A 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.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

The Scripture that 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. It 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 the person who appears in the first verse of Matthew’s Gospel? 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.” Abraham is mentioned.

We do not believe in Abraham. Our faith is to believe in Jesus Christ and worship God. However, the man Abraham appears as a significant figure. This is because everything we are now enjoying in Jesus was already promised by God to Abraham 4,000 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. Therefore, 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 is a letter written to the people in the region of Galatia. The region of Galatia is present- day Turkey. After Jesus ascended, churches were established, and there were several 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 the most severe form of capital punishment. Except for the most vicious criminals, many were not crucified. Furthermore, a man sentenced to crucifixion was not usually scourged. Scourging was the next most severe punishment. Therefore, when punished, it was uncommon for someone to endure both scourging and crucifixion because 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 also crucified Jesus, leading to His 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 a curse? It was so that all Jews, the descendants of Abraham, and even Gentiles like us could receive that blessing. The opposite of blessing is cursing. And the opposite of cursing is blessing. Therefore, the reason Jesus was cursed was to enable us to receive blessings. Thus, if we now believe in Jesus, we are the blessed ones.

The world talks about the ‘five blessings’, right? One of these is having strong, healthy teeth. However, even the strongest teeth will be of no use when we depart from this world. Similarly, no matter how prosperous our descendants may be, in the end, they will all leave this world. However, the blessing we have received, the blessing which God wants to give us, is not like those blessings of the world that fade away but an everlasting blessing. And it turns out that this blessing was not originally prepared by God for humanity, but for His Son, Jesus. It was a blessing that was prepared in the eternal kingdom. And He has granted that blessing unto us as well.

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 that He gave us the blessing. However, it is not referred to simply as God’s blessing or as 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 planted in that field, many fruits were produced. If the soil is bad and dries up hard like concrete, even if seeds were sown, they would have failed to bear fruit. However, Abraham accepted and obeyed the word – the promise – God had given him, so His perseverance led to the birth of many descendants. Ultimately the Son of God Jesus Christ was born into the lineage of Abraham, and thus, the blessing that God had promised to Abraham have come to us as well.

I have shared many things today, but remember just this. We are now blessed by believing in Jesus. This blessing is an everlasting blessing, and it is called ‘the blessing of Abraham’. Now, please repeat after me: ‘The blessing of Abraham!’

This is why Abraham has a very close connection to you. You shouldn’t just think of yourself as, “I’m just living in Seoul in the 21st Century and this is the blessing I received”. Instead, understand that this promise was made to Abraham 4,000 years ago and has continued all the way to get to you.

Therefore, it is important to carefully examine what God promised Abraham because that promise is being fulfilled in us today. What I especially want to emphasize 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 you might have encountered many gods before coming to this church. Many years ago, a person I knew 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.” Curious, I asked, “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. That morning, he had come all the way to my office because that friend of his had told him to.

As we talked, 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 manifested itself within him and he fell down. After I prayed for him, he awoke puzzled, asking, “Why am I here?” He couldn’t remember what happened since that morning.

Likewise, whether people wish or not, they are influenced or controlled by some gods, and some are so powerfully controlled that they even lose consciousness. Thus, this man had not been in control of his own mind since that morning; he was entirely under the control of that god. Such gods despise people. Therefore, they go into people even when they’re not welcome, harassing, controlling and tormenting them.

However, the god we believe in and worship -our God- is very noble. He never crosses boundaries against your will. He will not force himself upon anyone who does not welcome him. Therefore, we have to open our hearts wide and welcome him that he may come in. Yet, merely opening our hearts does not guarantee that he will come in us. Why? Because unlike the gods of this world, this god is sacred. He is holy and pure, and therefore enters those who are pure. Thus, unless one’s spirit is made clean, they cannot receive God. It was to purify our spirits that Jeus bore a curse. He paid the price for sin. Anyone who accepts this will be cleansed in spirit. It’s needless to say for those who are already baptized. If one has been baptized and completely united with Jesus, their spirit is purified. Consequently, the Holy Spirit goes into that person and they are governed by the Holy Spirit.

However, the gods of this world say in this way, “I will bless you!” They claim, “I can give you a blessing!” Are you familiar with shamans? They perform shamanic rituals and fortune-telling. 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 these gods have ever said, “You will become a blessing (source of blessing).” While they might say that they can bless someone, none says that “You shall be a blessing through whom others are blessed.”

Yet this god, the god who first appeared to Abraham, said, “I will make you a blessing (source of blessing)! And through you all peoples on earth will be blessed!” These ‘peoples’ aren’t limited to those nearby, nor to those in his village, and not just to the Middle Eastern nations, because he was from that region. All nations, all peoples across 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 is the blessing that God promised to Abraham.

A while back, I witnessed another troubling situation. 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. As 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 you will be blessed!”

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. Yet, he wasn’t an evil man. However, 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 finally separated. How evil is that?

Nevertheless, the god whom we are encountering right now, 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.  Everyone 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 in other countries whom you have yet to meet will be blessed because of you. This is the blessing we receive today. And truly, we become the source of blessing in this way.

Everyone, you probably came to the church expecting to gain something good. And you can definitely have it. Actually, you can receive more than what you expected. You can obtain far more than you imagined. 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 you blessed, you become a source of blessing.

If we don’t align ourselves correctly from the start, we won’t be in accord with God’s thinking, and this leads to discord. So, make sure you are in tune with God from the start. 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, even those you don’t 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, and 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.

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

Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center