So a new giant leap forward – something we might take for granted, but in the days of Abraham, something so different, something so radical that it is recorded because it sets in motion a whole new wayof doing life.
If you like, it’s from where life is all about me to maybe it’s not just about me.
So the call to Abram
Genesis 12:1-2 The LORD said to Abram, "Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's home, and go to a land that I am going to show you.
This is radical. Leave what you have always believed is what life is all about.
In Abrams day, the same old same old.
Life is cyclical, there is nothing new, nothing that I can do to change the cycle.
This is the way it is for us.
And it has continued.
You were what your father was.
If he was a miner you would be a miner, if a farmer then you would be a farmer, if a doctor that was where you would be headed.
The thought that you could be something different, that you could break away, the idea that there could be a better way of doing life was unimaginable.
Abram – leave. Come away.
Radical very radical, very scary, as those of you who have come from other lands know well.
Can I break away from what has always been?
Here’s the point you do not have to put up with whatever oppression, pain, fear, darkness, abuse you find yourself in.
So radical that they remember the story and retell it over and over again how Abram sensed he was being called out of the same old same old to something new and radical.
(2) I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous:
That’s not that radical, that’s kind of the status quo.
In those days there is no law and order.
To survive as a family depended on you having lots of children who you could train up to be a fighting force to protect you and your possessions.
So to have many descendants, many children, this is a major.
That means you will have an abundance of flocks and the means to buy and sell.
This is the dream of every person in Abram’s society, wealth of possession and wealth of family.
So right away – there are those inside your group, your family, your race, who you protect and those outside that you protect yourself against.
And you did that by having lots of sons who could fight off the enemy and by having lots of daughter’s who you could marry off to other clans to build alliances with them.
But here’s the problem Abram is 75 – he is past what he thinks are his child producing days and so it’s rather odd for him that he should have this sense that God is promising him a large family.
And the reason the tellers of this story tells us this is they want us to know that something out of the ordinary is happening here.
This is an, uh huh, moment.
And you are invited to enter into the plot of the story.
And you’re given a kind of a clue that something different is about to happen.
Material blessing is a great thing right?
You can do a lot of things with more money.
You can build a bigger house, build more barns, make greater investments, buy a bigger car – buy several.
Abraham can pay people to protect him and his herds.
Wow if you are blessed you can shift out of that 2 room tent if you’re Abram and have a tent with sleeping quarters and an entertainment section
and invite all kinds of prestigious people.
And build up a reputation.
“I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous.” You will be Time magazines woman of the year!
But wait, wait, there is the second part. And God says,
“I will bless you and make your name famous, (here it comes), so that you will be a blessing.
This is the new and novel thing.
First it is novel that a man should be called away from his family.
That’s where the protection is, that’s where security lies, that’s where it all happens, that’s where what we have always done and the way we have always done it is at!
This is who we are.
We are a closed, tight family looking after ourselves.
We are a race of people protecting against outsiders, we are a church feeling threatened by non-believers and those nasty people out there.
But something radical is coming into being.
Abram is being invited to be the patriarch of a new kind of family, a family that will break out of – we have always done it this way,to ‘there is a better way to live’,
a way that will allow the divisions of humanity to be overcome.
Abram – I am calling you out to a new way of life.
Yes – you will have many descendants and this miraculous thing will be a sign that I am with you.
And yes – I will bless you with an abundance and Abram – as you are blessed
so I want you to be a blessing to others.
And maybe Abram’s thinking what we all think.
Sure – I’ll bless others – my kids, my rellies.
Some close friends – sure I can bless them.
But what God has in mind is that Abram become the seed for a whole new way of doing life.
Abram – through you all the nations of the world will be blest!
Another radically new thing! Never been heard of before then never been considered.
Never been done before.
The thought of being a force for change.
Breaking down the walls of division between nations removing walls of suspicion and fear.
The Abram story is about bringing back together what human nature has separated. Restoration and healing.
And the end of war and that’s the sign of the messiah
“Wolves and sheep will live together in peace, and leopards will lie down with young goats. Calves and lion cubs will feed together, and little children will take care of them”
All metaphors of restoration.
Did it work for Abram? No this realization didn’t change him over night, but it was a seed planted and again and again when the children of Abraham became exclusive and shut their doors to others their prophets reminded them of their sacred calling to be a light to the nations, to be a blessing to others and then in the fullness of time He was born this one the prophets said whose name would be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Everlasting father, Prince of Peace.
And His teaching? Love your enemies
love those outside of your clan your family, your tribe, your nation, even when they seek to do you wrong and while you’re loving them?
Ask God to bless them.
Just a minute – where did we hear that before?
Oh right – that was the original call to Abram right?
Be a blessing to the nations.
But Lord they aren’t like me! Just bless them.
But they live in the wrong part of town! Just bless them.
But Lord their skin is a different colour – kind of pasty white! Just bless them.
But they don’t believe what I believe! Just join me in blessing them.
You see I believe that when Jesus tells us to ask God to bless ‘those people’,
God’s inviting us to be part of God’s plan and joy.
God’s going to bless them anyway - God’s just inviting us to be part of what God will do whether you and I like it or not.
And so a church comes into being – men and women and families who are free to be a blessing to all people.
And into this church today Aria Arabella Fourie is baptized that she might grow to be a part of a people who have radically overcome the divisions of human nature a called out people, a people whom God will bless, to be a blessing to the nations.
In the Name of the One who says – and now, I make all things new.
This New year – may you hear His voice.
Would you like to share in our purpose and mission? We believe that good relationships, open discussion and a genuine desire to seek God’s calling allows us to grow as people and a community together.