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Gen. 12:4-9 - Abram - Faith Follower - Part 2
Verse 5 also informs us that Abram’s entourage included “the persons which they had acquired in Haran.” While this could be a reference to slaves, it is more likely referring to converts that Abram won during his sojourn in Haran. So while Abram was in a challenging and irreligious land (Haran), he shared his faith with many people. Consequently, he won converts.
By God’s grace, you and I can do the same here in the towns we live in. The towns we live in are certainly no worse than Haran. If God can use Abram to win converts in Haran, He can use us to do the same in our area.
In 12:6, Moses records that “Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land.” Abram’s first settlement was in Shechem. This was God’s second major revelation to Abram. Shechem was near the geographic center of Canaan. It lay in the heart of the land God now promised to Abram.
The Hebrew term “Moreh” means “teacher” and could indicate an ancient shrine or a place where Canaanite priests declared oracles. Hosea 4:13 talks about the use of a terebinth tree for idol worship: “They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains and burn offerings on the hills, under oak, poplar, and terebinth, because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters play the whore, and your brides commit adultery.”
Thus, living among idolatrous people—people steeped in genuine unbelief—was going to test Abram’s faith. He himself was steeped in idolatry, and the tendency to lapse into pagan religion would remain a very real and present danger to him and his family.
To further complicate matters, Abram could not take possession of the Promised Land immediately because the Canaanites occupied it. About five centuries would pass before the descendants of Abram would, under Joshua, conquer the Canaanites and take the land God had given them. The presence of the Canaanites was yet another test of Abram’s faith. God had promised to give his descendants an already-possessed land. The presence of the Canaanites indicated opposition that was going to be a big reality as Abram continued his life of faith. A godly life must always be lived out in the middle of misunderstanding and even persecution.
Faith isn't just believing God for great things and responding to His promises, it also involves a commitment to live as He desires in light of the circumstances He permits in our lives. Faith builds character; so also Abram. He knew that God had called him to go to this new land, even though he didn’t know where he was going. His faith gave him the courage and determination to live for God in a pagan land.
By faith he overcame the struggles and trials of leaving family, the barrenness of his wife, and the hostilities of living in a foreign land. By faith he gained an unquestionable character and did not give in to the unbelievers around him...His life matched his words, so to speak (cf. Heb 11:8-12) Does ours?
Heb. 11:8-12 - “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”
Faith leads to reassurance. In 12:7, the Lord speaks to Abram. The key to growing a strong faith in the midst of trials is hearing and heeding the voice of the Lord, experiencing the presence of the One who made the promises. (In the Word, solitude and prayer).
So God, knowing we are but dust, and are among those who consistently need encouragement, appears to Abram—the one who is a stranger in a foreign land, with a foreign language, customs, faith, and way of life—and reaffirms to him the promise of offspring and ownership of the land.
While God speaks to us primarily through the Scripture, as the indwelling Spirit marries the very words to our hearts, God appeared to Abram and spoke to him. In the midst of trials, nothing is more assuring and nothing is clearer, than the voice, the very presence, of our heavenly Father. As we make our way through life, strangers in a foreign country, we need to know the presence of the One who will carry us safely to our appointed destination. We need to hear the voice of God in His Word and in prayer.
So God appeared to Abram and restated the essential promise to him: “to your offspring I will give this land.” This, we know from Genesis 15:1. it was probably the one question in the forefront of Abram’s mind.
God comes to us in our time of need and encourages us with His voice: “So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa 41:10). What a breath of fresh air!
A faith like Abram’s steps out in obedience, hopes in the fulfillment of God’s promises of blessings, and grows through trials. But also, Faith proclaims God (12:7b-9). Abram’s response to God’s appearing and to His reassuring word was to worship.
The text says that God appeared to Abram and said...“So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.” First God speaks (12:1-3), then Abram journeys (12:4-6). Next God appears (12:7a), then Abram worships (12:7). Worship should be our first and foremost response to the voice of God.
Verse 8 says that Abraham “pitched his tent” between Bethel and Ai, which probably indicates that he stayed there for some time.
In 1 Peter 2:11 we are exhorted to live “as aliens and strangers in the world.” We are to live as people who have their permanent dwelling place in heaven, not on earth.” Unfortunately, too many Christians want to build mansions on earth and are happy with tents in heaven!
During his time on the mountain, Abram continued to worship by building an altar. But then notice that the text also says that Abram called on the name of the Lord.
This phrase “called on the name of the Lord” means much more than simple worship. It carries the idea of proclaiming the name of the Lord. Isn’t it interesting that God promised Abram to make his name great and here Abram is making the Lord’s name great in Canaan? In the midst of a foreign and thoroughly pagan land Abram erected an altar and there proclaimed the name of the Lord.
What amazing faith! He truly shone like a star in the universe by holding out the Word of Life in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
My prayer for you today is that you become a man or woman of faith that transforms your culture. As you step out in obedience, overcome obstacles, and proclaim God, you will accomplish His will for your life and for the generations to come.
The question is: Have you even answered His call yet? Jer. 33:3...