I said that in this post I would look at how the first portion of Genesis 12 lays the foundation for the covenant Yahweh would later make with Abraham, how Yahweh began to call a people out of a people, and how the foundation was laid through Abraham for the eventual nation of Israel to become connected to the land. I will also look at the application for our lives. Here is what Genesis says,
1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 4 So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. 6 Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:1-7 (NKJV)
In this passage there a few things to consider. Yahweh essentially says, ‘Do this and I will do that.’ The promises being fulfilled are contingent upon Abraham’s obedience. Abraham is being offered something but first has to exercise faith and go somewhere to find out what he will receive. 12:1 tells us that Yahweh spoke to Abraham and Acts 7:2 includes the further detail that it was in the context of an appearance that Yahweh spoke. The promise is incredible; if Abraham will obey his obedience will affect all of humanity, a pretty lofty promise. He is to be the source of blessing for everyone on the planet. Now at this point Abraham’s world was small by our standard. He couldn’t fly around the planet in a day or know how many people and nations he would affect. At the same time, I’m quite sure an encounter with Yahweh was a little different than your neighbour popping over to say hello!
What is also significant is that the promise was tied not to leaving but rather to going to a specific place, the where being more important than the what. There is something important about where Yahweh wants Abraham to go. Over the years there have been variations of a popular saying in our culture, ‘The journey is more important than the destination.’ A nice sounding platitude, but very misguided. I think the intent is to help us enjoy the journey, and in many things in life that is true. However, the most important choice we can make has eternal consequences – where we are headed? It is nice to enjoy the trip but I would rather have a difficult trip and arrive at the right place than enjoy the trip and arrive to an eternal horror!
So Abraham obeyed and went. He knew that he was to head to Canaan, a geographic area, but that was all. When he obeyed and left and subsequently arrived he again encountered Yahweh. This encounter was in spite of his partial obedience. I referenced in a previous post how his father Terah may have been initially called to do this and how though Abraham was called while in Ur he didn’t actually obey until he was in Haran, furthermore, he was told to leave his home and family, which in the culture of the day meant to leave his security and familiarity. However, he took part of his extended family along, Lot and his family, which later led to a ‘lot’ of trouble.
What do these things tells us about our lives. When Yahweh calls us He begins a separation in our lives. Just as He divided light from darkness in Genesis 1:4 when He created, He seeks to do the same in our lives. He both calls us out of something and to something. In the New Testament Paul was a Pharisee before He encountered Jesus. Pharisee means a ‘separated one.’ The focus of the Pharisees was on being separated from things. Romans 1:1 is very instructive here.
1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God Romans 1:1 (NKJV)
After his conversion Paul describes himself as separated to something. Prior to encountering Jesus his life was built around what he was separated from. He now focused his life on what he was separated to, his purpose and calling in life. The same was modeled by Abraham. He had to walk away from something, not by focusing on his current life, but by focusing on what he was going to, he had to be future focused. We need to remain aware of where we came from but our focus needs to be on where we are going to!
If we have walked with Jesus for any length of time we will be able to look back at how He began to separate light from darkness in our lives. We will be able to see where we have cooperated and where we have drawn back, and if we are wise will receive wisdom to walk more purposefully into our future.
Doing this requires vision and a sense of purpose. One of the challenges in our culture is the emphasis on comfort. Adventures are not comfortable. Making a path where there is no path is hard work. Climbing spiritual mountains is hard work. Pressing into His purposes is hard work. Yet is it all worth it for it is tied to a promise. Hebrews 11 is instructive here because it tells us how Abraham did it.
9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:9-10 (NKJV)
Abraham did not find all that he was looking for but his heart was anchored in an eternal promise. What he received in Genesis 12 was a promise that later became a covenant in Genesis 15:18. A covenant tied to a land and a people. (What has He promised us that we can anchor our hearts in?) Through Abraham Yahweh began to separate out for Himself a people from all other peoples and began the shaping of a nation for His redemptive purposes for all mankind, Israel.
While I did not cover all I desired to in this post, our Journey with Abraham will continue and we will get there.