Verses of Genesis 7
Genesis 7:5 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
ABRAM’S JOURNEY TO CANAAN
Gen 7:5. They went forth, to go into the land of Canaan: and into the land of Canaan they came.
THE call of Abram is one of the most instructive subjects that can occupy the human mind; both because the perfections of Almighty God were most gloriously displayed in it; and because, in it, he shewed himself one of the brightest patterns of obedience that ever the world beheld.
He had had a revelation from God whilst yet he was at Ur, in the land of the Chaldees: by that he was directed to leave his native country; which was immersed, as he also and his father were, in idolatry [Note: Jos 24:2.]. At Haran (or, as it is also called, Charran) he abode till his father’s death; when he received from God a further direction to go into Canaan, with an express assurance that the whole land of Canaan should be given to him and his posterity for an inheritance, and that in his seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed [Note: –4 with Act 7:2-4.]. With this direction he complied: he took his wife and family, and all that he possessed, and set out upon the journey; as it is said in the words before us—“They went forth, to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.”
Now this call of Abram is very instructive; no less as displaying the glorious perfections of God who called him, than as exhibiting the distinguished virtues of him who obeyed the call. I propose then, in illustrating this subject, to set before you,
The perfections of God for your admiration—
To this we are particularly led by that expression of St. Stephen, “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham.” Observe, then,
[Why was Abram distinguished above all other of the sons of men, to be so blessed in himself, and such a blessing to the world? He and all his family were idolaters, as also were all around him: yet was he selected by Almighty God from among them, and made the friend and favourite of heaven. Can any account for this? Can it be traced to any thing but the sovereign will and pleasure of Jehovah? However adverse any man may be to the idea of God’s sovereignty in the dispensation of his blessings, he cannot deny, he cannot question it, in this case. Yet this is really what is done in the conversion of every soul to God. The Almighty Sovereign of the universe “has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began [Note: 2Ti 1:9.].” “It is God, and God alone, that has made any of us to differ” from our fellows [Note: 1Co 4:7.]: and every saint, whether in heaven or on earth, must say, “By the grace of God I am what I am [Note: 1Co 15:10.].”]
[Nothing less than omnipotence could have effected such a sudden and total change in the heart of Abram as was wrought at this time: nor, in truth, could any thing less than omnipotence have sufficed to accomplish for him all that was now promised. And is less power required for the “turning of any man from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God?” It is a new creation, and is expressly called so by God himself [Note: Eph 2:10.]. It is compared by St. Paul to the power which the Father exercised in raising his Son Jesus Christ from the dead, and exalting him to glory far above all the principalities and powers, whether of heaven or hell [Note: Eph 1:19-21. See the wonderful force of the original.]. From the first awakening of a sinner to his final exaltation to glory, he must say, in reference to the whole work, “He that hath wrought me to this self-same thing is God [Note: 2Co 5:5.].”]
[Not one foot of ground had Abram: nor for twentyfive years after the promise was made to him, had he the child to whom the promises were made. The time was past in which, according to the course of nature, it was possible for him and Sarah to have a child. Yet the child was given him; and to his posterity all the land of Canaan; and in due time, the seed also, in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. Thus, in like manner, are all the promises fulfilled to every one who believes in Christ: not one jot or tittle of God’s word is ever suffered to fail [Note: Jos 23:14.]. “The promises of God in Christ are, not yea and nay, but yea and amen, to the glory of God [Note: 2Co 1:20.],” and to the everlasting salvation of all who rely upon them. However numerous their dangers be, or great their difficulties, “they shall never be plucked out of God’s hands [Note: Joh 10:29.],” but shall be “kept by his power unto full and complete salvation [Note: 1Pe 1:5.].”]
Let us now set before you that which is no less conspicuous in our text; namely,
The virtues of Abram, for your imitation—
We are told, on divine authority, that if we be Abram’s seed, we shall do the works of Abram. Behold, then,
His simple faith—
[He received implicitly all that God spake unto him. To whatsoever it referred, and however improbable, humanly speaking, the accomplishment of it was, he never for one moment doubted the truth of God’s word, “nor ever staggered at any promise through unbelief.” Now in this most particularly he is set forth as an example to us; who are required to “walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had whilst he was yet uncircumcised [Note: Rom 4:12.].” And more especially are we to imitate him in relation to the faith which he exercised on the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he beheld at the distance of two thousand years as the Saviour of the world. If any person ever could be justified by his works, Abram might have claimed that honour: but, eminent as his obedience to the divine mandates was, “he had nothing whereof to glory before God;” and, sensible of his own utter unworthiness, he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for righteousness, and was justified solely by faith in him [Note: ib. –3.]. And why is this so minutely recorded concerning him? Was it for his sake, that he might be honoured? No: it was altogether for our sakes, that we might know how we also are to be justified, and may look simply to Christ as our all in all [Note: ib. 2–25.].]
His prompt decision—
[It is said concerning him, that “when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, he obeyed.” There was in him no hesitation, no delay. And in this way must we also obey the divine call, when bidden to “forsake all and follow Christ.” We must “not confer with flesh and blood [Note: Gal 1:16.] ;” but must, like the Disciples with their nets, and Matthew at the receipt of custom, leave all for Christ. We must be on our guard against specious excuses, “Lord, let me go home and bury my father,” or “take leave of my friends:” we must not be looking for “a more convenient season;” our obedience must be prompt, our decision firm and unchangeable: whilst it is called to-day, we must avail ourselves of the opportunity that is afforded us to do the will of God: to hesitate, is treason: to delay, is death. “What our hand findeth to do, we must do it instantly, and with all our might.”]
His self-denying zeal—
[Doubtless Abram felt that attachment which men usually do to their native country; and found it painful to turn his back upon all his friends, and to forsake all the comforts which he enjoyed in opulence and ease. No doubt, too, he had much to combat with amongst his friends and acquaintance. He was leaving his native country, and yet “he knew not whither he was going.” How strange must this appear! yea, what a folly and infatuation! But “he knew in whom he had believed,” and had no fear but that the Lord Jehovah, who had called him, would guide his feet, and keep him in all his ways. And shall not we also have much to contend with, if we obey the call of God in his Gospel? To renounce the world, to “mortify our members upon earth, to cut off a right hand, to pluck out a right eye, to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts,” is surely no easy work. The very terms in which these duties are expressed sufficiently declare what self-denial is necessary for the discharge of them. From without, also, our difficulties will be increased. We shall have foes without number to obstruct our way; and most of all, “those of our own household.” Hence our blessed Lord warned his followers, saying, “If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” In truth, “if we hate not father and mother, and houses and land, yea, and our own lives also in comparison of him, we cannot be his disciples.” Let not this appear a hard saying: obey it, like Abram; and, like him, you shall find it “a light burden and an easy yoke.”]
His prudent care—
[Abram collected together all the substance which he could conveniently carry with him, and took it along with him for his support. To have acted otherwise, without necessity, would have been to tempt God, rather than to trust in him. He had many dependent on him; and it became him, as far as with propriety he could, to provide for their support. And the same prudent care becomes us also. It is one thing to improve the means we possess, and another to trust in them. We must never say to gold, “Thou art my hope; or to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence:” but at the same time we are to employ the talents which God has committed to us, that we may support ourselves, and not be chargeable to others. That is a remarkable expression of Solomon, “I wisdom dwell with prudence [Note: Pro 8:12.].” And a prudent attention to our worldly circumstances tends rather to honour, than disgrace, religion. Abram, as the head of a family, provided for his own: and he did right in this: yea, if he had not done it, he would have “denied the faith, and been worse than an infidel.” Whatever, then, be your situation in life, endeavour to discharge the duties of it in a becoming manner; and let your determination through grace be like that of David, “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way [Note: Psa 101:2.].”]
His persevering diligence—
[In stopping at Haran till his father’s death, I suppose, he judged that to be, or rather, that it was for the time, his proper destination. But being afterwards directed to go to Canaan, he went forth, and turned not aside till he came thither: and there he abode for many years. Indeed, to the very end of his life he held on in the good way which God had directed him to pursue. And thus it is that we also must approve ourselves to God. We must “not turn back: for, if we do, God’s soul will have no pleasure in us.” If we “turn back” at any time, it is to certain “perdition.” Let us “remember Lot’s wife.” In fact, it were better for us never to have “known the way of righteousness, than, after having known it, to depart from it.” Go on then, like Abram, “as pilgrims and sojourners here,” “shewing plainly, that you are seeking a better country [Note: Heb 11:9-10; Heb 11:13-16.].” And be assured, that “if, by patient continuance in well-doing, you seek for glory and honour and immortality, you shall in the end attain eternal life [Note: Rom 2:9.].”]
Verses of Genesis 7
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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
Charles Simeon (1759 - 1836) was an English evangelical Anglican cleric.
Horae Homileticae reflects the rich source of Biblical understanding of Simeon, a towering figure in the history of evangelical theology.