The Call of Abram
Read: Genesis 9.1—12.20
Then the LORD told Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you.”
Genesis 12.1 (NRSV)
Genesis 12.1-3 has been called the fulcrum of Genesis, if not the entire Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). From this point onward there is a change in content and style. We go from short, focused stories explaining why thing are the way they are (Why does everyone speak a different language?—11.1-11), to long narratives chronicling the story of one family, Abram and Sarai, and their descendants.
Genesis 11.31 says that when God called Abram, he was living on Haran with his wife, Sarai (who was barren), his brother, Nahor, and his family, and his nephew, Lot. However, Genesis 15.7 reveals that God was calling when Abram’s family was in the city of Ur. It was Abram’s father, Terah, who set out for Canaan. God was calling before Abram was aware. And consider: did Abram know who was calling him? It could have been any of the many gods of Mesopotamia. Consider further: this god’s request was unusual and unreasonable. Terah journeyed with his family. Abram was being asked to leave his country, relatives and his father’s house. They left Ur, a center of culture and high technology in its day, and now Abram was to separate himself from the best support and security of the ancient world—his family. The Lord spoke many promises to Abram: a land, a great name, many descendants, blessings for his family, and, to be a blessing for all nations (vv. 2-3). All Abram had to do was go.
There is no other way to explain Abram’s response except to recognize it as faith. It is not yet the faith that will enable him to consent to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Genesis 22), but it is faith. In the years to come, Abraham and Sarah both will grow their faith walking with God, trying to be faithful, trying to hear and obey. Consider finally: How many of God’s promises did Abram and Sarah see? The greater part of God’s blessings were for their children. What an indictment it is for believers to tie faith to some immediate, material reward. Though he did not live to see it, the world benefited from Abram faith.
Reverend Steven B. Lawrence