Abram: A Journey and a Promise

Genesis 12:1-13:18

God tells Abram to journey to a land that He shall show him and there He will make him into a great nation. The Israel Bible cites Rashi, who explains God’s unusual phrasing: Go for you. According to the sage, it is for Abram’s benefit that he make this journey, even though he is giving up nearly everything familiar. God vows that if Abram does as he is told, God will be with him, blessing those who bless him and cursing those who curse him. As the Israel Bible points out, the evidence of this promise can be seen to this day.

 

Abram takes his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot and does as he is told, arriving in the land of Canaan — what is today Israel. Once there, God promises him the land for his descendants, and Abram builds an altar. Although at the age of 75 Abram still has no children, he trusts in God’s promise. As the Israel Bible relates, Abram’s patience (it took 400 years for the promises God makes in this portion to be fulfilled!) set an example for his children. After 2,000 years of exile, they have returned to the State of Israel.

 

Almost immediately upon Abram’s arrival, a famine descends upon the land. Abram and Sarai travel to Egypt, where there is food, but Abram asks her to tell everyone they are brother and sister, lest the locals kill him and take her. Their subterfuge is successful, and Abram is given great wealth on account of his “sister”, who is taken to Pharaoh. God protects Sarai, however, and Pharaoh quickly figures out the truth. He sends the couple on their way, along with the riches they have acquired.

 

Upon their return to the Promised Land, Abram’s great wealth becomes a source of tension with his nephew, who is also very well-to-do. Abram suggests the two part ways, offering Lot the choice of destination. Lot chooses the lush, though wicked, region of Sodom and Gomorrah, while Abram remains in the Holy Land. The Israel Bible relates that although other places look attractive, there is no place full of sanctity and Godliness like the Land of Israel.

 

Once the two have separated, God again reiterates His commitment to giving Abram and his descendants the Land of Israel.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think God chose to leave Abram in suspense about his destination?

Comments ( 20 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

  • Not telling where to go might mean insecurity. Did Avram have enough trust in the Divine guidance ? Faith demands blindly following, and dependance and to be directed to HaShem. Knowing too much og the future might hinder you in going forward.

  • Besides the test of faith, I think the other reason Yahweh didn't tell Abram his destination is so that he did not feel like he was dragged into this thing. Like Herman above mentioned Lech Lecha, 'go forth yourself', Yahweh wanted to preserve Abraham's will power, Abram was to check out the land on the way to Canaan so he can better appreciate his destination.

  • These chapters are, to me, some of the most profound and powerful teachings in the Bible. These teachings of faith and patience are foundational. I am neither a theologian nor a Bible scholar, but it appears to me that all the other teachings of the Bible come back to and depend on understanding what is illustrated here.

  • "The Israel Bible relates that although other places look attractive, there is no place full of sanctity and Godliness like the Land of Israel."
    *
    I've heard it said, "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence". I've also heard it said, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". I would give pretty good odds that Abram's eyes were not on beauty that can be seen with the eye. Otherwise, he would not have let Lot take first choice. I would also assume Abram was no dummy. He was older and wiser and, like the father he must have been for Lot in the absence of his real father, knew how Lot would choose. I also think ANY place but these two cities would have been Abram's choice.
    *
    In this choice of directions, the Land certainly was the correct choice. Even so, there is a spiritual choice whether we live in the Land or not. Just living in the Land is no guarantee one has right standing with Elohim. It's a matter of the heart. There are a lot of people in the Land or elsewhere today that are counting on their heritage to garner them fellowship with Elohim. They're in for a rude awakening. It's like this following story.
    *
    I once heard a story as told by a former pastor. It has the quality of allowing personal adaptation to names and places. There was this little 7 year old boy who knocked on the door of his neighbor's house. When the burly man answered the door, the little boy asked, "sir, are you a christian? The elder man scratched his unshaven face and thought for a moment. Then, he replied, "I was born in Ireland. Ireland is a christian nation. I guess that makes me a christian. The little boy then replied, "my cat had kittens in the bread basket. Does that make them biscuits?"
    *
    He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.

  • "Almost immediately upon Abram’s arrival, a famine descends upon the land. Abram and Sarai travel to Egypt, where there is food, but Abram asks her to tell everyone they are brother and sister, lest the locals kill him and take her. Their subterfuge is successful, and Abram is given great wealth on account of his “sister”, who is taken to Pharaoh. God protects Sarai, however, and Pharaoh quickly figures out the truth. He sends the couple on their way, along with the riches they have acquired."
    *
    I'm so grateful HaShem is merciful and kind. Time and again, He shows His willingness and ability to work with and bless His servants, even when they make stupid mistakes. Certainly, Avram was welcomed by the Egyptians and blessed by Elohim. However, it should be noted that without HaShem's intervention, things very well could have "gone south" in a heart beat.

  • "As the Israel Bible relates, Abram’s patience (it took 400 years for the promises God makes in this portion to be fulfilled!) set an example for his children. After 2,000 years of exile, they have returned to the State of Israel."
    *
    Absolutely! They have returned or have the ability to return. However, keep in mind it's ONLY Judah and Benjamin that have returned. There are 10 other brothers are still out here, scattered among the nations. We'd like to come home too. However, we CANNOT deny Yeshua to do it. We have to remain patient in exile until He brings us home.

  • I think I can answer the class question with a personal example. In early 2011, my wife and I felt HaShem telling us to leave Georgia and go to Alaska. We looked for confirmation and found several items. Since we're traveling musicians, and had a working gig in Georgia, one of the required pieces of confirmation was having a gig waiting for us in Alaska. When we received the same, we set out on the journey the day after Passover.
    *
    In the beginning our journey, we were only a couple days ahead of the major tornado that devastated Alabama from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham. Even so, we drove through major hail storms in Arkansas. We had a small break in the weather in Oklahoma, but had to endure very high cross winds.
    *
    From there, we encountered major flooding to and across the Canadian border to Winnipeg. From there it was wind, snow, and rain to Alberta, where we were just days ahead of major forest fires. In BC and Yukon, it was more snow and very bad roads, all in the month of May.
    *
    Upon our arrival in Alaska, rest was finally ours. The only problem was that we were broke. We had spent every bit of financial reserve we had. It took us most of the summer just to pay of the credit card debt. Yet, that's not the end of the story.
    *
    Because of the lack of funds available at the end of that summer, we were forced to stay in Alaska. We were able to find another gig in the southwestern part of Alaska and managed to survive in our RV for two winters and a summer. During the first winter, the worst for that region in recorded Alaska history, we almost lost our rig to the snow, which at some points was piled higher than the rig.
    *
    I also lost sight in both eyes and underwent four surgeries in five months to rectify the situation. When we left that place in June 2013, we still didn't have enough money to return to the south. However, HaShem provided another gig, and paid for the home and property we have now enjoyed now for 3 years.
    *
    The question is why did HaShem not tell Avram where he was going and what he would endure. I think the answer is very obviously in my story. Does anyone in their right mind think they would agree to such a calling if they knew they were going to endure the above, especially if they were doing fairly well, financially and otherwise, where they were? Can the same be said of Avram?
    *
    There have been many days I have "rued the day" I came to Alaska. However, I see Father's fingerprints all over this adventure–His constant provision, hand of protection upon us, AND the people to whom we have been able to minister in Alaska and on the way. In the end, I MUST say, "not my will be done, but Yours Elohim".

    • There is one major thing I forgot to include in the above. In June of 2013, I had a heart attack and endured triple bypass surgery. I was well for awhile, but suffered complications later that winter. However, with the loving care of Elohim, I'm a lot better today. In fact, albeit a little every day, I've become quite the lumberjack, cutting and splitting our needed winter wood supply. I don't believe any of this would have been possible if we had chosen to ignore the calling He gave us. It also begs the question, Where would all of us be if Avram had made the same choice? Sobering thought, isn't it?

    • "God vows that if Abram does as he is told, God will be with him, blessing those who bless him and cursing those who curse him. As the Israel Bible points out, the evidence of this promise can be seen to this day." (Rashi)
      *
      As Rashi points out, the directive wasn't just "go". It was "go for you". It is very likely I would have still had the eye and heart problem if I disobeyed. What is just as likely is I would NOT have had the blessings of which I've enjoyed to this day. Who knows? I might not even be alive today. Yes, the directive for me to go to Alaska was for my benefit, so Father could bless me. I suggest Elohim's directive might have been very much the same for Abram. Blessings definitely come from obedience.

    • If I have learned nothing else in this journey of life with Him, I have learned to ALWAYS look for His purposes in my circumstances. No matter how difficult or 'impossible' be assured that as you trust G-d, His purposes will be fulfilled in your life. A couple of years ago I experienced a nasty broken ankle – requiring surgery – and then, because of the surgery, hospitalization for a blood clot in my lung. My mind was telling me my circumstances were devastating – never before had I been unable to take care of myself and now I was dependent on others. However, during my hospital stay, a young nurse's aid sat at the foot of my bed and started talking. She barely spoke English and from her dress, I knew her ideology was Islamic. She started telling me her "troubles". I watched her melt and weep as I told her about G-d's grace, mercy, love. kindness and His plans for her. The rest of my stay in the hospital, she found me and we talked. Had it not been for the broken ankle, surgery, and the resulting pulmonary embolism, that young woman and I would never have talked, God has a purpose in all of our events. We do have to trust, have faith, believe, understand and look for those purposes as we go forward. No matter your circumstances, look for G-d's purpose. It is there.

    • DannyLee I have a similar story. Thank you so much, it is when I feel that I made a mistake, that we are spinning our wheels we see HaShem in it. If my husband had been told where we would end up neither of us would have followed every lead He gave. I would have never guested a city girl would live in a travel trailer and love the great outdoors. We meet the poor of the land, find hope in their lives. Our journey is not over but we have been strengthened by faith. We are leaning to TRUST in HaShem. I personally am learning about HaShem's people. I see Him in the most unusual places.

  • Abram traveled a very broken path that went in several different directions before he actually arrived in the Promised Land.
    *
    I think it’s a similar thing to Elohim’s reasoning not to bring the Children of Y’srael back from Mitzraim by the direct path. HE feared that they would lose heart and turn back. They constantly threatened to go back whenever they were challenged.
    *
    A journey can be said to be made up a two parts. The first part is leaving where we’re at and the second part is heading towards where we’re going. For many, the first part is the hardest as it means letting go of everything that’s familiar and safe.
    *
    Abram was asked to leave everything he knew behind and head out into something that was so strange to him. I don’t believe that this was a common thing in his day. While there were travelers that went from city to city and beyond, they always left with a clear destination and purpose. Abram was asked to trust Elohim and just go forth from where he was. I think this was his first “test”.
    *
    There were many tests along the way as he faced some difficult challenges. Each success helped him to grow in his faith until he finally reached the level where his faith was counted as righteousness. Father Abraham gave us an example to look to when we’re faced with the unknown and tests of our own faith. Only by being tested can we hope to grow like him.
    Baruch Hashem.

  • Abraham needed to aquire a trust and patience in the plan of God for his life. This happens when we do step out in faith and obedience. Like all of us, Abraham had to put aside his own initial flesh decisions and understand what God’s will was.

  • Herman

    There’s something that comes into my sight: in verse 19 Pharao says: “Go thy way” It stresses that man should go (His)his way “Lech L’cha” (go for yourself)

  • Herman

    HaShem was the One that set to move Avram. He took the initiative. He allowed Avram to have his family with him. (uncertainty in the character ?)Avram had to learn to trust fully on the Eternal One. Obedience is the keyword. “Go for yourself” probably means: go with your own responsability, I (B”H) will be with you but you have to learn to act, to choose. Making the right choices is a matter of coming of age. HaShem taught Avram how to become the father of all believers. Trust My Word, act according my Word, Go into the direction I (B”H) showed you. Live out what you say you believe.

  • Magda

    I agree with Sheila, but would like to add that God is also teaching Abraham valuable lessons for the future: He is requiring absolute trust in and dependence on Him from Abram. In order to find the way to the Promised Land, he (Abram) had no choice but to keep his eyes on the Lord God ALL THE TIME, else he might have got lost and/or distracted. We can also learn from this lesson individually as well as Modern day Israel collectively.

  • Sheila

    Abraham heard a sovereign call from God to leave the familiar place and go to an unknown land. This was a test of faith for Abraham as —- he left what was near and dear to him —- his migration was a long distance to a strange and unknown land—- the promise that the Lord would make his descendants a great nation. This must have seemed unbelievable as his wife Sarai was childless. In spite of anxious and uncertain times Abraham was obedient to God’s call putting his trust in the promises spoken. Also patience needed to be worked into Abraham’s character as Jam1:3 declares that the testing of your faith produces patience.

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