Faith steps out (12:1)
The famous call of Abram in 12:1 was a command to go away from three things:
(1) His country (or “land”) determined his nationality,
(2) His people (or “clan”) provided personal identity and security, and
(3) his father’s household provided his right of inheritance and economic security.
God’s claim on our lives always beckons us to leave certain things behind as we are take up a new journey and follow Him (Luke 10)
The term “go” is literally “go by yourself” and can emphasise loneliness, isolation; ideas of parting and seclusion are often implied.
The only promise from God was that He would reveal the path to Abram. There was no visible certainty of his future. Abram was to follow the command of the Lord to leave Haran and go to a land he had never seen before. He is to step out in blind faith…a land God would show him.
Would I have gone? Am I willing to obey the voice of the Lord when He goes against all that makes sense? When everything screams against it, am I willing to respond to a higher calling? Faith steps out in obedience. Faith takes a risk.
The covenant is God makes with Abram is everlasting (13:15; 17:7-8, 13, 19), and unconditional (15:9-12; 17-18). It involves a land (12:7; 13:14-15, 17; 17:8), a seed (12:2; 13:16; 15:4-5; 15:18; 17:4-6), and a blessing (12:3; 17:2, 6; 18:18).
God gave Abram a seven-fold promise.
1. “I will make you a great nation” (12:2). The ultimate purpose in God’s choice of Abram was to prepare the world for the coming Messiah and Saviour of that world. God carefully unfolds his plan through individuals.
2. “I will bless you” (12:2). When God blesses someone, he intervenes in their life to do good things. God’s blessing to Abram caused him to prosper in all that he did. Are you seeing God’s blessings in your life?
3. “I will make your name great” (12:2). God did make Abram’s name great when he became known as the “friend of God”. Jesus taught that true greatness is found in:
being the least and the servant of all (Matt 20:26),
losing your life for the sake of Christ and others (Luke 9:24), and
being last now so that you might be first in His kingdom (Mark 9:35).
4. “You shall be a blessing” (12:2). We never experience God’s best for us until we are used to touch the life of someone else. Who can you bless today (1 Peter 3:9)?
5. “I will bless those who bless you” (12:3). Those who honour Abram and his God will be blessed.
6. “The one who curses you I will curse” (12:3).
7. “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (12:3). This is the great messianic promise fulfilled in Abram’s descendant, Jesus Christ (John 8:56-58; Gal 3:16).
Faith experiences obstacles (12:4-6).
Abram immediately and completely obeyed God. Did Abram know where he was going (12:5)? No. Hebrews 11:8 states that “he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Abram was seventy-five years old when he left. Age is no hindrance to faith and taking bold steps for the Lord. It’s never too late. Despite Abram’s age, responsibilities, and various commitments, he stepped forward in a venture of faith, in obedience to God.
At pagan Shechem (12:6), Abram’s faith was going to be tested. 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. Abram could not take possession of the Promised Land immediately because the Canaanites lived there. This was another test of Abram’s faith. God had promised to give his descendants an already-possessed land. The presence of the Canaanites indicated opposition was going to be a reality. A godly life will always be lived out in the middle of misunderstanding and even persecution.
Faith builds character. Abram 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 exemplary character and did not succumb to the unbelievers around him. His life matched his words, so to speak (Heb 11:8-12). Does ours?
Faith leads to reassurance (12:7a).
In 12:7, the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ speaks to Abram. God knows we consistently need encouragement. And here he reaffirms to Abram the promise of offspring and ownership of the land. In the midst of trials, nothing is more assuring and nothing is more important than the voice and the very presence of God.
Faith proclaims God (12:7b-9).
Abram’s response is to worship. Worship is the first response to the voice of God. Obedience and the proclamation of God’s grace and greatness will follow like "the rainbow after spring showers".
During his time at Ai, Abram continued to worship. But now he "called on the name of the Lord". This is much more than simple worship. It carries the idea of proclamation (Zeph 3:9). God had promised Abram to make his name great and now we find Abram is making the Lord’s name great in Canaan!