From Genesis 12-15
God calls Abram and commands him to leave his country, family and fathers house. He will give him much more in return. He makes a far reaching covenant that will span hundreds of generations. Jesus calls us to follow him and he promises to give much in return.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The Genesis narrative has only briefly mentioned Abram (Gen 11.27-31). He is about to loom large on the biblical landscape.
12 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:1–3)
‘Go’. God commands Abram to leave his country, family and shelter and go into the land he will be shown. Quite a huge step to take. But God’s promises will more than make up what he will leave behind.
Sometimes the LORD commands his people to drop everything and follow him.
‘I will’. The language is of covenant. God is making promises. Abram will be made into a great nation. He will be blessed and be a blessing to others. The LORD will look after those who treat them well, he will destroy those who do not. His families identity will now be bound up in their fathers calling and election and the blessings that come from the covenant.
4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.
When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.
7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. (Gen 12:4–7)
‘So Abram went’. Abram displays amazing faith and obedience (Heb 11.8) by leaving everything he knew and going to the land God promised him. He takes with him his wife and his brothers son, Lot.
‘To your offspring I will give this land’. When Abram and company arrive the land is occupied with the Canaanites (cf. Gen 9.25).
‘He built an altar’. After seeing the land he will be given, he makes an altar so he can worship the LORD.
8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. (Gen 12.8)
‘He moved’. From Canaan he moves again and settles in hill country. Once again he builds an altar and calls upon the name of the LORD. The LORD is his God.
Do you call on the name of the LORD?
Story of Israel
The issues of land and family also have significance here with regard to the role of deity. In the ancient world many deities were associated with land or with people groups (nations, tribes, clans, families). The gods were portrayed respectively as territorial deities or as patron deities. Thus, when Abram is asked to put his land and his family behind him, the request entails walking away from any territorial or patron gods. Though Abram is not specifically asked to set aside his other gods, his cutting ties with country, people, and household will create a divine void in the typical personal religious practice of the day. (Walton, J.H., 2001. Genesis, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)
Story of Jesus
As with Abram, when God calls people to follow him, quite often they have to leave something behind. Perhaps one situation for another, maybe a job, maybe a relationship, and always a sinful lifestyle. Certainly we must be willing to leave everything behind for Christ. In the gospel Jesus commands us to love and follow him;
37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Mt 10.37-39)
We must also remember that God gives back to us far more than we left behind. Jesus also promises;
29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (Mk 10.29-30)
Is God calling you?
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.