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018 Why God called Abraham

‘And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.’ Genesis 12:2

Key Verse:

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went” (Hebrews 11:8)

(Genesis 11,12)

In the past lessons, we have been learning about God and His way of righteousness. We have seen Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Seth and Enoch, Noah and the people of his generation, and Nimrod and the tower of Babel. Only a few of our ancestors followed God and His way of righteousness;

most followed Satan and his way of unrighteousness.

We now come to the story of a man whose name is well known in the Word of God, and who had an important place in God’s plan to redeem the children of Adam. The Scripture refers to this man (Abraham) as

“the friend of God”

and

“the father of all who believe.”

Do you know who it is? It is the prophet of God,

Abraham.

The Holy Scriptures speak a great deal about Abraham. His name appears in the Scriptures more than three hundred times. Therefore, God willing, in this lesson and in coming lessons, we will search the Scriptures to discover what they teach concerning this man who was called

the friend of God.

We intend to look into the beginning of the story of Abraham, to see how God called him to follow Him, and why He called him.

Before we begin, you should know that, at first, Abraham’s name was not

Abraham,

but

Abram.

Two lessons from now we will see why God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. However, let us keep in mind that Abraham was first called Abram. In chapter eleven of the book of Genesis, we learn that

Abram belonged to the descendants of Shem.

Do you remember Shem, Ham and Japheth? They were the three sons of Noah. Between Shem and Abram, there were ten generations, just as there were ten generations between Adam and Noah.

Abram’s father was Terah.

The Scripture says: 

“Terah begot Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran begot Lot.” (Gen. 11:27)

Lot was the son of Abram’s youngest brother. Lot’s Father had died and that is why Abram took care of him.

Abram’s wife was Sarai.

“Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.” (Gen. 11:30) Abram and Sarai had the same father, but not the same mother.

Abram lived in a city named Ur, which was located in the country of Chaldea,

known today as Iraq.

This city was not far from where Nimrod tried to build the city of Babel with its tall tower. The people of the land worshiped idols. Like all of Adam’s offspring,

Abram was born in the darkness of sin and idol worship.

Abram’s father did not know the true God and neither did Abram.

However the Scriptures tell us that one day

the LORD God revealed Himself to Abram

and spoke with him. You need to know that in early times, God occasionally spoke directly with people, because they did not yet have the Scriptures. Today God speaks to people through

the Holy Scriptures.

That is why we no longer need words which come from the sky, or visions, or angels in order to know God’s way of righteousness. When we meditate upon the Holy Scriptures, we are listening to the voice of God.

Let us read what God said to Abram. 

“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.” (Gen. 12:1)

Do you see what God commanded Abram? He told Abram to leave his father’s house, and his relatives, leave his country, and move to a country to which God would lead him.

To man’s way of thinking, what God asked Abram to do was extremely difficult, but

God had plans to greatly bless him.

Let us now read again this verse and the two verses which follow, to know why God called Abram to leave his home and go to another country. 

“The LORD had said to Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee. And

I will make of thee a great nation,

and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 12:1-3)

Why did God command Abram to move to another country? This is why: God planned to make of Abram

a new nation

from which the prophets of God and the Saviour of the world would arise. That is why God promised Abram saying, “I will make of thee a great nation …  and thou shalt be a blessing … and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”

Here is a great truth. Do you understand it? God chose Abram to become the father of the ancestors through which the promised Redeemer would come into the world.

This Redeemer was to be

the Saviour for all the peoples of the world,

so that whoever believes in Him, might be saved from the dominion of sin and Satan, and from the eternal fire. Thus, we see that when God called Abram, He was moving forward with His plan to send the Saviour of sinners into the world. Abram himself was not the Saviour of the world, but he was to become the father of a nation from which the promised Saviour would come.

That is the promise {or covenant} God made to Abram – on the condition that he leave his country and go to the place that God would show him. Did Abram obey God?

What do you think?

The Word of God tells us: “So 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.

And 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.” (Gen. 12:4-5)

Why did Abram obey God, turning his back on his father’s home and religion? There is only one reason.

Abram had confidence in God.

Abram did not know where he was going, but he believed the word of the LORD which said, “Move out! If you move, I will greatly bless you!” Abram had confidence in God and left his country as the LORD God had told him. God, in His faithfulness, led Abram to the land of Canaan, which today is called

Palestine or Israel.

Next, the Scriptures say: 

“And Abram passed through the land … and the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land” (Genesis 12:6-7)

Thus we learn that God, who promised to make Abram the father of a new nation, also promised him a new country. That is what God meant when He appeared to Abram and promised him,

“Unto thy seed will I give this land.”

Again, we see something which surpasses human wisdom. The land of Canaan had people living in it. How could Abram and his descendants possess it? Abram was seventy-five years old. His wife was sixty-five and childless.

Could two elderly people have enough children and descendants to fill the land?

How could this happen?

Let us try to illustrate what God promised Abram. It is like an elderly man who has no children and comes from a far off land to visit Botswana. He comes with his elderly wife, who has never been able to conceive. When they arrive, someone says to them, “One day you and your descendants will possess the whole land of Botswana!” The old man laughs and says, “You are joking! My descendants are going to possess this land? I do not even have any child! I am an old man; I have no children, and my wife is unable to conceive—and you say to me that my descendants are going to multiply and possess Botswana? You can’t be serious!”

Perhaps this is not a perfect illustration; nonetheless, that is exactly the promise God made to Abram–to

a man who was old and childless, with a wife who could not conceive.

Listen to what God promised Abram in chapter thirteen. He said, “For all the land which thou seest,

to thee will I give it,

and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee” (Gen. 13:15-17)

Did God do what He promised? Did He make of Abram a great nation? Did He give the land of Palestine to Abram’s descendants?

He surely did!

In future lessons we will see that Abram became the father of the Hebrew nation to which God gave the land that today is called

Israel.

Next, the Scriptures say: “And there he builded an altar unto the Lord who appeared unto him. And he removed from there unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called on the name of the Lord.” (Gen. 12:7,8)

What was the first thing that Abram did, upon arriving in the new country which God had promised to give him? He slaughtered an animal and burned it on an altar he constructed. Just as Abel, Seth, Enoch and Noah did, Abram, in the same way, offered up animal sacrifices to God.

Why did Abram do this?

He did it because God had not done away with His law which states: 

“Without shedding of blood, is no remission!” (Heb. 9:22)

Abram, like all of Adam’s offspring, was a sinner. The only reason God could overlook Abram’s sins was because Abram believed God and brought to Him

the blood of a sacrifice,

which was an illustration of the holy Redeemer who was to come into the world to die in the place of sinners.

What we have studied in this lesson is very important and must not be forgotten. Do you understand now why God called Abram to turn his back on his father’s house and move to another country? Yes, God intended to make of Abram a new nation, which would be a “door of blessing” for all peoples of the earth.

What God planned to do with Abram was part of

the wonderful plan

that He announced in the Garden of Eden on the day that our ancestors, Adam and Eve, sinned. Do you remember how God had promised One who would come into the world to deliver the children of Adam from the power of Satan? Two thousand years later, from the time of Abram,

God had not forgotten His promise.

We have seen how God, in His faithfulness, called Abram so that

he might become the father of a nation

through which the promised Saviour would come into the world. That was why God promised Abram saying, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and

thou shalt be a blessing.

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:2,3)

Have you understood this lesson?

Allow us to ask you two questions which summarise what we have studied. First:

Why did God call Abram to leave home and go to another country?

Because God planned to make of Abram a new nation. Second:

Why did God want to make of Abram a new nation?

Because it was through this nation that God planned to give us the prophets, the Scriptures and at last, the holy Redeemer Himself. Thus, in summary, we see that when God called Abram,

God was moving forward with His plan to bring into the world the Saviour of sinners.

God willing, we will learn why Abram was called “the friend of God.”

God bless you as you meditate on His promise to Abram: 

And I will make of thee a great nation … thou shalt be a blessing … and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Gen. 12:2,3)

We would invite you to answer the questions attached and send them together with any other questions that you might have

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