It’s Genesis 12:1-9 today and the notes have been provided by Heather.
Here we are introduced to Abram (more commonly known as Abraham). Chapters 1-11 of Genesis have dealt with humanity as a whole and the problem of human evil which has been self-perpetuating since Adam. Here in chapter 12 is the real beginning of the story of the people of Israel (v2) and the beginning of God’s answer to the problem of humanity’s sin and rebellion. Here also we see God’s sovereign choice of people to serve his purposes in a line of succession which would eventually lead to Jesus – from Abel (4:4), Seth (4:25), Noah (5:29), then Noah’s youngest son Seth (11:10&26), and on to Abram in our passage today, eventually leading to the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:2)
Somehow Abram heard God’s call to him to leave his homeland in the highly developed city of Ur and to go in faith to where God would guide him – i.e. he had to disentangle himself from the luxuries of home and familiar things and exchange the known for the unknown (Hebrews 11:8), all based on God’s promise of blessing….a promise which involved a commitment on God’s part to the whole of humanity (v3), not just to the nation which Abram would found.
He is 75 years old and still without children (a common age for parenthood seems to have been around 30! (11: 12-24), but he took God at his word here, believed the promise and went, secure in the knowledge of God’s leading, blessing and protection. I’m sure he didn’t understand all the implications of what God had promised – we can look back from our New Testament perspective and see that indeed as through Abraham and his descendants came the Jewish nation, so also has God’s promise that ‘all people will be blessed through you’ (v3) been fulfilled in that here we are today, with other believers from all around the world, as Abraham’s spiritual descendants. (Galatians 3:8)
Abram travelled to the land of Canaan and got as far as Shechem, pretty well in the middle of the land. Here we read that the Lord appeared to him and confirmed to him the gift of this land to his descendants. In response, Abram built altars to the Lord, acknowledging Him as his God, maybe even in a sense ‘claiming the land’ for God over against the pagan gods being worshipped there. These would probably have been stone constructions, still there every time Abram passed that way.
Maybe we would find it helpful in our own lives to have something which can act as a concrete reminder to us of God’s dealings with us, to encourage us in the difficult times.
We are not all called to leave our home and family, like Abram, but we are all called to put our faith in God and find our security in Him, rather than in our family, job or material possessions. Let’s pray that we will be open to God’s call to us, whatever He may call us to.
Obedience to God and faith in God’s promises were to characterise Abram’s life. Let’s meditate today on God’s ‘great and precious promises’ to us (2 Peter 1:4), but also remember that promises need faith and action – ie obedience – to be actualised.
We can confidently ask God to bless us also…as long as we allow God to have the ultimate decision on what form that blessing should take, since he knows the end from the beginning!