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The call of Abram Genesis 12
The call of Abram
Genesis 12

This morning we are going to take a look at the call of Abram (later named Abraham) who is viewed as the Father of the nation of Israel.

-About 25% of Genesis details Abram's life. There are multiple references to him throughout the Old Testament and New Testament. The Jews held him in high esteem. Even today he is revered- by Jews and Muslims
-Abram literally means "exalted father". For the first half of his life his name would have been a sore point -- for he and Sarah were not able to have children
-Later on, God changed his name to "Abraham" which means "Father of many"-- and his descendants have been many
-In the later part of Genesis 11 we learn a bit about the history of Abram's family. His father and mother only had 3 children (which would have been unusual-- for the text says of all the forefathers that came before his father that they had other sons and daughters; but it does not say such of Terah (Abrams dad).
-Further on Abram's history: One of Abram's brothers died (Haran) -- but not before having children. Abram's brother, Lot married one of Haran's daughters. (marrying his niece). If that is a head scratcher for you; in Genesis 20:12 we are told that Sarah was actually Abram's half sister.

FYI: rules about marrying brothers/sisters/cousins etc had not been established yet.

Point: God doesn't call perfect people to Himself. He calls sinners. He specializes in taking messed up people and forming and shaping them into holy people



a. Explains the Jewish nation

a. It came when he 75 years old (mid life at that point in history)

The point being that he was settled in his ways. He was a grown man and rooted in his community. Hence the call of God was all the more radical in his life

Today: God calls people into relationship with Himself at all ages-- some are children when they hear His voice and respond in faith and repentance, some are mid life, some are old. The point is this: "if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart" Put your faith in Christ. Be reconciled to God.

b. It had nothing to do with him being a 'righteous person'

When one asks the question "Why Abram?" we can only say "By the grace of God and for His glory"

There is no indication that there was anything unusual or commendable about Abram- that led to God calling him and lavishing upon him the incredible promises of verse 3. The fact is, Abram was just like us-- a sinner in need of a Savior. Joshua 24:2 tells us that Abram grew up in a home that practiced idolatry. It is likely that Abram had no real 'faith' until God chose him.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says; "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast."

When we think of Christ and his ministry, Jesus came to save sinners. Jesus came down from Heaven on a rescue mission-- not save the righteous, but to take broken, rebellious, sinful people, and make them into the children of God. Abram examples this-- standing as an early example of one saved by faith.

c. It was laden with incredible blessings

Note the repeated use of the word "Blessing"

i. From him would come a great nation- a nation blessed by God (fulfilled)
ii. Abraham's name was to become great (fulfilled)
iii. All peoples on the earth will be blessed through him (ultimately fulfilled in the coming of Christ and explaining the meaning of Jesus' words in John 8:56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad"

Note also the warning and promise to us that is in Genesis 12:3 "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse." Note: The blessings that have come to those nations that have supported Israel versus those who hate her.

Further application

When God calls a person into relationship with Himself, it always comes with incredible blessing. For example...

-Heaven as our home, God as our Father, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of our sins, the promised help of God, eternal security

d. It was responded to in faith and obedience

When God revealed Himself to Abram- he responded in faith and obedience. The evidence is seen in that he took his wife Sarah, his nephew Lot, all his possessions and the people he had acquired and he set out -- not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 says; "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."

This "not going where he was going bit" is what faith is all about. Today, if you and I are going to take a trip, we go to Google maps or get out our Garmin or Tom Tom and we type in the address-- because we don't want to get lost and we want to know where it is we are going.

The call upon us is to trust God. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" is the call of the Scriptures.

Our faith will be demonstrated by obedience to God for "faith and works" go hand in hand.

Obedience to God brings blessing

e. It was followed up by an almost mind boggling moral failure that required his repentance and going back to where he started in the faith. Genesis 12:10-13:4

Take away: We must always be on guard when it comes to sin and temptation. As God said to Cain "Sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, you must master it" Genesis 4:7.

Take away #2: When we do sin, we must be quick to repent

We have a tendency to sin- when things are going good, when things are going bad, and just because.

In Genesis 12 Abram's faith and trust in God is tested in 2 ways

i. A famine came upon the land that God promised to give his descendants

The question is: Will Abram stay put and trust God to supply or will he problem solve his own solution?

When it comes to decision making and problem solving there is always a tension between waiting upon the Lord and doing on our parts. The key is to always bring God in to whatever we are doing. Showing initiative is not a problem but God always be consulted and we are told to wait upon the Lord.

ii. Abram was tested as it regards his faith and whether God could and would protect him while in the land of Egypt

Abram was concerned that since Sarah was good looking that the Egyptians would kill him to get her-- so, not because he cared about Sarah's well being, but because he cared more about himself, Abram hatches a plan to deceive the Egyptians- and bizarrely enough, his plan works!

Quite frankly: Abram's behavior was despicable- and the sad thing is; a few more years later, he does the same thing again!

Observation: When we choose to sin, other people get hurt. Both Sarah and Pharaoh's household suffered because of Abram's sin.

When we think about Abram and the mess he got himself into, James 1:13-15 says; 'When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

Point: Abraham gave in to temptation- and it didn't come from God- it was his personal problem

Further: Abram needed to repent.

When we sin, repentance is what is called for. We need to confess our sin and then recommit to living the way God has called us to. As I read in an online commentary this week - from the 1800's-- "Whenever we backslide there is nothing else but to come back by the old gateway of genuine repentance and simple faith."

The interesting thing of Genesis 13:1-4 is that after being rebuked by Pharoah, Abram journey's back to Bethel, where he had built an altar to the Lord and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Abram's going back to where he started speaks to the mercy and grace of God who forgives us when we turn back.


I'm glad the heroes of faith- and Abraham is one- are shown for what they really were. I'm glad the Bible doesn't gloss over peoples lives. It gives hope to us, it shows they were in process just as we are.