Today’s reading: Genesis 12-14
Now from the descendants of Noah’s son Shem came a man named Terah, who was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. After Terah died, the Lord spoke to Abram giving him instructions and a promise.
“Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:1-3
Leave and go where I show you to go – this is the first element of God’s promise. It requires more than just initial obedience of leaving all he knows. It also requires continual obedience and submission, following wherever God leads each and every day. It is not enough that I followed obediently yesterday; I must continue to follow in obedience today. Abram does this and receives confirmation of the PROMISE as the Lord appeared to him again in Canaan, “I will give this land to your descendants” (12:7).
I will make you into a great nation and bless you – God promises Abram that he will be blessed and grow into a great nation. This PROMISE has great significance to Abram because his wife, Sarai, has been unable to become pregnant and they have no children (11:30). Yet God promises Abram descendants. When God makes a PROMISE, we can trust Him for PROVISION. So if God was promising descendants, Abram simply needed to trust that God would provide children to Abram and Sarai. So accepting God’s promise requires daily obedience and willingness to follow God wherever He leads, and it requires a huge amount of faith.
You will be a blessing to others…all the families on earth will be blessed through you – this promise was not just about Abram and for the benefit of Abram. It was much larger than that. There were so many other people who would be blessed through this promise, so many others relying on Abram’s faith in God and his decision to obey. Who is relying on our faithful obedience today? Are we living with the realization that our decisions today could affect someone else tomorrow?
For Abraham is the father of all who believe. This is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.
Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping – believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead – and so was Sarah’s womb.
Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. – Romans 4:16b-25
I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt – God promises PROTECTION of Abram and guardianship of His promise. Unfortunately, Abram did not remember this part of the promise when he arrived with Sarai and his nephew Lot (Haran’s son) in Egypt.
There was a severe famine, forcing Abram to go to Egypt to find food. Now Sarai was very beautiful and Abram feared the Egyptians would kill him in order to have her. Instead of relying on God to fulfill His promise, Abram took matters into his own hands and deceived the Egyptians by telling them Sarai was his sister – which she very well may have been but he failed to mention she was also his wife. God had promised to protect Abram from harm but Abram still felt the need to protect himself through deception.
Everyone did notice Sarai’s beauty and she was taken to Pharoah to be his wife. Terrible plagues came upon Pharoah and his household because of Sarai. Pharoah gave her back to Abram and commanded him to leave Egypt – the place they had fled to in order to survive the famine.
Abram left Egypt and traveled to the region between Bethel and Ai. Their group was quite large so Abram offered to split the land with Lot, giving Lot his first choice of which land he wanted.
“If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.” (Genesis 13:9)
Now all the land to the east of them in the Jordan Valley was very fertile and well watered, obviously the best choice of land. Perhaps Abram has learned something from his journey through Egypt. He knows that it is not the land itself that will bless him but that God will bless him, regardless of which piece of land he gets. After Lot chose the better half, the Lord confirmed his promise to Abram a third time:
“Look as far as you can see in EVERY direction – north and south, east and west. I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession. And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.” – Genesis 13:14-17
There was a battle between the kings in the nations around Abram and Lot was captured in the battle (14:1-24). Abram rescued Lot, as well as many others who had been caught in the conflict. The king of Sodom was so grateful that he wanted to give all the goods captured to Abram as a gift. Just as Abram now knew that God was the source of his protection, he also knew God was the source of his blessings. He refused the gifts and kept his eyes on God – his Protector and his Provider.
Dear God, thank you for your promises. May we respond in obedience to your call on our lives, just as Abram did. May we trust you for our protection and for every blessing in life. Show us the areas of our lives in which we are taking things into our own hands, trusting in our own abilities instead of relying on you. Remind us today, oh Lord, of your many promises. Remind me that everything good in my life is not a result of my own effort, but evidence of your PROMISE, your PROTECTION and your PROVISION. Amen.