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Sabbath School Lessons on Biblical Missionaries
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 2: Abraham: The First Missionary *
Introduction: Everyone should be a missionary of some type, right?
Perhaps you thought you were not good enough to share the good news
about Jesus? Abraham is one of the most celebrated men in the Bible,
and he is a giant of faith. But, Abraham had some issues that will
give encouragement to those of us who realize our own flaws. We
should not wait to advance God's kingdom until our flaws evaporate,
for Abraham also teaches us about the blessings of advancing God's
message. Let's jump into our Bible study of Abraham's story and
consider the tension between being flawed and being blessed!
- Time to Move
- Read Genesis 12:1 and Genesis 12:4. Not too many of you
reading this are seventy-five years old. However, Genesis
25:7 tells us that Abraham lived to be 175 years old. If
we translated that into our current life span, seventy-five would look more like thirty-five years old. What
considerations would you have if God gave you a command
like this at thirty-five?
- Where did God say Abraham was going? (He did not say.
Abraham is moving from the known to the completely
- Read Genesis 12:2-3. A lot of people move to a new part of
the country (or world) for a better job. What does God
promise Abraham? (Clearly, Abraham is going to be an
- This promise to Abraham is well-known to Bible
students. Do you think that God does similar things
for His people today? I'm referring especially to the
part about blessing us and cursing those who curse
us. (Those who regularly read these lessons know that
I often mention my flaws. But, many years ago, I
noticed something astonishing. In my major religious
liberty cases, bad things were regularly happening to
my opponents. Key witnesses died, opposing lawyers
were fired. My clients won all those cases. When I
mentioned it to some other lawyers, they jokingly
suggested that I should provide a written warning to
future litigation opponents in religious liberty
- Read Genesis 12:5. "The people they had acquired." Is
Abraham a slave owner? (The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary
on the Old Testament says that these are the male and
female slaves Abraham and Lot had acquired. It
specifically rejects the translation "the souls they had
acquired," which infers converts to Abraham's religion.)
- Read Genesis 12:6-7. What is God suggesting about the
Canaanites? (That they will be moved from this land.)
- Let's discuss this. On the one hand we are told that
those who curse Abraham will be cursed, we are told
that Abraham has slaves, and we are told that he will
displace the (I assume) native people who live in the
land. This sounds like God favors His people over
other people. If you agree, does this still happen
today? Does God have favorites?
- Now look at the opposite side of the coin. We are
told that God intended to bless those who blessed
Abraham, and that all people would be blessed through
him. How do you explain that God intends to bless
everyone, but that certain people have bad things
happen to them? (The general message in these verses
is that those who choose God are blessed. Being
blessed is not an absolute verdict on following God,
for we all know good people who have bad things
happen to them. Job is an example God used to teach
us this point.)
- The Wife
- Read Genesis 12:10. Is all well in Abraham's life? (No. He
is adversely affected by a famine.)
- Read Genesis 12:11-13. What do you think about Abraham's
- How much faith in God does it reflect? (None.)
- Read Genesis 12:14-17. Again, we see that Abraham is
favored and Pharaoh has diseases inflicted on him. Does
this seem wrong to you?
- Read Genesis 12:18-20. Whose side do you take here? Who
shows the superior character? Abraham who lied, or Pharaoh
who sends Abraham off (with all of his stuff) as soon as
he learns the truth about Sarah? (I suspect that most
readers will sympathize with Pharaoh.)
- What is the lesson here? (Abraham obeyed God in
accepting the call to mission. God sticks with
Abraham even though he shows character flaws and gets
in trouble by not trusting God.)
- Consider carefully God's actions. Would you do things
differently if you were God? (Obviously, Abraham let
God down. Just as obviously, God's promise to Abraham
faces obstacles if his wife joins Pharaoh's harem.
Since Abraham is not telling Pharaoh the truth, God
brought the truth out through the infliction of
diseases. Notice that God sticks with Abraham even
when he fails God.)
- The Battle
- Read Genesis 14:1-4. What is the reason for the war? (The
Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah rebelled against King
Kedorlaomer of Elam.)
- Read Genesis 14:11-12. Who is collateral damage? (Lot and
- Read Genesis 14:13-14 and Genesis 14:17. Has God made good
on his promise to Abraham? (Read Genesis 14:18-20. Yes,
Melchizedek attributes the victory to God.)
- Read Genesis 14:16 and Genesis 14:21. How strong a
bargaining hand does the King of Sodom possess? (Abraham
just defeated the kings who defeated Sodom. Abraham could
have done what he wanted.)
- Read Genesis 14:22-23. Why should Abraham care what this
king thinks or says? (Abraham wants the world to think
that God made him rich. We now see how Abraham is taking
the blessings of God and using them to give glory to God.
Abraham gives witness to the fact that God is Creator of
heaven and earth.)
- Read Genesis 15:1-3. How does this compare to Genesis
12:2? (God has not yet fulfilled His promise.)
- What lessons do we learn from Abraham's complaint to
God? (We should let God know about our concerns. That
shows that we still think He is the solution to the
problem. But, we also learn from Abraham's situation
that we must be patient.)
- Read Genesis 15:4-5. If God has not fulfilled one promise,
is getting a second and grander promise the answer? (Read
Genesis 15:6. It was sufficient for Abraham and it should
be for us. God showed Abraham favor, but He had not yet
fulfilled an important part of His promise.)
- Read Genesis 15:7-8. Is Abraham a completely trusting guy?
(No! He is asking for proof of the promise concerning
- In the next several verses ( Genesis 15:9-15) God does two
things. He enters into a formal contract with Abraham
about the land (that is what the animal parts are about)
and God describes the "near" future for Abraham's
descendants.) Read Genesis 15:16. Why will the Amorites be
displaced from their land? (They have not chosen God. When
their sin reaches its "full measure" they will lose their
- In the last few days the United States reached a new
milestone in embracing sin. Does the rule that
applied to the Amorites apply today to the United
States and all other nations?
- Why do you think God formalized His promise to
Abraham? Why draw up a "contract?"
- True Missionary Faith
- Read Hebrews 11:8-10. What is the true focus of Abraham's
faith? (Not what happened during his life, but rather the
- If life is not providing what we thought God
promised, what should we do? (First, we need to look
at our self. We should not look for perfection,
given Abraham's issues. But, we should consider
whether our actions created our problems. Second, we
need to have the long view of God's blessings.)
- Read Hebrews 11:11-12. What is the key to Abraham's faith?
("He considered [God] faithful." The real question is
whether we trust God. That is the point of the story of
Job, a guy whose life was definitely not going as
- Read Hebrews 11:13-16. If we trust God, if we welcome His
promise for the future, what will God do? (He will not be
ashamed of us and He will prepare a city for us!)
- Friend, do you want God to prepare a city for you? We all
have flaws. The question is whether we will choose God and
trust Him? Will you agree to do that right now?
- Next week: The Unlikely Missionary.
* Copr. 2015, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.