Duration: 365 days
ABRAHAM: GOD BEGINS TO REBUILD (GENESIS 12)
After scanning centuries of Biblical history, the narrative of Genesis changes dramatically in chapter 12. Leaving the big picture of world history, it focuses on one individual — not a great king or a wealthy landowner, but a childless nomad named Abram.
At God’s call, Abraham uprooted himself from civilization and began wandering in the wilderness. Like pioneer settlers everywhere, Abraham had to be tough to survive. He moved his flocks from place to place, fought wild animals, negotiated with hostile locals, searched for sources of food and water. Yet this hardly made him unique; lots of tough nomads wandered the Middle East. What made this particular wanderer so important?
God’s New Way of Working
Abraham was important, first of all, simply because God chose him. Shortly after the destruction caused by the great flood, God picked Abraham as the foundation of a new humanity. On several remarkable occasions God spoke directly to him, promising to make his family great in the land he roamed. The promises were hard to believe: Abraham’s wife was barren, Abraham was getting too old to have children, and he owned no land and had no prospect of any. Nonetheless, God asked Abraham to trust him.
The second reason why Abraham matters flows from the first: When God spoke to him, Abraham listened. He was far from perfect. Sometimes he strayed from the path God put him on, lying and trying to make the promises work out in his own way. Yet in the decisive moments of life, he listened to God and obeyed. He was willing to sacrifice anything for God — even his only son. God put his brand, the mark of circumcision, on Abraham. His descendants were to be forever known as “God’s people.”
The life of Abraham is a fascinating story, true to life, full of both bad and good moments. He was hardly a theologian; a more comprehensive understanding of God would be fulfilled through Moses. But Abraham’s faith is the root of Judaism and thus of Christianity. In his encounters with God we get raw, uncensored truth: not religion invented by a philosopher, but religion as it really happens when God meets a person.
No wonder the New Testament cites Abraham more than 80 times, and Paul tells Christians they are the true descendants of Abraham (see Gal 3:6 – 9). With Abraham’s life, the story of God’s long-range plans began to unfold. Two thousand years later, Abraham’s descendant Jesus came to fulfill the promises made to Abraham.
God asked Abraham to leave his home and family and go to a far-off foreign country. If you were in his place, how would you have responded?
Has God ever asked anything hard or risky of you?
Taken from NIV Starting Place Study Bible©2017 HarperCollins Christian Publishing