Genesis 12:4 – So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…
Yesterday, we were introduced to Abram (who later became Abraham), one of the most important and towering figures not just in Genesis but in the entire Bible. God made a not so simple call to Abram, telling him to leave his homeland and father to journey to a new land that God would show him. God followed that call with extreme promises that took extreme faith, telling Abram that, though his wife was barren, he would be a father. Through Abram’s son was promised a great nation, blessed by God, that would be a blessing to the nations of the earth through one of his offspring/seed. This promised seed is singular, meaning Jesus, and not plural meaning Israel (Genesis 3:16; Matthew 1:1, 1:17; Galatians 3:16). God also promised to make Abram’s name great, the same thing the Babylonians failed to achieve as they pursued it apart from God.
Abram was also told that his descendants would receive the Promised Land if he, in faith, made a radical break with his past by leaving his home. This entry into the Promised Land was not fulfilled in Genesis as the book ends with Joseph requesting that his bones be taken from Egypt to the Promised Land in the day that God’s people finally entered that place. Additionally, Exodus also ends with the expectation of one day entering the Promised Land (Exodus 40:34-38), a longing not realized until after the death of Moses in the opening chapters of Joshua.
In faith, Abram believed and obeyed God, doing as God commanded at the age of 75. He took his wife Sarai, their household, and his nephew Lot, who becomes a troublesome figure later in the story. God then appeared to Abram who responded by worshiping God in faith by building an altar as he does throughout the book after encountering God (Genesis 12:7, 12:8, 13:18, 22:9). Abram then settled in Bethel just north of Jerusalem, which is an important city in the Old Testament mentioned more times than any other city but Jerusalem.
The central point of the account of Abram is discovered when contrasting Abram with Babylon, both the story which preceded his call and the city that was the location he was called from. The Babylonians sought to be a great nation, blessed people, great in name, protected from their enemies, and the centerpiece of world affairs. But they pursued their aims apart from faith and apart from God. So, God called one of them, Abram, out into covenant with Himself and promised to give to Abram, by His gracious provision, all that the Babylonians had strived for. Therefore, God is showing that our hope cannot rest in the efforts of sinners to save and bless themselves. Rather, our only hope is to be found by entering into covenant relationship with God by faith.
Abram goes on to dominate Genesis until his death in 25:11 somewhere around 2000 B.C. Then, the lens of Genesis focuses in from this point forward on the descendants of Abram as God’s covenant people raised up to be blessed and a blessing to the nations. Abram, like Noah, is a picture of God’s divine election. As we continue on in Abraham’s story, we’ll see how his choices, for good or for bad, impacted generations after him.
In what ways did Abram demonstrate faith in word and deed in Genesis 12:1-9?
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