We always like to start out with the Word of God, and today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 12:1-2 which reads: “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.”
Allow me to share with you some further commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible by Dr. R.C. Sproul:
Abraham’s call as an agent of redemptive grace parallels Noah’s as the mediator of a covenant to all creation. The form of God’s call to Abraham also resembles His pattern in creation: announcement, command, and report, but the pattern is broken by the divine promise, highlighting Abraham’s faith and believing obedience.
These verses mark a pivotal point in Genesis and in the history of redemption as God begins to establish a covenant people for Himself. The progress of God’s redemptive plan is evident in His setting Abraham apart and making Israel into a great nation. It climaxes in Jesus Christ, the true Seed of Abraham, who brings salvation to the world. The call to Abraham is passed on to the next two patriarchs, Isaac and Jacob. The nation will be formed from Jacob’s twelve sons.
Today’s quote about the Bible is from Thomas Carlyle. He said: “The Bible is the truest utterance that ever came by alphabetic letters from the soul of man, through which, as through a window divinely opened, all men can look into the stillness of eternity, and discern in glimpses their far-distant, long-forgotten home.”
Our topic for today is titled “Abraham” (Part 1) from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.
We know him as Abraham, but his original name was Abram. He was born in Ur, probably in the year 2166 BCE. Ur was a pagan city, a focal point of worship of the moon god Sin. Did Abram worship this god? Genesis 31:53 states that Abram, his brother Nahor, and their father, Terah, all worshiped the true God. Yet Joshua 24:2 implies that they worshiped other gods. Perhaps this family was beginning to compromise and incorporate elements of pagan worship into their belief system. If so, this could have been one reason Abram and Terah were told to leave Ur—they were being corrupted. Another reason is that God was ready to take the next step in preparing the way for the Messiah. This purpose would require a demonstration of faith that ran directly counter to the increasing paganism of the culture. It would also require possession of a piece of land.
As they traveled from Ur, Terah decided to settle in Haran, and Abram stayed with his father. After Terah died, however, the Lord commanded Abram to move on to Canaan, and he obeyed.
The story of Abram’s journey was critical for the original audience at Mount Sinai because it explained why they had been brought out of Egypt and why they were going to the land of Canaan. They learned that Canaan was the land God had promised to give to His servant Abram and, more specifically, to his descendants—that is, the people gathered at Sinai. They also learned that the promise would be fulfilled if they, like Abram, were obedient.
As we read the biblical narrative, we soon discover that Abram was a complex person who had his ups and downs. At times, he exhibited the most amazing faith, as when he left his relatives to go to the land God promised. At other times he committed the most grievous mistakes, as when he impregnated his wife’s servant in order to produce an heir as God had been promising but had not yet granted. A careful study of this section should serve to convince the reader of the historicity of the events being described. Abram was one of the key heroes of the nation of Israel, and the tendency in the Ancient Near East (like human nature everywhere) was to play down the mistakes of heroes and play up their strengths. Most heroes become larger than life over the passage of time.
In the narratives of the biblical patriarchs, however, we see mortal men committing momentous errors. If these had been “cleverly invented stories”, the Israelites could have done a much better job of disguising the failures of their heroes. But the purpose of this section is to show that it was not through any special effort on Abram’s part that God made him the ancestor of the great nation that was now gathered at Sinai. In fact, Abram was an ordinary man with whom most people could identify.
Lord willing, we will continue looking at this topic in our next broadcast/podcast.