Genesis 12 – 50
Series 1: Genesis 12-14
Public History of Abram
Series 2: Genesis 15-21
Private History of Abram
Series 3: Genesis 22-25
Abraham and His Son
|The Cross||Abram builds an altar (12)||Sacrifice Divided Animals (15)||Isaac Offered (22)|
|Flesh in Action||Abram in Egypt (12)||Hagar Used (16)|
|Israel Set Aside||Lot Separates (13)||Ishmael vs. Isaac (16-17)||Death of Sarah (23)|
|Heavenly Calling||Abram’s Place (13)||Abraham Visited (18)||Call of Rebeccah (24)|
|Israel Restored||Lot Rescued by Abram (14)||Lot Rescued from Sodom (19)||Abraham and Keturah (25)|
|Millennial Christ||Melchizedek, the Priest (14)||Abraham, the Prophet (20)||Isaac, the Heir (25)|
|Gentile Subjugation||Abram offered spoils (14)||Covenant with Abimelech (21)||Abraham’s children (25)|
Abraham. Perhaps the most prominent individual in connection with the Jewish people is Abraham. In fact, all three of the great monotheistic religions trace their origins to Abraham. But we must be clear, that when Abraham is called "the father of all them that believe" (Rom. 4:11) it does NOT mean "the father of religion". He is the father of genuine, living, personal faith in the One True God. For this reason, Abraham is called "the friend of God" (James 2:23). Yet Abraham did not start out as God's friend. He began as an idolater named "Abram" in Ur of the Chaldees (Josh. 24:2), and would have remained a servant of the moon-god there except "the God of glory" appeared to him, and called him out of everything he had known. Abram was sent on a journey of faith, trusting God for the future. His life therefore is full of lessons relating to faith, many of which he learned through failures. In Genesis 17, God entered into a covenant relationship with Abram, and changed his name from Abram, which means "father", to Abraham, which means "a father of many nations". Throughout Abraham's life, God gave him a number of special promises; promises connected with the Messiah, the land and nation of Israel, as well as many other nations. These promises were unconditional in that they are secured in Christ, and do not depend on man. To summarize, we have the following broad themes exemplified in Abraham's life: election, calling, promises, faith, stranger-ship, and communion.
Abraham as an Example of Faith. In Hebrews 11, the Spirit of God sets Abraham forth as an apt type of the Christian, who is called to a life of faith. Abraham was called individually by God, just as the believer today is called. Abraham walked without a visible, tangible object before him. The Christian does too. Abraham was promised the land of Canaan as an inheritance for his children, yet "by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles" (Heb. 11:9). As Christians, we are co-heirs with Christ, and we know that this world as well as the whole universe is our inheritance! Yet we are left here to live as "strangers and pilgrims" (1 Pet. 2:11), living in tents, so to speak, without putting down roots. We are NOT to live here as kings, although we are royalty. We are fully persuaded of the promises, yet we are willing to confess that, as our Savior was rejected, we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. But like Abraham, we "desire a better country, that is, an heavenly". Though we have a material inheritance, we have a higher aim still; and it is because of this heavenly character that "God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11:16). And so, the believer can look into the life of Abraham with great interest, because it typifies the pathway of faith. The dangers and failures, the successes and joys, are full of meaning for us who look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
The Prior Call and Promise to Abram (12:1-3)
- A sovereign choice. Election is the choice of one out of many. When God chose Abram, there was nothing in the man that was worthy of being chosen. It was God’s sovereign grace to chose Abram, an idolater at the time, and separate him to Himself. We read of this choice in Neh. 9:7; “Thou art the Same, Jehovah Elohim, who didst choose Abram and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham”. As Christians, we also have been chosen by God. Our election is “in Christ, before the foundation of the world”! Calling follows election. God calls those whom He has chosen.4
- A separating call. The call of God would separate Abram. He must leave three things: he must go “out of thy land, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house”. This is difficult for us to do, as it was for Abram. The call of God supersedes every earthly tie. It is the highest claim upon us. Abraham was not asked to try to restore or reform that which had become corrupted by idolatry, but rather to leave it! Separation is not merely negative, it is positive also. There was a land ahead, which God would show Abram. In the same way, God gives us an object to separate to. For the believer, it is the person of Christ!
- It required faith. God purposely did not give all the details to Abram at once. He said, go to “the land that I will shew thee”. Abraham wasn’t going to get more light until he obeyed the Word of God. We read of no more revelations to Abram in Haran. He had to obey what was originally given to him in order to have more light. This is because God wants us to walk by faith. Such is the pronouncement of the Spirit in Heb. 11:8; “By faith Abraham, being called, obeyed to go out into the place which he was to receive for an inheritance, and went out, not knowing where he was going.”
- A hindered response. Terah, Abram’s father went with him, and this became a hindrance to Abram. They “came as far as Haran, and dwelt there”. Haran or Charran was a city on the Euphrates river in Syria (Aram). It was half-way on the thousand-mile path to Canaan. They remained in Haran until Terah died, and only then did Abram continue to the land of Canaan. It is a lesson for us, that we need to be careful not to let family ties hinder us from responding to the call of God. While Abram tried to answer both the call of nature and the call of God, progress stalled. He obeyed only in part. Terah seemed to take the lead (he “took” Abram and Lot), which meant that Abram was not really answering the call of God. Terah may have tried to apply the call to himself, but it was for Abram. The call of God (Gen. 12:1-3) involved leaving his kindred and his father’s house. He left his “land”, but did not leave his “father’s house” until Terah died, and he did not leave his “kindred” until separating from Lot in ch.13, when there was strife between the herdsmen.
- Father of the Chosen People. A great nation would spring from Abraham. “I will make of thee a great nation” refers to the children of Israel, who will one day be the leading nation on earth in the Millennium.
- Personal Blessing. Abraham would be personally blessed; “and bless thee”. Not only would he be materially blessed, with flocks and herds, and trained servants, etc. but also he enjoyed special communion with God, and special intelligence that flows from communion.
- A Great Name. A total contrast to the Tower of Babel, where men sought to make themselves a name, God here promised to make Abram’s name great! Other than Christ, there is perhaps no greater name in history than Abraham’s; “and make thy name great”.
- A Channel of Blessing to Others. Even greater than being personally blessed, Abraham would become a blessing to others; “and thou shalt be a blessing”. He becomes the center of earthly blessing. It is in this sense that Abraham is the root of the olive tree of promise (Romans 11:16-27).
- Divine Protection. Abraham would have the special protection of God; “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee”. Those who show kindness to Abraham’s family will be blessed (materially), and those who curse them will likewise be cursed.5
- A Channel of Blessing to the Gentiles. Abraham would even become a channel of blessing to those who were not his biological descendants, as Paul teaches in Gal. 3:7-8. It is by faith that this takes place; “and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”.
The grace of God is too great to be limited to just one nation. It goes out to "all nations".6
Abram & Company Come to Canaan (12:4-8)
Abram in Egypt (12:9-20)
- Abram failed in faith during the famine, much like the Church who ceased to trust God for every provision.12
- Abram went to Egypt, much like how the Church ceased to be separate from the world, and settled down in it.13
- Abram denied his true relationship with Sarah, and instead got Hagar, much the way the Church lost the ground of her relationship with God (grace) and fell under the bondage of the law.14
- Sarah was taken into Pharaoh’s house, much like how the Church, outwardly at least, has been lured into associations with Satan himself (Rev. 2:13).15
- Abram became enriched while Sarah was in Pharaoh’s house, much like the Church which has profited immensely from association with the world.
- Abram was delivered from Egypt through the providential judgments of God, much like the Church who will be taken out from this world which is under judgment.16
- The broad abstract principles finish with chapter 14. … After chapter 14 is the place of the break really, because there we get to the millennium; then come the details in connection with Abraham’s conduct and the promise of the seed. … Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac at Mount Moriah begins a new series (chap. 22). – Darby, J.N. Hints on the Book of Genesis.
- We can see at a glance that Gen. 22 introduces a series of truths altogether new. … A corresponding pledge of the coming kingdom came before us in Genesis 14, which concluded that series, as this [Gen. 21] concludes the later series. … Thus [Gen. 21] the second division of Abraham’s history terminates with the figure of the kingdom in manifested power of glory. – Kelly, William. Abram: the Friend of God.
- We have then, in the calling of God, the assertion of a paramount claim on God’s part upon an individual in grace, leaving everything out of which he was called without further change; only calling him out of it. This is one very strong, distinct, and new principle, not previously revealed, consequent upon, and acting in, an especial and paramount way, in reference to the existing relationships, which had arisen out of what was previously ordered and appointed. – Darby, J.N. Abram. Collected Writings Volume 19.
- “Election” means choosing. And the calling is of those whom He has chosen; it is the making good their election. – Darby, J.N. Hints on the Book of Genesis.
- I believe it would be inconsistent with Christian intelligence to seek material blessing in the Church period by befriending Israel. All of our blessings are “spiritual” and in “heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. William Kelly remarked that these blessings are “of course, on the earthly side”.
- The final fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham will be in the Millennium, when the nations are blessed, though in subservience to Israel. But the principle of it applies today in the gospel, as Paul shows in Galatians 3.
- Watering with “the foot” possibly refers to the practice of removing soil with the foot to form small channels to carry water from canals to each plant.
- How must every camel, every servant, every ox, as it passed before his eyes, with the stamp of Pharaoh’s kindness upon it, have smitten Abram’s heart with the thought, “But where is my wife, I have sold my wife for this!” Did he not know that she was so? Had his feeble falsehood to others dimmed his own thoughts and feelings? Had he forgotten in his love of sheep’ and oxen, etc., that the wife given him of the Lord was sold for their sake? Could he persuade himself that she was his sister, and might be Pharaoh’s wife, and not his? Where was his trust in God? where the integrity of his way? – Darby, J.N. Abram. Collected Writings Volume 19.
- Had Abram intended this? No! it was an unlooked-for circumstance; it was unbelief, which continually produces in judgment the evil which it seeks to avoid. – Darby, J.N. Abram. Collected Writings Volume 19.
- Pharaoh knew well enough that he had no right to take the woman, even if she were Abram’s sister. He was taking advantage of his position to claim what did not belong to him. – Kelly, W. Abram: the Friend of God.
- Darby, J.N. Abram. Collected Writings Volume 19.
- But it was the first step that was wrong – Abram went down into Egypt. He went down without God out of the land of faith and promise. – Darby, J.N. Abram. Collected Writings Volume 19.
- He came into the regions of the prince of this world for his own comfort to satisfy his present need, not of faith in God. The consequence was, the immediate denial of the holy separation from the world and union with Christ which belonged to the church. – Darby, J.N. Abram. Collected Writings Volume 19.
- Whenever, therefore, the world comes in, it merely produces, and in result is identified with, bondage (where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty). For the world in its results is developed by bringing an expectation and an endeavor to procure the inheritance by a covenant of works. Such has been the actual fact in the church. – Darby, J.N. Abram. Collected Writings Volume 19.
- The church was taken into the world’s house, the house of the prince of this world. – Darby, J.N. Abram. Collected Writings Volume 19.
- The merciful interposition of that God, who, when we have wearied Him with our sins, acts and delivers for His own name’s sake, and vindicates., in righteous dealing toward the world, what the unrighteousness of man had plunged unfaithfully into its power. – Darby, J.N. Abram. Collected Writings Volume 19.
- There may be a certain typical reference to Israel while in the world and away from God. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. Genesis 12.