Part 2: Patriarchs: Called Out, Abraham Week 1 (Genesis 12 overview)

This is IT!

Welcome back to our biblical study of the book of Genesis. We are at the beginning of Part 2. We are studying the life of the Patriarch Abraham. We’ll follow along with him as he is called out, sent out, and wandering about as God teaches him to seek Him in everything. And, as Scripture notates in verse 2, Abraham has certainly been a blessing. It is through Abraham’s lineage in which the whole earth was blessed with the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Please note: I am making one change by increasing this Part 2: Patriarchs: Called Out, Abraham to 13 weeks instead of the 12. Truthfully, cramming two chapters (13 and 14) into one week was too much for me, and I know it would be too much for you. (See below for a tentative schedule for Part 2.)

To get a feel for this study, please go back to the first post for Part 1: https://gbmministry.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/genesis-in-the-beginning-god-bible-study/

 

Knowing God through His Word is so important to the life of a Christian. We cannot know Him through our own means, but we must know Him through the means He established. I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated when people make claims they can get to God through some activity (like Holy Yoga) or through some other religion. We simply can’t make up our own ways to God. Christianity makes exclusive claims. It is exclusive! Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World. Not Buddha. Not Krishna. Not Allah.

You want to get to God? It must be through His Son, Jesus Christ. Period. Christ said in John 14:6: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” He was emphatic about this fact. There is no other name by which man (and woman) can be saved. The name is Jesus Christ. Praise God, He made a Way for us to come to Him, the Father, through His Son.

And to come to faith, one must be called.

Abram was called.

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.
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.”
Genesis 12:1-3, NKJV

In the previous chapter, we were given the genealogy of Abram. Abram is from the lineage of Shem, one of the three sons of Noah. The use of LORD is the same as using the name Yahweh or YHWH, which is the true name of God in Hebrew. Please note that LORD and Lord are two different names. Lord is the English word for Hebrew word, Adonai.

The LORD starts Chapter 12 off with a command specifically to Abram. Abram was to leave his country, his family, and his father’s house. Abram was being asked of God to leave everything he knew and go to a land he did not know the name of. Abram only knew God said He would show Abram the place he wanted him to go. God was asking for Abram to have faith in Him. What we have here is the Abrahamic Covenant the LORD was making with Abram. I love how my study notes in my Bible defines the Abrahamic Covenant with these words: “The Abrahamic Covenant constitutes an important link in all that God began to do, has done through history, and will continue to do until the consummation of history. It is the one purpose of God for humans into which all of God’s programs and works fit.”1 AMEN!

The LORD, Yahweh, tells Abram FIVE “I will” statements. These are dependent solely on God and not on Abram to accomplish. They are also God’s promises to Abram. The first “I will” statement was about where God would lead Abram. The next three “I will” statements would affect three areas: national, personal, and universal.

The first of the middle three “I will” statements is national. “I will make you a great nation.” God would make Abram a great nation. God will elaborate more on this later in Abram’s (Abraham) story in Chapters 13, 15, and 17.

The second of the middle “I will” statements is personal. “I will bless you and make your name great.” He would be blessed of God, and Abram’s (Abraham) name would be made great. And indeed, Abram’s name has been made great. The three main religions of this world attribute Abraham as a patriarch: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (a false religion, by the way). Abraham’s name is renown; only God can do that.

The third of the middle “I will” statements is universal. “I will bless those who bless you.” Nations who blessed Abram would indeed be blessed. This is both a physical and a spiritual blessing. This blessing was conditional upon a nation accepting Abram and his offspring. (In the story of Joseph, whom we’ll study at a later point, the land of Egypt was blessed for a time because of their acceptance of the Israelites, the offspring of Abram.) What a blessing with an outreaching grasp of inclusion! The nation that would come from Abram’s loins would be a blessing to others reaching across generations. Through Abram‘s line, individuals in all the people groups around the world would have the opportunity upon their own personal acceptance of redemption’s covering through the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to be saved. This blessing is what in literary terms is referred to as a foreshadowing. It foreshadows the coming of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. (See also Galatians 3: 11-18.)

Psalm 122:6-9 also gives us a promise of this in the verses penned by David, a man after God’s on heart:

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you
.
Peace be within your walls,
Prosperity within your palaces.”

For the sake of my brethren and companions,
I will now say, “Peace be within you.”

Because of the house of the Lord our God
I will seek your good
.

But with the last “I will” blessing stated by God, He also states the antithesis: “And I will curse him who curses you.” Many persons (and nations) have received God’s wrath because they failed to receive Abram and his offspring. We see the perfect example of that with the rise and fall of Hitler, a man so full of hatred for the Jewish nation that he killed over 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. Hitler was defeated by the Allies, and he took his own life because he was a coward. God doesn’t let any person or nation get by with rejecting His Chosen People.

Verse 3 closes with a seemingly impossible statement: “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This statement references again to a lineage which would come forth from Abram, who at this point had no offspring, but God promised to make him a nation, blessing, world fame, and he would be a blessing to all people groups of the world. From Abram’s seed Redemption would come, and all the families of the world would be blessed through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. I already referenced this above, but I’m emphasizing it again. This same Seed, you may remember, is the same Seed mentioned in Genesis 3:15. (Go read it again!)

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 (v. 4).” By faith, Abram left the family who remained in Haran (his brother, Nahor, and his family). In Hebrews 11:8, the writer, tells us this: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Think about that. Abram went out from what he knew to what he did not know. All he knew was that God had called him, and Abram followed through in obedience. Wow, can that teach! Right?

I like how F. B. Meyer puts it in his book: Abraham, “Whither he went, he know not; it was enough for him to know that he went with God. He leant not so much upon the promise as upon the Promiser: he looked not on the difficulties of his lot—but on the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise god; who had deigned to appoint his course and would certainly vindicate Himself.”2 Abram went by faith. He didn’t have a map or a plan of his own, but he knew he would follow the One who knew the way.

Abram took with him, his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, their possessions, along with servants he had acquired in Haran. They left as a caravan and after some time they arrived in Canaan (v.5). Abram led this caravan to Shechem to the terebinth tree at Moreh. A terebinth tree is sometimes referred to as an oak tree, or in Hebrew as Elah, but there is another tree that is related to it. It is called the Alon (or Allon). Both trees are little more than shrubs today where they are found in Israel. I researched the terebinth tree and its mention here in Genesis 12:6, but I discovered the correct term here in the verse is Alon. Both trees are referred to as oaks in some translations, and there is some confusion about them. I recommend reading the links under: “Trees in Canaan/Israel.”
In this land Canaanites lived, although at this point, we don’t read of an encounter between them and Abram. But Abram has an encounter with the LORD. Please note: This is the first encounter since the Lord had first spoken to Abram  in Haran (see verses 1-4). Because Abram chose to live in obedience to the LORD by leaving Haran, he was rewarded with God’s promise. Verse 7 tells us the LORD appeared to Abram and promised Abram the land he was standing on and observed around him would belong to his descendants. Again, we know at this point that Abram is descendant-less but look what Abram’s response was: He built an altar to the LORD at or near the Alon tree at Moreh. Building an altar to the LORD is found in several instances in the Bible. An altar is a place of consecration or dedication to the LORD. Abram dedicated this place as a remembrance of the LORD’s appearance to him. It was holy ground. Altars are also used as a place of sacrifice, but in this instance no mention of sacrifice is included, so its usage was for dedication to the LORD. What a perfect example Abram gives us of dedication to the LORD, plus as he moved on it would be a permanent sign of his devotion to the Holy LORD.

Abram at some point left this place and moved his caravan to the mountain east of Bethel. (It would be helpful to look at a map, biblical, or topography with place names included to get a feel for where he was at this point in the journey. Look below for a map link.) He pitched his tent at a location between Bethel on the west side and Ai on the east side. Pitching his tent in this spot indicated he was there for a undisclosed time period, but he wasn’t there permanently. We simply do not know the length of time he resided there. However, we are told he built another altar while he was at this location and called upon the LORD. Abram worshiped God in this place through prayer and thanksgiving. Leading in  worship, he continued being an example to the members of his household which included his servants.

As is true for nomads, Abram pushed on. He moved into the southern part of Canaan. Verse 10 indicates there was a famine in the land so severe causing Abram to travel to Egypt. His faith wavers as he makes a decision to enter Egypt. He first does it on his own without consulting the Lord, but then he fears what will happen to him because of Sarai. Abram lost his courage and confidence. Reminding Sarai first of her beauty, he tells her it is necessary to lie (somewhat) about her relationship with him. Abram feared the men of Egypt. He believed if it were known she was his wife, he would be killed, therefore allowing someone else to claim her as their own. He told her they would kill him because she is his wife, but she would be spared for her beauty. In verse 13, he tells Sarai, to tell the Egyptians they meet that she is merely his sister. (She is actually his half-sister. See Genesis 20:12). He convinced her it would be the “noble” thing to lie for him because he would live in return for this half-truth. It is possible Abram was concerned for her treatment if he was killed, but I don’t think this was his view being expressed here. Regardless, this showed Abram trusted his circumstance and himself, more than he trusted God. Abram was in dangerous territory, both physically and spiritually. He not only sinned but convinced his wife to sin.

When they entered the land, Sarai’s beauty caught the attention of the Egyptians (v.14). The princes of Pharaoh, or Pharaoh’s officials, saw her, and recommended her to Pharaoh. It wasn’t long after Pharaoh heard of her in which she was taken from Abram and placed in Pharaoh’s household. Pharaoh’s pleasure to have Sarai was reflected in the many gifts to Abram. Abram’s herds increased. He was given sheep, oxen, male donkeys, female donkeys, and camels. He was also given female servants.

Abram was willing to lie to protect himself, but not his wife. As her husband, he was supposed to be her protector, but instead, he chose to protect himself. But God intervened. He did this by causing plagues to come down on Pharaoh and his household.

AND God graciously applied stern grace toward Abram. Abram could have very easily been tempted to stay in Egypt where there was plenty. Remember, Canaan was in a terrible famine. God couldn’t have this happen, so He intervened. Also notice that an altar is NOT built in Egypt.

Pharaoh confronts Abram. Scripture does not tell us the backstory, but undoubtedly, Pharaoh figured out Sarai was Abram’s wife. He is very forthright with Abram. “Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’? I might have taken her as my wife.” God used Pharaoh to give a strong rebuke to Abram which he deserved, and possibly more. Pharaoh gives Abram back his wife and is told by Pharaoh to get out of Egypt. Pharaoh was so fearful of the LORD he insured Abram’s departure from the land by commanding his army to make sure everything belonging to Abram left the country for good.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what those plagues were? Whatever they were, we can certainly say with confidence Proverbs 21:1 which states: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes (NKJV).” God is Sovereign, and He will use whatever means (or whomever) He needs to get us to back to His agenda.

You would think after all this, Abram would have learned a lesson, but he doesn’t. He’ll use the same tactic again later in his life. But isn’t Abram an example of our own lives? We often take matters into our own hands, because we trust ourselves more than we trust God. How that should speak volumes to our wavering hearts. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus. That is the greatest lesson any of us can learn.

Homework:

Scripture Reading: Genesis 13

Suggested Scripture Memorization:

 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Genesis 13:16, NKJV

Questions:

1.What is the South referring to in verse 1?

2.What does verse 2 tell us about Abram? Is this the first mention of Abram’s wealth?

3.Where did Abram pitch his tent? What did he do there?

4.What new info does verse 5 tell us about Lot?

5.What was Abram and Lot’s dilemma?

6.What do we learn in verse 7? What does Abram suggest they do (vv. 8-9)?

7.What area appealed to Lot? Why? What does the Bible compare it to?

8.What land did Lot choose?

9.Where did Abram settle?

10.Verse 13 hints at the spiritual condition of the men of Sodom. What does it say about the men?

11.In verses 14-15, what does the LORD say to Abram after Lot and Abram separated? What was the LORD promising here? Has it been fully realized yet?

12.What did the LORD tell Abram about the number of his descendants? What does this mean?

13.Write down verse 17. The LORD was asking Abram to go, walk the land, and look at it. What is the command? What is the promise in this verse?

14.What does Abram do?

15. What did Abram build at Mamre? Find Mamre on a map. What is the region known as today?

 

Tentative Schedule: (I may need to make some adjustments along the way due to unforeseen circumstances.)

Week 1: Genesis 12 – August 13
Week 2: Genesis 13 – August 20
Week 3: Genesis 14 – August 27
Week 4: Genesis 15 – September 3
Week 5: Genesis 15 – September 10
Week 6: Genesis 17 – September 17
Week 7: Genesis 18 – September 24
Week 8: Genesis 19 – October 1
Week 9: Genesis 20 – October 8
Week 10: Genesis 21 – October 15
Week 11: Genesis 22 – October 22
Week 12: Genesis 23 – October 29
Week 13: Genesis 24- 25:1-18 –November 5

Then we’ll start with Part 3 (12 week study over Genesis 25:19-34 – Genesis 36) November 26.

________________________________________________________________

Notes Cited:

1Holy Bible: The New Open Bible: Study Edition. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 1983, p. 18.

2Meyer, F.B. Abraham. Christian Literature Crusade: Fort Washington, PA, 1983, pp. 25-26.

For more Information:

Trees in Canaan/Israel:
https://blog.israelbiblicalstudies.com/holy-land-studies/two-biblical-trees/
https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/oak/

On Altars:
https://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-an-altar.html

Maps:
http://www.bible.ca/maps/maps-near-east-abrahams-journey.htm

 

 

 

 

 

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About LatanyaWagner

I'm a homeschooling mom of 3. Originally from Georgia, where I grew up learning about the value of hard work while living on a farm, I now live near Charlotte, NC, working hard to raise a family who loves and honors God. I have a Bachelors of Science degree in Architectural Engineering and a Masters of Arts degree in Counseling Ministry. I'm also an aspiring writer and speaker. My first novel, 'Mending Hearts,' is available on Amazon. 'Unfailing Hearts,' my second novel, is also now available on Amazon. Sometime in the near future, I hope to have my third novel uploaded on Amazon for your reading pleasure.
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