Today we’re finishing off the book of Genesis. How’s it going to end? What are going to be the final words? The final three chapters of Genesis are filled with final words. The final words of Jacob, the final words of Joseph, but these are also the final words of Moses as he closes this book of beginnings. It is not the final final words of Moses, obviously, he wrote four more books, the five together we call the Pentateuch; however, he write them not as one book, but as five books, and here we have the conclusion to his first book, and so the final words here both sum up some of the key theme in Genesis, and prepare us for the next book and indeed the rest of the storyline of the Bible, which would to be developed out in writing over then next 1500 years by 40 different authors guided by the Spirit of God, and would be carried out in history even to this day until Christ returns. And so, what is the Spirit of God in Moses going to leave us with at the end of this first book?
We find here the final of three sojourning principles: how are we to live in light of the fact that we are not residing in the land of promise, nor has God brought about the fulfillment of his promise, but we dwell in a nation, and among a people as citizens of another kingdom, seeking a promised land.
In Genesis 16, Moses warns us that the potential to be the oppressor lay within us all. He does this by telling us Abram and Sarai's oppression of Hagar, their Egyptian maidservant, causing her to flee into the wilderness, just as the children of Abraham fled from their Egyptian oppressors. God reveals himself to Hagar in the wilderness through his angel, comforting her with the truth that He sees and hears her in her pain, before sending her back with a message to her oppressor that God also sees and hears them in their sin. The sermon concludes with a letter found at the Gospel Coalition Australia website of a word to perpetrators of domestic abuse (https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/a-letter-to-husbands-who-abuse-their-wives/).To understand this, story, I want to tell you another.
Tell the story of Israel’s oppression and God’s deliverance.
If Israel in the wilderness could go back and comfort the victims in their oppression, what truth would they desire them to understand? God hears. God sees.
If Israel in the wilderness could go back and confront their oppressor, what truth would they desire Pharaoh to understand. God hears? God sees.
Were starting a new series today, Patriarchs: the Faith and Failings of our Fathers.
I see a four-fold rationale for why this study will be beneficial to our church.
- Many in our church and culture suffer from “father wounds” - emotional or psychological distress stemming from the failings of parental figures in their lives. It is all too common to point to the past failings of others as being either an excuse for present behaviour, or to be determinative of future destiny, rather than to soberly examine how God has used both the good and wicked actions of our fathers to bring about His plan in our lives. This is a call to faithfulness rather than victimhood.
- Many parents in our congregation suffer from the fear that we will mess up our children’s lives or the guilt that we already have. Although God does not excuse wickedness and calls us to repentance of that which is wicked, we can be encouraged in our repentance that God will even use our failings as parents to bring out his purposes. In short, we can learn from the positive and negative examples in scripture, even while trusting God to bring good out of our failings.
- I have not preached through Old Testament Narrative for some time and thus it is my hope that through this series our congregation will be better equipped to understand how to read, study and teach the Old Testament narrative.
- We will grow in our appreciation of the glorious grace of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ who is able to “draw straight lines from crooked sticks” through the providential working of His will in us.
Theological Rationale for Sermon Series: The book of Genesis ends with a statement that well sums up the theme of the book: the words of Joseph to his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” The Book of Genesis is an account not only of the “precious and very great promises” God has made to mankind, but also the providential outworking of those promises through the faith and the failings of the family line of Abraham. Although the sermon series will highlight the faith and failings of our fathers, the theological principle underlying every sermon will be God’s providential outworking of his plan through these imperfect and at time corrupted vessels.
While the reformation impacted the entirety of life and culture, the question that emerged and energized the movement was theological - how can man be right with God? This question through Europe into upheaval and re-formed Church and State, but the answers that emerged from the upheaval point us back to the firmest of foundations, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The reformation identified 5 core truths, called the five solas of the reformation, because they each contain the latin word meaning “alone”: sola gratia, by grace alone; sola fide, through faith alone; solus Christus, in Christ alone; sola scriptura, on the authority of scripture alone, soli Deo gloria, to the glory of God alone.
Ours is also a time of massive social, religious and political upheaval. So many people sense this, we know society is fracturing and we see it in ourselves as well. Yet the secular answers in our age seem powerless to stop the upheaval.
This fall, many churches are joining together to point us back to the only truths that provide a lasting and sure foundation. Over the next five weeks we are going to be returning to the 5 truths that the reformation rediscovered. 5 Truths to Hold you Firm in an age of upheaval.