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The Friend of God — Genesis Chapter 12

This blog post will cover the devotionals #75-81 for Genesis Chapter 12.

Please note that this devotional book is for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.

[75] Genesis 12:1

Imagine living in a place for most of your life, having all your family there, and then being told you have to leave without even knowing the destination. What if you were going to be sent to the desert or the north pole? Well, now you can probably imagine how Abram felt when God told him to depart from his country and his family and go to a place that He’d show him later. God didn’t tell him where he was heading. This is why Hebrews 11:8 says, “When he was called to go out to a place which he would later receive as an inheritance—Abraham obeyed by faith; and he went out, not knowing where he went.” His destination wasn’t even his land yet—yet he was headed there with the intention of staying. This sounds very familiar to where we, as Christians, are seeking to head. Hebrews 11:9, 10, 16 tells us about Abram’s experience. “By faith sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tents…because he looked for a city which has foundations—whose builder and maker is God. But now they desire a better country—that is—a heavenly one: therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God: He has prepared a city for them.” To sojourn means to reside somewhere as a foreigner rather than as a citizen. Abram was doing just that in the land that God promised to him but wasn’t yet his own. We’re doing the same thing here, on Earth, as we wait for the city that God has prepared for us. In John 14:1-4, Christ told His disciples something important. “Do not let your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe in Me also.” Just as Abram believed God and had a peaceful heart, Christ expected the same for His promises. “There are many mansions in my Father’s house: if not, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and take you to Myself; so that you may also be where I am.” Abram was heading to a place to make it his ‘home’, but it wasn’t his yet. Yet, God wouldn’t have sent him there without having it prepared for him. Christ promised His disciples the same. “You know where I go, and you know the way.” This is a precious promise. Christ didn’t leave them in the dark about His destination or the route there. God had given Abram His promise to show him the way and the destination. He knew enough about the destination, based on God’s promise of its nature as an inheritance, that he could be peaceful about the unknown. Abram didn’t have to be troubled about where he was going—even though he didn’t know the way or the destination. He departed in faith—believing God’s promise. Christ expects the same of us.

[76] Genesis 12:2,3 (Part 1)

“I will make a great nation out of you, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you will be a blessing: And I will bless those that bless you and curse him that curses you: and all the families of the earth will be blessed in you.” In the next few devotionals, we’re going to break down verses 2, 3 in several steps because they’re so incredibly deep. To start, let’s look at the first phrase: “I will make a great nation out of you.” Genesis 18:18 says that “Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation.” Strong’s Concordance defines ‘mighty’ here as ‘numerous’. Genesis 15:5 says that the Lord told Abram, “Look now towards Heaven, and tally the stars, if you are able to number them: So will your seed be.” God repeated the promise in Genesis 22:17, saying, “I will multiply your seed as the stars of the sky, and as the sand which is on the seashore…” In Deuteronomy 1:10, Moses told Israel, “The Lord your God has multiplied you, and see, you are this day as the stars of Heaven for multitude.” Thus, by the time Abraham’s line gets to Moses, growth is seen in the direction that God had promised. Yet, not only was God predicting a massive family tree under Abraham physically, but also spiritually. When we look at Galatians 3 and Romans 4, we can see how every man (whether Jew or Gentile) that operates out of faith (instead of by works) is considered the child of Abraham. Galatians 3:7 says, “You know, therefore, that they which are of faith are the children of Abraham.” Romans 4:11-18 says, “And he received…a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had…that he might be the father of all that believe…that they might be considered righteous also. And the father…to them…who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had…The promise—that he would be the heir of the world—was not to Abraham, or to his seed—through the law—but through the righteousness of faith; because if they which are of the law are heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made null: because the law works wrath: because where there is no law, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, so that it might be by grace; so that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that which is only of the law, but also to that which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all (as it is written, ‘I have made you a father of many nations’) before Him whom he believed—even God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which are not as though they were—who believed in hope against hope, so that he might become the father of many nations, according to what was said, ‘So will your seed be.’” In other words, what this is saying is summed up in Galatians 3:29, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

[77] Genesis 12:2,3 (Part 2)

Now we’ll look at our second set of phrases: “I will bless you, and make your name great; and you will be a blessing.” God said, “I will make your name great.” This is what the builders of Babel wanted to do for themselves, when God has always wanted to do that for His people. They don’t have to do anything to accomplish that for themselves. What does ‘name’ refer to in the Bible? It's talking about the person’s character. ‘Abram’ means ‘high father’ or ‘father of height’, according to Strong’s Concordance. Remember, though, that Abram’s name was later changed to Abraham. In Genesis 17:5, 6, God spoke with him, saying “Your name will no longer be called Abram, but your name will be Abraham; because I have made you a father of many nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come out of you.” So not only would Abraham be the patriarch of a great multitude, but his line would come to monarchy. Talk about making his name great! The point I want to focus on, though, is that God Himself changed Abram’s name at a certain point in his experience (Nehemiah recounted this point in Nehemiah 9:7). Strong’s Concordance defines ‘Abraham’ as ‘father of a multitude’ or ‘populous’. Isn’t it interesting that his name was always associated with the idea of ‘father’? However, because we know that God changes people’s names according to their change in character, I can’t help but wonder if God was giving recognition to the fact that Abraham would be an example to his great spiritual offspring (as we noted in devotional #76). When God said that He would make his name great, He was referring to Abraham’s character. In Genesis 18:19, the Lord said about Abraham, “I know him—he will command his children and his household after him, and they will keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment...” Not only would God know Abraham’s character to be good, but his children / home would follow in his steps. Notice the end of that verse: “…so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him.” Was God arbitrarily choosing to bless Abraham? No. Did God bless Abraham because he did something? No. We’re seeing the same law of cause and effect (aka, the natural consequences that come from our choices). Abraham’s life was guided by his righteous, faithful character, and thus, he was naturally blessed—as God predicted he’d be. If God didn’t directly bless Abraham, then why did He say, “so that the Lord may ‘bring upon’ Abraham ‘that which He has spoken of him’?” We saw the same thing in Genesis 6:18, “I, see, I, even I, do ‘bring upon’ the earth a flood of waters ‘to destroy all flesh’…” and 2 Peter 2:5, “[God] did not spare the old world, but saved Noah—the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness—‘bringing upon’ the world of the ungodly the flood.” We’ve already learned in the Genesis 6-8 devotionals that God didn’t ‘bring upon’ the world the flood that He predicted would occur, but He allowed it to come as a natural consequence. The same thing happened with Abraham. He allowed blessing to come to him naturally because of who he was and how that led his life (we saw the exact same principle in devotional #67, with Noah's prophecy (his 'blessings' and 'curse') about his three sons). James 2:23 says he was considered righteous because of his faith in God—and thus, He was called ‘the Friend of God’. He was named that based on his character. I pray we’ll all be renamed ‘the Friend of God’.

[78] Genesis 12:2,3 (Part 3)

“I will bless those that bless you, and curse him that curses you.” This is the third phrase from our study. Numbers 23:8 says, “How will I curse one whom God has not cursed—or how will I abhor one whom the Lord has not abhorred?” Also, Proverbs 26:2 says, “…so the curse without cause will not come.” God doesn’t curse people, and innocent people can't be cursed. People curse themselves by the choices they make. What's the curse? Lamentations 3:64, 65 says, “Render a recompense to them, Oh Lord, according to the work of their hands. Give them sorrow of heart—Your curse to them.” Among so many other examples in the Bible (especially throughout Deuteronomy), Galatians 3:10 says, “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: because it is written, ‘Everyone that does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them is cursed.’” So, if God’s ‘curse’—His recompense—is sorrow of heart, then anyone that doesn’t obey His law (in other words—doesn’t allow His character to be reproduced in them), will experience sorrow of heart! When God says, “I will bless those that bless you, and curse him that curses you,” what He really means is that those that provide a blessing to others will naturally be blessed themselves, but those who curse others will experience a ‘curse’ themselves. Think about it. How much greater is our heart fulfilled and joyful when we do good to others? And what about the opposite? James 3:9 says, “We bless God—even the Father—with it; and with it we curse men—which are made after the similitude of God.” This is saying that we use our tongues to bless God but turn around and use it to curse men—which are made in God’s image. What does that mean, in essence? Matthew 25:40, 46 (see also verses 41, 45) says, “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, to the degree that you have done it to one of the least of these—My brothers—you have done it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous—into eternal life.” Jesus laid out very clearly what happens when we curse others—we curse God Himself and we die an eternal death. However, when we bless others—we bless God, and live eternally. Why would cursing God lead to our own eternal death, and vice versa? Deuteronomy 30:19, 20 says, “I call Heaven and Earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore, choose life, that both you and your seed may live: that you may love the Lord your God, and that you may obey His voice, and that you may cleave to Him: because He is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” If we curse (or reject) God, then we curse life (in other words, we reject eternal life). God makes it clear—He presents for us the destination of each path we could choose. The destination of the path that Abraham chose is the one that leads to blessing and life—for both us and our seed. God is our life—let us not curse Him.

[79] Genesis 12:2,3 (Part 4)

“All the families of the earth will be blessed in you.” In Genesis 28:13-15, the Lord spoke with Jacob (Abraham’s grandson), repeating several of the promises He had made to Abram. “All the families of the earth will be blessed in your seed.” In devotional #77, we discussed Abram’s name (character), and saw Genesis 18:19. Let's return there to verses 17-19, for the sake of this devotional. “And the Lord said, “Will I hide that thing which I do from Abraham; seeing that Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him? Because I know him—that he will command his children and his household after him, and they will keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him.” This passage repeats the phrase we’re looking at now, but it’s important to understand why all the families (or nations) of the earth would be blessed in Abraham. It says Abraham would command (‘give charge to’ or ‘set in order’) his family, and they’d keep God’s way—to do justice and judgment. The way Abraham raised his family—including his example—would naturally lead them down a path towards blessed consequences if they followed in his footsteps. Looking at Ephesians 6:4, we see God's admonition to fathers. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Then, Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I love these two verses in connection with our idea of families being blessed in Abraham—if you train (nurture and admonish) your children for a Godly way, they won’t be provoked to wrath. In other words, they’ll experience God’s blessing, rather than ‘His wrath’. Genesis 22:18 says, “All the nations of the earth will be blessed in your seed; because you have obeyed My voice.” Blessing comes naturally as a result of obedience to God’s voice—and training your family to obey His voice is setting them up for success (aka, blessing). And this isn’t talking about righteousness by works—but rather, by faith, as we see in Galatians 3:8, 9. “And foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, the Scripture preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, ‘All nations will be blessed in you.’ So then, they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” The context of Genesis 22:18 is that Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as God had commanded him to (God was testing his faith). Verse 16 says, “The Lord says, ‘By Myself I have sworn, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son…’” Look at the powerful parallels—Abraham was willing to give up / sacrifice his only son—whom he loved so dearly. God was willing to give up / sacrifice His only Son—Whom He loved so dearly. Isaac (Abraham’s son) was willing to be sacrificed—he didn’t fight it. Jesus (God’s Son) was willing to be sacrificed—He didn’t fight it. When we get to devotional #109, we’ll see some other important parallels with what we saw in Genesis 22:18. However, when it said, “In your seed, all the nations of the earth will be blessed…” it wasn’t mainly referring to Isaac. Although much good would come through Isaac’s line—one specifically important thing would come from him—the line that descended straight to Jesus. In Jesus, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Galatians 3:13, 14 says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: because it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree’: so that Abraham’s blessing may come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; so that we may receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

[80] Genesis 12:4-9

Notice where Abram was when God promised to give his offspring the land. He was in the land of Canaan. Imagine being in a place, knowing it'd be yours, but not actually owning it yet. And just think about how many more years would pass before Caleb and Joshua would finally enter and take it at God’s command! It shows that Abram passed through the land to Sichem, arriving at the plain of Moreh—where Canaanites lived at that time. It was there that God appeared to him, telling him that He would give that land to his seed. If we go to Deuteronomy 11:25, 29-31, notice what’s said: “No man will be able to stand before you: because the Lord your God will lay the fear…and the dread of you upon all the land that you will tread upon, as He has said to you. And it will happen that, when the Lord your God has brought you in unto the land where you go to possess it, you will put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal. Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goes down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the wilderness over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh? You will pass over Jordan to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you will possess it and dwell there.” Moses told the Israelites the exact same thing (referring to the same place and former inhabitants / enemies) that God had told Abram. Thus, we can see that the plain of Moreh in Canaan was significant to God’s plans for them. After Abram built his altar to God there, he went to a mountain east of Bethel (and west of Hai) and built another one. Abram called on the name of the Lord. This is the same terminology we saw in Genesis 4:26 (in devotional #37). After Seth’s son, Enos, was born, people began to call on the name of the Lord. Recall how we saw that Psalm 116:17 says, “I will offer You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call on the name of the Lord.” Enos brought back sacrifice, restarting what his uncle, Abel, had tried to carry forward until his death. The altar(s) that Abram built after God showed him the land He would give his offspring were likely offerings of gratitude (or as seen in Psalm 116:17, the sacrifice of thanksgiving). It seems that calling on God’s name is somehow related to thanksgiving. What’s interesting is where this took place (Bethel will show up a lot more when we continue looking at Abram, and even throughout the rest of the Old Testament—but especially with his grandson, Jacob). After Bethel, Abram journeyed. One might think this simply means ‘travel’, but Strong’s Concordance actually defines it as ‘pull up tent pins’. Abram had pitched his tent, and now he was taking it down and moving further south. In devotional #81, we’ll see just how far south he went.

[81] Genesis 12:10-20

Genesis 12:10 says there was famine in the land, so Abram went to sojourn in Egypt (he went there to visit or lodge). Egypt has always been the grain storehouse of other nations. Genesis 43 shows the same thing, when Jacob (Abram’s grandson) sent his sons to Egypt to gather supplies and food during a severe famine. Now, as Abram was approaching Egypt, he realized he may have a problem. His wife, Sarai, was beautiful—enough that he feared he’d be killed so she could be taken by another man. This may seem like a reasonable fear, since David (another monarch, who was supposed to be a man of God)—would do the same thing to take himself another man’s beautiful wife. However, he likely failed to trust that God would work all things together for good. We don’t have any way of knowing whether God sent Abram to Egypt. We do know God had brought Abram to the promised land—and it’s probably fair to say that He would’ve provided for them in spite of the famine. Thus, Abram either knew he was stepping outside of God’s protection by directly disobeying Him, or he was unsure of God’s will in the matter, so he wanted to have a backup plan. Either way, he was taking matters into his own hands (like Sarai would do later to gain Abram a son—which God had promised that He would provide). We know this was Abram’s plan—not God’s—because we see (in verse 17) that the Lord allowed Pharaoh and his house to be plagued because of Sarai (and it even highlights the fact that she was Abram’s wife). If God was okay with Pharaoh taking Sarai to wed, He would’ve allowed it. God loves marriage—He created it. Mark 10:9 says, “Therefore, do not let man separate what God has joined together.” What was Abram’s plan? They’d claim they were brother and sister. Now, while this was in fact true by blood (they were half-siblings, as Sarai was his father’s daughter, but not his mother’s)—which we can see in Genesis 20:12—it wasn’t true by marriage. Thus, Abram was blurring the lines between the two to create a deception. In verse 13, we can see that he deceived himself and his wife into believing he was justified in making the ‘false’ claim. He’d do it again (in Genesis 20, with King Abimelech of Gerar). His reasoning (as seen in verse 11), was that “…surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me for my wife’s sake.” However, he failed to realize that if he’d feared God, he would’ve trusted in His protection (which God still gave in both of these scenarios) instead of Satan’s deception. Abram lied about his greater relationship with Sarai, and now Pharaoh took her in with intentions of marrying her. Abram didn’t stop him—and was risking the loss of God’s promise through her. But he was getting in deeper. Pharaoh treated Abram well for her sake. He was lavishing gifts upon Abram as his future brother-in-law (which probably only served to worsen Abram's guilt), but he didn’t refuse it (he probably felt he was in too deep by then). However, God didn’t forget His promise (which was also—in essence, made to Sarai)—so He prevented anything from happening between them. When Pharaoh recognized what was causing the plagues, he quickly chose not to defy God and cause Him to permit the plagues to continue (which his descendant would fail to do in the future at Moses’ time). He told Abram how disturbed he was for the deceit, and how it nearly caused him to sin (in marrying another man’s wife)—and he sent them away without harm. Sometimes we think we can protect ourselves by blending in with the customs of the heathens—but we forget that we're to be a light and an example to them of God’s practices. Even Abram (a great patriarch and a prophet) fell to some of our weaknesses—and yet, God is faithful, even when we aren’t. 2 Timothy 2:13 says, “If we do not believe—He still stays faithful: He cannot deny Himself.”

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