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Genesis 12:1-20

Q.1. What command and promises did the Lord give Abram? How far-reaching was the promise to Abram if he obeyed? (Gen.12:1-3)

God called Abram to trust Him and to step out in obedience to an unknown destination – … Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house to the land which I will show you (Gen.12:1). It was a big step of faith for Abram, to leave all that he held dear. His father Terah had already left the idolatry of the great city – Ur of the Chaldeans.  God gave Abram a threefold promise –

(i) A PERSONAL BLESSING: I will bless you and make your name great (Gen.12:2).

(ii) A NATIONAL BLESSING: I will make you into a great nation (Gen.12:2).

(iii) A GLOBAL BLESSING:  In you all the families of the earth will be blessed (Gen.12:3). We have entered into the blessings of Abraham, with faith given to him prior to the giving of the Law (Rom.4:13-17). God also promised to protect Abram – the one who curses you, I will curse (Gen.12:3).

Q.2. What made this ‘covenant’ with Abram so significant? How difficult was it for Abram to obey God’s call on his life? (Gen.12:4-6)

By obeying the Lord, Abram was claiming the UNCONDITIONAL PROMISES that God chose to give him. This was Abram’s ‘conversion’, which marked the beginning of a relationship that would cause his faith to grow. Ur of the Chaldeans was a large, developed city. Abram had lived there until age seventy-five. He lived to be one hundred and seventy-five years, so lived on in Canaan for one hundred years (Gen.12:4 c.f. Gen.11:28; 25:7). He was a foreigner in a land belonging to the Canaanites (Gen.12:4-6). There would have been difficulties when persuading his family and servants to go with him … not to mention the burden of carrying his belongings into the unknown (Gen.12:5-6).

Q.3. What prompted Abram to build an altar to the Lord? What point was he making by building these altars? (Gen.12:6-9)

It was not until Abram trusted and obeyed God, that the Lord appeared to him and renewed His promises – … To your descendants I will give this land (Gen.12:7). Abram wisely marked this encounter with God, including His promises, by building an altar, firstly at Shechem (Gen.12:6-7). Abram’s faith in God grew – Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel … and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord (Gen.12:8). His relationship with and dependence on God also grew.

Q.4. What alternative did Abram use, in response to the famine in Canaan? How did God show great grace to Abram and Sarai? (Gen.12:10-20)

Abram had much to learn. When he was tried by a severe famine, he moved to Egypt (Gen.12:10). There is no indication that he sought the Lord’s guidance. This resulted in his scheming to protect himself at the expense of Sarai, by asking her to agree that she was his sister (Gen.12:11-13). Soon the beautiful Sarai was claimed by Pharaoh, and Abram was handsomely rewarded (Gen.12:14-16). Sadly, Abram failed to consult God, or trust Him to keep the promises He had made to bless and protect him (Gen.12:2-3). This resulted in Abraham’s reputation being tarnished when the truth came out. God sanctified marriage, so the promises made to Abram automatically applied to Sarai. Though it took time for Abram to realize it, no other offspring were to inherit God’s promises to Abram and Sarai. God stepped in to maintain Sarai’s purity, and – the Lord struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife (Gen.12:17). Pharaoh was understandably upset, but had sufficient fear of Abram’s God, that stopped him killing him. In fact – Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him (Gen.12:20).

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