lord said, "Here is a place near Me. You are to stand on the rock,

22 and when My glory passes by, I will put you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.

23 Then I will take My hand away, and you will see My back, but My face will not be seen."

Moses wanted confirmation that GOD would be with him as he obediently responded to HIM. GOD saw Moses’ heart and found him genuine in his request. GOD and Moses had a special relationship. CHRIST came to earth as a human and lived as a human. HE was tempted in all ways as humans are tempted, yet HE remained sinless. HE gave HIS life to pay, in full, for the sins of every human who will place their faith in HIM by the shedding of HIS blood. HE was buried as a human. GOD raised HIM from the physically dead and HE received HIS Glorified body. HE remained on earth for forty days teaching and then ascended into heaven. When HE arrived in heaven to sit at the right –hand of the Father, HE requested that GOD, HIS Father to send the Holy Spirit to earth to indwell every believer. Because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, every Christian can experience the personal relationship with GOD that JESUS had and Moses.

GOD raised an interesting question directed to Miriam and Aaron, “ So why were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?" In essence, Miriam was questioning Moses’ authority. When speaking to Moses she questioned his authority. Yet, she did not question GOD about Moses’ authority when GOD was speaking to them. Why?

The presence of GOD makes things very clear and they did not need to question Moses’ authority. GOD is the final authority.

9 The Lord's anger burned against them, and He left.

GOD departed from their presence in such a manner that they knew that GOD was unhappy with the manner in which Aaron and Miriam were acting toward Moses and they needed to settle it. GOD departed for them to get their act together. It was time for them to do some soul searching and communication with each other to resolve their issue.

10 As the cloud moved away from the tent, Miriam's [skin] suddenly became diseased, as [white] as snow. When Aaron turned toward her, he saw that she was diseased.

The description of the disease appears to be a form of leprosy. Why was Miriam affected and not Aaron? One speculation is that Miriam was the ring leader. Another thought that came to mind is that Aaron was a priest and the priest had to declare a person clean and free of the disease before they could re-enter society.

11 and said to Moses, "My lord, please don't hold against us this sin we have so foolishly committed.

Moses went into immediate intercessory prayer for Miriam, as well as Aaron and himself.

Let’s read Numbers 12:12-15:

12 Please don't let her be like a dead [baby] whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes out of his mother's womb."

This request was specific for Miriam. Miriam was a prophetess and Moses requested that she come through this phase of her life such that she could still obediently serve the LORD.

13 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, "God, please heal her!"

Moses cried out to GOD for her total and complete healing – physical and Spiritual.

14 The Lord answered Moses, "If her father had merely spit in her face, wouldn't she remain in disgrace for seven days? Let her be confined outside the camp for seven days; after that she may be brought back in."

GOD responded. Miriam had committed a very serious thing. If her earthly 
father had spit in her face there would have been retribution. In essence, Miriam had acted such that GOD was insulted and HE had spit in her face. 

This again points to Miriam as the instigator.

15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was brought back in.

Everything was put on hold until Miriam had been quarantined for seven days. It was an example to Miriam, Aaron, Moses and all the people that GOD expected unity, order and respect between HIS chosen and Himself. It also reconfirmed Moses as GOD’S chosen leader.

It is very sad when GOD’S people are not in unity and harmony with HIM and each other. GOD has to intervene and when HE does it is not a pretty sight.

If you are the cause of disunity or have a critical spirit, it is time to repent and ask for forgiveness. Do not delay. Blessings!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Bible Study - Redeemed (2) - Redeemed from Broken Relationships - Genesis 27:41; 33:1-11 - April 24, 2016

Bible Study – Redeemed (2) – Redeemed from Broken Relationships – April 24, 2016

This is lesson two (2) in our series entitled “Beauty from Ashes: Redeeming Your Broken Moments.”

Our focus scripture is Genesis 27:41; 33:1-11.

Showing humility is critical to restoring relationships.

Some background for our focus scripture.

In last week’s lesson, we studied Abraham and Sarah. GOD gave them a son of promise, Isaac, in their old age. GOD waited to give them the son of promise until they were beyond the age it was considered impossible by human standards for them to conceive a child but with GOD all things are possible. 

Their birth son was Isaac, through whom JESUS’ ancestral line would come.
Isaac married Rebekah and she birthed twins, Jacob and Esau. It is recorded in scripture that even in the womb of Rebekah, the twins fought. Esau was the first born and Jacob was second born with a firm grasp on Esau’s heel.

Esau was a man’s man and became an expert hunter. Jacob was more of a mama’s boy.

Esau came back home from a hunting trip and was famished. Jacob was cooking some lentils and Esau was very hungry and asked Jacob for a bowl of lentils. Jacob said sure if he would give him his “birthright.”

Esau’s logic was that if he died from hunger, which was an exaggeration, his birthright would be of no value to him, so he agreed to forfeit his birthright to Jacob. But the “birthright” would not be official until Isaac pronounced the “blessing” very near his death. Until the father died he could choose another son. 

The “birthright” was a special honor that went from the father generally to the eldest son. I say generally, because the father could another son if the eldest son did not measure up to the father’s expectations.

An eldest son or the chosen son receiving the “birthright” meant that he would receive a double portion of the family’s inheritance and would become the family’s leader at the death of the father. The double portion was intended to give the eldest son or the chosen son the means to care for the father and the family. As the father drew closer to death, the father would “bless” the son receiving the “birthright.” This “blessing” was like sealing a contract and once the blessing was given it could not be revoked.

The eldest son or the chosen son could sell his “birthright” or give it away. That was his choice. That meant he would lose his leadership position and extra material goods. The fact that Esau was so quick to give his “birthright” away revealed his disregard for the responsibility, both spiritual and physical, that keeping his “birthright” entailed. Esau acted on impulse and wanted what he wanted immediately.

This sounds like many people today; e.g. they use their credit card to get what they want now and worry about paying for it later or rob someone or deceive someone to get what they want now and the list goes on.

In the case of Esau and Jacob, Jacob’s mother was making sure that Jacob received the blessing from Isaac because that made the “birthright” given to Jacob by Esau binding and irrevocable.

Rebekah, with Jacob’s involvement, developed a deceptive scheme for Isaac to pass the “blessing” to Jacob instead of Esau.

This is recorded in Genesis 25, 26, 27 and 28.

When the day of reckoning comes, we often are disappointed in the choices we make in the heat of the moment. When Esau learned that his father, Isaac, had passed his blessings to Jacob instead of him, he was devastated. Rebekah and Jacob had deceived Isaac into believing that Jacob was Esau. Esau begged his dad to bless him, which he did, but it was not the same as the original binding blessing passed to the first born.

Genesis 27:41 captures the results spawned from deceit as we read in our focus scripture. When families have a rift, it often spans years and possibly a lifetime.

Let’s read Genesis 27:41:

Esau's Anger

41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. And Esau determined in his heart: "The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob."

Esau planned to take revenge on his brother Jacob after his father died. Esau planned to kill Jacob after Isaac died. But GOD has HIS ways of preserving those in HIS plans and purposes. Rebekah sent Jacob away to live with her uncle Laban.  Jacob was deceived by his uncle Laban. What goes around comes around but that is for another study. Plus Isaac lived 40 years longer after he passed his blessing to Jacob. Usually the blessing was given when it seemed that death was imminent.

It is interesting that Esau’s first two wives were Hittite’s (Genesis 26:34) In Genesis 27:46, Rebekah stated that she was disgusted with living among Hittite women. Esau took this as his cue to add another wife to his collection but this time he would marry someone pleasing to both Isaac and Rebekah as we read in Genesis 28:6-9:

6 Esau noticed that Isaac blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan-aram to get a wife there. When he blessed him, Isaac commanded Jacob not to marry a Canaanite woman.

7 And Jacob listened to his father and mother and went to Paddan-aram.

8 Esau realized that his father Isaac disapproved of the Canaanite women,

9 so Esau went to Ishmael and married, in addition to his other wives, Mahalath daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son. She was the sister of Nebaioth.

Ishmael is the half-brother of Isaac, Abraham being their father. Here we get a glimpse into the ancestral foundation for continuing the old covenant of the Law through Ishmael (Arabs) and the new covenant of faith in JESUS through Jacob (Jews).

GOD still had a work to do in Jacob’s life to prepare him to be the father of Israel through whom the ancestral line of the promised Messiah would come. In Genesis 28:10-22, GOD confirms the covenant HE made with Abraham and in turn Jacob. In Genesis 32, we learn that Jacob wrestles with GOD and GOD gives Jacob a new name, Israel. GOD was teaching Jacob humility as he was on his way to reconcile with his brother Esau.  

Life goes on for both Jacob and Esau and the time came for reconciliation. Jacob took the first step. One party in a broken relationship must make the first move toward reconciliation. It is a very unsettling moment as we continue to read. Jacob was about 100 years old. Sometimes it takes us a long time for us to get around to doing what GOD desires for us to do.

Do you have a broken relationship that needs to be mended? If so, confess it to the LORD and ask HIM to give you the strength and resolve to take the necessary steps to bring about healing. That takes humility. Jacob had to learn humility.

Let’s read Genesis 33:1-4:

Jacob Meets Esau

1 Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming toward him with 400 men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female slaves.
That had to be a sobering sight. Jacob/Israel took action to protect his family.

2 He put the female slaves first, Leah and her sons next, and Rachel and Joseph last.

3 He himself went on ahead and bowed to the ground seven times until he approached his brother.

The fact that Jacob bowed showed humility toward his brother.

4 But Esau ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. Then they wept.

What a relief it must have been when Esau hugged Jacob. Hugs communicate so much that mere words fail to communicate. Restoration is sweet. “We are never more like GOD than when we forgive.” (Advanced Bible Study, spring 2016, page 88, LifeWay.)

Do you recall the parable of the prodigal son? The father RAN to his son. How wonderful it is to be restored in fellowship with family. GOD runs to all who will accept JESUS as their Savior. All of us have been prodigal sons or daughters but our heavenly Father waits for that moment when HE sees us coming to HIM.

If you have not given your life to JESUS, why not do that at this very instant and enjoy the rights and privileges as HIS child through the miracle of rebirth in your spirit. Our first step toward reconciliation is to be reconciled with GOD through faith in CHRIST and then other broken relationships have the opportunity to be restored. Even as Christians, the choice is still up to us. GOD may have to teach us humility.

Let’s read Genesis 33:5-11:

5 When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he asked, "Who are these with you?" He answered, "The children God has graciously given your servant."

6 Then the female slaves and their children approached [him] and bowed down.

7 Leah and her children also approached and bowed down, and then Joseph and Rachel approached and bowed down.

Notice Jacob’s slaves, wives and children followed the example set by Jacob and bowed to Esau. The head of the family sets the tone for reconciliation. Are you that example? If not, why not?

8 So Esau said, "What do you mean by this whole procession I met?" "To find favor with you, my lord," he answered.

9 "I have enough, my brother," Esau replied. "Keep what you have."

10 But Jacob said, "No, please! If I have found favor with you, take this gift from my hand. For indeed, I have seen your face, [and it is] like seeing God's face, since you have accepted me.

What was the gift? The Bible recorded it in Genesis 32:11-21:

11 Please rescue me from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid of him; otherwise, he may come and attack me, the mothers, and their children.

12 You have said, 'I will cause you to prosper, and I will make your offspring like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.' "

13 He spent the night there and took part of what he had brought with him as a gift for his brother Esau:

14 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams,

15 30 milk camels with their young, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, and 10 male donkeys.

16 He entrusted them to his slaves as separate herds and said to them, "Go on ahead of me, and leave some distance between the herds."

17 And he told the first one: "When my brother Esau meets you and asks, 'Who do you belong to? Where are you going? And whose [animals] are these ahead of you?'

18 then tell him, 'They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau. And look, he is behind us.' "

19 He also told the second one, the third, and everyone who was walking behind the animals, "Say the same thing to Esau when you find him.

20 You are to also say, 'Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.' "For he thought, "I want to appease Esau with the gift that is going ahead of me. After that, I can face him, and perhaps he will forgive me."

21 So the gift was sent on ahead of him while he remained in the camp that night.

We continue with Genesis 33:11:

11 Please take my present that was brought to you, because God has been gracious to me and I have everything I need." So Jacob urged him until he accepted.

GOD had blessed Jacob and GOD led Jacob to give to his brother as a sign of his sincerity and Esau’s acceptance of the gift was Esau’s sign of forgiveness. Reconciliation was achieved by GOD and ended with Jacob building of an altar to confirm that GOD had brought this reconciliation about as we read in Genesis 33:20:

20 And he set up an altar there and called it "God, the God of Israel."

Has GOD led you to reconcile with someone? Do not ignore HIS prompting. GOD has forgiven each of us graciously, we are to follow HIS example and forgive as HE has forgiven us. Do what needs to be done and take the first step toward reconciliation. Blessings!!!

Bible Study - Redeemed (1) - Redeemed from Poor Choices - Genesis 15:1-6; 16:1-5; 17:18-19 - April17, 2016

Bible Study – Redeemed (1) – Redeemed From Poor Choices – April 17, 2016

This is lesson one (1) in our series entitled “Beauty from Ashes: Redeeming Your Broken Moments.”

Our focus scripture Genesis 15:1-6; 16:1-5; 17:18-19.

GOD’S plans are always better than our own.

We all make mistakes and fail. We all have sinned and fallen short of GOD’S expectations for our lives even after we have become Christians. As Christians we can confess our sins, repent and GOD cleanses and restores but we still have to suffer the consequences of our sins. If we have killed another person we have to live with that consequence and we could list many other examples. We may have been burnt by the consequences of our sins. Only GOD can create a crown of beauty from ashes. Isaiah 61:1-4:

Messiah's Jubilee

1 The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners;

2 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of our God's vengeance; to comfort all who mourn,

3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord, to glorify Him.

For the next six weeks, we will study various scriptures where GOD “made beauty from ashes.” This is to encourage all who think they have made a mess of their lives are not without hope when they place their trust and faith in CHRIST. Faith in JESUS turns a life of despair into a life of beauty.

When GOD fails to follow our timeline, most of us get impatient. GOD made a promise to Abraham that the off spring from his own body would be as numerous as the dust of the earth or like the stars in the sky. When GOD reveals truth to us are we willing to wait upon HIM? Let’s explore!

As you may recall, Abram’s and Lot’s herdsmen began bickering and Abram was concerned that their herdsmen quarreling would result in Abram and Lot having a rift. Abram told Lot that they needed to separate. Abram told Lot that he had first choice regarding the direction he would go. It he chose left then Abram would go right and vice versa. One direction was more promising than the other. The more fertile direction was toward Sodom and Lot chose that direction.

This reveals the character of Abram. He gave Lot first choice.

Abram’s nephew, Lot and his family chose to live in Sodom. In time Sodom and Gomorrah were defeated and Lot and his possessions were carried off. A person who had escaped the defeat told Abram what had happened and that his nephew, Lot, had been captured. Abram and his men (318) spring into action and defeated Kedorlaomer and the other kings allied with him. Abraham recovered all the goods and brought back Lot and his possessions together with the women and the other people.

Again, this reveals Abram’s heart and character and dependence upon GOD.

Then Abram encounters Melchizedek, King of Salem. Salem is another word for Jerusalem. Melchizedek was the priest of GOD Most High and He ministered to Abram and blessed him. It was recorded that Melchizedek did not have a mother or father. In fact, some Bible scholars think Melchizedek was a Spiritual manifestation of CHRIST but not yet born as a human. He made the physical area where the temple would reside in Jerusalem Holy.

The King of Sodom told Abram that he would take the people he had rescued but for him to keep the goods for himself. Abram refused to accept any of the goods for himself because whatever prosperity he had he wanted it to come from GOD. Abram did allow the men who accompanied him to keep the share of the goods that belonged to them.

Again, this reveals the heart and nature of Abram.

Notice the progression and testing of Abram by GOD, which prepared him for the next steps in his faith journey.

This leads us to “after these events ---“

Let’s read Genesis 15:1-6:

The Abrahamic Covenant

1 After these events, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great.

GOD manifested Himself to Abram. Abram had proven himself to have a personal faith and trust in GOD. GOD told Abram that He was his protector or his shield and that HE was going to reward Abram mightily.

2 But Abram said, "Lord God, what can You give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"

Abram was puzzled because he was already materially wealthy and more stuff was useless to him because he had all he needed. Plus he did not have anyone to leave his wealth to except his trusted servant Eliezer of Damascus.

3 Abram continued, "Look, You have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir."

Children come from GOD and GOD had not blessed Abram and Sarai with a child. Abram was speaking honestly to GOD. The word “look” can be translated “behold” or let’s consider the fact, “We have no child.”

4 Now the word of the Lord came to him: "This one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir."

GOD in turn says, “Okay let’s consider the fact that I AM GOD. Eliezer will not be your heir; instead you will have a child of your very own.”

5 He took him outside and said, "Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them." Then He said to him, "Your offspring will be that [numerous]."

GOD had told Abram in Genesis 13:16:

16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if one could count the dust of the earth, then your offspring could be counted.

6 Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.

Faith equals righteousness or in “right standing with GOD.”

Was GOD referring to both Abram’s physical and Spiritual offspring? JESUS’ earthly ancestral line comes from Abram. JESUS established the new covenant of salvation through faith in HIM and GOD’S Grace to maintain that relationship.

Let’s read Genesis 16:1-5:

Hagar and Ishmael

1 Abram's wife Sarai had not borne him children. She owned an Egyptian slave named Hagar.

2 Sarai said to Abram, "Since the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps I can have children by her." And Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

3 So Abram's wife Sarai took Hagar, her Egyptian slave, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife for him. [This happened] after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan 10 years.

“It was a common practice in that day in that part of the world. When a child was conceived by a surrogate, the child belonged to the wife who arranged the relationship. Thus, the child would be Sarai’s, not Hagar’s.” Herschel Hobbs Commentary, page 75, spring 2016, LifeWay, Nashville, TN.

Once this arrangement was agreed to, Hagar’s status in the household changed from slave to wife. Hagar was no longer under Sarai’s authority but Abram’s authority.

4 He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When she realized that she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress.

5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for my suffering! I put my slave in your arms, and ever since she saw that she was pregnant, she has looked down on me. May the Lord judge between me and you."

As our former pastor used to say, “The Japanese symbol for trouble depicted two women under one roof.” A woman who could bear a child considered herself favored by GOD. When Hagar conceived she got the big head and likely strutted – Like ninny, ninny, boo, boo, you could not get pregnant by your husband but look at me. Now, we know that you were the problem.

When we take matters from GOD hands to ours, it means trouble. Waiting upon GOD is often very hard to do because HIS ways are not our ways. Often, HE causes us to wait so when HE does what HE has promised, we know that HE did it.

So Ishmael was born to Hagar and Abram. This union resulted in the continuation of the old covenant of obeying the Law and commandments. It is still in effect today.

There is another point to consider in the customs of that time period. If a slave elevated to the status of wife did not act properly she could be returned to her status as a slave. This is what Sarai expected Abram to do with her statement “May the Lord judge between me and you.” GOD will reveal who was wrong – you or me.

Let’s read Genesis 17:18-19:

18 So Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael could live in Your presence!"

19 But God said, "No. Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. I will confirm My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.

Ishmael grew and in the absence of another child, Abram wanted Ishmael to be the child of promise. GOD emphatically said NO!

"No. Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. I will confirm My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.

The New Covenant established by the shed blood of JESUS would come through the ancestral bloodline of Isaac. This ancestral line in recorded in 
Matthew 1:1-2, 16-17:

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

1 The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
From Abraham to David

2 Abraham fathered Isaac, Isaac fathered Jacob, Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers, ----

Matthew 1:16-17:

16 and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Messiah.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were 14 generations; and from David until the exile to Babylon, 14 generations; and from the exile to 

Babylon until the Messiah, 14 generations.

When you study the life of Abram/Abraham you find that he was not perfect. 

He had his moments and made poor choices, yet GOD chose him and Sarai/Sarah through whom the Messiah would come to earth in human form.

Notice that GOD changed the names of Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah in preparation for them to conceive the child of promise through whom the ancestral line would produce JESUS Who will establish the New Covenant.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 3:27-29

Sons and Heirs

27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise.

Yet when we study the faith that Abraham had in GOD it is astounding. The story of Abraham taking his only son Isaac to a mountain that GOD would show him. Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac to GOD as a burnt offering is astounding. This meant that Isaac would be reduced to ashes. Yet Abraham had such faith in GOD that if he did reduce Isaac to ashes, GOD would resurrect him. Genesis gives us the clue in Genesis 22:4-5:

4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.

5 Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we'll come back to you."

We all make poor choices but GOD looks at the end result. Never give up on HIM because HE never gives up on you. Only GOD can create beauty from ashes. Trust in HIM and give your life to JESUS and obediently serve HIM.