Genesis 11-25 The man of faith…Abraham, cont’d.
Genesis 12-50-The Beginning of a Chosen People
Genesis 12:1-God had called Abram while he lived in Ur (Acts 7:2-3)…then later called him again when he was living in Haran (Acts 7:2). There were only two routes from Ur to Canaan: one went across the Arabian desert (large herds of animals could not make this trip), the other was along the Euphrates River through Haran and then down to Canaan. Abraham left Haran at age 75 (12:4). Paul uses Abraham’s faith as the example of faith for us (15:6; Romans 4:3). God’s Covenant with Abraham was (12:1-3; confirmed 13:14-18; 15:1-21: 17:6-8; 22:15-18; 26:1-5; 28:13-15)…
- I will make you a great nation…he had no son at the time(the reference is to the Jewish nation)
- I will bless you (temporal blessings he received-13:2; 24:35; spiritual blessings-21:22)
- I will make your name great (23:6; Isaiah 41:8)
- You will be a blessing
- I will bless those who bless you
- I will curse those who curse you
- In you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
Genesis 12:2-When God told Abram that He was going to make him into a “great nation”…he didn’t even have any sons. The nation that he would produce is the Jewish nation…his descendants through Isaac and Jacob.
Genesis 12:3-God tells Abram that He will bless those who bless him, and curse those who curse him. The reason: Abram was so close to God that to bless or curse him…was in essence, to be doing the very same thing to God (examples: 20:2-18; 21:2-34; 23:1-20). The promise that all of the families of the earth would be blessed in him came through the birth of Jesus Christ, who was physically his descendant (Gal. 3:8,16).
Genesis 12:4-9-Abram was so obedient to God...so trusting. He left his home and went to Canaan…taking his nephew, Lot, with him. Abraham built an altar there and almost everywhere he went...Shechem (12:7), Bethel (12:8), Hebron (13:8).
Genesis 12:10-20-A famine occurred and Abram took his family to Egypt where there was food. For some reason he felt compelled to have Sarai lie about their relationship…telling people she was his sister, not his wife, so that they would not kill him and take her (she was actually his half-sister, 20:12…a half-truth, and thus a lie). She was 65 at the time…though in the prime of her life since she died at age 127. He actually put her in danger by allowing Pharaoh to take her as his wife. God struck Pharaoh’s family with sickness and this somehow led to the revelation that Sarai was Abram’s wife. He quickly returned her and made them leave. Despite this show of a lack of trust in God, God continued to bless Abram. It appears that the lesson is...even righteous men can make stupid mistakes…and that God still loves and cares for them.
Genesis 13:1-13-Abram now returns to Canaan…to the same area he had been in before going to Egypt. His and Lot’s herds were growing significantly…to the extent that they began to have difficulty finding adequate grazing land. This began to cause strife between their families. In order to have enough land for their herds to graze on and to avoid more family squabbles…Abram told Lot that he would give him a choice of which direction to go…and he would go in another direction. Lot chose the valley of the Jordan River…”Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom" (:12). Lot moved his tents toward Sodom and eventually into Sodom, itself. Sodom was an extremely wicked place (:13). The problem: when Lot’s family moved into Sodom, Sodom eventually moved into Lot’s family. Yet, Lot is later referred to as "righteous Lot" (2 Peter 2:7).
Sodom was located in the Jordan River valley just north of the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea, or Salt Sea, shoreline is the lowest point of land on earth…1,401 feet below sea level. The maximum depth of the Dead is 1,300 feet below the shoreline. The water is 34.6% salinity, that is 9.6 times more salty than ocean water. It is 31 miles long, by 9 miles wide, at its widest point. The Jordan River flows from the Sea of Galilee into the Dead Sea. The only way for water to leave the Dead Sea is by evaporation. Huge deposits of salt line its shores and bottom. Because of the high concentration of minerals, the water glistens as if oil had been spilled into it.
Genesis 13:12-18-Abram settled in the land of Canaan. God told him that He was going to give him all of the land that he could see…and that he was to walk throughout the land and see it. Abram “moved his tent”, literally, “kept moving his tent all over the land” until he came to Hebron (22 miles south of Jerusalem). There he settled down and built an altar to the LORD.
Genesis 14:1-12-Some time after Lot had moved into Sodom there was a war between it and several other kingdoms. Sodom was defeated and the enemy captured its people…including Lot.
Genesis 14:13-17-Abram was the first person ever referred to as a "Hebrew". One of the people who had escaped capture at Sodom arrived at Abram’s camp and told him about Lot. Abram went to some of his neighbors and recruited them to help rescue Lot. They attacked the enemy camp at Dan (west of the northern tip of the Dead Sea, towards the Mediterranean) during the night and defeated them…then returned them along with their belongings to Sodom. Along the way back, the king of Sodom met Abram in the “valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley)”…this is possibly the Kidron Valley outside of Jerusalem (known then as “Salem”). The king of Salem, Melchizedek (his name means “king of righteousness”), brought bread and wine (food for Abram’s troops as a sign of respect for his accomplishment) to them. Melchizedek was the king/priest of Jerusalem who worshipped the “God Most High” (from the Hebrew “El Elyon”, which emphasizes God’s strength and sovereignty). Evidently, there was a group of people who lived there that worshipped the one, true God. Melchizedek was a type of Christ (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7)…meaning that he was a portrayal, or picture of Christ. Abram recognized that Melchizedek was a priest of the true God and gave him an offering as an expression of his gratitude to God for giving him victory and to God’s priest for providing him with sanctuary on his return trip.
Genesis 14:21-24-The king of Sodom tried to pay Abram for saving his people, but Abram refused to accept it. Probably so that he would not appear to be obligated to him for anything. He was showing that he trusted in God alone to protect him and did not need the allegiance with the king of Sodom.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be a man of faith, like Abraham. Even though he didn’t know the final destination where you were leading him to…he began the journey. Just knowing that You were leading him was enough. He didn’t demand to have all the answers before he began.