The Source of Blessing (Genesis 12:1-3)
Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
The Scripture which we read today is from Genesis 12:1-3. Did you hear to whom it was that God had spoken? It was a man named Abraham. This was in modern day Iraq about 4000 years ago that God appeared to the man Abraham and spoke these words: “Get out of your country, from your father’s house! Go to a land that I will show you! And you shall be a blessing!” What did God say Abraham would become? A blessing. “And when you become a blessing, in you all families of the earth will be blessed!” This is what God promised.
This person is very significant. We believe in Jesus and serve God, and this man called Abraham is very important to our faith. You have probably read the New Testament before. The Bible is made up of the Old and New Testaments. The New Testament starts with the Gospel of Matthew, doesn’t it? What is the name of a person that appears in the first verse of the Gospel of Matthew? It is Abraham. He appears in the very first verse of the first book of the New Testament. It says, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham”. It mentions Abraham.
We don’t believe in Abraham. Our faith is to believe in Jesus Christ and worship God. However, the man Abraham appears as a significant figure. The reason for that is everything we are now enjoying in Jesus right now was promised by God to Abraham 4000 years ago. We are living in Seoul and here we live our faith lives, but everything that we are now enjoying was already promised to a certain man by God 4000 years ago. And that promise is being fulfilled upon us now. Hence if we carefully examine the promises made to Abraham, we can come to know clearly what it is that we are enjoying.
Another man called Paul also appears in the New Testament. Among the letters he wrote was a letter written to the people in the region of Galatia. The region of Galatia is present day Turkey. After Jesus ascended the church was built, and there were a number of churches in the Turkish region. And among the letters he wrote to those churches is a letter he wrote to Galatia which is in the Book of Galatians. In that letter it says, “Christ was cursed.” He is the Son of God. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God. In other words, we believe Him as One who is equal to God. But it says that Jesus was accursed. Think about that. He is the One we believe in and He is the accursed One.
So why was He cursed? What kind of curse did He go under? Jesus died on the cross. At that time the cross was used by the Roman Empire for capital punishment. Except for the most vicious criminals, many were not crucified. And they did not scourge a man who was to be crucified. The next most severe form of punishment after crucifixion was scourging. Therefore, an offender was not subjected to both scourging and crucifixion, as the scourging alone would often leave the person half dead and their face unrecognizable. Although they flogged Jesus to that extreme point, their satisfaction was not met; consequently, they proceeded to crucify Him to death.
Jesus whom we believe in, as we know is now glorified as the Son of God. However, when He came to the earth, He was cursed. Why did He undergo such cursing? In order that all the Jews, the descendants of Abraham, and even Gentiles like us may receive that blessing, He was accursed. The opposite of blessing is cursing. And the opposite of cursing is blessing. Hence the reason Jesus was cursed was so that we may be blessed. Thus, if we believe in Jesus now, we are the blessed ones.
The world talks about five blessings, right? One of them is that you have healthy, strong teeth. But even those healthy teeth will be of no use when you depart from this world. Even if your children are prosperous, in the end they will all leave this world. However, the blessing we received, the blessing which God wants to give is not like those blessings of the world that fade away but an everlasting blessing. And it turned out that this blessing was not prepared by God for mankind originally but for His Son Jesus. It was a blessing that was prepared in the eternal kingdom. And He has granted that blessing unto us too.
In one word, that blessing is called the blessing of Abraham. Should we say that together? The blessing of Abraham!
The blessing is given by God. And it was through Jesus He gave us the blessing. However, it is neither referred to as the blessing of God nor the blessing of Jesus Christ. Instead, it was called the blessing of Abraham. This is because the blessing was sown like a seed in a field called Abraham. That field was fertile. Consequently, when the seed was sown in that field, many fruits were produced. If the soil is bad and dries up hard like concrete, the seeds would have failed to bear fruit even if planted. However, Abraham accepted and obeyed the word – the promise – God had given him. His perseverance led to the birth of many descendants. Ultimately the Son of God Jesus Christ was born into the lineage of Abraham. Thus, the blessing that God had promised to Abraham extended to us as well.
I said many things today but just remember this. We are now blessed by believing in Jesus. That blessing is an everlasting blessing and it is called ‘the blessing of Abraham’. Please repeat after me: ‘The blessing of Abraham!’
That is why Abraham has a very close connection to you. You shouldn’t think of yourself as, “I’m just living in Seoul in the 21st Century and this is the blessing I received”. Already 4000 years ago, this was promised to Abraham and it has continued all the way to get to you.
Therefore, it is important that we carefully examine what it is that God promised Abraham because that’s the promise which is fulfilled upon us today. What I want to emphasize to you today is what God said to Abraham. He said, “Get out of your country, from your father’s house! Go to a land that I will show you! And you shall be a blessing!” What did He say He would become? He would become a source of blessing. This is the difference between Him and the many gods in this world.
There are many gods in this world. And so you may have been in contact with many gods before you came to this church. A long time ago, a person I know visited my office on a rainy day. It was a Tuesday. I asked him, “How did you come all the way here? Didn’t you go to work?” And he answered, “My friend told me to come.” “Oh, where is your friend?” He said the friend came with him. So I told him to bring his friend inside but he said the friend was already inside. “Sorry? Where is your friend?” I asked. He said the friend was beside him. It turned out that this person was talking to a demon. So that morning he came all the way to my office because that friend of his had told him to.
So, as I was talking to him, I said, “Oh, that is actually a demon. It keeps following you around and even commands you to do things. While there are many gods in this world, it’s important not befriend that god of this world. Instead, make God your friend. Jesus came to this world and became our friend. He guided us to serve God. That God sends the Holy Spirit so that now the Spirit of God, not a demon, abides in man. He is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it’s time to change your friend!” While I was speaking, the demon revealed itself within him and the man fell down. After praying for him, he got up and said, “Why am I here?” He couldn’t remember what happened since that morning.
Whether people wish or not, they are influenced or controlled by some gods, and some are so powerfully controlled that they even lose consciousness. So, this man was not in his own mind since that morning but was completely dominated by that god. Such gods despise people. Therefore, they go into people when they’re not welcome and harass them, control them and torment them.
However, the God we believe in and worship -our God- is very noble. He never crosses boundaries against your will. He is not going to force Himself into someone when they don’t want God. Hence, we have to open our hearts wide and welcome Him that He may come in. But just because we open our hearts doesn’t mean He will come in to everyone. Why? Unlike the gods of this world, God is sacred. He is holy and pure, and therefore enters those who are holy. Thus, unless one’s spirit is made clean, he cannot receive God. And it was to make that spirit clean, Jesus became accursed. He paid the price of sin. Anyone who accepts that will be cleansed in his spirit. And it’s needless to say for those who are already baptized. If one has been baptized and completely united with Jesus, his spirit has been made clean. Then the Holy Spirit goes into that person and he gets governed by the Holy Spirit.
The gods of this world say to people, “I will bless you!” They say, “I can give you a blessing!” Do you know shamans? They perform shamanic rituals and do fortunetelling. When they are fortune telling, they say they are in contact with a god. And the shaman says, “I will bless you!” They claim that they can bless people. However, none of those gods have said, “I will make you a blessing (source of blessing).” Though they might say that they can bless someone, none of them says that they will make someone to become a source of blessing through whom others are blessed.
Yet this God, the God who appeared to Abraham said, “I will make you a blessing (source of blessing)! And through you all peoples on earth will be blessed!” Those people He referred to are not only the people that were around him. It didn’t mean only the people living in that village, nor is it confined to the nations living in the Middle East. He means all nations on the earth will be blessed through him. Not only will the people of his time be blessed but the people after him, whether a thousand years, two thousand years, three thousand or four! This was the blessing God had promised to Abraham.
A while back, I remember another person went through something else. It was a couple who ran a business. The husband and wife were struggling in the beginning when they started the business but in the end their business succeeded. Because the business was doing well, they asked their relatives to work with them. But their relatives were mostly Buddhists who went to the temple and those that followed shamanism. And these people went to a shaman to get fortunetelling. But the shaman gave them a scare saying, “This business will come to ruin soon.” They asked, “What should we do to save the business?” “There is someone in your family who is spiritually in disagreement. Kick that person out and your business will be saved.” “Who is that person?” It turned out to be the man’s wife. She was a passionate Christian. And the shamans said that I would bless them if you kicked out this woman. This is what the god of this world demanded. It was saying, “I will bless you but you must divorce your wife!” She went through all the hard times with her husband and the wrinkles grew on her face showing those years of hard work. But now that the business was doing well and making a fortune, that god inserts this idea into the man. “Get rid of your wife. And I will bless you!”
Do you want to be close to such a god? Everyone, do you want to be close to this kind of ungrateful god that destroys the family? When you stay close with such a god, you become just like that god. Although the man had attended church previously, he didn’t have a worthy faith life. He wasn’t an evil man. But when he encountered that god, a thought came into his mind which grew and became more evil after some time. In the end he divorced his wife. He begged his wife for divorce and they separated. How evil is that?
Nevertheless, the God whom we are encountering right now, the God who appeared to Abraham is exactly this kind of God. He said to Abraham, “I will bless you. However, your blessing won’t be limited to yourself; what will you become through this blessing? You will become a source of blessing. As a result, through you, all peoples of the earth will be blessed. Those you meet will be blessed. The taxi driver who drives you will be blessed because of you; the teacher that teaches you will be blessed because of you; your colleagues at work will be blessed because of you. And even people from other countries whom you have not met yet will be blessed because of you. This is the blessing we are receiving today. And truly, we become the source of blessing.
Everybody, you probably came to the church expecting to receive something good. And you can definitely have it. Actually, you can have more than what you expected. You can receive more abundantly than what you thought. But it doesn’t stop there. You can become a source of blessing who can share that with many people. This is the promise God made in the beginning to those who possess the blessing of Abraham. That not only are they blessed, they become a source of blessing.
If we don’t get this right from the start, we may not be in accord with God. We will be in conflict with Him. Hence you need to be in accord with God. You didn’t come to church only for you to be blessed. Through you your whole family will be blessed. Through you, the people around you will all be blessed. Through you, people you don’t even know will be blessed.
There are a great many people in China who are being nurtured by the word from our church. About 150 churches are receiving the word from our church – they learn and they teach that. Those 150 churches are sending us letters almost every day saying, “Thank you for sending us the word every week.” They bless the overseer, bless us, the Sungrak people, bless me who is doing this work for them. Those tens of thousands of people have been blessed through me. They have been blessed through us. They have been blessed through our overseer. Likewise, we become a source of blessing and bless all peoples on earth.
You can do the same. Though you came to church originally to be blessed, but don’t stop there. In Jesus’ name I bless you to be a source of blessing through whom all peoples and nations are blessed. I will pray.
< Prayer >
God our Father, since our God has said He will bless all these people here to become a source of blessing, may they truly become a source of blessing so that all the nations of the earth may be blessed through them just as God promised Abraham. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center