Summary: Abraham trial in Egypt proves God’s faithfulness and gives Abraham reason to believe.
God told Abraham to leave his family and nation behind:
4So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. 6And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. 7And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land:
When he gets to this plain of Moreh (or oak of Moreh) the LORD appears to him. This isn’t the last time God meets with someone here (18:1; 35:4), but it is the first. We need to remember that no one has ever seen the Father (Jn. 6:46), but the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily (Col. 2:9). Don’t let anyone tell you this is a “theophany;” that’s impossible. This is a Christophany—Abraham saw “my day” and was glad (Jn. 8:56). He saw Him face-to-face and knew he had met the promised Redeemer!
and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.
His response upon meeting Him is to build an altar. The Hebrew root word means “slaughter.” I suppose it was a pile of stones or something where he could lay an animal and kill it. Even before the Law Abel, Noah, and Abraham all knew of the sacrifice required for atonement. We aren’t told how they knew, but it’s obvious that they did. The gospel has been the same since it was first told to Adam and Eve.
Also, I want you to see that this is an active and proactive God. He’s not sitting in heaven waiting for Abraham to get things right. He called Abraham personally. God revealed Himself to Abraham. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost, and He’s been fulfilling that mission even before the advent.
8And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east:
Because he’s a stranger in the land with no inheritance he pitches a tent rather than build a house.
Now, I don’t want to read any more into this than we’re supposed to, but it’s interesting to me that Abraham pitched his tent between Bethel, which means “house of God” and Ai which means “ruin heap.” He’s temporarily lodging between God’s house and the ruin heap. He’s not yet in the house, but he’s not in the ruin heap either (II Cor. 5:1-8).
and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.
Again he worships the LORD and offers sacrifices. We know this story so well and we’re so familiar with the outcome that it’s hard to appreciate the facts: here we have a 75 year old man living in a tent; he’s a nomad with no real securities wandering around in a strange country because God told him to! All these altars and calling upon God are acts of faith. He doesn’t trust in Nanna the moon-god anymore; he’s following Yahweh.