Genesis | Chapter 12

Genesis 12:1-9

“I will bless you”

  1. Intro.
  2. Vs. 1-9 A walk of life


The focus, is upon Abram from this chapter through chapter 25. He is mentioned 260 times in the Bible and ten of those times his name is mentioned in connection with faith. Paul wrote to the Roman’s (4:13, 16) that “the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” Then in verses 16 Paul continues by saying; “that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” So Abram’s life of faith becomes an example of how we ought to live in Christ.

Vs. 1-9 A walk of life

Vs. 1 “The LORD had said to Abram:” 420 years had passed since we were told in chapter 9 that God spoke to Noah and now we see God again calling out to a mankind through a servant named Abram. Steven, in his message before the Sanhedrin said that, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ “Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.” Abram’s father Terah was 70 years old when Abram was born and Abram was 75 when he departed Haran to go to Canaan that makes Terah 145 when Abram left Haran. Based upon Steven’s words God’s call came to Abram “before he dwelt in Haran”, he then left with his father perhaps after Abram’s brother Haran died and moved up from Ur near the Persian gulf to the city of Haran, all of which is in Iraq. Steven says that Abram’s departure was after his father Terah died, yet 11:32 says that Terah dies at the age of 205. Which means Terah would not die until another 130 years. Terah’s name means “delay” and the city of Haran means “parched and barren”. We cannot be sure how long Abram stayed with his father in Haran but we can say that “his delay left him parched and barren!” We are not told if Abram had two calls or just the one that took time for Abram to fully surrender and leave his father who was hindering the work which God had for him.

Notice the threefold call to Abram

The words “Get out” are literally “Go for yourself” which implies that God’s call of separation was intended to benefit Abram. Too often we see God’s call separating us as a penalty upon our freedom instead a pathway to blessing! God’s way is the best way and coming away from the world is the surest way to be blessed. The way the author of Hebrews puts it in 12:1 “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” There is a threefold progression of separation from the things of the world that God calls Abram from but you will also see threefold blessing to what God calls Abram too. The point for us is that God never calls away from something that He does not call us to something better.

  1. Out of your country” National: This was the place of Abram’s birth it was his national identity, yet God was calling Abram away from his national identity. Much of what we think of as Christian is our western cultural experience. Our call is not to be American Christians it is to be Christian Americans! Abram’s identity was to be found in his faith in the Lord not in what or how they worshipped their god or gods. Much of the church growth trends are from the secular business world and marketing tricks to attract consumers and not the word of God.
  2. From your family” Cultural: God’s call included being called away from the culture that made up the area in which Abram was from. There are a great many things that are cultural expressions from where we are from. Now not all of these are bad but not all fit within the confines of Christianity. Halloween is a cultural phenomenon in our society that is something that we ought not to carry over into Christianity. The same might go as well with what we read, watch and listen too.
  3. And from your father’s house”: Family We are called ought of our families as well. This has to do with what is our chief affection. Jesus said in Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Jesus uses the word “hate” to show a comparison of how much greater our love for Him ought to be compared with our love of our families.

Vs. 2-3 Notice the words, “I will, make you, bless you, make your, you shall be. ” These words too us that promises of this covenant were not going to be based upon what Abram may or may not be but rather upon God’s grace. Paul reminds Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

Threefold blessing to what God calls Abram

  1. I will make you a great nationNation: God calls him out of a nation but in so doing calls him into becoming a great nation. The nation Abram came out of was idolatrous but God was promising to make from Abram’s obedience a nation that would trust only the true God.
  2. I will bless youCulture: The culture was a curse now it would be a cure. All that made up society that was sick would become that which would heal. James 2:23 comments about Abram by saying, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And he was called the friend of God.”
  3. And make your name greatFamily: Abram had been part of a family now he was to be the head of a new family, the family of faith. Both Jew and gentile look to Abram as our father. He left his father’s name, Abram “exalted father”, and God will give him a new name Abraham “father of a multitude”.

Trusting God is a threefold blessing

  1. And you shall be a blessingNation: In Abram’s new nation he was not just to be the object of God’s blessing he was to be the instrument of it as well. Abram’s life was to be an example to us that those who are blessed will know it because they will bless others.
  2. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses youCulture: Abram’s cause was going to be the Lord’s cause so however the world responded to Abram was either going to be a blessing to them or a woe.
  3. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” Family: Gal 3:9 says, “So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” We are now of the same family of faith as Abram was.

Vs. 4-7 Trusting in the Lord word as seen in this covenant can be seen in three specific changes within Abram.

  1. 4 Confidence: Abram took God at His word without hesitation or questioning. Folks the reality is that obedience without confidence leads to hesitation and doubt. That is what the author of Hebrews tells us in 11:6 “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
  2. 5-6 Consistency: Abram trusted the Lord even though the land of promise was still occupied by the Canaanites. The fact that he did not enter the land direct and that the land was not cleared of its occupants did not deter Abrams trust in God’s word. A lot of the time we will only move when the Lord has all the ducks in a row. Abram’s faith was not conditional upon his seeing the right circumstances or situations to determine his trust. Abram did not look at past blessing or struggles to guide his trust. What I like about this is that this place was known by landmarks, (place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh). You see though the right circumstances may not have been in place the land was still very real. This was not “Gee I hope this will happen!” Rather it is already mine! The place was in between Mount Gerizzim and Mount Ebel and would later become a place of refuge, it is here that Joshua would gather the nation to hear his farewell speech.
  3. 7 Consecration: God supplies what Abram already believed was his by faith. You see the Lord allows Abram to see what his faith had to be tested by. What’s amazing is that as far as taking possession of the land the only piece of land that Abram would own was the burial plot for his wife, yet his future descendants would take possession of what Abram already believed was his. Abram builds an altar, to worship God. God reveals what our faith grasps without seeing we will have the same response as Abram, sacrifice, worship, communion.

Vs. 8 Abram pitched a tent and not built a house. Abram understood that his life was to be a pilgrimage. He was looking for what we are told in Heb. 11:10 was a “city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” A wise person once said, “The true believer will never have his heaven in a bank; he will always have his bank in heaven.” Abram was not willing to settle for anything less so he traveled never owning what was already his by faith. The fact is there are several stages in the life of many of us Christians. God starts out with a MAN, then this man has a vision which produces a MISSION, as the mission catches on it becomes a MOVEMENT, lastly as the movement continues there is always an attempt to erect a MONUMENT.

Abram moved to “Bethel and Ai” which literally mean “house of God and heap of stones”. Abram dwelt between the house of God and a heap of stones, which I suggest, is exactly where all such people of faith live! We have admired Abram’s trust in obeying God’s call on his life and the blessings that were his because of it but how did he maintain his day to day walk with God by faith?

Vs. 8-9 Four things Abram did every time he moved with God.

  1. He pitched his tent”: Wherever the Lord brought Abram, he made it his home. The man bloomed where he was planted. All too often God’s children allow what they don’t know to keep us from what we do know. Even in his flexibility with the Lord when he stopped he still pitched his tent.
  2. Built an altar to the LORD”: Five times in scripture his name is associated with the word altar. No matter where God would take Abram he always brought with him communion with the Lord. Abram made sure that no matter where the Lord took him there was always a place where sacrifice, worship and communion what take place in his life on a regular basis.
  3. Called on the name of the LORD”: The word “called” is literally the word preached or proclaimed. Young’s literal translation puts it “he preached in the name of Jehovah”. Everywhere Abram was brought by the Lord he used it as an opportunity to proclaim the name of the Lord.
  4. Journeyed going on”: Literally he “pulled up stakes”. Abram was never so set that he could not be moved from where he pitched his tent. He had a tight hold on the Lord but a lose one upon his own life as he was just passing through.

Genesis 12:10-20

“Abram went down to Egypt”

  1. Intro.
  2. Vs. 10-20 A journey to the dark side


Though ten times in the NT we read that Abram’s strength lie in his trust in God, it was not something that he always had or always exhibited. Faith is not a super natural inner conviction that only certain folks can muster it is the simple trust in a God who promises. These verses reveal the reason why we so often fail in this simple trust in a God who promises. Abram chooses to trust the outward circumstances above God’s word and character. He does this in spite of the fact that he had once trusted this same God of promises to take from Ur to a promised land to be blessed. But now in light of new circumstances he cannot trust God to accomplish what He promised.

Vs. 10-20 A journey to the dark side

This is the first recorded test for Abram after he followed God to the land of the promise. You see it’s easy to get all pumped up at a Bible study or a Church service about God’s promises, but a whole other things when we are in a place where what God told us would be a blessing don’t line up with our circumstances. What Abram does not yet realize is the famine in the land is not of the lack of food or water but rather the famine was the lack of his trust in the word of God. The danger Abram faced is the same one that we do; it is when we confuse the peace and calm of outward circumstances with the peace and calm of God’s presence. The test comes when all is going contrary to His promises. We will do one of two things:

  • Pack up and leave
  • Cling to Him

Vs. 10 “Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.” There are five things about this decision to leave the land of promise and go to Egypt:

  1. went down to Egypt”: This was a logical choice, a natural conclusion to a difficult situation. Perhaps Abram had even ran into some travelers who indicated to him that there was food in Egypt. Abram could have reasoned that making this decision made better sense than staying did and in not going to Egypt he was jeopardizing God’s promises.
  2. the famine was severe”: Abram did not make a hasty decision, this was not Abram bailing out as soon as the first day of drought. This reveals that Abram clearly understood that God’s promises were true and that he tried to hang in there for as long as he felt he could.
  3. to dwell there”: The word “dwell or sojourn” means that Abram was only looking for a temporary stay and not a permanent home. Abram was not saying, “Hey I’ve given this God promised-land a try but there’re better opportunities in Egypt so I’m out of here.” Abram saw his move to Egypt as only a means to get back to where he knew God wanted him.
  4. 12 reveals that Abram understood the possible consequences if he left where God had called him to be. He had thought about this decision enough to think of possible solutions to the challenges he might face.
  5. As great as those factors are in making a good logical decision there is one thing that is absolutely necessary for Abram to have before he went. It was what he had clearly heard when he left Ur and Haran, God’s word to go! Yet that is the one thing that is missing in this story. Abram:
  • Weighed his oppositions
  • Waited on the circumstances
  • Resolved to make his stay only temporary to meet his pressing need
  • Yet, he did not hear from the Lord to go!

Egypt in scripture is always a typology of the world and it always represents compromise. No matter how difficult the situation and how logical the choice the place of faith is always better than the pathway to Egypt.

Abram went wrong at the same place we do, the lack of trusting in God to do what he promised always outweighs the difficulty of going to the world for help. We must never say to ourselves, “I’ve got to do something on my own to get out of this situation even if it means turning to the world for help!” Every event in life will do one of two things:

  • Draw towards trust in God and His word
  • Draw us away from trusting His word

The answer will not be found in weighing our options, choosing what is logical, figuring out what we need to do to survive. It is in asking ourselves, “What is God telling me to do?” We must stick to what He has called us to do no matter what, even if things get worse and trust God that He will bring food from ravens if necessary.

Vs. 11 It seems that Abram did not make this suggestion to Sarai until they got close to Egypt. Abram’s reasoning centers around his wife’s beauty. Among the scrolls that they found in the Dead Sea was one that contained this section of scripture and a commentary that confirmed that she was a very attractive woman.

Two things were changed the moment Abram chose not to trust the Lord:

  1. 12 “When the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me”: Lost his sense of security in the Lord. Abram had traveled from Ur to Haran and from Haran to Canaan with no mention of concern over his life. Yet now he moves upon his own logical choice and he fears his life won’t be preserved. Abram left the land of promises to because he was afraid his life wasn’t going to be preserved and now Abram has to face the same fear that he was running from, “God’s ability to sustain his life in spite of the circumstances. The only difference is the set of circumstances was now self-inflicted. God will still show that He is able to sustain his life without Abram’s wisdom or help.
  2. 13 “Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you”: A change of faith. Abram is going to be later called the “father of those who believe by faith” He loses his sense of security in the Lord and it is replaced by his sense of security in himself. It has been suggested that Abram LOST his faith or had a LACK of faith but Abram did not lose his faith or exhibit a lack of faith; he simply CHANGED his faith! He still had trust and this trust was no less lacking, but the object of his trust was different. The object of his trust had been in God’s word now it was in his ability and ingenuity. Prior to this he placed his life in God’s control now he placed his life in his own control. In doing this he placed himself into a greater trial then had he just remained in the land of promise and trusted God to provide. God does not need our help to fulfill His promises to us! Who do you trust more yourself or God? The theologically correct answer is God but if you’re like me the practical truth is yourself!

Vs. 14-20 Five reasons not to change our faith from God to ourselves.

  1. 14-15 The very thing that you fear might happen will: You can’t out maneuver the Lord’s will. Abram thought out his plan in a worst case scenario made provisions and trusted thoroughly in his plan as he went to Egypt didn’t he.
  2. 16 The price of your self-trust is greater than you think: Perhaps in the afternoon when Abram’s plan began after Pharaoh saw Sarai he thought, “Man this is working out better than I thought!” Abram was not only not dead he was being blessed materially (sheep, oxen, camels, male and female donkeys, male and female servants). Abram has told a ½ truth (Sarai was his ½ sister) and through this compromise the outcome was material blessing. A lot of times we see an abundance of what we think is good that comes out of compromise and think that God blesses us because of our compromise but the truth is God blesses us in spite of us not because of us. That was in the afternoon but at night as Sarai went in to Pharaoh’s chambers, Abram bedded down alone. He could have slept with the sheep or the camels but he would not be sleeping with Sarai. Abram had all the stuff but the price was that his wife was not with him. The truth is when we compromise with the world we may get what we wanted but the price is always greater then we can afford. Abram received female servants and no doubt that included Hagar whom we are told in 16:1 was Sarai handmaiden from Egypt. The price is not only greater then you can afford you may have to continue to pace throughout generations.
  3. 17 God will be faithful in spite of our faithlessness: Abram did not trust the Lord and instead chose to trust himself and the outcome is that God saves Abram from himself. The interesting thing is that this is the same faithfulness to His promise that he would have shown Abram in the land of promise that Abram thought he could not have trusted.
  4. 18-19 The world is watching to see if you live what you say you believe: The wording here by Pharaoh is literally, “What a way for you to treat me!” The Lord will use the ungodly idolatrous king to rebuke his chosen servant. Pharaoh asked “Why?” This would force Abram to examine his change of trust from the God. Perhaps Abram could hear the voice of the Lord through Pharaoh as the Lord was asking Abram, “Why did you not trust Me?”
  5. Vs. 20 You will end up right back where you should of stayed all along: The word “sent” is the word escorted. In 13:3-4 we read that “he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.” What we sought to avoid by trusting in ourselves becomes known to all and we still have to go back and learn to trust in only the Lord! So Abram went back into the land of famine, escorted by Pharaoh to have to trust the Lord.