God's Old Testament Church - 1
Lesson 8

In the previous lessons we have considered the problem of sin and God’s efforts to reconcile mankind to Himself as it relates to us as individuals. We will now shift our attention to the larger picture, tracing the history of God’s dealings with mankind as a whole.

We have already considered the effects that sin had on the race in bringing about a change in attitude toward the Creator’s authority, setting mankind at variance with the divine will, causing separation and alienation. We have seen God’s response in the promise of the Deliverer to come, and the promise that the Seed of the woman would overcome the enemy. See Genesis 3:15. Coupled with this promise was the promise that there would be a deadly antagonism between those who accepted His overtures of love and peace, choosing to again become loyal subjects of the heavenly kingdom, and those who would reject the salvation proffered them. It is at this point that this lesson begins.

1. What effect did sin have on the human race as a whole?

Genesis 6:5, 11-12

2. How did God choose to remedy the situation?

Genesis 6:7, 13

3. How did God indicate He would bring about this destruction?

Genesis 6:17

The flood slowed, for a time, the tide of evil that had threatened to engulf the earth. Very soon following the flood, however, men again entered into idolatry and formed a confederacy to commit evil. God’s response was to confuse their language, greatly retarding the united efforts for evil and the consolidation of power that was taking place. See Genesis 11:5–8.

4. Who did God call from the midst of this gross apostasy?

Genesis 12:1–3

5. In telling Abraham that in him all nations would be blessed, what was God teaching him?

Galatians 3:8-9

At the time God promised to make of him a great nation, Abraham was not a young man, but many years had passed and he was becoming an old man, and, as yet, the promise remained just that—a promise—for, as of yet, he had no heir.

6. Who did Abraham propose to make his heir?

Genesis 15:2–4

Note: Abraham did not understand the Lord’s plan. He knew the promise and believed it, but he was old and had no child. He supposed that the seed promised to him must come through his trusted servant. This was not, however, God’s plan. Abraham was not to become the originator of a race of servants, but of free men.

7. In an attempt to remedy the situation, what did Sarai, his wife, suggest?

Genesis 16:1–3

Note: Abraham listened to his wife and followed her counsel. No doubt they both felt that this was in harmony with the Lord’s promise. Sarai was past the age of childbearing and if God’s promise of a seed for Abraham was to be fulfilled, it appeared that it would require some improvisation on their part. This was the great mistake of Abraham’s life, but thus it is when human reason deals with the promises of God.

Though this relationship did in fact result in a child being born, the outcome was not a happy one. Not only did the Lord refuse to recognize the child as the rightful heir but He later approved of the child and his mother being sent away some time after the child of promise had been born.

Many people forget that Abraham had two sons, one by a bondwoman, the other by a free-woman; one born after the flesh, the other born after the Spirit. This leads many into confusion with regard to the “literal” and “spiritual” seed of Abraham. There is a tendency to think as though the word “spiritual” is opposed to “literal.” This is not, however, the case. “Spiritual” is opposed only to “fleshly,” or carnal.

Isaac was born after the Spirit, yet he was as real and literal a child as was Ishmael. In just such a manner, the true seed of Abraham are only those who are spiritual, but that does not make them any the less real. Though Christ had a spiritual body after His resurrection, yet He was a real, literal being, and could be handled the same as other bodies. See Luke 24:38–43. In the same way, the bodies of the resurrected saints will be spiritual, yet they will be real. Spiritual things are not imaginary ethereal things that have no substance. Indeed, that which is spiritual is more real than that which is fleshly, because only that which is spiritual will endure forever.

8. What was Abraham’s age at the time of Isaac’s birth?

Genesis 21:5

Note: Though there were obvious differences, the birth of Isaac, like that of Jesus, was of a supernatural nature. Both were brought about through the agency of the Spirit.

A period of years passed. Exactly how many we don’t know, but Isaac had grown to be a young man. Abraham’s faith had grown stronger. He had learned by experience that God is well able to fulfill that which He has promised.

As a faithful teacher, God does not allow His pupils to leave a lesson until it is thoroughly learned. It is not enough for us to see and acknowledge that we have made a mistake in a lesson He has given us. Such acknowledgment ensures forgiveness, but having seen the error, we must go over the ground again, and possibly many times, until we have learned the lesson so well that we can go without stumbling.

9. What did God tell Abraham to do?

Genesis 22:1-2

Note: It was not just Abraham’s fatherly affection that was tested here. As the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, Isaac embodied the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Seed. The promise had been very explicit, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called,” and that seed was first of all Christ. See Galatians 3:16.

10. In offering Isaac, what did Abraham believe God able to do?

Hebrews 11:17–19

The Messiah, the Seed through which all the blessings were to come to men, was to be born of Isaac’s line. To all appearances, Isaac was to be cut off without an heir. We also need to remember that while we have Bible stories of the dead being raised to life, of which Christ is the best and most widely known example, in Abraham’s day, nothing like this had ever happened. And yet, Abraham had such confidence in the life and power of the word of the Lord that he believed it would fulfill itself. He believed the Messiah who was to come of Isaac’s line, and whose death alone could make possible the resurrection, though He had not yet come into the world, had power to raise up Isaac from the dead, in order that the promise might be fulfilled, and He might yet be born into the world. Greater faith than this cannot exist.

11. By what name, or title, is Abraham known?

James 2:23

Between friends there is perfect trust. Abraham showed by his faith that his trust in God was perfect and thus it will be with all who are God’s friends. If we cannot trust Him, knowing that He will ask nothing of us that is not for our best, and thus render Him unquestioning obedience in all that He requires of us, how can we consider Him our Friend?

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