BY LARRY STOUT, ELDER
In the series on faith featuring Abraham, Pastor Raphael has noted in Genesis 12 about the path of obedience that Abraham followed. There are many examples for us as well. Abraham’s responding to God’s call to leave his homeland parallels the call of Jesus to his disciples. As Abraham was obedient to this call, he went from hearing God to seeing God appear to him. He was finding that every trial provided an opportunity to find a meeting place with God.
When Abraham did find these meeting places, he erected an altar to the Lord. This symbolized that he wanted to ‘mark’ these events - he did not want to forget these significant moments of growth that resulted from faith. Indeed, because these were lasting monuments, they also could be used to teach future generations of these very valuable lessons.
In Genesis 12:7 we read that it was at the second place where Abraham built an altar, at a place called Bethel (later to become known as Bethlehem), that Abraham “called upon the name of the Lord.” This is a very powerful statement. It is used at least 22 times in the Old Testament. J. Gary Millar in his book, Calling on the Name of the Lord: A Biblical Theology of Prayer states that this expression is how the Bible describes the ‘post-Eden conversation’ between God and man. Millar develops this idea through the entire Scriptures and argues that this represents true Biblical prayer.
Think of it — prayer as a conversation with God. But, wait a minute, how can that be? After all, Adam and Eve’s sin destroyed the fellowship that they had with God. There was no “undoing” what they had done. Instead, they needed their sin to be removed — and the only way that could happen would be through a sacrifice. But it could not be any sacrifice, but one that would bring God and man back into fellowship together, which meant it would have to a God-substituting-for-man sacrifice.
This is exactly what was promised in Genesis 3:15. when God told the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” This is what Jesus accomplished at the cross. In Romans 16:20, Paul states, "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
It is worth noting that at the future site of Bethlehem, the birthplace of the Christ-child, Jesus, that Abraham by faith “calls upon the Lord.” Calling on the name of the Lord is praying to Him on the basis of the gospel, on the basis of finished work of Jesus Christ. We do not earn the right to pray - nor do we deserve the right to pray. No, we call upon His name because He invites us to because He made a way for us to do so, because of His great love. As Revelation 3:20 puts it, he is knocking at the door and wants us to invite him in so we can fellowship together. Call on His name today.
Larry W. Stout, Ph.D., MBA, is an elder at City Church. Larry is a former missionary in the republic of Latvia. He helped start several churches and was a founder and first director for the Baltic Reformed Theological Seminary in Riga. Larry is an author of three books on leadership and human resource management and two novels. He also is currently a weekly columnist for Lycoming County’s largest circulation newspaper, the Webb Weekly, a Clinton Township Supervisor and a Leadership Consultant & Trainer.