Sabbath, July 20, 2019
Lesson 3 – A Promise Containing an Oath
“Abraham has now fully and nobly borne the test, and by his faithfulness redeemed his lack of perfect trust in God, which lack led him to take Hagar as his wife. After the exhibition of Abraham’s faith and confidence, God renews His promise to him. ‘And the Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By Myself I have sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice.’ Genesis 22:15-18.” –The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 101.
1. What was the first command from the Lord to Abram that the Scriptures record? And, later, did the Lord ever ask any human being for a sacrifice as great as that which He commanded Abraham?
Genesis 12:1, 4; 22:1-3 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee…. 4So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran…. 22:1And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. 3And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
“Abraham had to leave his country and his father’s house, and sojourn in a strange land, in order to introduce successfully the new order of things in his household…. This could be done only by cultivating home religion. But it was not possible for Abraham to do this while he was surrounded by his idolatrous kinsfolk and friends. He must at God’s command go out alone, and listen to the voice of Christ, the leader of the children of Israel…. Abraham decided to obey the law of God, and the Lord knew that there would be no betrayal of sacred trust on his part, no yielding to any other guide than Him whom he felt under responsibility to obey.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 286, 287.
“This act of faith in Abraham is recorded for our benefit. It teaches us the great lesson of confidence in the requirements of God, however close and cutting they may be; and it teaches children perfect submission to their parents and to God. By Abraham’s obedience we are taught that nothing is too precious for us to give to God.” –(Signs of the Times, January 27, 1887) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1094.
Abraham’s loyalty and obedience
2. In his relationship with God, did Abraham demonstrate his loyalty only by leaving Ur? What is shown by the way Abraham responded to numerous commands from the Lord?
Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
Nehemiah 9:7, 8, first part Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; 8And foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land … to his seed,…
Genesis 26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
“Of Abraham it is written that ‘he was called the friend of God,’ ‘the father of all them that believe.’ James 2:23; Romans 4:11. The testimony of God concerning this faithful patriarch is, ‘Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.’ And again, ‘I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.’ It was a high honor to which Abraham was called, that of being the father of the people who for centuries were the guardians and preservers of the truth of God for the world–of that people through whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed in the advent of the promised Messiah…. There would be on the part of Abraham no betraying of the truth for selfish purposes. He would keep the law and deal justly and righteously. And he would not only fear the Lord himself, but would cultivate religion in his home. He would instruct his family in righteousness. The law of God would be the rule in his household.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 140, 141.
3. What alone can account for Abraham’s obedience to the divine commands? What valuable spiritual fruit made it possible?
Genesis 15:5, 6 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. 6And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
“Without the grace of Christ, the sinner is in a hopeless condition; nothing can be done for him; but through divine grace, supernatural power is imparted,… It is through the impartation of the grace of Christ that sin is discerned in its hateful nature, and finally driven from the soul temple. It is through grace that we are brought into fellowship with Christ, to be associated with Him in the work of salvation. Faith is the condition upon which God has seen fit to promise pardon to sinners; not that there is any virtue in faith whereby salvation is merited, but because faith can lay hold of the merits of Christ, the remedy provided for sin….
“‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.’ Romans 4:3-5.” –Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 366, 367.
Sharing spiritual values with others
4. What did Abraham teach his children and household? What great promises did the Lord make to him and his descendants?
Genesis 18:18, 19; 22:18; 26:4 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him…. 22:18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice…. 26:4And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
“Abraham was a man favored of God. The Lord said: ‘I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.’ Abraham was honored of God because he cultivated home religion and caused the fear of the Lord to pervade his whole household. It is God who says: ‘I know him, that he will command’–there will be no betraying of sacred trust on his part, no yielding to anyone but God; there is a law, and Abraham will keep it; no blind affection will cloud his sense of right and interfere between God and the souls of his children; that kind of indulgence which is the veriest cruelty will not lead Abraham astray.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 547, 548.
5. As a justified believer, what was the patriarch searching for as he moved from place to place? What was revealed by the fact that he built altars wherever he went?
Genesis 12:7, 8; 13:4 And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. 8And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord…. 13:4Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.
“Your home is a little world of itself…. You are the ones who must decide whether your children shall choose the service of God or the service of mammon, eternal life or eternal death….
“Like the patriarchs of old, those who profess to love God should erect an altar to Him wherever they pitch their tent…. Let the father, as priest of the household, lay upon the altar of God the morning and evening sacrifice, while the wife and children unite in prayer and praise. In such a household Jesus will love to abide.” –My Life Today, p. 33.
God’s covenant and oath
6. What assurance did God give to Abraham and thus to all believers?
Genesis 22:16, 17 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.
Hebrews 6:13, 14, 17 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, 14Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee…. 17Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath.
“On Mount Moriah, God again renewed His covenant, confirming with a solemn oath the blessing to Abraham and to his seed through all coming generations: ‘By Myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice.’” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 153.
7. Of what nature were the blessings that the Lord promised to Abraham and his seed? Who is the true Offspring, the Bearer of the gospel of salvation?
Romans 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
“Abraham himself was to share the inheritance…. The gift to Abraham and his seed included not merely the land of Canaan, but the whole earth. So says the apostle, ‘The promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.’ Romans 4:13. And the Bible plainly teaches that the promises made to Abraham are to be fulfilled through Christ. All that are Christ’s are ‘Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’–heirs to ‘an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away’–the earth freed from the curse of sin. Galatians 3:29; 1 Peter 1:4. For ‘the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;’ and ‘the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.’ Daniel 7:27; Psalm 37:11.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 169.
For additional study
“Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account. Christ’s righteousness is accepted in place of man’s failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. This is how faith is accounted righteousness; and the pardoned soul goes on from grace to grace, from light to a greater light.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 367.
“The father is the lawmaker of the household; and, like Abraham, he should make the law of God the rule of his home. God said of Abraham, ‘I know him, that he will command his children and his household.’ Genesis 18:19. There would be no sinful neglect to restrain evil, no weak, unwise, indulgent favoritism; no yielding of his conviction of duty to the claims of mistaken affection. Abraham would not only give right instruction, but he would maintain the authority of just and righteous laws. God has given rules for our guidance. Children should not be left to wander away from the safe path marked out in God’s word, into ways leading to danger, which are open on every side. Kindly, but firmly, with persevering, prayerful effort, their wrong desires should be restrained, their inclinations denied.” –The Ministry of Healing, pp. 390, 391.