Reading For Monday Genesis 12:1-20
Genesis is the book of beginnings. The account of Abram is a significant beginning of a people that God calls to himself. God pursues a man named Abram to make a promise that had nothing to do with what Abram could or could not do. This covenant is initiated and sustained by God. This story is not merely some historical activity to observe and see God's work in history; this is a major story line that will impact the rest of the story.
There has been a period of about three hundred years since the last recorded time that God spoke with man. After the dark episode of the tower of Babel, it would be easy to think that perhaps God had given up or forgotten his image bearers. God speaks to a man named Abram, and the request he makes is of consequence. The call is to leave his homeland. Leaving your country and people is a tall order. We must resist the temptation to reduce this to a rather small undertaking. The call is to leave your culture, relatives, comfort, and safety and follow me. Make sure you gather together all your possessions because you won’t ever be coming back. Oh, and by the way, I’m not telling you where we’re going until we get there. The task was monumental, and it sounds a lot like what Jesus would later say to those that he called to follow him.
God's call does not end with the mere exhortation to leave; it is accompanied by a prodigious blessing. The world had become divided in language and culture due to rebellion. God would call a nation for himself, and if Abram believed by faith, he would be the patriarch of a great nation that would be blessed and bless every earthly family. This account gives us a more clear picture of the mission of God and our invitation to join him in that mission. Even the Bible we read is a product of his mission and an invitation to participate in his mission.
As amazing as God's promise was, Abram would still by faith have to decide whether or not to obey God. It was the God who spoke, and because Abram trusted God’s promise to bless him, Abram simply obeyed. Faith is demonstrated through obedience. We are saved by faith alone, but it is not a faith that stays alone. Abram built an altar and called on the Lord showing hid dependence upon the one who called him out.
Abram's faith and obedience might lead one to think that they all lived happily ever after and received blessing after blessing. After all, Abram did something monumental for the Lord, and surely people of faith should not have to endure hardship and difficulty. But this is not the way the story goes. Famine comes to this promised land, and this brave family is faced with the prospect that they could starve to death, and so they leave. There was no directive to leave given by the Lord, but there was no directive given to stay by the Lord either. They left and went to Egypt.
Genesis 12 reminds us that only God is always faithful. Abram didn’t always trust and obey. We are given a devastating account of how he put Sarai, his wife, in a compromised position. Abram asked Sarai to pretend to be his sister because he was frightened of what the Egyptians might do to him on account of Sarai. This treatment of Sarai is a far cry from God’s mandate that a husband love his wife and give himself up for her. Now this Abram we have been admiring so far trades his wife for material possessions. Abram to his great shame and his wife’s hurt stopped trusting God and attempted to "fix" the problem using deception. God brings judgment on Pharaoh, who subsequently chastises Abram and seems to have more morals than this patriarch of faith. God continues to pursue and provide for Abram in spite of his sin and failure. God's call and response to Abram in spite of his sin is beautiful and introduces a major storyline in redemptive history.
Thing To Consider:
- Why would God initiate a covenant with Abram?
- What were the risks involved with leaving his family?
- How do our circumstances affect our faith?
- Why do we use deception?
- How do you think Abram's treatment of Sarai influences their marriage?
- How do we reconcile the fact that Abram left Egypt with more than he arrived with in light of his sin?