Lesson 2 – Obey Immediately (Genesis 12:1-9)
From the pages of Scripture Abram gives us advice on being successful with God. In the notes that follow I attempt to convey his counsel to us in three areas: (1) obedience, (2) learning, and (3) worship. Brevity, although I strive for it, has often eluded me in writing. (It certainly has in speaking.) Nevertheless I will still aim to be brief and clear. Read on prayerfully and may the Lord use these paltry notes to help my brethren in their efforts to succeed in serving God. What follows is neither the final word or the best; but it is offered in hopes of helping others to experience some success in following God.
Reviewing the Command (Genesis 12:1-3)
In Genesis 12:1-3 we have God’s call to the patriarch Abram. In Genesis 12:4-9 we have a summary record of Abram’s response. In the responses are timeless principles being recommended to us for our dealings with the LORD. The call had two imperatives or commands. Each command had associated promises:
- Command 1 – Leave your country, your family, and go to a land that will be shown you. (How do you go to a land without knowing where to go?) Associated Promises: (i) a family nation, (ii) a famous name, and (iii) blessings.
- Command 2 – Be a blessing (Ross, 1985, p. 47)! The second imperative (Genesis 12:2) is rooted in a promise. The LORD said that if Abram would leave his country and family for a land he does not know that he will be blessed. Being blessed is a promise associated with going out. But to what end? Abram will be blessed in order that Abram can be a blessing.
Abram’s departure was key to the release of the promises. His obedience opened the door for the God to make Abram a great nation, give him a great name, and to be blessed.
This blessing to the Nations is to be accomplished through the Messianic Seed of Abraham because, as the prophets pointed out, it will be through the Messiah that the Gentiles will receive their spiritual blessings (Isa. 42:1, 42:6, 49:5-6; Amos 9:11-12). (Fruchtenbaum, 2020, p. 303)
Immediate Obedience (Genesis 12:4-5; Hebrews 11:8)
Abram’s response to the word of the LORD was immediate obedience (Genesis 12:4a); after receiving the message (Genesis 12:1-3) he departed with his nephew Lot. That is the summary statement. Moses then gives the reader a more detailed picture of the traveling band. The leader was seventy-five years old (Genesis 12:4b). Accompanying this middle-aged man was (i) his wife and half-sister Sarai (Genesis 20:12), (ii) the aforementioned nephew Lot, (iii) all their possessions, and (iv) the people whom they had acquired in Haran (Genesis 12:5). The group of people with their stuff left Haran following Abram – a man who did not know where he was going (Hebrews 11:8).
The Advice of Abram: Loose the Favor of God through Obedience (Matthew 28:18-20) — Abram, by his example, admonishes those who choose God-made greatness (1) to get your Lot in life and (2) get out of Haran. (Haran is that place between where you were and where you are going. Staying Haran looks like a good start but we make the mistake of staying there too long.) By doing this he met the only condition of God’s favor (Fruchtenbaum, 2020, p. 304) and loosed the blessing. Let the favor of God loose in your life by letting go of the world (1 John 2:15-17). It is time to stop being more than comfortable to be the more-than-a-conqueror you were born again and called to be. We cannot keep calling ourselves people of great faith when we chronically let fear keep us from leaving the camp.
Initiating the Worship of God (Genesis 12:6-9)
When Abram has arrived in Canaan he does not just setup camp. The land is already inhabited (Genesis 12:6). He will cross a wadi to Shechem. When he arrives the LORD appears to him (Genesis 12:7). Although he was not told where to go Abram went out (Hebrews 11:8). The Lord, to be sure, directed his steps. But we must see that it was a great faith at work to leave his country and family without more details. This kind of request is a real problem for many of us. Without more information about what we are called to do we will refuse to go or ask for many signs (Judges 6:40). But in due time more information was provided. Abram, then, advises us by his example:
The Advice of Abram: Get Greater Revelation in the Going (Genesis 12:7; John 8:31-32) — The Then (Genesis 12:7) is to be seen as connected to the So (Genesis 12:4). God moved to give greater revelation when the man proved to be a good steward of what he had already been given. When Abram went out he did not know where he was going (Hebrews 11:8). When John the Baptist started baptizing he did know know who Messiah was (John 1:33). Paul started planting without the particulars on how he was going to preach to those in authority. Jesus said the understanding is made available in the undertaking (John 8:31-32). The faith of our father Abraham is willing to walk out of what he knows into the unknown. In the undertaking God gives understanding, in the endeavoring God educations me, and in getting out I get a greater revelation.
- As Abram passed through the land toward Canaan he would have gone through the Wadi Faria to Shechem. This took him to the oak of Moreh just outside the pagan city of Shechem (Fruchtenbaum, 2020, p. 305). A Wadi is a valley or ravine, bounded by relatively steep banks, which in the rainy season becomes a watercourse; these formations are seen in North Africa and the Middle East. Wadi Faria (Arabic: وادي الفارعه) or Nahal Tirzah (Hebrew: נַחַל תִּרְצָה) is a stream in the northern West Bank that empties into the Jordan River south of Damia Bridge. It is the largest stream in the West Bank. Wadi al-Far’a is located in the rugged area of the West Bank and cuts east through the Jordan Valley, passing through the Palestinian village of Wadi al-Far’a. The Tirzah Reservoir is used to collect the floodwater of Wadi al-Far’a before it flows into the Jordan River.
- The Hebrew word for oak, eilon, is often translated as terebinth, and just as often, it refers to a place of idolatry. The two Hebrew words Eilon Moreh together mean the “Terebinth of the Teacher,” which was actually a center of the Canaanite teaching of the oracles. The Oak of Moreh was connected with Canaanite paganism, Canaanite idolatry, and occult practices. It is in this area that Abram chose to first erect his tent. (Fruchtenbaum, 2020, p. 305)
Eventually the LORD appeared to Abram (Genesis 12:7) and Abram responded by building an altar in the place where the LORD had appeared to him. Later the traveler pitches a tent and builds another altar and calls on the name of the LORD (Genesis 12:8). Do not miss the fact that Abram has the audacity to advocate for the worship the LORD of in a place dedicated to the worship of idols. Moreover, where did he get the inclination to turn each location into a place of worship and prayer. If we are willing to receive it Abram is again giving us counsel. This time it is about praise and prayer toward the LORD .
The Advice of Abram: Your Presence Should Promote His Praise (Genesis 12:7-8) — Let us be astounded at the understanding of Abram. His actions reveal a theology is that thousands of years ahead of his time. Before the shema (Deuteronomy 6:4), the narratives of the gospel (John 4:23-24), or the weighty teachings of a Christian Pharisee (Colossians 3:17), Abram advances the idea that the purpose of our presence in any and every place and in all predicaments (Acts 16:23-25) is the promotion of praise toward the LORD. Where God appeared to Abram an altar was built. And where Abram pitched his tent prayer and praise became part of life.
The Advice of Abram for Me Today
- Free up the favor of God in immediate obedience to the word He has given you. Abide in His word and let His word abide in you. You will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you.
- Get greater revelation in the going. The deep things of God are graciously given as we go. Better than the words in the books is the education you will get as you endeavor, the understanding that comes in the undertaking, and the knowing that comes with going.
- Embrace your purpose. your presence in every place and every predicament should promote the praise of God and people calling on His name.
Seven Revelations of God to Abraham
- The Initial Call (Genesis 12:1-3) – This call is received while Abram is in Ur of the Chaldees. In response to the call his family left Ur of the Chaldees for Canaan by way of Haran.
- Appearance in the Land (Genesis 12:7) — After Abram receives a word from God he receives and appearance – a theophany. In this second revelation the LORD tells Abram that he will give the land to his descendants.
- Appearance After Separating from Lot (Genesis 13:14-17)
- Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 15:1-21)
- The Token of the Covenant (Genesis 17:1-21)
- Discussion Concerning Sodom (Genesis 18:1-33)
- Directed to Offer Isaac (Genesis 22:1-2; 11-18)
Abraham Referred to as The Friend of God
- Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? (2 Chronicles 20:7, NKJV)
- But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend. (Isaiah 41:8, NKJV)
- And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. (James 2:23, NKJV)
Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. . The Book of Genesis. Ariel Ministries. Kindle Edition.
Ross, A. P. (1985). Genesis. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 47). Victor Books.