I. WORKING ON ABRAHAM
In this message we want to see God’s history in the life of Abraham. When we look at Abraham’s life, we need to see it from the proper angle, the angle of the history of God. When I was with the Brethren, they stressed that Abraham had two kinds of descendants. One was likened to the stars of heaven (Gen. 15:5), and the other was likened first to the dust of the earth (13:16) and second to the sand on the seashore (22:17). These three expressions involve the heaven, the earth, and the sea. There are the stars in the heaven, the dust of the earth, and the sand on the seashore. We need to consider the significance of these expressions.
Genesis 13 tells us that God came to visit Abraham after his nephew Lot left him. God was a real friend to Abraham. He realized that Abraham was lonely, so He came to Abraham. The servants of Lot had been fighting with the servants of Abraham, and this fighting was due to the shortage of land. Then Abraham said to Lot, "Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left" (v. 9). Lot looked at the land around them, and he chose the plain toward Sodom because that was fertile. That plain was well watered and was like the garden of the Lord and the land of Egypt (v. 10). Lot chose the best part of the land, and he departed from Abraham.
Then the Lord spoke to Abraham and said, "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever" (vv. 14-15). Northward was toward Lebanon, southward was toward Egypt, eastward was toward the Euphrates, the Great River, and westward was toward the Mediterranean Sea, the Great Sea. As much as Abraham could see in these directions, God would give to him and to his seed. Furthermore, God told him that He would make his seed as the dust of the earth (v. 16).
In Genesis 13 there was a quarrel over the land, and Lot chose his portion, which was the best portion. Then in chapter fourteen there was a war, and in that war the very place chosen by Lot, Sodom, was defeated and taken, and Lot, his family, and all their possessions were captured. When Abraham found out about this, he armed his trained servants, three hundred eighteen men, and he defeated the invaders to deliver Lot and his family. Thus, Lot, his family, and his possessions were all recovered (14:14-16).
Lot was recovered back into safety, but Abraham may have wondered what he would do if the four kings whom he had defeated would return again to fight against him. At that juncture, God came in. This time God asked him to look up at the heavens. God 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" (Gen. 15:5). This implies that God was training Abraham. Abraham’s earthly descendants could be captured but not his heavenly descendants. It was as if God said, "Abraham, I, the almighty God, Jehovah, am not only giving you descendants from the earth. I am also giving you descendants from the heavens. Your enemies can deal with your descendants from the earth, but they cannot do anything with your heavenly descendants."
(The History of God in His Union With Man, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)