THE COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM
Updated: Nov 16, 2020
A Deeper Look
Read time: approx. 8:36
“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. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 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.” Genesis 12:1-3
After the fall of Adam and the rebellion of mankind, God was faced with finding a man willing to believe in Him and to enter into covenant with Him by faith. Now a certain man called Terah (The Father of Abram) and his family held the heavenly bodies, particulalry the sun and the moon, as their deities. They lived in the land of Ur in the vicinity of the Tigress and Euphrates rivers. At some point God speaks to Terah, Abram’s father that they should leave Ur and dwell in anoter place. . So they move north to the city of Haran. [Genesis 11:27-32]. It is here that God speaks to Abram and says to him.
"Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred..." So he left his country but not all of his family as God had commanded. He took Lot his brother's son with him. They traveled as far norrth as the city of Haran, where they remianed until after the death of Terah. Now abeying God in part but not comletely would later proves to be an added burden for Abram which causes a delay in him realizing the promised blessings of God. Incidentally, the name “Haran” means “delay.” It is also interesting to note that Lot’s Father’s name was Haran. But he died while the family lived in Ur. So Abram took Lot into his house to be a father to him in the absence of his brother, Haran.
Abram's move, by any standard of considerarion, was no simple proposition. First, he did not just pickup his nap sack and his wife (he had no children at this time) and take off. He, his wife, Serai, her maidservants, all of his servants and their children, his livestock, his tents and all the stuff of his servants, and all their trappings had to be organized for this move. Now added to this was all the substance of Lot, his family, servants, livestock, tents etc.
As they traveled they also increased in children and in substance. It didn't take long until the herdsmen of Abram and the herdsmen of Lot were fighting with each other over whose master was the greatest and who had first rights to the resources of the land.
The unrest became so intense it could be likened to a precursor of a civil war between the families. So, to head off this inevitability, Abram proposes terms of separation to Lot for the preservation of both families. Lot is given the choice to settle in any part of the land he chooses and Abram would go in the opposite direction. Being primarily a herdsman and keeper of livestock Lot chosed the most fertile area nearest the sea near the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram settled in the plain of Mamre.
Everything that God asked Abram to do and everything God promised him may to our 21st century way of thinking at best be considered irrational and at worse totally absurd and maybe bordering on insanity. Just think of it, a voice comes to you and says "Leave your city and your family and go to a country I'm going to show you." The most natural thought for us would be to think, "I must be hallucinating, or someone is pulling a pretty wild joke on me.” Most of us could not imagine uprooting ourselves from our families our homes, all our worldly possessions and just starting out on the road to somewhere with no idea of where we are going.
But to Abram and his generation this (voice and all supernatural manifestations) was the only way they had ever heard from or communicated with God. Yet, even in this Abram exercised another measure of faith and obedience. To this point he has never questioned God, His motive, or His means. When he heard from God, he just got up, packed up his family, and all his substance and moved.
We can be assured that somewhere along the way God directs him toward Canaan because of three important factors 1). God said He would show him, 2). God is not a man that He should lie, and 3). it is recorded in verse 5, "...and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan."
But the place was not as important, initially, as Abram's willingness to go and to trust that God would reveal Hims plan to him. It is here that God reveals Himself to Abram and proclaims again, now in more detail, a promise to bless him, to make him a blessing and to make his name great. God promises him that he will be the father of a multitude (a great nation)
At the time Abram was 75 years old and Sarai was 65 years old and well passed the years of child bearing. This is the first time God actually declares to Abram who He is, [Genesis 15:1] and then He says, "Unto thee and thy seed will I give this land; and there builded he (Abram) an alter unto the Lord."
Abram's response to this revelation of God and His subsequent promise is to build an alter of worship unto the God ..."who appeared unto him." A distinction is made between this God and all the other Gods he may or may not have known. This alter was to the Lord (God) who appeared unto him. No other God had ever appeared to him. This is significant in understanding what Abram was dealing with and what makes his faith so profound.
He was following God based on very slim evidence as compared to what we have today. Not a single miracle had been performed to convince him of God's power or ability to do the things He is promising. In fact the only things he had experienced were unrest, separation from his loved ones, aloneness in the wilderness, the threat of having his wife taken from him and given to another ruler in this hostile land, and the threat of being killed. Not exactly the stuff of which trust and faith in any one are made. Yet Abram follows the leading of God step by step without question.
Next: Part 2 (Read Genesis 11:27—21:8)