2011-12-07 / Religion

Sunday School Lesson

God doesn’t forget his promises
Rev. James Temples

The one who has obeyed the call of God has no guarantee — nor even an indication — of life without difficulties. When the divine call is heard, life takes on a different perspective. The focus is on obedience, with any hint of personal agenda taking the back seat to all else. Then, as problems arise, the one who is faithful realizes that these situations are not limited to human effort and human wisdom, alone. With divine guidance at every point, the obedient life unfolds in such a manner that the heavenly father — the creator of the universe — is always in control.

After the death of his father, Terah — while they were at Haran (Genesis 11:32) — God gave a directive to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3). The record tells us, “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him…and into the land of Canaan they came.” Genesis12:4,5. As Abram moved about in this land, he built altars of worship to God, Jehovah. Genesis 12:7, 8.

We are not given the time that had passed, but difficulty arose. “And there was a famine in the land.” This fact prompted a move to the land of Egypt. Genesis 12:10. After this crisis had passed, he, his wife, and his nephew — Lot — went into the southern part of Canaan. Genesis 13:1. At this point, the record gives us a glimpse of the material worth of Abram — “And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” Genesis 13:2. Yet, this man did not forget the One who had called him. He returned to one of the places that had been a site of his camp — “And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.” Genesis 13:4b.

The blessings of Abram spilled over into the life of Lot. Both of these men had great flocks and herds. Genesis 13:5. The land was not able to sustain these combined resources. This fact led to “strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle.” Genesis 13:7.

Since this was a family problem, Abram proposed a solution. “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren…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 the left.” Genesis 13:8,9. Then, “Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan … Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan … and they separated themselves the one from the other.” Genesis 13:10, 11. We are told that “Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” Genesis 13:12.

After this separation, the Lord, again, spoke to Abram — “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from this 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 forever.” Genesis 13:14, 15. The promise of a uncounted number of descendants was given to an old man, who had not yet become the father of the child of promise. Genesis 13:16, 17. This promise prompted the building of another altar to God. Genesis 13:18.

The city of Sodom was overrun by a group of invading kings. This act led to the capture of Lot and his family — along with the others. News came to Abram of this act of violence. We are told that he took his own servants — “three hundred and eighteen” (Genesis 14:14) — and “He brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, And the women also, and the people.” Genesis 14:16.

The fact of the great material wealth that belonged to Abram, and the result of his military victory seemed to have sparked jealousy from his neighbors. He must have become some kind of target for ridicule and possible aggressive action. Yes, he was a stranger in this land. Yet, God gave him a promise regarding the divine care. “After these things the word of the Lord came again unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and they exceeding great reward.” Genesis 15:1.

The promise of a great number of offspring caused this childless man, Abram, to ask a question regarding the possibility. The only personal answer that he could see was the building of a household, using this “steward” as the basis. He told God that “the steward (son of possession) of my house is Eliezer of Damascus.” Genesis 15:2. He was told that “he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.” Genesis 15:4b. Then, God brought Abram outside at night and told him, “Look now toward the heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.” Genesis 15:5. This divine declaration became the basis for the growing relation that Abram had with God — Jehovah. “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:6.

At this time, God gave an assurance to Abram. “And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.” Genesis 15:7. The response of Abram showed that of a business man, desiring some evidence of assurance. God gave him specific instructions. Genesis 15:9. Personal action was immediate. “And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.” Genesis 15:10.

Covenants are often seen as agreements. Yes, they are given to assure certain acts. In that society, the sign of acceptance by each party was shown by the dividing of an animal, and each party walking between the two pieces of the slain animal. Abram prepared the animals with this thought in mind. He waited for some evidence that God had accepted his sacrifice. Time passed, and the vultures attempted to snatch away the pieces. “And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away.” Genesis 15:11. God answered the plea of Abram — ”when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between the pieces. In that same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram.” Genesis 15:17b, 18. We, too, have the assurance that God does not forget his promises to us.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Florida. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P.O. Box 1569, Auburndale, Fla. 33823; 863-965- 0157. Email: jctjet@aol.com.

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