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# 3: 7-12-17 1

Introduction to Acts - Part 3

We have seen that the story of redemption began with the creation of mankind. Through the LORDs testing
of mankind in the garden of Eden, the lawlessness inherent in mankind was manifested through the
transgression of the LORDs command.

This showed mankind their need for righteousness, in their beings. And as the sin then immediately
brought death into the world of men, mankind could see their additional need for eternal life - in their
bodies.

The LORD Himself would have revealed to Adam and Eve the means by which they could receive
righteousness and eternal life - through faith in the Coming Seed of the woman, the Christ - who would
redeem mankind from sin and death.

The revelation of the Coming One was made available to all mankind through the witness in the stars,
which God had created on the fourth day - through their names and arrangement and order.

In this way, the righteousness of God through Christ could be revealed from faith to faith (Rom 1:17).
Adam and Eve would have shared it with their children; and those who believed would have continued to
share it with subsequent generations.

Meanwhile, with each new believer, the enemy of God was deprived of one of the building blocks he was
using to raise up his world system.

But Satan had an even greater concern - the LORDs prophecy of the Coming Seed of the woman, who
would crush the serpents head (Gen 3:15) - Satans head, that is. Satan was determined to find a way to
prevent that prophecy from ever coming to pass. His attempts focused on seeing to it that the Seed never
came to be.

This was behind the murder of Abel; the angelic mixture that was introduced into the human race; and the
rampant corruption of mankind, before the flood. In each case, mankind was certainly complicit in the
wickedness, but Satan was the spirit behind the scenes, working in the sons of disobedience (Eph 2:2) - by
working his thinking, into them. In all of these attempts Satan failed to thwart the LORDs purpose.

The episode at Babel reveals a new tactic, on the part of the enemy - to destroy the witness to the Coming
One. By this time - just three generations from Noah - the message in the stars had been corrupted.

Men had changed the glory of the incorruptible God - the Seed Christ - into an image made like the corrupt
men and animals (Rm 1:23). All the families of the earth had united in this purpose - to worship the
creature, rather than the Creator (Rm 1:25).

This false worship obscured the witness to the truth that the LORD had recorded in the stars. Also, the unity
of the people - with their single-minded purpose - would tend to restrict the ability of individuals to freely
seek out the truth, and believe in the LORD, for themselves.

The LORD directly intervened, so as to preserve mens freedom to choose. And what did He do? He
confused the speech of the people, so that now, the families of the earth no longer spoke the same language.
And in addition, the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the earth.
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So the LORD introduced division to the families of the earth; He divided them through differing tongues, and
differing locations - creating barriers in their ability to communicate with one another; barriers to their
togetherness. They could no longer unite in their rebellion against the LORD. The LORD had generated
space for freedom to choose.

Now, the families of the earth had categorically rejected the LORD, in their rebellion. The LORD God did not
override their freedom to do this; He had given them that freedom. But He did establish them in their
various geographic locations - for the sake of preserving His witness to them.

He made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth; He determined their
preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope
that they might grope for Him - and find Him (Acts 17:26-27).

Why would they do that? Because in dividing the families of the earth, the nations, as they walked in their
own ways (Acts 14:16), would become divided against one another. We find at the root of this mans
tendency toward self-will.

When we multiply self-will on the scale of a nation, we observe what can be seen in our world between
nations - enmity; war; competing for land, food, natural resources - even people. The problems of nations
are the problems of men, multiplied - and this increases their need for God, the only One with solutions for
all those problems.

But how would the nations learn about Him? The LORD does not leave Himself without a witness to men
(Acts 14:17) - but all the nations had left the LORD; who was there, who could witness to them, concerning
the truth?

For that, the LORD now began to make a nation for Himself - a nation that would hold out the light of truth
to the other nations, which had turned their back on Him. And the LORD would create His nation from just
one man - one man who would begin to follow him, out of the false worship preferred by the nations.

This man was born about five generations after the LORD had scattered the people abroad over the face of
the earth. It so happened he was born in Ur of the Chaldeans - meaning that his family had not been
scattered so very far from Babel - perhaps 200 miles to the southeast.

Archaeologists have discovered that the city of Ur had a sophisticated culture, with schools, homes and
temples. They had agricultural systems, with irrigation ditches, and they had dairies, that produced milk
and butter.

The schools were used to train people for religious, commercial and governmental work; the curriculum
included mathematics, language, geography, botany and drawing.

Some other archeological findings include school tablets, musical instruments, pottery, panels of art and
poetry, jewelry, elaborate weapons, and even board games. This was a highly civilized culture; a worldly
culture.

Archaeologists have also found many statues of both the Chaldean=s gods and of themselves in the act of
worshiping these gods. Apparently, the Chaldeans often made images of themselves, placing them in the
temples to show their constant devotion to their gods.
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Each Chaldean city was considered sacred to one god; in Ur, it was the moon god, Nanna, demonstrating
the same worship of the stars that the people had embraced at Babel. The temple was the center of
economic, cultural and religious life for the Chaldeans.

This was the culture - the idolatrous culture - of the man whom the LORD intended to make for Himself a
nation - and who was that man? Abraham - or Abram, as he was known then. His name meant exalted
father, which must have expressed the hope of his parents, that Abram would have many children -
children were considered to be a great blessing.

But this blessing had eluded Abram until now - why? Because Abram married a woman who turned out to
be barren - his half-sister, Sarai. In their day, this was viewed as something on the order of a social
disgrace, or a curse. Sarais barrenness would play a vital role in the story of redemption.

Now lets continue with that story, in Genesis chapter 12.

[Genesis 12:1-3] The NT records that the God of glory appeared to Abram (Acts 7:2). This was His calling
of Abram, to Himself. And what do we see that the LORDs call required, of Abram? Separation.

Abram must get out - of the idolatrous land, in which he was born. He must leave his family behind - sever
ties, with his kindred; and depart from his fathers house, in which he grew up. Why? Because without a
willingness to separate from the world, from the former life, there can be no following the LORD.

But the LORD is not just asking Abram to separate from his former world; He assures Abram that He is
taking him somewhere. Where? The LORD didnt say, did He? Its a land that He will show Abram - and
that is all He reveals, at this time.

But if Abram is willing to follow the LORDs leading, the LORD has much good, in store for him. The LORD
will make Abram a great nation - that must mean he will have many descendants, to become a whole
nation.

And the LORD will bless Abram; He will cause him to prosper - so much so that his name would become
one of renown. And others will be blessed, through Abram; while at the same time, the LORD will protect
Abram from those who sought to do him any harm.

Im sure at the time Abram didnt understand what that last promise recorded entailed. But eventually, the
LORD would reveal to Abram how all the families of the earth will be blessed, in Abram - for from Abram
would come the Seed Christ.

In verse 4, we read simply, So Abram departed. But there can be no question there was much for him to
consider. He would be leaving behind all that was familiar to him - relatives, friends (except for Sarai); all
that was comfortable - exchanging city living for tent dwelling; and all he considered safe and secure.

And who was this LORD, this God, who had called him? No one is Ur knew Him - though they knew
many gods. What would people think? What would his relatives think? What would Sarai think? What
was he thinking?

Well, Abram was certainly thinking about those promises. Provision; protection - there was safety and
security in that. And if he decided to go, hed be a man of renown and a blessing to others - hed have a
fulfilling life. But the promise that held the greatest tangible appeal for Abram must have been that hed be
a great nation - for that must mean that he and Sarai would have children.
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Still, that was if this LORD could be trusted, at His word. Abram decided to find out, and took his first
step in following the LORD - not yet believing Him personally, but putting his trust in the promises the LORD
made.

Because Abram was just beginning to become enlightened to the LORD, he was not yet willing to completely
separate from his former manner of life. He found it impossible to consider leaving his aging father, Terah
behind, who would have insisted on bringing his grandson Lot, the son of Abrams deceased brother.

So the LORD led the family only as far as Haran, where they remained until father Terah passed away - and
in this way, the LORD did the separating, for Abram. The LORD foreknew that Abrams nephew Lot would
separate himself from Abram, at a later time.

The LORD then brought Abram to the land that He promised to show him - the land of Canaan. And over
time there, Abram became more and more enlightened to who the LORD is - experiencing His protection,
His provision - and His personal leading.

Abrams trust of the LORD was evident when he and his nephew had to separate due to strife between their
herdsmen, with their livestock. Abram knew he could trust the LORD to choose what was right for him - and
the LORD did, promising the land to Abram and his descendants, forever - seed as numerous as the dust of
the earth (Gen 13:15). But Abram was still lacking even one single descendant.

Turn to Genesis chapter 15. More time went by. There was a battle in the land, in which Lot was taken
captive - and Abram mounted a rescue operation, and successfully delivered Lot. This episode may have
caused Abram to consider his own mortality, for afterwards, we find him in his tent, deep in thought about
his offspring.

[Genesis 15:1-6]

v. 1 Who is it who came to Abram, in the vision? The LORD; notice it says, the Word of the LORD. This
was most likely a preincarnate appearance of Christ the Word, who was, and always was, in the beginning
(Jn 1:1).

The Word of the LORD said that He is Abrams shield; He holds Abrams life; and no one can snatch it out of
His hand (Jn 10:28). And the Word of the LORD said that He is Abrams exceedingly great reward. All of
the promises that the LORD has made to Abram would be realized in His Christ the Word of the LORD. And
it was on this very evening that those promises were to be secured to Abram.

Meanwhile, what Abram had been pondering in his mind came blurting out of his mouth.

v. 2-3 The Word of the LORD said, Do not be afraid, but Abram was afraid. Why? Because the LORD had
not yet fulfilled His promise to give Abram descendants seed. Abram did not have a single child.

The Word of the LORD spoke of who He was to Abram I am but Abram was occupied with what the
LORD could do for him LORD God, what will you give me?

Abram was focused on the promises that the LORD made to him, and not on the LORD Himself; he was
caught up in the circumstances of life; he had no child; he was getting older; he could have died in the
battle; a servant is his heir.
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What Abram needed was to look up, and see the LORD Himself so that he would have a new perspective
on his earthly circumstances the LORDs perspective. And for that purpose, the Word of the LORD took
Abram for some star-gazing.

v. 4-5 First the Word of the LORD reassured Abram that he would indeed have an heir who would be his
natural descendant produced from his own body. And then the LORD brought Abram outside to show him
this most illustrious heir Abrams Seed.

This is the word that the NKJV translates descendants; but the word in the Hebrew means literally
seed, and can have either a singular or a plural connotation, depending on context (just as in English).

Because of the connection between the heir in verse 4 and seed in verse 5, it is clear that the meaning here
is a singular seed; one particular descendant of Abraham. And who is this Seed? The answer was in the
heavens.

When the LORD told Abram to count the stars, He wasnt asking him for a tally. The word count in the
Hebrew carries the meaning of recounting, here. The same Hebrew word is used later in this sentence for
number. What the LORD was asking of Abram was to recount the names of the stars, if he was able to
recount them.

Would Abram have known the star names? He certainly would have. Remember that his Chaldean culture
had continued in the idolatrous worship of the stars, which had been practiced at Babel. Unrighteous men
had suppressed the truth revealed in the names that God had given the stars, not by changing the names, but
by using those same names to generate a perversion of the true story - myths and fables, about created
beings.

But now, as Abram began to recount the names of the stars, the LORD used the names to tell him their true
story. Paul would later write that God preached the gospel to Abram (Gal 3:8).

The LORD revealed to Abram the One who would come to redeem mankind from sin and death - the Seed of
the woman - the woman who would be a nation - the great nation that the LORD had promised to make of
Abram.

In this way, the LORD made a revelation of Himself to Abram, as the Savior - the one through whom all the
families of the earth would be blessed. So shall your seed be. The LORD revealed He would become
Abrams Seed - his singular, most illustrious Seed.

Well, such a revelation calls for a response.

v. 6 So what was Abrams response? Faith. He believed in the LORD believed in His revelation, of
Himself, as the Coming Christ, the Savior of the world and Abrams Savior, personally. And through the
channel of Abrams faith, the LORD accounted righteousness to him.

The next day, the LORD revealed to Abram the way he would receive the land the LORD had promised him -
through inheriting it.

The LORD cut a blood covenant with Abram for the land. Each animal of that covenant represented an
aspect of the person and work of the Coming Christ, as the Redeemer. It would be through the death of
Christ that Abram and his descendants would come into their inheritance of the land.
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It was also shown to Abram that the covenant was conditioned upon the work of Christ, alone; it was a
covenant that the LORD made with Himself, not with men. So what did that leave for Abram to do? To
simply believe God for what He is doing.

So Christ would become Abrams heir, his Seed; and Abram would become Christs heir, through believing
into His death. Abram will inherit in the resurrection of Life, when Christ sets up His kingdom.

Still, time went on, and no son, for Sarai was barren; nothing had changed, there. And meanwhile, Abram
was getting older and older.

Sarai may have had a barren womb, but she had a fertile imagination. She suggested a worldly solution to
the problem; a surrogate birth, through her handmaid, Hagar. And Abram heeded the voice of his wife.
Nine months later, Hagar bore Ishmael.

Im sure it all seemed perfectly logical to Abram, as he reasoned it through in his own mind. After all, the
LORD had said that an heir would come from Abrams own body; He had never said it would come from
Sarais body, as well. And nothing was happening; surely, if more time went by, Abram would be unable to
reproduce an heir; he was 85 already! In fact, perhaps the LORD was just waiting for Abram to take the
initiative.

But then, why didnt Abram ask the LORD? Would He not have shown Abram that nothing is too wonderful
for God; that He would accomplish what He had promised, in His own perfect time? Although Abram had
believed God for His Christ, he was still learning to wait on God, for His timing and His ways. Abram had
not yet learned to let the LORD have the say over his body.

That is what Abram learned over the next thirteen years. By then, he was 99 years old. Sarais womb had
always been barren; and by this age, Abram knew his body was dead, as well reproductively speaking.
But we read of no further attempt on Abrams part to bring forth his own heir.

Abram now understood that his part was to wait on God to believe the LORD for doing it in His time, in
His way even when it seemed impossible in the natural.

It was then that the LORD appeared to Abram again - as El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient God; sufficient to
accomplish all of His purposes. He now established His covenant with Abram, giving it to him - the
covenant for eternal life, through faith in Christ.

What was Abrams part? Simply to receive it, and keep it; by faith. And Abram did; he was fully
convinced that what God had promised He was also able to perform (Rm 4:22).

The LORD now called him by a new name; Abraham - revealing that he would be the father of many nations
- which not only was true of the physical seed which would come of Abraham, but of the spiritual seed - for
all who believe into Christ are Abrahams seed, and heirs, according to the promise of eternal life (Gal
3:29).

Likewise, the LORD changed Sarais name to Sarah, anticipating her willingness to be more than the princess
of Abraham - but to become the princess of the LORD, and mother of the son of promise.

I think that Paul writes of the faith of Abraham at this time most expressively in his letter to the Romans.
Turn to Romans chapter 4. Were jumping in mid-sentence here hes speaking of Abraham.
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[Romans 4:18-21] Fully convinced. And so, it came to pass, just as the LORD had promised. Isaac was
born - from the reproductively dead bodies of Abraham and Sarah - which the LORD had enlifed again, for
His purposes.

Isaac was the son of promise by supernatural birth - a type of Jesus as the nation Israels long-promised son
- born of a virgin womb, which was enlifed by God.

So Abraham begot Isaac, and Isaac begot Jacob. To each one, the LORD made a personal revelation of
Himself, and offered His eternal covenant. Each one believed the LORD for His Christ, and received His
covenant.

Jacob then begot twelve sons, from whom would come the twelve tribes of Israel. But while they were still
Jacobs family, they showed a propensity to intermarry with the idolatrous people of the land. Intermarriage
would result in assimilation of Jacobs family by the Canaanite cultures - so that they could not become the
nation that the LORD was making for Himself.

So the LORD used one of Jacobs sons who believed Him - Joseph - to bring about the relocation of the
family into Egypt. Now, the family of Jacob were shepherds, an occupation considered an abomination by
the Egyptians. The LORD used this aversion to keep Jacobs family separated from the Egyptians, so that
they could safely multiply in Egypt - until they had grown into a nation.

In time, a new pharaoh came to the throne, who viewed Jacobs family with suspicion. Through his shrewd
dealings with them, the children of Israel wound up becoming enslaved to the Egyptians. The LORD used
this circumstance to cause the children of Israel to desire their freedom - and the LORD then delivered them
with a mighty arm, leading them out of Egypt by His servant Moses.

The nation was birthed through the waters of the Red Sea, as Gods nation, Israel. But it was only a
physical birth - a nation of men in the flesh.

Turn to Exodus chapter 19. The LORD brought the children of Israel to Himself in the wilderness, to the
foot of Mount Sinai. Through Moses, the LORD offered them His covenant - the covenant for eternal life,
through faith in Christ - the covenant into which their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, had entered, by
faith.

[Exodus 19:3-8]

v. 3-5 A special treasure means a people of My possession. In keeping His covenant, through
believing it, Israel was to become the people of God.

v. 6 As priests, the nation of Israel was to represent the LORD to the other nations. Here is the purpose for
which the LORD has made this nation for Himself - to be a holy nation, set apart to the LORD. Israel was to
serve as a witness to the other nations, that had gone their own way - to show them the one and only way to
eternal life; through Christ.

v. 7-8 We have to stop and ask, what has the LORD asked them to do? Just to obey His voice: and all He
said was for them to keep His covenant. How would they do that? By believing it; there is notably to be
NO doing, on their part. Again and again the LORD had shown that His covenant would be all His doing;
and that each person must enter into it by faith alone - faith in what God has done, for them, in Christ.
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But the people are looking for something to do; to serve God. There is nothing they can do for the LORD;
only receive what He has done for them. Where would the people have gotten such an idea? No doubt,
from the religious worship, in Egypt - in which one does for imagined gods, in order to placate them.

But the LORD is no such god. He is the one true God, and He is holy. He can accept nothing less that perfect
righteousness. The people must see that they cannot be accepted by the LORD, based on their own doing.

So the LORD then gave Moses the Law for them - the LORDs righteous requirements - what they must do, in
order to be right with God and with man. And the people entered into a blood covenant with the LORD, on
the basis of obeying that Law - all of it. The breaking of a blood covenant brings the blood of that covenant
upon the violator. What would that mean? Death to the Law-breaker.

Then the LORD invited Moses back up the mountain, and over the next 40 days, gave him the pattern for the
tabernacle and the priesthood. This is the ceremonial Law, which pictures Christ in His first coming to the
earth - as the Savior.

The LORD always knew that Israel would be unable to keep the covenant that they had made with Him. He
had given them His righteous requirements to bring out the lawlessness that was in their hearts. Now He
was giving the ceremonial Law, to point them to the One who would save them from their sin.

And of course, it was while Moses was receiving the pattern on the mount, that the children of Israel broke
the covenant. They did so flagrantly - molding a golden calf, patterned on one of the idolatrous gods
worshipped in Egypt - and that worship took the form of wanton revelry. The people even called the name
of their idol the LORD - thereby violating every law the LORD had given them, regarding Him (Ex 20:1-7).

In this way, the covenant based on the keeping of the Law was broken - rendering that covenant null and
void. As a covenant, it ceased to exist.

But the Law itself continued to serve Gods purpose. The Law was intended to show men that they are
sinners, in need of salvation (Gal 3:19, 22; Rom 3:20). It was to serve as a means of keeping Israel
separate from the other nations, and separated unto God, until Israel brought forth the Christ (Gal 3:23,
4:4). And finally, the ceremonial Law was designed by God to lead Israel to her Savior, so that she might
be justified by faith in Him (Gal 3:24, Rom 10:4).

But throughout their history, Israel continued to view the Law as something that they must keep, in order to
be accepted by the LORD - and of course, they always failed to keep it. Generation after generation, Israel
remained just a nation of flesh men - like all the other nations.

As a collective nation, Israel has never believed into the LORD for His Christ - and so they have never yet
served the purpose for which the LORD had brought them into being - to be a light to the other nations - a
light to the Gentiles.

Isaiah wrote of them as being a blind servant, a deaf messenger - they themselves did not see or hear the
LORD, and so they could not enlighten anyone else to the truth (Isa 42:18-25). In fact, instead of walking in
the way of the LORD, Israel walked in the way of the other nations, preferring the worship of idols to that of
the true and living God.

Although Israel did not keep herself from idols, the LORD in His sovereignty kept her intact as a nation -
enabling Him to bring forth His highest purpose through her - to be the woman through whom He would
deliver His Son into the world of men.
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Reading: Acts 1:1-5; Luke 24:44-48; John 14:16-18, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15; Mark 1:8-11; Luke 4:18-19.