I. Abram’s call and covenant..
A. God’s call of Abram.
B. God’s covenant with Abram.
C. God’s promise to the world
II. Abram’s entrance into Canaan.
A. Abram’s partial obedience.
B. Abram’s covenant reaffirmed.
C. Abram’s altar to God.
III. Abram’s failure in Egypt.
A. Abram’s testing by God.
B. Abram’s scheme for Sarai.
C. Abram’s scheme backfires.
D. Abram’s conduct rebuked.
IV. Abram’s return to the land.
A. Abram’s resources.
B. Abram’s worship.
C. Abram’s prayer.
References for Study:
Gen. 12:1-13:4; Num. 32:32; Heb. 11:8
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive from an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went (Heb. 11:8).
The story of Abram’s conversion and call by God is one of the most remarkable in Bible history. In many ways, Abram is typical of all of us. His life exhibited a coming to faith, a crisis of failure, and a return to faith. For this reason nearly every Christian can identify with the life of Abram.
I. Abram’s Call and Conversion
A. God’s call of Abram (Gen. 12:1-3)
We are not told under what circumstances it happened, but this Eastern gentleman had a personal experience with the Lord God of Heaven. Genesis 12:1 notes, “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.” Abram had not worshiped Jehovah previously, but when the Lord appeared to him and called him to salvation, Abram immediately obeyed. That obedience is a striking testimony of faith. (Compare Heb. 11:8) Abram never questioned God’s call; he merely obeyed it. He is an example for how we should respond to God’s direction in our lives
B. God’s Covenant with Abram.
In response to Abram�’s obedience, God mad two covenants, or promises, with him. The first concerned that Land of his future generations. The second concerned a great blessing which would be God’s gift to Abram’s offspring. Commanded to leave his native land and to go to a place yet unrevealed, Abram was promised the blessings to the Lord Jehovah. He could desire nothing more. When the Lord calls, He also promises His blessing.
C. God’s Promise to the World (Gen. 12:3)
Because of Abram’s obedience, God not only gave covenant to Abram’s people, but to the entire world as well: “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Gen. 12:3). Israel is the apple of God’s eye. Any nation which blesses Israel, Abram’s posterity, is promised blessing by God.
Conversely any nation which curses Israel is promised curse of god. This is a lesson which has been taught to ancient Babylon, to Germany, to Spain, and it appears increasingly, to cause them harm without precipitating the wrath of God.
II. Abram’s Entrance into Canaan (Gen. 12:4, 5)
A. Abram’s Partial Obedience (Gen. 12:4, 5).
When God called Abram, he commanded that Abram should leave his land and his kindred behind. Abram obeyed, yet his obedience was only partial. In verse 4 the words, “and Lot went with him” are indicative to Abram’s human character, but not of his wisdom. Here is the first clue of a flaw in his character. He wanted to do things his own way. He had some ideas of his own. He was told to leave his family, yet he took with him his nephew Lot and all of Lot’s family, servants, and herdsmen and those of Lot. Obedience to God’s command must always be total.
B. Abram’s Covenant Reaffirmed (Gen. 12:6, 7).
All of us need reassurance at times. When Abram entered the land of Sichem, or Shechem, a pastoral valley in Canaan, the Lord appeared again to him and said, “Unto thy seed will I give this land” (Gen. 12:7). Abram was so overwhelmed by this second meeting with God that he built an altar to the Lord and worshiped Him there. We too must be ever thankful of the reassurances God gives us through the person of the Holy Spirit.
C. Abram’s Altar to God (Gen. 12:8, 9).
When Abram and his family came to a place called Bethel, meaning “the House of God,” Abram took time to build a second altar. It was apparently much larger and more elaborate than the first. Here, for the first time, it is recorded that Abram “called upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 12:8). This solemn act of devotion, an open profession of his faith in the Lord God Jehovah, established His worship of the true God and declared his faith in God’s promise.
III. Abram’s Failure in Egypt (Gen. 12:10-20).
A. Abram’s Testing by God (Gen. 12:10).
God always knows the right time and method to test our faith. For Abram, who as accustomed to having all he needed whenever he needed it, that testing came by a famine. Rather than trusting God and remaining in Canaan, Abram withdrew to neighboring Egypt. In typology, Egypt is always a symbol of the world. Again, we see this flaw in Abram’s character. He was self-willed. He sought his own solution, even though it meant rushing headlong into the world.
B. Abram’s Scheme for Sarai (Gen. 12:11-13).
Seeking a human solution brought Abram a whole new set of problems. Doing things our own way usually does. As Abram approached Egypt, he began to worry about his wife. She was apparently a beautiful woman, and Abram feared that the Egyptians would kill him and take her for themselves. Abram concocted the idea of telling the Egyptians that Sarai was his sister, a half truth, but nevertheless a deliberate deception. Such conduct is inconsistent with the character of one who has been called God; yet it is totally consistent with what we have already seen of Abram. He loved God, believed in God, and worshiped God; yet he still insisted on doing things his own way. Before Abram could be used by God, this tendency would have to be removed.
C. Abram’s Scheme Backfires (Gen. 12:13-17).
Since Abram had made it known that Sarai was his sister, and since she was an attractive woman, Pharaoh decided to take her into his household. Suddenly, Abram’s problems had snowballed. He had sought his own solution instead of waiting for God’s direction. As a result, his wife had been placed in a very compromising position. The exact thing that Abram had sought to avoid had come to pass, only divine intervention spared Sarai from disaster. God was showing Abram a painful lesson that each of us would do well to learn: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). Our solutions always backfire.
D. Abram’s Conduct Rebuked (Gen. 12:18-20).
Incensed that he had been deceived, Pharaoh called Abram and questioned why he had lied to him. Point blank, the Egyptian ruler asked Abram, “Why saidst thou, she is my sister?” (Gen. 12:19). Scripture records no reply on Abram’s part.
It is a sad commentary on the lifestyle of many believers that the world has to rebuke them for their conduct. I’m sure this is an incident in Abram’s life that he would have just as soon forgotten. For a believer to rebuke the world is not uncommon; for the world to rebuke the believer should be unheard of.
IV. Abram’s Return to the Land (Gen. 13:1-4).
A. Abram’ Resources (Gen. 13:1, 2).
After the rebuke by Pharaoh, Abram, Sarai, Lot, and their households ascended to the lowlands of Egypt to the lowlands of Palestine. The incident in Egypt did not stop God’s blessing of Abram. It really emphasized the utter senselessness of Abram’s trying to do on his own what God was able to do for him. Today an Arab Sheikh is considered rich if he has two hundred tents, a hundred or more camels, and thousands of sheep and goats. In comparison, Abram was “very rich”, not only in cattle but in silver and gold as well. He was a man greatly prospered by God. He suffered occasional lapses, but only when he sought his own way. These lapses didn’t separate Abram from God’s love. They did point out the absolute necessity of depending on Jehovah. God doesn’t quit loving us when we fail. His grace is greater than our failures.
B. Abram ‘s Worship (Gen. 13:3).
Abram’s return to Canaan was not just a physical return but a spiritual return as well. He had experienced a great failure in Egypt. He had failed his wife. He had failed his family. Most importantly, he had failed in his dependence on God. God had given Abram a test, and he had failed. Yet, it can be said that the test accomplished the purpose for which it was intended. God, who knows all, knew what Abram would do. He knew how Abram would react to the famine. He knew that Abram would flee to Egypt, lie to pharaoh, and bring grief and rebuke to his entire household. God knew that Abram would fail the test; yet he sent him anyway. Why? God sent the test so Abram could learn what God already knew; so that in the future, Abram would depend on God’s direction, even when human reason cried out to seek its own solution. It had been a painful lesson, but one that would shape the rest of Abram’s days. Thus, in failure, he returned to Canaan, to Bethel, and to the altar he had built earlier to God. Repentant, he was ready to worship God “Where his tent had been at the beginning” (gen. 13:3). He had forsaken his own efforts to return to the place of God’s blessing. He was ready again to walk with God.
C. Abram’s Prayer (Gen. 13:4).
Back at the place of worship and prayer, God’s man did not hesitate to call again on the name of the Lord. Here was a man wealthy in cattle, silver, and gold—a man who had learned the hard way that material wealth and human reason are worthless without divine direction. He gained greater wealth than gold in this precious time of failure and restoration to God. His humility and penitence for his misconduct in Egypt are evident. His self will, a flaw which had plagued him from the start, had been expose and crushed. Now he was back on track and preparing to offer sacrifices to Jehovah.
How much is Abram like each one of us. We fail. We fall into sin. But, like Abram, we often do not learn the lesson of the failure. Abram saw that his very best attempts to deal with the circumstances of life had led to miserable failure. Without God he was unable to accomplish anything. As a result of what he had learned, Abram went back to Bethel. Like Abram, when we fail and fall into sin, we should realize that it is because we have left Bethel. We have gone from God’s place of blessing and tried to live our own way. God is at Bethel, not in Egypt. We must return to bethel and call upon the Lord. Only then can we know the fellowship with God that makes life a progression of glorious victories instead of a string of disastrous failures.
Like any of God’s choice servants, Abram’s life had its ups and downs. He showed great faith in answering positively God’s call to go to a strange land. Yet, he was self-willed. We see this flaw in his partial obedience, his venture into Egypt, and his lie to Pharaoh. He still thought that he could solve his own problems. Many times we are just like Abram. We have, by faith, accepted Jesus as Savior. Yet, we are self-willed. We try to solve our own problems and live our lives in our own way. Our God, however, is a God of love and grace. He allows us to try our own way then causes our efforts to fail. Finally, when we have utterly failed, he does not turn his back on us. Instead, with loving arms, he welcomes us back to Bethel. With Abram, we should all learn this important truth, God often allows failure as his method of revealing our weakness and calling us back to His place of spiritual blessing.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”
This article “A Land that I Shew Thee” written by Don Haskell, was used with permission from: Computers for Christ BBS, P.O. Box 561, Jacksonville, FL 32202. It may be used for study & research purposes only.