The Pastor's Class

When God Calls Your Name

Genesis 12: 1-20

Last week we took a giant step forward from the flood to the tower of Babel. In the last part of chapter 11 we have another genealogy that takes us another giant step forward; from Shem the son of Noah all the way to Abram (Abraham).

Genesis 12:1

12 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

As we will see in a moment Abram was 75 years old and still lived at home. Some people complain because they still have a 23 or 24 year old at home. How would you feel if you had a 75 year old still living at home.

Well, in a Patriarchal society that would not be uncommon. People lived in family clans. Not only was there safety in numbers but they shared in the responsibilities of gathering food and creating shelter.

The Patriarchal society was also a society of self government. They set their own rules. They educated their own children and established their own belief system.


You will notice in the NIV Translation of the bible that sometimes you will see the word "LORD" in capital letters and other times you will not.

Whenever, you see the word in capital letters it refers to the divine name "YHWH." Another Hebrew word, "Adonai" is also translated "Lord."

Whenever the two names stand together in the Old Testament as a compound name of God, they are rendered "Sovereign Lord."

1. In today's study we have the introduction of Abram (Abraham). How important is Abraham to our understanding of the bible?

With the exception of Jesus Abraham may be the most important character in the Bible.

1. Abraham was the first person in the bible to be called a Hebrew.

2. All Jews trace their ancestry back to Abraham.

3. The Biblical phrase "Our Father Abraham" expresses the family relationship that every person of faith has with "the man of faith." (John 8:53-, Acts 7:2)

4. If people are to interpret the teachings of Paul -- and all of Scripture -- correctly, they must understand the cultural and the historical context of his writings.

2. The text states that the Lord spoke to Abraham. Who has the Lord spoken to previously in our studies?

By the time of Abraham countless millions of people have lived and died. The bible records only a very few of these people. We know that God spoke to Adam and Eve. We know that God spoke to Cain. We know that God spoke to Noah. Are these the only people with whom God has spoken?

At this point someone usually asks; "How did God speak to these people? Did he speak audibly?" We do not know for sure. However, what we do know is that God spoke and they knew that it was He who was speaking.

ILLUS. When I was young and misbehaving in Church my mother could look at me and point her finger and without saying a word I knew exactly what she meant.

Whereas, I have never known anyone who has said that God spoke audibly to him. I do know that God speaks in undeniable ways.

3. What did the Lord say to Abraham?

He told Abraham to get out of his country and leave his family and go to an undisclosed land.

You will notice as you read the bible that the Lord spoke to his people in many ways. However, when the Lord spoke directly to an individual or to a group something significant is about to happen.

In what ways does God speak to us today?

1. Through his Holy Word.

2. Through Prayer.

3. Through Circumstances

4. Through the Fellowship of Believers.

Genesis 12: 2-3

2 “I will make you into a great nation

and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

and you will be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

will be blessed through you.”

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

4. What reason did the Lord give for asking Abraham to leave his country and family?

God had a plan for his life. God did not give him all the details. He seldom does. God's plan for Abraham was greater than anything he could have imagined.

God has a plan for each of his children. When we discover and accept God's plan for our life it will be greater than anything we can imagine.

Some people think that God just calls preachers and missionaries and everyone else is sort of left to do their own thing. God calls and equips each of his children for His purpose.

ILLUS. How successful do you think we would be right now in Iraq if the Officers were the only ones who knew what was going on and everyone else was sort of doing their own thing? We are successful because every person is skilled and trained to do a job and every job is vital to the desired outcome of the war.

Do not think for one moment because you are a mechanic or a factory worker, or a nurse that God has not called you to the ministry. When you as a Christian are willing to bring your occupation (An activity that serves as one's regular source of livelihood;) under the authority of God it will become your vocation (An inclination, as if in response to a summons, to undertake a certain kind of work, especially a religious career; a calling.) and your whole life will be changed.

5. What promise did God make to Abraham in verse 3? How is it possible that God could keep such a promise?

There is in literature a devise that is known as foreshadowing. Foreshadowing leads the reader ahead by hinting of things that will come.

After reading a story or novel that uses foreshadowing, readers should be able to look back at earlier scenes and understand when they first anticipated the story's climax or resolution.

Most people believe that there is in the literature of the Old Testament a foreshadowing of things to come. We have seen an example of this in Genesis 3:15 and again in the account of Noah and the Ark. When we read this verse we begin to expect something huge, something significant to happen as the result of the obedience of Abraham. And indeed something does. What is it?

For the Answer go to Matthew Chapter one and begin reading at verse 2.

Today every time some accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior God is fulfilling his promise to Abraham.

Genesis 12: 4-5

4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

When Did Abram Leave?

As I stated earlier, it is not until the time of Abraham that we can begin to speak of dates with any certainty and even then it can be somewhat complicated.

On the basis of biblical dates, this departure occurred in approximately 2092 B.C. This date may be determined from five Old Testament passages. First Kings 6:1 states that Solomon began construction on the temple in the fourth year of his reign, or 480 years after the exodus. Since Solomon's reign ended in 941 B.C. the fourth year of his reign would have been in 967 B.C. The exodus, then ,took place in 1447 B.C. Exodus 12:40 states that Jacob's family arrived in Egypt 430 years before the exodus, or 1877 B.C. Genesis 47:9 records Jacob's age as 130 when he entered Egypt. Therefore, Jacob was born in 2007 B.C. Genesis 25:26 indicates Isaac was 60 years old when Jacob was born, so Isaac was born in 2067 B.C. Finally, Genesis 21:5 states Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, so Abraham was born in 2167B.C. Since Abraham was 75 years old, he left Haran in 2092 B.C.

JBS 2002

6. Did Abraham violate God's command by taking his nephew Lot with him?

Lot's father, Haran, died and he was left in the charge of his Grandfather, Terah. After the death of his Grandfather he becomes the responsibility of Abraham. Even though Lot would later cause him trouble there is no indication that God intended for Abraham to leave him behind.

Genesis 12: 7-9

7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

Notice that after Abraham responded in obedience to God and after he obeyed the command of God he built an alter and worshipped.

We saw the same pattern with Noah.

You cannot effectively worship when you are standing in defiance to what you know that the Lord has commanded you to do. Many people come to church and many people sing the songs and listen to the message and even give their money but that is not worship. Worship involves total surrender.

7. Where is this land "Canaan" that the Lord promised to the offspring of Abraham.?

The land known as Canaan was situated in the territory which today encompasses Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, and the southern portions of Syria and Lebanon.

8. When Abraham reached Canaan he experienced a "theophany". What is a theophany?

A theophany is when God shows himself to a human. Even though no man has ever seen God face to face there are many occasions in the bible where people have seen a manifestation of God or his Spirit.

Abraham’s Journey of Faith

Abraham’s 1,500-mile journey was fueled by faith. “And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, ... for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:8–10).
Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nelson’s complete book of Bible maps and charts: Old and New Testament [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

The Abrahamic Covenant

Genesis 12:1-3

God initiated His covenant with Abram when he was living in Ur of the Chaldeans, promising a land, descendants, and blessing.

Genesis 12:4, 5

Abram went with his family to Haran, lived there for a time, and left at the age of 75.

Genesis 13:14-17

After Lot separated from Abram, God again promised the land to him and his descendants.

Genesis 15:1–21

The covenant was ratified when God passed between the sacrificial animals Abram laid before God.

Genesis 17:1-27

When Abram was 99 God renewed His covenant, changing Abram’s name to Abraham (“Father of a Multitude”). Sign of the covenant: circumcision.

Genesis 22:15–18

Confirmation of the covenant because of Abraham’s obedience.

Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nelson’s complete book of Bible maps and charts: Old and New Testament [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

9. In what way(s) did God reveal himself to Abraham? How has God revealed himself to you?

10. Abraham had to take some pretty bold steps in order to obey God. What has God called you to do? What steps have you taken to obey?

Pastor's Note

You will notice that today we only dealt with the first nine verses of chapter 12. Next week we will skip to chapter 16. The fact that we skip a portion of scripture does not mean that it is unimportant. As a matter of fact your study will be greatly enhanced if, during the week, you can read continually the scripture from one lesson to the next.

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