Open your bibles and read Genesis Chapter 12 – all 20 verses.
This is the beginning of the story of Abram (later called Abraham). I love this story that’s woven throughout Genesis because there are many valuable lessons. The one I love the most we’ll get to next week as this is going to be a series we continue each day, like we did with Joseph a couple of weeks ago.
Overview: God called Abram to move out in faith from Ur to Haran and then finally to Canaan. Once in Canaan God established a covenant with Abram, telling him that he would birth a great nation. Not only would this nation be blessed, but God said that other nations would be blessed because of Abram’s descendants. Israel, the nation that would come from Abram, was to follow God and influence those with whom it came in contact. Through Abram’s family tree, Jesus Christ was born to save humanity. Through Christ, people can have a personal relationship with God and be blessed beyond measure.
Abram left Ur and took his family (brothers and wife) with him and settled in Haran. God told him to move again when he was 75 years old. So Abram took Lot, his brothers son, and his wife Sarai and all their possessions, and the people who had gathered with then in Haran and they arrived in Canaan. While in Canaan God told Abram he would give him all this land and a great number of descendants. So Abram built an altar there and worshipped God.
A famine hit the land (we knew this from Joseph’s story) and Abram had to go to Egypt where there was food. He took his wife Sarai with him. When they arrived in Egypt, out of fear, Abram told Sarai to tell them she was his sister. She was so beautiful, wealthy, and had a potential to be a good political alliance. Abram got scared and thought if they knew she was his wife they would kill him to add her to Pharoah’s harem. He thought they would be safer if he told them she was his sister. (this is a 1/2 truth because Sarai was his “half”sister” (Genesis 20:12 explains this). Pharoah did indeed like Sarai and took her to his house, and treated Abram well because of her giving him sheep, oxen, male donkeys, servants, female donkeys and camels. But because Sarai was in Pharoah’s house, the Lord plagued Pharaoh. Pharaoh called Abram in and asked “Why have you done this to me?! Why did you not tell me she was your wife! I may have taken her as my wife! Now take her and go away.” So they sent Abram and Sarai away with all that he had been given.
Lessons learned from this scripture:
- Anyone who says the bible is “boring” hasn’t dug in past the who begat who’s. 🙂 These stories are exciting, intriguing and deep in lessons!
- God promised to bless Abram and make him great, but God had one condition – Abram had to be obedient and do what God called him to do. For Abram this meant leaving his home and friends and traveling to a new land where God promised to build a great nation from Abram’s family. He obeyed and walked away from what he knew for God’s promise of something even greater. Is God trying to lead you to a greater place of service for Him? Don’t let the comfort and security of your current position make you miss something greater that God may have for you!
- God called Abram out of the godless, self-centered city of Ur to a small area – the land of Canaan – where he could establish a God-Centered, moral nation. That small area went on to become the focal point for most of the history of Israel and the rise of Christianity. This small land, given to one man, had a great impact on world history because of the mighty hand of God. When God calls us to him, he’s calling us to stop being self-focused, self-centered and immoral. He wants us to come to him with an obedient, servants heart and he will take our little, and it will become useful in God’s hands.
- Altars were often places of sacrifice for God’s people. They symbolized communion with God and commemorated notable encounters with him. They often remained for years as a reminder of his protection and answered promises. (A “God Moments” journal is a good idea. Every time you see an answered prayer, or God at move in your life – write it down. Even if it’s just a few lines that will jog your memory later. Then, when the next storm comes, pull that journal out and remind yourself of God’s faithfulness before – giving you strength, faith and hope that he will do it again!)
- Abram built altars regularly for two reasons: (1) for prayer and worship (2) as reminders of God’s promise to bless him. Abram couldn’t survive spiritually without regularly reviewing his love and loyalty to God. Building altars helped Abram remember God was at the center of his life. Regular worship helps us remember what God desires and motivates us to obey him.
- When famine struck, Abram went to Egypt where there was food. Why would God allow a famine in the land where he had just called Abram? This was a test of Abrams faith, and Abram passed. He didn’t question God’s leading when facing difficulty. Many believers find that when they determine to follow God, they immediately encounter great obstacles. The next time you face such a test, don’t try to second-guess what God is doing. Use the wisdom God has given you – the intelligence – and wait for new opportunities (as Abram did when he temporarily moved to Egypt.)
- Abram, in fear, told a half truth to the Egyptians because he was afraid. Even after all God had promised him, Abram lost faith in God’s protection. When Abram lied, his problems multiplied. What I like about this – it shows us that even the strongest of God’s faithful, can have a weak moment but God can still protect us and use us if we confess with the truth, repent and move forward. God is Faithful to fulfil his promises – even when we make a mistake and have to move to Plan B. Don’t beat yourself up if you are trying so very hard to seek God and once in awhile you let fear creep in, or worry or doubt. Remind yourself that God loves you – tell the devil to get behind you – and keep moving!
- Abram was 75 years old when God told him to move out in obedience! We’re never “too old” to be used by God! He can do something new in our lives at any time He pleases.
It’s Friday already – once again! We’re going to continue next week with the exciting story of Abram’s journey to become Abraham because there are so many good “nuggets” of truth and revelation of God’s character in this story.
**Some information/notes taken from the Life Application Study Bible