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Sermon 5-17-09
Genesis 15:13-16 - Intercession

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“…Your descendents will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions… In the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:13-16)

The New Testament book called “First Timothy” was originally a letter sent by an older man we know as the Apostle Paul, to a younger man, Pastor Timothy. The letter contains excellent advice on a number of subjects, but right now let’s look at 1 Timothy 2:1-2, where Paul wrote, “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” And he continued in Verse 3, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” To intercede, to pray for others is good for them, good for you.

About a century ago, Pastor H. F. Saylor told of “a poor woman who was in great distress because she could not pay her rent. She was expecting that a police officer would come and take her few possessions to satisfy the debt and then she would be evicted. Her pastor was told of all this and went to her house with the money to pay the rent. He knocked, but could not get an answer. He went to both doors and to the windows of her first floor home because he was determined to help her.” Pastor Saylor continued, “At last he was compelled to go away, carrying the money back with him. The woman thought it was the police officer seeking entrance to carry away her goods, and she had tightly barred every door and window, and gave no heed to the knocking.” Saylor concluded, “Many people imagine that Christ comes as an enemy to put a yoke upon their necks to add to their burdens, and they shut him out. If they knew what blessings He brings in His hands, they would open gladly.

Most who are called “Christians” know that we are supposed to intercede, to pray for those in authority, but how many actually do it? Many are something like the “poor woman,” afraid of authority, angry at paying taxes and annoyed by some governmental policy. Let’s see some of you raise your hands – Do you pray for the leaders of your country by name every day? What about your local leaders? Your judges? Your pastor? Do you pray for them, or are you resentful of those who seem favored by God? All too often people resent those in authority; but they are actually ordinary people appointed by God though they may not realize it, and your intercessory prayers are needed. It’s sad that people in most nations don’t pray for their leaders. This world can be changed for the good through prayer.

Jesus has this to say to the Church, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). One way to open the door is reaching out in prayer, giving “supplications, prayers, intercessions andthanksfor all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” But all too often we are like that “poor woman” who wouldn’t go to the door because she didn’t trust whoever it was that was doing the knocking.

Today’s Scripture in Genesis reflects a time when Abraham (Abram); the man who was to be the father of Isaac and the grandfather of Jacob (later known as Israel) was in prayer. It was a different kind of prayer than most understand, because it was the Lord speaking to HIM, not the other way around. The section starts in Genesis 15:1, where we read that “the word of the Lord came to Abram…” The Lord opened the dialogue by telling him that He (God) was the man’s “shield” and his “reward.”  Almighty God has in mind your protection and reward also.

Abram, who was a wealthy man, immediately brought up his greatest concern: “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless?” (Verse 2). He had no child to love, no one he could give his wealth to. God’s answer was to promise Abram “descendants” like the “stars if you are able to number them” (Verse 5). And then the man responded like we all should: he opened “the door” to the Lord through faith. As it says, “he believed in the Lord and (God) accounted it to him for righteousness” (Verse 6). The “impossible” in your life is possible with God.

Abram and his wife, Sarai, were getting along in years and it would have seemed that they were too old to have children, but it isn’t a problem to faith. Abram knew that if the Lord promised, it would happen. The prayer continued with Abram bringing sacrifices as the Lord instructed, and Abram was given more information about the promise. It was revealed that Abram’s descendants would be slaves to a “nation” for “four hundred years,” after which they would return to the place called “Canaan” to take the land promised to Abram away from its inhabitants (Genesis 15:13-16).

The present inhabitants of that land included Abram’s very good friends, Mamre, Eshcol and Aner, Amorites who were “allies with Abram” in defending their way of life (Genesis 14:13, 24). They were his friends. And when God revealed to Abram a key reason why his descendents would not be in the land for hundreds of years, it would have made sense to this man who “believed” in the Lord. God said, “In the fourth generation (your descendants) shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). They lived longer than we do and a generation was about one hundred years.  The families of his friends would be safe for a long time.

Abram’s Amorite allies believed in the living God, very much like Abram; otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to trust them as he did. He worked closely with Amorites because they shared his faith in God. Others among them must have placed their trust in the Lord as well, for God did not spare godless Sodom and Gomorrah, as we can see in Genesis 19, but He allowed Israel to be excluded from the promise by His protection of the Amorites for a long time. It is also very interesting that when Israel finally was released from bondage, it would be after “four hundred and thirty years” (Exodus 12:40); thirty years more than the “four hundred years” revealed to Abram in Genesis 15:13.

It suggests from that 30-year difference that there were still a few who had faith in the Lord among the Amorites, or Israel would have been released sooner. Someone or some persons among the Amorites must have been offering “supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanksfor all men, for kings and all who are in authority…” which is why they led “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” for a longer period of time. Then the last faithful Amorite passed from the scene and Israel was freed from Egypt. They would now attack and conquer much of the land that was promised to Abram.

The Amorites had faith and they prayed, giving intercession for their leaders and one another; and God spared them for “four hundred and thirty years.” How many people are praying for your country right now? Are YOU praying? Your future depends on it.

Father, we pray for the leaders who are over us, that they will be people who look to You in faith and will trust in You for their decisions. Rescue and lead our people. Cause us to be among those who have true faith in the Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
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