Genesis 12:1-32 – The Call of Avram and The Abrahamic Covenant

Genesis 12:1-32 – The Call of Avram and The Abrahamic Covenant

Genesis 12:1 Abram was told to leave his country

2. He was told to leave his relatives – This he did not fully do until years later when “circumstances”, forced him to separate from his nephew Lot. In fact initially he left Ur for Haran, but his relatives went with him (Genesis 11:31) The Lord gives us a similar call; (Luke 14:26) “”If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”.

3. Leave your father’s house – This meant not only leaving his uncles and cousins but also his own father. Family relationships in the Middle East even to this day are extremely close. This was not a simple request asked of Abraham, this involved a good deal of faith and dying to his old life and world.

4. “To the land that God will show him” – He was told to go without knowing where he was going. Imagine the response from family and friends when they questioned him about why and where he was headed.

Genesis 12:2-3 – If Abraham began that walk, God promised to:

1. Make of him a great nation, this was a remarkable promise since Abram and Sarai are childless.

2. Bless him – This blessing included material as well as spiritual blessings.

3. Make his name great he would be lifted up in honor and greatness.

4. He would be a blessing – He would not only receive blessings but be a vehicle for blessing others.

5. God would bless those who bless him – This blessing as verse 3 tells us would depend on their attitude to Abraham, and as Scripture later demonstrates, to his offspring as well.

(Genesis 27:29) “May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.” (Exodus 23:22) “If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.”

(Matthew 25:40) “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 6. All the families of the earth would blessed through him – This is a reference to the Messiah who would come through him and who would make it possible for people from every nation, tribe and relation to experience abundant blessing.

Genesis 12:4 – here we see Abraham leaving Haran for the land of Canaan, but he takes his nephew Lot with him. This is understandable considering that Lot had become a son to him at the death of his brother Haran. Note that he was 75 years of age, and Sarai was 65 years old. Sarai means princely and Sarah means princess. Her name was changed in Genesis 17 when God confirms that Sarah would give birth to a child and thus be a mother of a multitude of nations who would be her children through the Child who would eventually come through her.

Some considerations regarding the The Abrahamic Covenant:

(1) A great nation was to come out of Abraham, namely, the nation of Israel (Genesis 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 17:1-2, 7; 22:17b);

(2) He was promised a land specifically, the Land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1, 7; 13:14-15, 17; 15:17-21; 17:8);

(3) Abraham himself was to be greatly blessed (Genesis 12:2b; 15:6; 22:15-17a);

(4) Abraham’s name would be great (Genesis 12:2c);

(5) Abraham will be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2d);

(6) Those who bless will be blessed (Genesis 12:3a);

(7) Those who curse will be cursed (Genesis 12:3b);

(8) In Abraham all will ultimately be blessed, a promise of Gentile blessing (Genesis 12:3c; 22:18);

(9) Abraham would receive a son through his wife Sarah (Genesis 15:1-4; 17:16-21);

(10) His descendants would undergo the Egyptian bondage (Genesis 15:13-14);

(11) Other nations as well as Israel would come forth from Abraham (Genesis 17:34,6; the Arab states are some of these nations);

(12) His name was to be changed from Abram to Abraham (17:5);

(13) Sarai’s name was to be changed to Sarah (17:15); and (14) There was to be a token of the covenant—Circumcision (17:9-14) and so according to the Abrahamic Covenant, circumcision was a sign of Jewishness.

The provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant can be categorized in three areas: to Abraham, to the Seed (Israel), and to the Gentiles. Concerning Abraham. The promises made to Abraham individually were:

(1) Abraham was to be the father of a great nation (Israel);

(2) he was to possess all of the Promised Land;

(3) other nations (including the Arab states) were to descend from Abraham;

(4) many of his descendants would become kings (both Jewish and non-Jewish kings);

(5) Abraham was to receive personal blessings;

(6) Abraham was to be a blessing to others; and,

(7) his name was to become great—and so it is among Jews, Moslems. and Christians. Some of these were fulfilled in his lifetime, but some were not (such as ownership of the land) and so await a future fulfillment.

Concerning the Seed (Israel). When the term seed was used as a collective singular, it was a reference to Israel. Promises made to the nation were:

(1) the nation was to become great;

(2) it was ultimately to become innumerable;

(3) it was to possess all of the Promised Land; and,

(4) it was to receive victory over its enemies. The fact that the promises were made to both Abraham and his seed shows that these blessings have not yet received a complete fulfillment, but await the Messianic Kingdom.

Concerning the Gentiles. Promises made to the Gentiles included:

(1) Blessings for blessing Israel;

(2) cursings for cursing Israel; and,

(3) the Gentiles also were to receive spiritual blessings, but ultimately these were to come through one specific Seed of Abraham—the Messiah. When the term seed was used as an absolute singular, it was a reference to the Messiah it should be noted at this point that the Abrahamic Covenant Contained both physical and spiritual promises. While the physical Promises were limited to Israel, the spiritual promises or blessings were to extend to the Gentiles. The promise of Gentile blessing was stated early in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:3).

Reducing the Abrahamic Covenant to its very basics, it contains three aspects the land, the seed, and the blessing. The land aspect is developed in the Palestinian Covenant; the seed aspect is covered in the Davidic Covenant; and the blessing aspect is presented in the New Covenant. Abraham had eight sons by three different women. The question is: through which sons would the Abrahamic Covenant be confirmed? God revealed that it was to be through Sarah’s son, Isaac, only. His appearance to Isaac is recorded in (Genesis 26:2‑5)

“The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. (3) Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. (4) I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, (5) because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.”

Genesis 12:5-7 Abram had already been blessed with material possessions from the Lord. He stepped out of his comfort zone and compromised his wealth and security to travel in response to God’s call upon him. He came to Shechem, which was rebuilt by Hadrian and called Neapolis, or Nablus. In the time of Jesus this was the home of the Samaritans, and the place where Jesus talked with the woman at the well. It was here in Shechem that the Lord appeared to him and gave Abram the assurance that the land would be given to him.

We are told of two other times when the Lord appeared to Abram. Genesis 17:1;18:1, in response Abram builds an altar and there offers a sacrifice to the Lord. Abram was a patriarch, which meant that he was a prophet, priest and king.

Genesis 12:8 Abram dwelt in a tent, living the life of a Nomad. He now moved his tent to Bethel and called on the name of Yahweh or Jehovah. YHWH God’s name in Hebrew known by the technical term “Tetragrammaton” (Greek, meaning four letters), these are the four consonants which make up the name and is found more than 6,000 times in the Old Testament.

The written Hebrew language did not include vowels, only the consonants were used; thus readers supplied the vowels as they read (this is true even today in Hebrew newspapers).

Reverence for the name led to the practice of avoiding its use lestto avoid breaking the Commandments. (Exodus 20:7) “”You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” (Lev 24:16) “anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native‑born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.” In time it was thought that the divine name was too holy to pronounce at all. Thus the practice arose of using the word Adonai: “Lord.”

Many Jewish people will not write the name lest it be profaned so they will write L-rd or G-d. (Exodus 3:14‑15) “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (15) God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers‑‑the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob‑‑has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.”

“I AM WHO I AM” is a very literal rendering of the Hebrew text, expressing God’s real, perfect, unconditional, independent existence. God exists in a way that no one and nothing else does. He is without beginning or end. He is the only Being who is self‑existent.

Genesis 12:9 In the Hebrew the word balal means “mingle” and from that we get the word confuse. Later those who remained in Babel rather than have their name associated with the action taken by God reinterpreted the name to mean Bab-el which means the “gate of God”. To a degree their is some truth to this, it is the gate of god but not God. Babylon is described as the mother of all harlots, an allusion to spiritual adultery (Isaiah 1:21; Nahum 3:4). Nineveh had enticed many nations into her clutches through her military power, trade, and prosperity. The mention of witchcraft suggests the use of demonic means to ensnare nations. Hosea 2 & Ezekiel 16 speak of Israel’s spiritual adultery.

Genesis 12:10-17 – We continue in the unfolding drama of the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent. The seed went from Adam to Seth through Seth to Noah, from Noah now to Shem (Genesis 9:27). Terah was in the 9th generation after the flood if the genealogical records have no gaps, and that would mean that Shem was alive until after Terah’s death.

This would mean that Terah could have gotten his information from Shem. These verse give the genealogy from Arphaxad to Peleg, “in his time the earth was divided;” (Genesis 10:25). Peleg was born about 100 years after the flood which was probably the year of the dispersion at Babel.

Genesis 12:18-25 – From the time that the earth was divided we now see a marked drop in the life span of people. One reason for this was the deleterious effect that the ultraviolet rays had on the human body. Prior to the flood these rays were blocked by the approx. 300 mile canopy that circled the earth.

A second likely cause for the length of days to be shortened is the emotional and physical trauma that the dispersion placed upon mankind. On one day their world and security was turned upside down. They were now forced to scatter and work together in common language groups. These small tribes found it more difficult to thrive, and war was still another obstacle and trauma shortening the length of man’s days. Still another factor was the necessity of closer inbreeding.

Genesis 12:26-32 – Terah was the father of three sons; Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Nahor and Haran are names of cities in Mesopotamia from whom those names may have come (Genesis 24:10;28:10). Nahor was named for his grandfather (Genesis 11:24). Haran died leaving behind his son Lot who became attached to his uncle Abram. Haran also had a daughter named Milcah who was raised by Nahor.

When she became old enough her uncle Nahor took her for a wife. Sarah the wife of Abram was a daughter of Terah as was Abram, but they had different mothers so she was a half-sister. These kind of marriages were later forbidden under the Law. Sarah was barren and so Abram, unlike his brothers had no children in Ur or later when he lived in Haran.

The child of promise was to be born in the promised land. This is a significant passage of Scripture because it chronicles the call and life of Abraham. This is also a transitional passage of Scripture because it launches the movement of God from dealing with the human race as a whole to dealing with one man Abraham and his seed (the Messiah) and descendants Israel. The world had once again become corrupt involved in idolatry, even Terah, the father of Abram, had become an idol worshiper (Joshua 24:2).

From all that we can tell from Scripture, no one was following the true and living God. Once again, if the godly line was to be saved if the promised seed was to be sent into the world God Himself would have to intervene and move on the scene of world history. Haran was the father of Lot the nephew of Abram who moved with Abram into the land of Canaan. Lot believed in God. Scripture clearly says that Lot was counted “just” or “righteous” by God (2 Peter 2:7-8).

Nahor worshiped and followed idols (Gen. 31:53) in fact the whole family of Nahor worshiped idols (Gen. 31:19, 32). Nahor married his niece, the daughter of his brother, Haran. She bore Rebecca, who was to become the wife of Isaac. In v 30 we are told that Sarah was barren and yet Abram demonstrated great faith, by believing God’s promise that God would give him a son, and through that son the promised seed would come who would bless all the nations of the earth.

Stephen tells us in Acts 7:2-3 that God appeared to Abram while he was still in Ur, before he left for Haran. In , Genesis 11:31,Terah is said to have taken his family to Canaan, the promised land. Abram traveled about 600 miles to Haran and for some unknown reason, remained there. While there, Terah died. We see in Genesis 12, that after Terah’s death, while still in Haran, God appeared to Abram a second time.

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