Greetings, everyone! Welcome to Friday’s edition of EDiBS, and God’s rich grace and peace to you in our Lord Jesus. Thanks for being here today for our study time in God’s Word; I pray that you’ll be richly blessed in these next few moments that we have together. Today we’re back in Genesis 12, following Abram as he breaks camp and heads into a brand new existence. Let’s pray and begin.
Father, have mercy on your children today. It’s been a long week for many of us, and we are in need of your ministering presence in our lives. Thank you for your promise to be with us always; that you will never leave us or forsake us. We especially ask that you would draw near to us now as we study your Word. Use it to transform us by the renewing of our minds. In Christ’s name we pray, amen.
As we get started today, having heard and now heeding the call of God on his life, Abram sets out for a new home, and a new land, and a new life. Our focus: An undertaking not to be underestimated.
4So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7The Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. 9Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
Take a moment and go on a little trip with me…
For three quarters of a century now, you’ve been at it in this world. You’ve lived a pretty full life. You’ve amassed great wealth. You’re super influential among your peers…in fact, some would call you the walking, talking definition of clout. You’ve also got a pretty close connection to your family. You and your father have a relationship based on mutual love and respect, and you’re one of those very rare, deeply fortunate people in the world whose spouse is your biggest fan and greatest supporter. As you survey all that you’ve done and all that you’ve become during your time on earth, you’ve got to hand it to yourself: all in all, things have been, and are, pretty good. What more could you want in life?
That’s a question you’ve been asking yourself a lot over the past few days. Why? Because at the age of 75 with nothing left to prove and nothing left to accomplish in life beyond stacking up more wealth — which isn’t really a challenge anymore because you already have so much it’s become self-perpetuating at this point, a la Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffet — you nonetheless find yourself preparing for a change. Not the replacing your shower curtain kind of change, and not even the remodeling your kitchen kind of change. The change you’re presently preparing for is of a magnitude that you’ve never considered before — and one that you never even would have thought of had it not been for that…Encounter.
God, it seems, has called you.
Not some wooden, stone, or metal idol made by the minds and hands of men, but God, capital G; God, the Only; God, the Almighty Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of all that is….He has called you. Stopping what you’re doing for a moment, you pause and try to take that in again. God…has called you. With that realization, unsettling and thrilling and terrifying as it is, comes another realization, equally unsettling and thrilling and terrifying: this change you’re undertaking? It doesn’t have anything to do with you wanting more in life; instead, it has everything to do with what God wants for your life.
Over the past several days, or weeks, or whatever it’s been (your mind has been such a whirlwind of activity that you’ve lost track of the time), you’ve been preparing to completely uproot yourself from your former way of life. You’ve gathered all your belongings, all of your holdings — the whole of your estate, really — you’ve said goodbye to the people you love and the places with which you were comfortable and familiar, and now you’re about to set out on the mother of all road trips. Where are you going? Well, the best answer you can give is that you’ll know when you get there. And once you arrive, what are you to do then? Well, that’s not really clear either. As far as you can tell, you’re just going to have to take it a day at a time.
Everyone, the shoes you’ve just walked a mile in are Abram’s. The circumstances you’ve just had to uncomfortably navigate are his circumstances. The list of questions without answers and all the attendant emotions that go with turning them over and over in your mind belong to him. And one more thing: all those people who think you’ve gone nuts for doing what you’re doing and going where you’re going? Abram’s got more of those folks laughing at him and whispering behind his back than he can probably even count.
This is the situation…the setting as it were…as we come to God’s Word today to find Abram, a man well on in years, putting his trust in the living God and leaving all that he knows for the sake of a promise…one that has been given to him by what to him is a heretofore unknown Deity. Oh, and by the way: this promise? The promise that God will make Abram a great nation and that all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through him? There’s just one small problem: He’s old, and Sarai his wife is barren…not exactly the jumpstart one needs to become the progenitor of a chosen and dearly loved people.
For all of these reasons and more, this is why the passage before us today is so phenomenally powerful. This is why the beginning of Genesis 12 is such a watershed moment in this first book of the Bible. As crazy as all of these things would seem to any normal person, as ridiculous as we think it would be for any of our own friends, neighbors, or family members to do something so outrageously foolish as we see Abram doing, Abram is doing it anyway. Why? Because in spite of how unusual or unwarranted or illogical it may seem, Abram knows what he knows. He didn’t get to where he is in life by being stupid. Abram is a man of character and a man of wisdom, and Abram is a man strong enough and sure enough in his convictions to hold course when the weaker among him would waver. That’s why in the face of what most people would label as dubious, Abram believes God nonetheless.
So it is that as we wrap things up for the day, Abram does pick up and leave his old life behind. Abram does come to the new land which the Lord God is giving him…the land of Canaan. And in today’s passage we see this newly minted man of God traveling through this place of inheritance, exploring and surveying, building altars, calling on the name of the Lord, and pitching his tent. It’s a beautiful scene…and it’s also a scene that foreshadows something even more beautiful to come! How blessed Abram is to be a blessing — and how blessed we are to be recipients of that blessing in our Lord Jesus Christ, Abram’s promised Seed! More, of course, to come as we move forward!
Until we meet again to do that, have a wonderful weekend, everyone…you’re such a joy to me, and I’m grateful for the time we’ve had this week. God’s peace, and I’ll see you again soon!