Summary: When God said Go, Abram didn’t whine or argue, he just went.
George Bernard Shaw once quipped, “If other planets are inhabited, then they must be using the earth for their insane asylum”. Funny but if we look at the world, it doesn’t seem so far fetched does it? I’m sure that’s what it must have looked like after God confused everyone at Babel.
After the creation story, the first 11 chapters of Genesis record one failure of man after another. Disobedience, murder, deception, drunkenness, nudity, sexual promiscuity, and rebellion. Sounds kind of up to date doesn’t it? What would you do if you were God looking down on the people he created?
We are now entering the longest and possibly most fascinating narrative in the entire Bible going right to end of Genesis. The lives of the Patriarchs. Over the next few months we are going to cover the entire life of Abraham and his offspring until he dies in Chapter 25.
There is so much we can learn about God in these stories, that will make our faith stronger, and we will see that there are no heroes in the Bible besides God, just a bunch of misfits like us who do their best to have faith and follow God. In the first 11 chapters we hear about many curses, and God needing to discipline, but now the mood starts to change, and the primary word we will hear is bless.
So after this whole tower of Babel fiasco God really gets to work, and the next narrative begins with some more genealogies. The focus now is on Shem’s line exclusively and rather than listing when these men died, it concentrates on how old they were when they had their children. We also see with the declining lifespans, that sin is beginning to take its toll on the human body.
There are listed here ten generations ending with Terah’s family and the birth of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. The story is going to start focusing in depth on the life of Abram who was born about 400 years after Shem’s birth. So that’s a long time, and the earth could have been greatly populated by then.
400 more years of God’s faithfulness from the promise he made to Noah and his children. In fact it goes back to Genesis 3:15 that a redeemer would come from the seed of the woman, who would defeat Satan. Well, Abram is the continuation of this promise.
If the first 11 chapters of Genesis are the record of four keys events, Creation, The Fall, The Flood, and the Tower of Babel, the rest of Genesis is now about the lives of four key men that God used: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. This will begin the nation of Israel, God raising a nation, not man.
Abram was nothing special to begin with, in fact he and his wife were idol worshippers until God called them. What we are going to see is that Terah’s son Nahor was “the man who stayed” when God said go. Terah tried to follow God but was “the man who stopped”, as he only got to Haran, another idolatrous community.
Abraham and Lot continued but we see that Lot became “the man who strayed” to Sodom. Finally there was Abraham who continued all the way to Canaan as God had commanded. But we see that even he screws up later. From here now we are going to spend time on the fascinating, faithful life of Abram who later gets renamed Abraham by the Lord.
So we see that:
I. God Promises and Calls (vv 1-3)
In the last chapter we saw that God said one thing and man did the other. Now with Abram, much like Noah, God said do this, and Abram unquestioningly does it. He was called from everything that gave security, home and family. Totally opposite of what the Nimrods were trying to accomplish for themselves. Abram must go from all his security to a strange place and what does it say? Abram negotiated, Abram whined, said I’m too old, sent someone else? No, Abram went, as God told him to.
God tells Abram, I will make your name great. The Nimrods wanted to make a name for themselves, but God wants to make Abram’s name great. Now from here all the way to the life of Paul we will see God changing people’s names. This is very significant and it all stems from Babel. God wants to make us great by using us to bless the world, and ultimately it won’t be our name anyway but His, that is glorified.
Notice God says I will bless them (many) who bless you, and curse him (individual) who dishonors you. Many more will be blessed than cursed in relation to Abram. See how powerful God’s blessings can be? Never underestimate what God can do.