Genesis: The Beginning
God Calls Abram 1-14-16
READ: Genesis 11:10-12:20
Yesterday, we looked at the new beginning of nations brought about through Noah, as well as the building of the Tower of Babel by Ham’s descendants. Today, we will look at Shem’s descendants and the direction his family chooses to take as they wear the image of God.
One thing we will notice in this list of Shem’s descendants is the way the life-span of people slowly begins to decrease following the flood. This brief list of Shem’s descendants ends with the family of Terah. After Terah turns 70 years old, he becomes the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Abram (name translates in Hebrew “exalted father”) enters the scriptural scene. Abram’s brother Haran has a son named, Lot, but Haran dies after the child is born. Abram and his brother Nahor both marry; Abram marries Sarai (name translates in Hebrew “princess”) and Nahor marries Milcah. Sarai is not able to conceive nor have children for many years. One day, Terah makes a decision to move his son Abram, daughter-in-law Sarai, and grandson Lot out of Ur (Mesopotamian city that worships the moon god); they travel toward Canaan but settled in the city named, Haran. They live there until Terah dies.
One day following Terah’s death, the LORD God speaks to Abram telling him to leave his country, relatives, and his father’s family and move to a land Yahweh intends to reveal. Yahweh sees something (a seed of the right image) in Abram and calls him away with a personal invitation to experience more about the LORD God. Pastor Mary paraphrase, The LORD God says, “Tell your mind to start dreaming and get your stuff together, Abram, because I am taking you on a new beginning to ‘discover’ more about your image as an exalted father, as well as the promised blessings I have for you, because you will NOT get the truth here in this land that rejects my image.”
Sarai is barren but she is connected by marriage to a man—exalted father—who possesses a faith that pleases the LORD God; therefore, she is along for the discovery, as well. In fact, the LORD God communicates that anyone who blesses and honors Abram will be blessed by Yahweh; anyone who curses and mistreats Abram will be cursed by Yahweh. Abram is invited to wear the favor of Yahweh if he will make the discovery journey. This is the Abrahamic Covenant in which God promises to do great things for and through Abram that costs this human man made in God’s image nothing.
Abram obediently accepts the invitation taking Sarai and Lot (Lot is in line to be Abram’s heir), as well as his worldly possessions. They travel into Canaan and settle near Shechem (NOTE: Shechem is about 30 miles north of Jerusalem and will later become the first capital of the northern kingdom of Israel). The LORD God promises this land to Abram; this land will be filled with people made in the LORD God’s image—worship the One True God. Abram, Sarai, and Lot set up camp and worship in the hill country near Bethel (translates house of God), but keeps making the discovery journey with the LORD as they head toward Negev.
Hard times and famine strike Canaan, so Abram is forced to flee to Egypt; he is a stranger to the culture and the land. Abram is afraid of the Egyptians; he fears the sight of his beautiful wife might cause these foreign men to desire her and kill him. So, Abram and his wife choose to tell a half-truth; they will tell these strangers Sarai is Abram’s sister (NOTE: Sarai was Abram’s half-sister, but he planted the word seed of deception that day [inspired by Satan] and that seed would produce later in his family).
Sarai’s beauty does attract male attention and she captures the favor of Pharaoh; off to his palace she goes. Remember what the LORD said to Abram? God promised to bless the folks who were good to Abram and curse the ones who mistreated him. Even though Pharaoh does not know Sarai is Abram’s wife and has even given him gifts in payment for her, plagues begin to fall on Pharaoh and his household. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? Well, favor is not about fairness it is about faith in the goodness of Yahweh. When Pharaoh realizes Sarai is really Abram’s wife, he sends all of them packing and heading back down the road.
Abram discovers he should have had more faith in Yahweh to protect him and his loved ones. He also discovers his character and image, as an exalted father, needs to be recreated by this revealed Truth.