Monday, November 4, 2013

THE CALL OF ABRAHAM: Genesis 12:1-9; 15:1-6

DAY 4: THE CALL OF ABRAHAM

Link: Genesis 12:1-9; 15:1-6


Here is a Four Minute Bible Story of the life of Abraham that I recorded that includes both Day 4 and 5 stories (Genesis 12-22): Abraham 

Symbol: Tent



Go outside and try to count the stars or take a trip to a planetarium. Talk about how we, as believers in Jesus, are children of Abraham too (Romans 4:12). Make star shaped cookies and write your names on them. 

Song: "Father Abraham"

BBC BACKGROUND: GENESIS 12-16


This post includes chapter 13, 14, and 16 too because they have Scarlet Thread gems I do not want you to miss so you can pass it on to your family! Also, Abraham is referred to as Abram in Genesis 12-16 because his name did not change to Abraham until Genesis 17:6.


I encourage you to really soak in Abram's life. There are so many key concepts essential in understanding The Scarlet Thread of Redemption. Take your time! Also, try to record what these chapters tell you about the character and actions of God and journal about it. 

"Often God's will for our lives is revealed gradually, 
and the most difficult part of obedience 
can be waiting." 
Bill T. Arnold

We already learned from Genesis 11 that Terah, a descendant of Shem through Peleg, took Abram, Sarai, and Lot from Ur heading on the way to Canaan. They went as far as Haran and settled there. Abram was born sometime around the 20th century B.C. 

Recent discoveries, more especially in Babylonia, have thrown much light on the history of the Hebrew patriarchs, and have illustrated or confirmed the Biblical narrative in many points. The ancestor of the Hebrew people, Abram, was, we are told, born at “Ur of the Chaldees.” “Chaldees” is a mistranslation of the Hebrew Kasdim, Kasdim being the Old Testament name of the Babylonians, while the Chaldees were a tribe who lived on the shores of the Persian Gulf, and did not become a part of the Babylonian population till the time of Hezekiah. Ur was one of the oldest and most famous of the Babylonian cities. Its site is now called Mugheir, or Mugayyar, on the western bank of the Euphrates, in Southern Babylonia. About a century before the birth of Abram it was ruled by a powerful dynasty of kings. Their conquests extended to Elam on the one side, and to the Lebanon on the other. They were followed by a dynasty of princes whose capital was Babylon, and who seem to have been of South Arabian origin. The founder of the dynasty was Sumu-abi (“Shem is my father”). But soon afterwards Babylonia fell under Elamite dominion. The kings of Babylon were compelled to acknowledge the supremacy of Elam, and a rival kingdom to that of Babylon, and governed by Elamites, sprang up at Larsa, not far from Ur, but on the opposite bank of the river. In the time of Abram the king of Larsa was Eri-Aku, the son of an Elamite prince, and Eri-Aku, as has long been recognized, is the Biblical “Arioch king of Ellasar” (Gen. 14:1). The contemporaneous king of Babylon in the north, in the country termed Shinar in Scripture, was Khammu-rabi. [1]

This is the famous Hammurabi who developed the first known system of laws called the “Code of Hammurabi”.  Despite this civilization's highly developed writing, fine cities, and well-established legal system. The civilizations of this region were idol worshipers and had pagan cultural practices. Terah, Abram's father, was an idol worshiper according to Joshua 24:2. Originally, Ur was the capital of Sumer and devoted to the moon god, Nanna, later called Sin by the AkkadiansThe name for the city of Ur means “the abode of Nanna”.




[1] Easton, M. G. (1893). Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

God chose Abram and gave him an amazing call to go away from the only life he knew to a new land. His promise was sevenfold:

1) I will make you a great nation 
2) I will bless you 
3) I will make your name great 
4) You shall be a blessing 
5) I will bless those who bless you 
6) The one who curses you I will curse 
7) In you all the families of the earth will be blessed 

(WOW! These verses are so key. I suggest memorizing them!)

Did you notice what God said? "I will make your name great. I think back to the Tower of Babel where they were trying to make a name for themselves. Here, God is going to make Abram's name great. So, it is God who does the exalting, not ourselves!

Also notice that in Abram all the families of the earth will be blessed. God wanted to bless all peoples through Abram and Abram's seed (JESUS!). We will talk about this theme much more in the coming weeks.

So, Abram obeyed and went forth in faith. Hebrews 11:8 says:
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Abram obeyed, and then God promised him the land. Abram's response was to build an altar in the midst of a land where the Canaanites worshiped a local deity. Abram dared to be different. He dared to worship one God.

He moved on and built another altar and "called on the name of the LORD." When there was a famine, he went to Egypt. He did not walk with God perfectly and still had some growing to do in his journey for he lied to Pharaoh saying Sarai was his sister. Interesting to note that Egyptians, in their code of ethics, greatly valued absolute truthfulness! (Abram told a half-truth in that Sarai was his half-sister, but it was still a lie!)

Also, it is interesting to note that God promised the land to Abram after Lot took his share of the best part of the land. This land was also promised forever. This has far reaching implications into our present world today in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In Genesis 14, Abram had to save Lot who was carried off in the midst of a war. In this process, he had an encounter with Melchizedek (his name means "king of righteousness"). He was king of Jerusalem (although some scholars disagree on that). He was a priest of God most High. This is El Elyon in Hebrew, and this is the first time God is referred to in this way. This name is connected with the sovereignty of God. We see this name of God most often in the book of Daniel. What is so amazing is there was a king in the middle of a country of idol worshipers who worshiped God Most High!

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption

Some scholars believe it was an appearance of Christ (Christology), but it is more widely held that Melchizedek was a "type" of Christ (typology). Regardless, this fits into our Scarlet ThreadTake a look at Hebrews 7:1-3!

In Genesis 15, I think this is the first time we hear God say, "Do not be afraid." I plan on circling that phrase and ones like it throughout the Scriptures! I heard once it was 300 times! God wants us to remember that. Abram doubted that God could give him an offspring. God said your offspring will be like the stars! That was all it took for Abram to BELIEVE

And Abram believed the LORD,
 and it was credited to him as righteousness.
(15:6)

Underline this because this is so KEY in understanding The Scarlet Thread of Redemption!!!!

If you have time, read Galatians 3 to understand about how our righteousness is through faith!

This chapter culminates in another promise of the land culminating in a covenant ritual where God tells Abram about the captivity of his descendants that will unfold to us in the book of Exodus!

For Abram, his faith involved believing God's promise that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed even though there was evidence to the contrary in that he had no child, was 85, and Sarai was barren. No problem for God, right?



Apparently Abram thought he would speed up the promise, so, through Sarai's insistence, he tried to help God out with this promise by speeding things up in the child department by having a child through Sarai's maid, Hagar. She conceived Ishmael, and she eventually had to flee from the wrath of Sarai. God heard her in her misery though and even had a blessing for Ishmael.  Ishmael is what birthed the Arab nation. That is why Muslims call their father Abraham also. Hagar saw that God is El Roi - "the God who sees."

WHEW! That was a ton of background to cover!

REFLECTION AND APPLICATION

What do you think it means to "walk by faith"? Look at the application questions sprinkled throughout the background section. What is your "I Will" Statement for today?

PRAYER

Lord, You took an ordinary man like Abram and told him to go, and he did. Lord, I want to be like that!!!! Help us all to be people who hear and obey when You say to walk forward. Please, will You teach us what that means everyday? Lord, also, we have been blessed. Please show us how we can be a blessing to others today. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
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