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Summary: Verse by verse study of Genesis 12

Genesis 12

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 21, 2007


We now enter a new section of Genesis, the history of the patriarchs, the ancestors of the Israelites, the men who learned to trust in God.

:1-9 God’s promise to Abram

:1 Now the LORD had said to Abram:

Abram – “exalted father”; we usually call this man “Abraham”, which means “father of a multitude”. God will change his name from Abram to Abraham in Genesis 17.

:1 "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house,

A verse we skipped last week tells us:

(Gen 11:31 NKJV) And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.

Abram was originally from “Ur of the Chaldeans”, a famous, powerful, and wealthy city on the Euphrates River, about 175 miles southeast of Babylon (in modern Iraq). One source said that Ur was where they first invented the bathtub.

Joshua tells us that Abram’s father, Terah, served other gods (Josh. 24:2) while at Ur. Ur was known for its worship of the Sumerian moon god named “Nanna” (who looked like an English Sheepdog?). Archaeologists have uncovered a ziggurat from this time built for Nanna that towers 70 feet over the desert.

Originally, Abram left Ur with a group led by his father, Terah. When they left “Ur”, they went northwest along the River Euphrates about 600 miles to the city of Haran (in modern Syria).

It’s in Haran that Abram will get this call (Gen. 12:4) to leave Haran and go to the Promised Land.

But in the New Testament, Stephen tells us that there was an earlier call of God for Abram to go to the Promised Land, and it actually came to Abram in Ur, not Haran.

(Acts 7:2-4 NKJV) And he said, "Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, {3} "and said to him, ’Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ {4} "Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.

It seems that when God originally called Abram, Terah was willing to go along and so Terah led the group as far as Haran where Terah wanted to settle down.

But Haran wasn’t the promised land. And it seems that Abram got stuck for awhile in Haran. It’s not until Abram’s father Terah dies, that God reiterated the original call to leave and go to a land God would show him.

Terah understood part of Abram’s call, but for some reason he was unwilling to go all the way.

Terah’s name means “delay”. It seems that Terah became a “delay” in God’s plans for Abram.


God doesn’t give up

God spoke to Abram while he was in Ur, and God said “Go”. God promised to lead Abram to a special place. It won’t be until Abram arrives in the land of the Canaanites that God will say, “This is the place”.

But along the way, Abram got sidetracked. He got stuck in Haran. He got “delayed”.

I don’t know how long it was in between the time that God first called Abram while he was living in Ur until the time when God called again to him at Haran, but it had to have been some time since they had to have traveled 600 miles, and apparently they had settled down in Haran until Terah died. One commentator suggested it was 25 years between Abram’s first call and his second call.

I find it incredibly gracious of God to not give up on Abram.

Is there something that God has asked you to do? Have you been sidetracked? Maybe today God would want to remind you of your calling.


Leaving the old life

God’s call often requires us to make a choice between people and God. Jesus said,

(Mat 10:37 NKJV) "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

It seems important for God to tell Abram to leave his “father’s house”. He needed to leave behind this house that worshipped the moon god. Yahweh wanted Abram to follow Him.

God’s call requires us to leave the old life behind.

(Mat 16:24 NKJV) Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

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