God’s Call to Abram.

1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you. 
I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
3
 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." 
4 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 
5 Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. 
6 Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. 
7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
8 And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
9 So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South. 
10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land. 
11 And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. 
12 Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, 'This is his wife'; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 
13 Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you." 
14 So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. 
15 The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh's house. 
16 He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels. 

17 But the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife. 
18 And Pharaoh called Abram and said, "What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 
19 Why did you say, 'She is my sister'? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way." 
20 So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had.

 

Abram dwelt in Ur of the Chaldees. South of Babylon, what is today, Southern Iraq, near to the Tigres and Euphrates rivers. A few miles from the Persian Gulf.  According to Hebrew tradition his father Terah had an idol shop and he was a pagan, Abram was brought up in this environment. Terah and his family were worshippers of the moon god Sin Nanna.

Joshua 24:2  And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods. 

At this time, God spoke to Abram and told him to leave his fathers house and take his family and go to a land that God would give to him and his generations that would follow.
However Abram did not go directly to Canaan, he went with his father to Haran.

 

Gen 11:31  And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. 

Why Abram did this, the text does not say but he did not make his way to Canaan until Terah his father was dead. All God said was “to a land that I will show thee”. However God did tell him to leave his family and his fathers house. However, he did not do that, he went with his father to Haran.
Eventually Terah died.

Gen 11:32  And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran. 

Was Abram disobedient to God’s call? Maybe and maybe not but he did go in a different direction. He did not go where Gad told him to go.
The interesting point here is that this is not mentioned in the text. If this was disobedience and Abram eventually obeyed, God never mentioned it.
You could say that there is a lesson here. Sometimes God asks us to do certain things and we may set out on that path but somewhere we get waylaid by other things, we go our own way instead of God’s way. However if we come back and get back in the will of God, he forgives our waywardness and as the scriptures tell us, God forgets our sin.


Hebrews :12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Gen 12:1  Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 

Gen 12:4  So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 

Now this is the second time that God told Abram to get on with it.
We can read the account of this also in Acts Ch 7 in Stephen’s speech:

2 And he said, "Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran,
3 and said to him, 'Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.'
4 Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.


You can see from the map, that Canaan was actually nearer to Ur than Haran. Haran was northwest and Canaan was west. Quite a detour.
 

                                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gen 12:2  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 
 

You will notice that the promises made to Abram by God had no conditions attached to them. These promises were unconditional promises.
These were not promises based on anything we must do but based on the grace of God.
There are conditional promises, where God says, "If you do this or that, I will do this".
However these promises where unconditional.


We will see later in Genesis chapter 15 how the covenant with Abram was made by God alone whilst Abram slept.
Only God passed through the severed animals, the symbols of the covenant.


Gen 15:17  And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. 

Gen 15:18  In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 

We will also see that this covenant is an everlasting covenant. A covenant that will never be broken by God, what God said He will do, He will do.
There is a lot of discussion in our day about who has the right to occupy the land in Israel. These verses make it quite clear who has this right.
The land was given by God to Abram and his descendants. His descendants were Isaac and Jacob and Jacob was called Israel.
Notice here: the covenant was
an everlasting covenant with the physical nation of Israel.

Genesis 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

The next verse is a very interesting verse.

Gen 12:3  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
 
We have seen the results of this verse throughout the ages. We have seen the persecution of the nation of Israel in history. The Babylonians cursed Israel and took them into captivity, as did the Egyptians. They have been cursed by the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Spaniards and in more modern times the Germans.

The interesting thing is, where are these nations today? 

All these that persecuted Israel have either been brought low or are no more.
Even the Germans that put walls around the Jews in Ghetto’s mounted with machine guns, where defeated and eventually had walls around them in Berlin, they too were mounted with machine guns.

The Hittites, the Canaanites the Ammonites and all the other “ites” have all disappeared and yet the Israelites remain.


"I will curse them that curse thee”
 

Out of Israel came salvation of the Gentiles. Jesus was born a Jew, the first Christians were Jews. Christianity and all its benefits came out of Israel, the seed of  Abraham.

John 4:22  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

“I will bless them that bless thee.
Genesis 12: 3b And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." 

The world has certainly been blessed as a result of the birth of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel.
Out of Christianity has come many blessings, from prosperity to social reform, with the abolition of slavery and general attitudes towards women, education and welfare, How we treat our sick, our elderly and our children.

 

Today some 2 billion people in 260 countries profess Christianity. This vast array of religious groups with their varied and conflicting beliefs, claim more adherents than any other religion in the world. Of course, the degree of understanding, dedication and emulation of the Christian way of life varies among adherents, but most all who claim to be Christian have—to some degree—had their lives positively impacted by biblical teaching.

Even some atheists have noted that some of the more decent influences on our society, such as compassion, are ideas that spring from the legacy of Christ.


Verses 4 -6. At this time Abram did not know where the land that God promised was. He was travelling by faith.

6 Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. 

Only in verse 7 did God reveal that Canaan was the place.

7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.


Abram needed faith to believe God. We are told at the end of verse 6 And the Canaanites were then in the land. 

God promised to give this land to Abram and his descendants and yet the land was already occupied.
It would appear that God’s promises were clashing with present realities. How is this going to be brought about?
It begs the question, how would we react to such a situation. Maybe unbelief, “I must have read the signs wrong”. Obviously, it would take all our faith to believe that this is God’s will.

However, God has an amazing way of taking us step by step, little by little,

He opens the way. Sometimes it is necessary to walk by faith, push the door and take the step. If we make a mistake, ok, retrace our steps. We will see later how Abram did exactly that, when he goes to Egypt. He could have made his way back home to Ur but he had no intention of doing that. He sojourned in Egypt for a while. Pitched his tent, (a temporary dwelling)

This is what Abram did. God wanted him in Canaan, Abram went to Haran, then he wandered, Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. Until God said, your here, this is the land.

The evidence that Abram resolved any tension in his heart by trusting God, was that he travelled in faith. He walked by faith and not by sight. He trusted in the promises of God.
The promise seemed impossible naturally, Abram was 75 yrs old and Sara was barren and yet God said I will make thee a great nation and your seed shall be as the sand of the sea. Yet Abram believed God.
Even when it seemed an impossibility. So much so, that Sarah laughed when the angel said she would bear a son in her old age.


Genesis 18:12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

Blessed is he who believes who has not seen, this is faith.

John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Abram showed patience and trust, he kept pressing on going forward, believing God.

Does this mean that Abram was perfect? Of course not. We see this in the next verses. Imagine, God said this is the place and the next thing he is caught up in a severe famine.
What’s going on?


10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land. 

This would have been a testing of Abram’s faith. Here he was in the promised land, besides it being occupied by the Canaanites, there is now a severe famine.
So Abram passed through the land and went south to Egypt.
The King James Version says
to sojourn there, not permanently but until the famine passed.

Next we have a situation that arises that shows
God’s providence, how God preserves his own in the midst of trial, and even including our bad decisions, God can work things for good to them that love Him.

Romans 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


The next verses in our text tells of Abram being caught out in a lie. He withheld the truth yet did not lie.
Is it possible to lie with the truth?

He said to Sara, you are very beautiful and if the Egyptians see you, they will kill me and take you for themselves.
Say you are my sister and not my wife. In fact that’s what Sara was, Abram’s half sister.

This is one of those situations where one can withhold the truth, which technically is a lie but still be accurate. Now there is an oxymoron,
“a truthful lie”.

Pharaoh acted in ignorance and yet God brings plagues on him.
This not only safeguarded Sara but it was the means whereby Pharaoh realised something was amiss.
Here we see God’s intervention in spite of Abram’s actions.

God had made promises to Abram and God would do whatever was needed to bring His promises to fruition.
There are no plans of men that can thwart the plans of God.


For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back? (Isaiah 14:27).
Then Job answered the LORD and said, “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
“There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD” (Proverbs 21:30).
“The Lord foils the plans of the nations [the wicked]; He thwarts the purposes of the [wicked] peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations” (Ps. 33:10,11).


So! What can we learn from chapter 12 of Genesis?

What can we learn about the practical realities of living and walking by faith?

We need to be obedient to what God has said. Our faith will be tested along the way. It is not always plain sailing. We must take it step by step and if we falter, we get up, brush ourselves down and begin again. If we turn the wrong way, we turn around and get on the right path.

What we can guarantee is, when God makes a promise,
He keeps it. If anyone fails, it will be us, not Him.

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
 

Three times in this passage we are told that Abram built an altar and worshipped God.

We should take time to thank God for all His promises to us and His faithfulness in our lives.
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