THE CALL OF ABRAHAM
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father‘s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed“ (Genesis 12:1-3).
I A Call to Separation
1. Terah starts for Canaan, but fails to go all the way, [Genesis:11:31-32]; [Hebrews:4:1]; [Ruth:1:6-15].
2. Abraham is called to leave his country, kindred, father‘s house, and religion, [Genesis:12:1]; [Joshua:24:2-3]; [Isaiah:51:2]; [Acts:7:2-4].
3. The Christian is called to separation, [Matthew:4:18-22]; [Matthew:10:37]; [Mark:16:15]; [2 Corinthians:6:14-18]; [Philippians:3:7-8].
II Promises for Obedience
1. God promises Abraham that He will make of him a great nation, [Genesis:12:2]; [Genesis:17:6]; [Genesis:28:3]; [Genesis:35:11]; [Romans:4:13]; [Deuteronomy:33:29], [2 Chronicles:1:9-10].
2. All families of the earth are to be blessed through Abraham, [Genesis:12:3]; [Genesis:22:18]; [Genesis:26:4-5]; [Genesis:28:14]; [Galatians:3:8-9], [Galatians:3:16]; [Hebrews:2:16-17].
3. The Christian is rewarded for separation, [Matthew:19:29].
III Abraham‘s Faith, Obedience, and Worship
1. Abraham departs in faith, “not knowing whither he went,“ [Genesis:12:4-5]; [Hebrews:11:8-16].
2. Abraham establishes altars in the promised land, [Genesis:12:6-9]; [Genesis:13:3-4], [Genesis:12:18].
From Ur to Haran
Abram, later known as Abraham, of the family of Shem, was born in ancient Ur of the Chaldees, among an idolatrous people. In fact, all the peoples of that age were idolaters. But among the motley throngs of this eastern kingdom of the Chaldees, God, who knows the hearts of men, singled out Abraham for His call. It is recorded that “Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram‘s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there“ [Genesis:11:31]).
Haran was far to the north, situated on a stream tributary to the Euphrates River and surrounded by mountains. It was a natural stopping place, just a little way off the usual route to Canaan. It was here that God spoke to Abraham. But the wording of the Biblical account, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram,“ would indicate that God had first called Abraham in Ur; and this is confirmed by the words of the martyr Stephen: “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran [Haran], and said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee“ [Acts:7:2-3]). It is therefore apparent that it was out of idolatrous Ur of the Chaldees that God first called Abraham, and that this call was repeated at Haran.
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord“ [2 Corinthians:6:17]). Just as Abraham was called to separate himself from his country, kindred, and father‘s house, so Christians today feel the necessity of separation from worldly alliances. Either their faith will separate them from the world, or the world will separate them from their faith and their God. When one becomes a Christian, he no longer is a brother in fraternal organisations, lodges, or secret orders. He finds that it is necessary to dissolve business partnership with unbelievers. His ambitions and goals are changed from those of temporal things to heavenly aspirations. Self-denial takes the place of self-indulgence.
Jesus said: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me“ [Matthew:10:37-38]). God must have first place in the lives of His children -- it matters not whether it be in the days of Abraham when he had to leave all behind to answer the call of God; or whether it be in the days of the Law which states, “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might“ [Deuteronomy:6:5]); or under Grace where Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me“ [Matthew:16:24]).
Elisha felt the Spirit‘s call as Elijah‘s mantle was cast upon him, and soon lost sight of his earthly ambitions. The implements of his plough so carefully carved, became kindling wood; and the ox, in whose strength he boasted, became but flesh in the blackened pot, as Elisha left the family farm to follow the man who had power with God. Nothing on earth could stop him as he deter-mined to receive a double portion of that Spirit which sent a thrill through his soul and caused him to leave family, friends, and farm, to become a sojourner and pilgrim on earth. The call of God comes to all to deny themselves and follow Christ.
Paul suffered the loss of all earthly possessions and ambitions that he might be obedient unto the heavenly call, considering that nothing could compare with that which God had promised him. Through stripes, stonings, and shipwreck; through perils, imprisonments, and privations, he pressed forward “toward the mark for the price of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus“ [Philippians:3:14]). Do you, as a Christian today, place such a value upon your call?
Faith and Obedience
“Get thee out . . . and I will bless thee . . .“ Abraham‘s blessing was conditioned on faith and obedience. His faith gave him a glimpse of that “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God,“ and prompted him to obey God, and step out to what seemed an uncertain future, “not knowing whither he went“ [Hebrews:11:8]). Though he lived as a stranger and pilgrim on earth from that time until his dying day, he had no desire or thought of returning unto the land from which God had called him. Abraham saw plainly what he had to leave; but only by faith as “through a glass, darkly,“ could he behold that which he was to gain. And his faith held him steadfast unto the end.
When a man answers the call of the Spirit to serve God, and follows the way of true repentance and salvation, he soon realises that there is nothing in the world to compare with that which God has promised. If he continues in this faith, even though he may live out his days in poverty, yet there is nothing that can divert him from that hope that God has placed within his heart [Colossians:1:23]). When the love of the Father comes in, the love of the things of the world goes out ([1 John:2:15]). Eternal values cannot be compared with earthly things. Faith makes eternal things real to us, and brings the evidence of them into his present life. Obedience is the condition on which the promise of eternal life is fulfilled.
“I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.“ This reveals how close the life of faithful Abraham was to the heart of God. Thus all God‘s children are as “the apple of His eye,“ and anyone who touches them, touches the God who chose them. Let him who would stretch forth his hand against them beware, lest, like Jeroboam, he finds his hand withered and helpless. Likewise, those who bless them shall, like Laban, testify‘ “I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake“ [Genesis:30:27]).
“In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.“ This promise given to Abraham stretches beyond the multitude of Israelites who populate the nations of the world and whose lives have often blessed the nations. It points to Christ, the Redeemer and coming King. This is very clearly expressed by Paul, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ“ [Galatians:3:16]).
The Fulfilled Promise
Some day Abraham, looking out from before the rainbow-circled Throne, across that crystal sea, will get a glimpse of that great multitude as sands upon the golden shore, and will know that these are his sons and daughters, because he answered the call and obeyed God when He said, “Get thee out . . . and I will make of thee a great nation.“ Then, gazing up to the stars of heaven, he will see an innumerable company “of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,“ and will hear them cry “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb“; and then he will remember the promise, “And in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.“ Turning toward the Throne, Abraham will see the object of the adoration of this great company, and will join in praising God and the Lamb, who “took on him the seed of Abraham“ [Hebrews:2:16]).
1. What three things was Abraham called to leave?
2. To whom do the blessings of Abraham apply?
3. Give examples of those who were cursed by mistreating Abraham‘s seed.
4. How are all the families of the earth blessed through Abraham‘s seed?
5. How are we related to Abraham?
6. What did Abraham do upon reaching Canaan?
7. What promises were given to Abraham in today‘s lesson?
8. What are some of God‘s promises to a Christian?
9. Name two places where Abraham lived before entering Canaan.
10. Who went to Canaan with Abraham