The Story of Us, Pt. 9: ‘A Prophetic People’
In Genesis 20, Abraham is called a prophet– the first person in the Bible to be called one. Yet his fear leads him to rationalize a lie and jeopardize someone else’s future. Pastor Glenn Packiam challenges us to think how often we shrink back in self-preservation and rob others of the blessing we could speak over them by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Listen to the podcast HERE.

OT Reading: Genesis 20:1-7 (ESV)
NT Reading: Galatians 3 (ESV)
Gospel Reading: Luke 4:16-21 (ESV)

[ATTENTION/TENSION]
Count of Monte Cristo: Villefort withholding freedom, condemning an innocent man for fear of his father’s fate and concern for his own future goals.

What do we do with the power we have to influence and affect others?

[TEXT/CONTEXT]
What we’ve learned so far…

  • Sin is tearing the world apart; God wants to put it back together again
  • The family He chooses to save the world is in need of saving too!

Genesis 20:1-5 (ESV)
“From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister.’ And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, ‘Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.’ Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, ‘Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, “She is my sister”? And she herself said, “He is my brother.” In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.’ ”

  • Second time Abraham has done this!
  • Dreams were a common way of God revealing himself
  • The first time anyone is called a prophet in the Bible (‘Nabi’: one who speaks)

A prophet is to speak the life-creating word of God.

Abraham was to carry God’s blessing into the world to ALL families.

Motif: The Devout Pagan and the Reluctant Prophet

  • Nineveh and Jonah
  • Cornelius and Peter
  • Abraham was called to carry blessing to the world, but he nearly caused judgment!

Genesis 20:8-13 (ESV)
“So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, ‘What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.’ 10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What did you see, that you did this thing?’ 11 Abraham said, ‘I did it because I thought, “There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.” 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, “This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, ‘He is my brother.’ ” ’ ”

Fear caused Abraham to rationalize his behavior.

  • ‘I did it because I thought…’
  • Fear leads us back to self-preservation

Fear caused Abraham to jeopardize someone else’s future. 

  • He put his wife in an awful position…again!
  • He almost caused Abimelech to commit a ‘great sin’
    • Phrase used only 2 others times in the OT—Golden Calf after the Exodus, and Golden Calf after the nation split.
    • Both times a leader—a priest, and a king—lead God’s people into ‘great sin’.
    • This time a prophet—the first prophet—almost leads a devout pagan into ‘great sin’

[PARTICIPATION]
What prevents us from being a prophetic people, speaking blessing to the world?

The Church and a self-preservation instinct

  • We get afraid of godlessness around us, the ‘lack of the fear of the Lord’
  • We play it safe, we keep the blessing to ourselves (cf. Christian subculture)
  • So long as the Church survives and is protected, anything goes
  • PRACTICE : Family blessings (Dr. Michelle Anthony)
    • Admiration: ‘I like that you are so helpful.’
    • Affirmation: ‘I see God giving you a heart for those in need.’
    • Appreciation: ‘Thank you for helping me.’
    • Anticipation: ‘You’re going to bring a lot of people joy today with your loving and caring ways.’

[GOSPEL]
Abraham almost derails the promise

  • Sarah was described as being old and past the years of bearing children
  • But something is happening to Sarah (Why would her husband be afraid a king would kill him to add his aging wife to his harem?)
  • Sarah is experiencing an awakening of her female vitality…(cf. commentaries)…Sarah is getting her groove back!
  • Sarah almost derailed the promise by giving Hagar to Abraham; now Abraham almost derails it by giving a revitalized Sarah to Abimelech!

But God intervenes…

Genesis 20:6-7 (ESV)
Then God said to him in the dream, ‘Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.’ ”

  • God warns Abimelech in a dream! (If the prophet won’t speak, God will speak directly!)
  • God takes the offense personally!

God intervene not just for our own sake, but for the sake of the world.

Genesis 20:17-18 (ESV)
“Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. 18 For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.”

And so it is for us: We were under the curse, but God intervened.

Galatians 3:13-14 (ESV)
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

Luke 4:18-19 (ESV)
“ ’The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ ”

  • The Spirit of the Lord is on Jesus—Christ = ‘anointed one’
  • The Spirit of the Lord is on the Church—‘little Christs’

God’s blessing comes TO us so that it might flow THROUGH us.

[INVITATION]
What if we turn outward even in coming to church, and serve by preparing a table?

What if we began to name our neighbors?

What if we began to pray for them to receive the very blessing we are longing to receive?

What if we realized that each day the Spirit of the Lord is on us, sending us out into the world as a prophetic people, speaking life, carrying the life-creating word of God on our lips?

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