Introduction: (week 14) This week we embark on a study of our family tree as members of the ‘family of faith’, with Abram as our spiritual father. May we appreciate our place with Abram as we see him begin the most exciting chapter of his life, following God’s call to the promised land.
Monday: read Genesis 11:27-12:4 and Hebrews 11:1-3 & 8. Abram is called by God out of his father’s house in idol-worshipping Mesopotamia. His family worshipped other gods. It was with this idolatrous heritage they struggled – even up to the days when Joshua warned them to get rid of their idols in Joshua 24:14-15. Abram also struggled with these family ties – delaying obedience to God’s call to move to Canaan until after his father’s death in Genesis 11:31 (compare Acts 7:2-4). But in Gen. 12:4, no family ties prove strong enough to stop God’s call. Abram cuts all ties and ‘by faith’ goes to the land God would show him.
Meditate and Pray: God shows the power of His call in Abram’s life, persuading him to walk into an unknown future. Thank God for the persuasive power of His Holy Spirit – who is able to help us live as ‘seeing the invisible.’ As Hebrews 11:1-3 says, faith is most at home when persuading us to believe in what we do not see. Ask God for this strength of faith to be yours for the day when you may walk in darkness – and have to rely on the bare Word of a promising God.
Tuesday: read Genesis 12:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. God knows that there are some aspects of our twisted natures that will not be healed until Christ returns and ‘we see Him as He is’ (1 John 3:1-3). In the same way, Abram comes out of Ur into Canaan still limping from his past associations. Though he is God’s man, we will see in his life story that much of the old sin nature remains: doubts of God’s promises; lies; a tragic union with his slave girl – all serve to prove that God’s patience was greatly exercised in putting up with even the greatest heroes of the Old Testament – and will be greatly tested in putting up with us!
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that He measures holiness, as one put it, ‘not by the pace of our Christian walk, but by the burdens we bear.’ Holiness can be marked by great struggle, not always by great progress. Though we may lack the victories we sometimes impatiently long for, let us learn to be content with God’s daily provision of grace. Paul himself pleaded three times for God to deliver him from a messenger of Satan (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), and had to learn to see the glory of Jesus in his affliction instead of free from it.
Wednesday: read Genesis 12:1-4 and Romans 4:11. Faith in God’s promised blessing gives Abram confidence that his whole life was bounded by God’s goodness and love, and that all things were in God’s control – even evil – so that all things would work together not only for his good, but for the good of generations of his family to follow. Why, God even promises Abram that the curses of the wicked will only rebound on their own heads. Nothing will be able to hinder God’s purpose of ‘making Abram’s name great’ (Genesis 12:2).
Meditate and Pray: What a great name God gives Abram as the father of the faithful – compared to the name which the men of Babel sought by their own misguided efforts (Gen. 11:4). What men fail to achieve in unbelief, God grants to Abram by faith in the promise, declaring to him that there will be a great family which will proceed from him – a promise fulfilled in Romans 4:11, which declares Abram to be the ‘father of all who believe.’ Thank God that He keeps all his promises, and that we as those who believe are a part of this great household of faith – the family of Abram. Do not be ashamed of your faith: you are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have preceded you – just like father Abraham.
Thursday: read Genesis 12:1-4 and Revelation 5:8-10. In our Revelation reading, we find the ultimate description of Abram’s great family of faith as John describes the great host of those who have been redeemed, ‘Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, God has made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.’ Here is not only the final reversal of the confused language of Babel, as all with one voice praise the Lamb Jesus Christ, but also the great adoption of peoples from all over the earth into the family of Abram.
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that all His promises to Abram and to us are ‘yes’ in Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, the promised offspring of Abram (Galatians 3:16), the great invitation to ‘believe and be saved’ goes out to all men. Jesus Christ took on Himself the very nature of Abram so that He could adopt us by His blood into His own family. Even now we enjoy the secure status of being sons of God by the Spirit of Jesus Christ – and one day we will enjoy the full rights of that sonship, in heaven with Jesus and Abram forevermore: ‘Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!’
Friday: read Genesis 12:1-7. What is Abram’s response to the great destiny which God has given him? See how he builds an altar in Genesis 12:7 as a token of gratitude to the Lord for all the Lord has revealed to him by way of promise. Yes, Abram had learned that God does not dwell in man-made temples, and had turned his back on such man-made religious structures when leaving his father’s house and the idol temples of Mesopotamia. Yet Abram does not retreat into an invisible private faith which exists in his heart alone. He will demonstrate before the inhabitants of the land of Canaan (v.6), that his God is real and that He must be worshipped with real actions of devotions and piety. Abram’s faith expresses itself in v. 7 in a way that men can see and wonder about as they ask themselves: ‘What God is this, worshipped at such a simple altar?’
Meditate and Pray: Join with me in asking the God of Abram to give us a bold faith which shows itself before a watching world. When we are tempted to hide our light, may the Spirit of God move us to ‘call upon the name of the Lord’ with Abram, and to claim the land God has given us, remembering that Jesus has promised, ‘The meek shall inherit the earth.’ Cowper’s hymn should help us realize Jesus’ claim to every square inch of this earth, just as Abram by his altar claimed the land of Canaan:
‘Jesus where’er your people meet, there they behold your mercy seat; where’er they seek you, you are found, and every place is hallowed ground.’