About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Genesis 12, actually from
the last few verses of chapter 11 begins a new section in Genesis.
The first 11 chapters of Genesis stretched out over a period of
more than 2000 years. The
rest of Genesis takes place over about 400 years.
The first 11 chapters of
Genesis seems to be more about the fallen nature of man than anything
else. From Chapter 12
onward we begin to see God's provision for fallen man.
The main figure of
chapter 12 is Abram. Abram
means "an important father."
In Joshua 24:2 and 3 we
learn that Terah, the father of Abraham "served other gods."
We thus understand that Abraham served other gods before he
served God because that's what he grew up with.
You might ask why did God choose such a man.
Well, as Paul states in Romans 9:16, it doesn't matter about
man's desire and efforts, it's all of God's choosing, His sovereign
will. He can choose whoever
He wants. He is God.
Before we get into
chapter 12 which is God calling Abram which in turn makes him the father
of Israel we need to note one thing.
It is no coincidence that the choosing of Abram to lead a people
that were to be set apart of God.
It comes right after man tried to establish the same sort of
thing, except that the kingdom man was setting up would be to promote
man's own name, not God's. So
since man tried to set up a new world identity, God would now set apart
a people for Himself that would promote His name among sinful man.
As Genesis 2 was a
further explanation of part of Genesis 1, so Genesis 12 is a further
explanation of chapter 11. I
mentioned in the last chapter how Stephen in his defense before the
Jewish leadership in Acts 7 spoke
of Abraham. Stephen said
that God told Abram to leave the place where he lived and go to a new
place where God wanted him. Yet in the last chapter it seemed to be
Abram's father Terah that decided to go.
Now in this chapter we get the further details that Stephen spoke
about. Verse 1 tells us just
Verse 1 tells us that the Lord told Abram to leave his country, his household, and his father's family to go to a land in which He would tell him. It's uncertain if God told Abram where to go right away, or if He told him later. That being said, Hebrews 11:8 seems to suggest that God didn't exactly tell Abram right away where he was to relocate. Abram simply trusted God as he left his country. If so Abram would have trusted God for his future.
do know that from Genesis 11:31 that Abraham was to go to Canaan. We first see the name
other things we should note and that is the Chaldeans that Abram left is
sinominous with the early stages Babylon. God always wants His
people to come out of BabylonS, and He wants
One thing we can note at
this point is the meaning to certain names.
"Ur", where Abram lived means "flame."
The area around
We see the word
"Lord" here. That's
the Hebrew word "Yahweh" which means "I an", which
normally is associated with the idea of a "covenant making
God." That is what God
is beginning to do with Abram. He
is making promises to Abram. He
is covenanting with Himself to do certain things.
More of this covenant will be seen later.
The first thing that God
tells Abram in verse 2 is that He will make him into "a great
nation." It's my belief
that what God speaks will take place.
We need to understand that the descendants of Abram would be a
great nation as God clearly states here.
Of course, that nation would become known as
God then says, "I
will bless you." The
word "bless" in Hebrew means to kneel before.
If God told Abram that his descendants would be blessed, then
that suggests that they will be a nation set apart and respected by all
other nations. I don't
believe that totally took place in King David's time.
had it's enemies. I believe
God then says that
"I will make your name great and will make you to be a
blessing." Once again,
I don't see this as being fulfilled in King David's day.
But, when you study the New Jerusalem in Revelation, which I feel
applies to Israel, the New Jerusalem will be a blessing to all people on the earth.
Some have suggested that
the blessing spoken of here concerns Jesus because of Paul's explanation
of these events in his letter to the Galatians.
I don't believe that to be so.
These promises are specifically spoken to Abraham about
Abraham. Later we will see
specific promises spoken to Abraham about his offspring or seed.
These promises are directed towards Jesus.
We will also see promises spoken to Abraham that are directed
towards his descendents. There
are three categories of promises in the Genesis account.
In verse 3 God says
"I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse
you." There's no time
limit mentioned here, and if we say that the fulfillment of the last two
promises are yet to be totally realized, then this promise is still in
effect to. That means those
nations and individuals that bless Israel
today, even in their fallen state from God's grace, will be blessed.
The curse is still in effect as well.
Those nations and individuals that curse
Some suggest that
Verse 3 also says that
"all people on the earth will be blessed because of Israel." Once again, some see
Jesus in this verse, that all nations are blessed because of Him.
There might be some truth in this interpretation, but I also
believe that this will literally happen in the thousand year rule of
Christ and then when the New Jerusalem comes to the new earth.
Has all nations of the
earth been blessed because of Jesus?
I don't think so. Not
yet. All nations could be
blessed, but they have not chosen this blessing.
When Jesus returns, at that point all nations will be blessed,
but still they have to co-operate or else they will receive severe
judgment by Jesus in the thousand years.
Only on the new earth will the final fulfillment of this blessing
be seen, and Israel
has a major rule in this blessing.
Verse 4 tells us that
Abram left his country at the age of seventy five as God told him.
The verse also says that
Verse 4 also says that
Abram went to
Verse 5 tells us that
after they went to
One thing to note here
about Canaan is that God told Ham, who was Canaan's father that Canaan
would serve Shem. Both Shem
and Ham were sons of Noah,
and since Ham had done something not pleasing to Noah when Noah was
drunk, God predicted the servitude of
Verse 6 tells us that
The word Moreh actually
This is appropriate in relation to what God tells Abram at this
In verse 7 the text says
that "the Lord appeared to Abram."
I may be making a bigger thing out of this than intended, but you
might remember prior to the flood on a couple of occasions the Bible
says that God walked with people. Enoch
is one such example. It
might be that God walking with people ended at the flood, and now simply
appears to people on occasion.
Whatever the case, God
told Abram that He would give Abrams descendents this land where he now
was. Once again, some
This verse is important
in the sense that God told Abram that He would give this land to Abram's
offspring, as the NIV puts it. The
KJV uses the word "seed" instead of offspring.
Upon first reading you would think the land would be given to
Abram's descendents, but Paul comments on the word "seed", or
"offspring" in Galatians 3:16.
He points out that the word "seed", or
"offspring" is singular, not plural.
By this he means that the promise of the land was given to one
man, not many, and this one man is Jesus.
Therefore, what God promised to Abram's seed was promised, and
would be fulfilled in Jesus. I
believe this suggests that Jesus Himself will inherit the land at some
future point, and for those who believe in the Futurist thinking of
prophecy, this will take place in the thousand year rule of Christ on
earth, and I believe will possibly carry over into the days of the new
Does this mean that the
descendents of Abram, meaning the Jews, or Israel, will not inherit the land? I
believe they will, but they won't inherit it on their own.
As seen in verse 2 and 3, it is God that will make the nation of
You'll also note that the
promise of the land is also directed towards Abram's descendents.
The land is promised to both Jesus and the descendents.
Both will get the land in the end.
Some people might think
that the Jews will inherit the land prior to the return of Christ, but I
don't see that as being the case. The
promise of Genesis 12:7 was made to Abram, a Jew, and would be fulfilled
in and by Jesus. So when
Jesus returns, at that point the land will be given to both Jesus and
As a result of God's
promise, Abram built an altar to the Lord by this tree.
In verse 8 Abram stops at
Verse 9 tells us that
Abram then headed towards the Negev. The Negev is what
Verse 10 says, "now
there was a famine in the landů"
We don't know when this famine took place.
Abram might have been in this place a while before the famine
came, or, maybe when he got there the famine was already in progress.
Because of this very
severe famine Abram left Canaan and went to Egypt. Many Bible teachers at
this point suggest that Abram left the will of God.
God told him to go and live in Canaan, but when hard times came he left.
in the Bible is a literal place, but it often is symbolic for the world.
Abram left the land of promise to go to the land of the world to
find what he needed. You
might say that he stopped trusting God and began to trust in the world.
This famine might have been a test for Abram.
Could he stay in the land even when things get rough?
Like many Christians today, we tend to split when things get
rough, but often, the rough times are the will of God.
He puts these hard times in our way to test our faith, to produce
deep trust in Him.
Abram's life is
associated with faith, that is, trusting God.
He first trusted God by leaving his home land, but now he fails
to trust God by leaving his new promised land.
We note that it was
Abram's intention just to stay in Egypt
for "a while." This
is often the case with us. Things
get rough and we leave God's will for our lives, and we just intend to
do this for a while, but often we never come back, and if we do we have
scars that last a lifetime.
From verse 11 and we note
that Sarai, Abram's wife was a beautiful woman.
Abram was thinking ahead and had things well planned out.
He feared for his life once entering this new land. This tells me
that Abram's plan to leave God's will to go into
Abram thought that if the
Egyptians saw Sarai and how beautiful she was, they'd kill him to get
her. So the plan was that he
and Sarai would tell everyone that she was his sister.
Of course this was not the truth.
Actually it was a half truth.
Sarai was his step sister, but now he was his wife.
In verse 13 Abram
instructs Sarai to tell everyone that she is his sister.
His is reason is this. The
text says that "for her
sake and my life will be spared because of you."
Abram feared that some men, or the king,
would kill him so they could get Saria.
This plan was strictly for Abram's benefit, not really for
Sarai's sake. He was
thinking more of himself than Sarai.
In verse 14 we see what
Abram thought could happen, did happen.
The Egyptians saw that his wife was very beautiful.
In verse 15, as a result
of Sarai's beauty, certain officials of Pharaoh reported this to the
Pharaoh the king, and took her to see him.
Verse 16 tells us that
because of Sarai, Pharaoh treated Abram well, just as he hoped would be
the case. Abram's deceptive
plan worked. Deceptive plans
can work, but it doesn't mean that they are right or part of God's plan.
Pharaoh was good to Abram
in that he gave him lots of cattle and even servants from Pharaoh.
So Abram did profit by going to
For those who teach the
prosperity gospel as it has become to be known, this is an example of
prosperity that is outside of God's will.
Just because someone prospers, doesn't mean he is in the will of
Verse 17 tells us that
God inflicted serious sickness on Pharaoh and his household because of
Sarai. We learn later that
Pharaoh took Sarai in to be one of his wives. Abram was willing to give
up Sarai for his own sake, that is, to save his life.
So he not only left the will of God by leaving
It is interesting to note
that God judged Pharaoh for something that he didn't know was wrong.
Ignorance doesn't seem to be an excuse.
Thus we note that as God
said in Genesis 2:3, He'd curse those who cursed Abram.
This is interesting. I
believe that Abram was outside the will of God at this time in his life,
yet Pharaoh did something that was seen as be a negative thing being
done to Abram, therefore He cursed Pharaoh and his family with sickness.
The same principle works
today. When God says that
He'd bless those who bless Abram, and curse those who curse Abram, I
believe that carries on down through Abram's descendents, meaning
One might say that this
blessing and cursing doesn't apply today because Israel
is not walking with their God. That's
not so. This passage proves
that isn't so, because Abram was outside of God's will as well, and
Pharaoh got cursed. It's
not a matter of Abram or Israel
being in or out of God's will. It's
a matter of God's sovereign choice.
As the apostle Paul so clearly states in his writings concerning
We see in verses 18 and
19 that Pharaoh is upset at Abram because he told him that Sarai was his
sister and not his wife. This
resulted in Pharaoh taking Sarai as his wife.
So Pharaoh sent Sarai back and told Abram to leave.
You wonder what his did to Sarai and Abram's relationship.
Sarai had now slept with another man. It sounds like a mess to me, and a mess it was, and a mess it
produced, but still, Abram was God's choice to be the father and founder
This whole event just
goes to show that it is hard to stop at just one sin.
One sin leads to another that leads to another, resulting in a
Verse 20 tells us that
Pharaoh's men sent Abram and all he had gained in Egypt
on his way. It appears that
Pharaoh just wanted Abram to get out of his country as soon as possible Abram returned to
This ends the first
chapter concerning Abraham in Genesis.
What we learn here does not reflect well on Abram.
He could trust God to leave his homeland, but he could not trust
God to keep him in Canaan, that's after he delayed his trip to Canaan by
staying in Haran.
Abram's trip to Egypt
was a disaster. He lied.
He mistreated his wife. He
prospered from this lie and this mistreatment of his wife.
And, what he experienced in