Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “The First of a Chosen People”
Text – Genesis 12:1-9
Today, we have reached a point in the Bible where the focus shifts, from events that affected the whole of humanity, to tracing the line of just one family. In the first eleven chapters of Genesis, we have seen how badly the human race had messed up God’s very good creation.
After they move on, the genealogy of a single family, tracing its descent through Shem, will be featured in much of the remainder of the Old Testament:
Today, I want us to spend a little time introducing ourselves to this man who would become the ancestor of the ‘seed’ through whom God intended to provide salvation to the world.
GOD CHOOSES ABRAHAM – Genesis 12:1-3
“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
What do we know about Abraham, beyond genealogy, prior to God’s calling him? Nothing much, though it might be safe to assume that Abraham was one who worshiped God. We don’t know this for certain—he may have been a complete pagan. However, I don’t think so. I base my assumption on the fact that when God spoke to him, like Noah, he heard Him. Further, the immediate events that follow paint a picture of a man who understood who it was who had spoken to him.
How did God speak to Abraham? We do know that later accounts of God speaking to Abraham sometimes involved a personal visit, but often it appears that He just spoke to Abraham, as one does with someone who is standing nearby. How God chose to speak to Abraham at this particular point in history is unknown to us, but the message is not.
What did God tell Abraham to do? Leave everything you have known up to this point in your 75 years of life—your country, your relatives including your father’s family, and go to a land I will show you. Abraham is getting along in years. As one of two surviving brothers, with an aging father, he quite probably stood to inherit land, money and possessions after Terah passed.
God tells him to give it all up and God himself will make Abraham a great nation; He will provide blessing to Abraham and make him famous. In addition, others would know blessing because of him, or cursing if they treated him without respect. In fact, all the peoples of earth would be blessed through him.
Now think about it for a second, does this make much sense? From our vantage point we understand that God is working out His plan to have the Messiah, Jesus, born as a direct descendant of Abraham. But he wouldn’t have known this. Much of what God was promising could have been viewed as lofty ambiguities. At this point, God doesn’t tell Abraham how he will be blessed, just that he will be.
So, what does Abraham do after receiving this directive from God with its vague promises of blessing?
ABRAHAM OBEYS – Genesis 12:4-9
“So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. 5 He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, 6 Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites.
7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord. 9 Then Abram continued traveling south by stages toward the Negev.”
What did Abraham do in response to God’s telling him to leave? He left. If he had any hesitation at all, the biblical account doesn’t mention it. He packs up his entire household—wife Sarai, nephew Lot and all his wealth, in the form of livestock, servants and slaves. He leaves knowing he may never return. He leaves nothing behind for him to return for.
He arrives in the land of Canaan and God now appears to him. He tells Abraham that the land he has arrived at will be given to…who? His descendants! How could Abraham have reacted? “Whoop-de-doo! Why couldn’t I have just stayed put and my lucky descendants made to move?” But he doesn’t. Instead, he builds an altar to worship God. He continues to travel, and again builds another altar.
So, for today, we’re going to leave Abraham traveling toward the Negev, a large desert area located in the southern region of modern day Israel and will pick-up his story next week…
But let’s take a moment to consider how this part of Abraham’s story relates to us personally…
For further study:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4isSyennFo&feature=emb_logo (The Bible Project – Genesis 12-50)
Sunday, February 7, 2021- “Our Family Tree - Through the Bible in 2021"- “Abraham: Man of Faith and Failure” (Genesis 13-18,20) - ONLINE Only
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!