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Sermon: Genesis 11:10-32: From Shem To Abram


Old Testament Reading: Genesis 11:10-32

“These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood. And Shem lived after he fathered Arpachshad 500 years and had other sons and daughters. When Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he fathered Shelah. And Arpachshad lived after he fathered Shelah 403 years and had other sons and daughters. When Shelah had lived 30 years, he fathered Eber. And Shelah lived after he fathered Eber 403 years and had other sons and daughters. When Eber had lived 34 years, he fathered Peleg. And Eber lived after he fathered Peleg 430 years and had other sons and daughters. When Peleg had lived 30 years, he fathered Reu. And Peleg lived after he fathered Reu 209 years and had other sons and daughters. When Reu had lived 32 years, he fathered Serug. And Reu lived after he fathered Serug 207 years and had other sons and daughters. When Serug had lived 30 years, he fathered Nahor. And Serug lived after he fathered Nahor 200 years and had other sons and daughters. When Nahor had lived 29 years, he fathered Terah. And Nahor lived after he fathered Terah 119 years and had other sons and daughters. When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans. And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no child. Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.” (Genesis 11:10–32, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Acts 7:1-53

And Stephen said: ‘Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit. And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all. And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers, and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem. But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’ This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices, during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’ Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’ You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it. Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him” (Acts 7:1–58, ESV).

*****

Introduction

The feel of the book of Genesis is about to change drastically. 

Notice that a new section begins in 11:27  with that important phrase, “these are the generations of… Terah.” Genesis 11:27  all the way to 25:11 are all about Abraham. And after that large sections of Genesis will be devoted to the lives of Abraham’s descendents, specifically Isaac, Jacob and Jospeh. These large narratives which center upon the lives of one individual are very different from what we have encountered so far in the book of Genesis. 

And what have we encountered so far?

Chapters 1 and 2 described to us the creation, each from a different vantage point. Chapter 3 described the fall of man and the consequence of sin. There we also heard the very first promise of the gospel — God, by his mercy and grace, would provide a Savior from among the offspring of Eve. And then in chapters 4 through 11 we find a mixture of genealogies and stories. Both are important. 

The story of the flood and the story of the tower of Babel tell us a lot about our condition after our fall into sin. Instead of living in obedience to God, for the advancement of the kingdom of God upon the earth, man is prone to live instead for himself, for his own pleasure, and for his own glory, independent of the God who made him. These little stories are very important, for they revel man’s true character in his fallen state. 

But the genealogies are also very important. They reveal God’s grace. They show that God was faithful to do what he said he would. God announced in the presence of Adam and Eve that one would arise from amongst the offspring of Eve to crush the head of the Serpent who had deceived them. Despite man’s fall into sin, and despited man’s eagerness to live independent of God and in rebellion against him, God, by his grace, was faithful to preserve a people for himself in the world. This is the story that the genealogies tell. 

In Genesis 4 through 11 we observe the proliferation of an unrighteous line, and also the preservation of a righteous line. Both lines come from Adam and Eve physically speaking,  but one line belongs to the evil one (the serpent), whereas the other belongs to God. God, by his grace, kept a people for himself in the line of Able, Seth, Enoch, and Noah. And of Noah’s three sons, two were blessed, and one was cursed. Shem was blessed of God. Japheth would find the blessing of God in the tents of Shem. But Canaan, who was the  son of Ham, was cursed.   

All of this has been said in previous sermons, and so I will refrain from  being too repetitive. But I do want to be sure that you get it before we move on to a consideration of the lives of Abraham , Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. I want to be sure you understand that a story is beginning to unfold in Genesis, and it is the story of our creation, fall and redemption. 

And what do we mean when we say “redemption”? What does that involve? Typically we assume that it refers to the forgiveness of our sins, our personal salvation in Jesus the Christ, received by the grace of God and through faith. And indeed that is a part of it. But I want you to recognize that the story of redemption is bigger than your personal salvation in Christ Jesus. Not only did Christ live and die and rise again to earn your personal salvation, but to secure, by his obedient life and sacrificial death, an eternal kingdom to be presented to the Father at the end of the age. The story of the Bible is the story of our creation, fall and redemption. But put into different terms, the story of the Bible is the story of the establishment of God’s kingdom in heaven and on earth. 

And what is a kingdom? What elements must be in place to have a kingdom? The answer is threefold. To have a kingdom you must have people, land, and a king. A kingdom is not fully established if any of these are lacking. 

With that in mind, remember that Adam’s task in the garden was to advance God’s kingdom. Concerning people, Adam and Eve were to multiply. They and their children were to be to the citizens ofGod’s kingdom. Concerning land, Adam was to guard the garden and to push out its boundaries until it filled the earth. All the earth was tore God’s kingdom. And concerning the king,  Adam was to do all of his work living in perpetual obedience to the God who made him, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Adam’s task was to advance the kingdom of God until it filled the earth. 

As you know, Adam rebelled. The kingdom of God was offered but rejected by him. Regarding the King, Adam obeyed the voice of another ruler. Regarding the land, Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden of God. And regarding the people, no longer were they friends of God, but enemies.Indeed , all the posterity of Adam reborn into this world children of wrath bye nature. 

When we speak of the story of redemption it is important to remember that it involves, not only your personal salvation, and the forgiveness of your personal sins, but also the establishment of God’s kingdom. The story of redemption that is told in the Bible is about God, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, rescuing fallen and rebellious sinners from the kingdom of darkness and bringing them safely into his glorious kingdom which will one day fill the earth, all through the work of the Christ, the Messiah, the promised seed of the woman. 

This is the story that is beginning to take shape even in the earliest chapters of Genesis, as we will see. 

*****

These Are The Generations of Shem

In Genesis 11:10 we read the words, “These are the generations of Shem.” This is the fifth time the phrase, “these are the generations of…”, has appeared in Genesis. 

Genesis 2:4“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” (Genesis 2:4, ESV)

Genesis 5:1: “This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.” (Genesis 5:1, ESV)

Genesis 6:9: “These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9, ESV)

Genesis 10:1: “These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood” (Genesis 10:1, ESV).

And now Genesis 11:10: “These are the generations of Shem.”

What a marvelous thing to consider that God preserved a people for himself in a world that was so very corrupt. This righteous line was preserved by God through all manner of corruption.  Think back upon the flood narrative and the story of the tower of Babel and be amazed that this righteous line was preserved by God through Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah and now Shem.  

The descendents of Shem were already listed for us in Genesis 10 along side the descendents of Ham and Japheth. Why then are they listed for us again here in 11:10ff? It is show that God was faithful to fulfill his promises concerning Shem that were delivered through the blessing that Noah pronounced upon him. 

Remember whatNoah said concerning his sons. “He said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.’ He also said, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant’” (Genesis 9:25–27, ESV). 

The descendents of Shem would have the LORD as their God. And the genealogy of Genesis 11:10ff shows that this came to pass. The descendents of Shem did indeed have the LORD as their God. They worshipped him at the alter. They preserved his promises. And there were prophets among them, as we will see. 

If you remember, the genealogy of Shem in Genesis 10 did not make this clear. There the line of Shem was traced to Eber,  and then through Eber’s son Joktan, and from Joktan  to 13 sons who names are unfamiliar to us. 

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In Genesis 11 the genealogy of Shem is traced again to Eber (which is where the Hebrews get their name), but this time through Eber’s other son, Peleg. And by the end of this genealogy we come, not to unfamiliar names,  but to familier ones. In verse 26 we read, “When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran” (Genesis 11:26, ESV). The name Abram should be familier to you. He will later be called Abraham. His descendents are Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Indeed, from his loins would come the Hebrew people who would eventually destroy the Canaanites, the descendents of Ham, and in whom the Gentiles, the descendents of Japheth, would find their blessing. 

See, therefore, that the genealogy of Shem in Genesis 11:10ff completes the line from Adam to Father Abraham. 

*****

These Are The Generations of Terah 

In verse 27 we again encounter the phrase, “these are the generations of…” This is the sixth occurrence of this phrase. Therefore,  this marks the beginning of the sixth major section of the book of Genesis. And it is a major section! We will not encounter this phrase again until 25:12, where we read, “These are the generations of Ishmael…” Everything from 11:27 to 25:12 is about Abraham.

Terah was the father of three sons, Abram, Nahor and Haran. We are told that Haran was the father of Lot, and that Haran died before his father did when the family lived in Ur of the Chaldeans, located near the Euphrates river in the southern part of the Babylonian kingdom, in what is Iraq today. In  verses 29 we read that “Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah” (Genesis 11:29, ESV). All of this is important in that it sets the stage for the narrative that follows.  

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In verse 31 we learn that “Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran” (Genesis 11:31–32, ESV). And so these charters take center stage: Tarah, his son Abram, Abram’s wife Sarai, and Abram’s nephew, Lot. These four left Ur of the Chaldeans and journeyed to the north and west with the intent of going down into the land of  Canaan (now Israel), but they remained in Haran.  

Let me say a few things about this section.

One, notice that this passage does not reveal why these four left Ur of the Chaldeans to  sojourn to the land of Canaan, buit the next passage does.  In 12:1 we read, ¸“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1–3, ESV). These four left Ur of the Chaldeans because God called Abram. 

If you remember, this is how Stephen began his sermon in Acts 7, which we read earlier.  “And Stephen said: ‘Brothers and fathers, hear me.The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran.’” These people left Ur of the Chaldeans because God called them. 

Two, notice that the land they left was prosperous and pagan. We should not soon forget what we learned in the story of the tower of Babel. This culture — the culture of Ur — was not all that different than the culture of Babel. The people of this land worshipped false gods. They built, not for the glory of God, buit for their own glory. And they prospered, worldly speaking. This is the land that Abram was called to leave. 

Three, look with me at verse 30 where we read, “Now Sarai was barren; she had no child” (Genesis 11:30, ESV). Sarah’s barrenness will be a major theme in the Abraham story. And it will also be a theme in the story of Jacob and Rachel. 

These three observations should be considered in light of what I said earlier about the scriptures telling the story of the establishment of the kingdom of God. In order for God’s kingdom to be established then he must rule as King over a people who possess a land. And notice that all three conditions are lacking at this point of the story. God is not honored as King in Ur. Those whom he has called to himself from that culture do not have a land of their own. And Sarai is barren. The rest of scripture from Genesis through to the end of Revelation will tell the story of God overcoming each of these problems by his grace and through a  Redeemer, Christ  Jesus the Lord.   

*****

Application  

If you are in Christ you have been called out the world to walk in obedience to God as King.

Is it evident by observing your life that God is your Lord and King?

If you are in Christ it is because God has made you alive in him. He breathed life into your soul where there was once only spiritual barrenness. 

Are you amazed  at the grace of God? Are you grateful?

If you are in Christ you are now citizen of God’s kingdom along with others who have faith in him.

Do you cherish the fellowship of the saints? 

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Calvinism – Part 8: Perseverance of the Saints

Episode 13

In this episode of Confessing the Faith, Mike Thezier and Joe Anady discuss the doctrine of preservation, or perseverance. The question at hand is, if someone is truly a Christian – if they possess true faith, have been justified, and adopted into the family of God, etc. – is it possible for them to lose all of that by falling away from the faith? We do hope that this episode brings some clarity to the subject. As usual, we welcome questions!

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Calvinism – Part 7: Irresistible Grace

Episode 12

In this episode of Confessing the Faith, Mike Thezier and Joe Anady discuss the doctrine of Irresistible Grace.The phrase “effectual calling” might be more helpful. This doctrine seeks to communicate the biblical truth that the Triune God has provided salvation for his people – The Father has decreed it, the Son has earned it, and the Spirit effectively applies it. Hope you enjoy!

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Calvinism – Part 6: Limited Atonement

Episode 11

In this episode of Confessing the Faith, Mike Thezier and Joe Anady discuss the doctrine of limited atonement. This is probably the most disputed and often misunderstood of the five points of Calvinism. It is not unimportant, though. After all, we are talking about the atonement here! We are asking the question, what did Christ accomplish on the cross? Though it is a difficult subject, it is worthy of our consideration.

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Calvinism – Part 5: Total Depravity

Episode 8

Here we come to consider the “T” in T.U.L.I.P., which stands for “total depravity”. The question is this: What is man’s condition after the fall and before the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit? In other words, what is natural and fallen man’s condition? What is he capable of and what is he incapable of? Some have prefered to call this doctrine “total inability,” thinking that this better communicates the issue at hand. Whatever you call it, the doctrine is of vital importance.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4–7, ESV)

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Calvinism – Part 1: First Things First: Introductory Remarks; Addressing Common Misconceptions

Episode 4

This is the first episode of who-knows-how-many on the subject of Calvinism. Joe Anady, Mike Thezier, and Austin Pine begin the conversation by addressing some common misconceptions.

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O Great God

This Sunday, we will be singing a new song together and I wanted to share it with you beforehand so you could have a chance to listen to it, read the lyrics, and think about its rich meaning.

CLICK HERE to listen to it.

VERSE 1
O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore

VERSE 2
I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven’s joys
Then Your Spirit gave me life
Opened up Your Word to me
Through the gospel of Your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace

VERSE 3
Help me now to live a life
That’s dependent on Your grace
Keep my heart and guard my soul
From the evils that I face
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heaven
Glorify Your Name through me

 

I’ve been really encouraged by this song and I hope you will too.  It reminds us of the Gospel in that, before the work of the Spirit in us, we were dead in our transgressions – blind and deaf – and by the grace and mercy of God, through faith, we have been given life.

It reminds me of Ephesians 2:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved athrough faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.


Giving on The City Mobile

As of May 10th, we now have the ability to give on The City through any smartphone!

Using your smartphone’s web browser, navigate to https://emmausrbc.org

Touch on “The City” link on the right side about half way down the page and log in.

Touch the “…” icon on the top right

 

Then select “Giving”

 

Enter the amount you’d like to give and any information needed!

 

On an iOS device, you can touch the icon on the bottom middle of your screen and select “Add to Home Screen” to create a shortcut to this page (it will look like an app on your home screen). I believe you are able to do the same with an Android device. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions regarding this!

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warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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