Today’s Reading: Genesis 13-17
Did you know Paul wrote that Abraham had the gospel preached to him through scripture?
According to Galatians 3:5-8, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and work miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith – just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.'”
Paul is saying that Abraham came to believe, came to faith, the same that all of us do – faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God and how can they hear without a preacher (Romans 10:14-17).
But how did “scripture” do this? Wasn’t Moses the author of the first five books of the Bible, the first writer of “scripture”?
In Galatians 3:8, the Greek word for scripture is graphe. This word does mean scripture, and is often translated that way, but it can mean simply a writing too. Why do I draw that out?
Genesis 15:5 says, “And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.'”
God tells Abraham to “number” the stars. But, the Hebrew here doesn’t mean number as in try to count how many stars are in the sky. The English word number is actually two Hebrew words (basically the same word used twice). Both of these words basically mean to count, to make a written record, to make known or announce, to report or tell. God is not telling Abraham to count how many stars are in the sky. He is telling Abraham to look toward heaven and make a written record of what the stars are saying, if he can indeed make a written record of it, because that is how his offspring shall be.
The heavens, the stars, are telling Abraham something?
Psalm 19:1-6 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.”
Who is the glory of God? Hebrews 1:3 says that the Son, Jesus, is the glory of God. Jesus is God’s handiwork. God made a body for him (listen to tonight’s teaching to see this). Jesus is the bridegroom. Jesus is the strong man that went to the cross despising the shame for the joy set before him. This passage in Psalm 19 is saying that the heavens, the stars, declare Jesus.
Therefore, in Genesis 15:5, God is telling Abraham to look to the stars and write the message of the gospel, if he can, because it speaks Jesus, his offspring.
But, I thought Abraham’s offspring was Isaac?
Not so fast. In the same portion of Galatians where Paul said that Abraham had the gospel preached to him by scripture, Paul specifically references Genesis 15 and says, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)
Throughout the third chapter of Galatians Paul is continually referring back to Genesis 15. He is saying that Abraham heard the gospel through the message of the stars and Abraham made a writing of this. Abraham believed, had faith, because the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached to him. He heard this gospel. Psalm 19 says the heavens, the stars pour forth speech. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Did you know that Abraham heard the word of God?
Genesis 15:1 says “the word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision.” I’ve written it many times, but the word of the Lord is Jesus. Jesus came to Abraham in a vision. But, verse 4 says, “the word of the Lord came to him.” Now it is not just a vision for Abraham. The word of the Lord, Jesus, actually came to him and told him to “number” the stars, or write their story, if you can because they speak about me, Jesus, your offspring. Further, in verse 7, the word of the Lord that came to Abraham says, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur.”
And that is how the writing preached the gospel to Abraham.