Abram: A great nation

3 March 2019

In the study of the first eleven chapters of Genesis the main topics covered are the creation (in the beginning), the first Adam, the fall due to the entrance of sin, the great flood and the development of nations and languages. In Genesis chapter 12, Abram is singled out by the Creator – the LORD – to be the leader of “a great nation”. The rest of the 38 chapters of Genesis is about Abram, renamed Abraham by the LORD, and his Hebrew family. The LORD told Abraham: “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations” (Gen 17:4). It is to Abraham’s descendants that the LORD will reveal himself and his unique Plan for Salvation.

It all starts with God’s call to Abram and Abram’s response to that call. The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” The LORD promised Abram that “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” Now, Abram’s father Terah had settled the family in Ur of the Chaldeans. Ur was a busy port on the delta of the Euphrates River on the Persian Gulf. Archeological discoveries show that this was an advanced civilization with a complex system of irrigation. The rich in Ur lived in two storey villas with whitewashed walls and as many as 14 rooms. This was a comfortable life that God was calling Terah and his son Abram to leave. They came to Harran and here Terah died at age 205 and left Abram and family on their own.

The writer of the book of Hebrews looks back on Abram’s response to God’s call. “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb 11:8-10). In the line of Abraham came the Messiah, God’s Son Jesus Christ – the Saviour of the world.

Today, Jesus calls us to follow him – “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people”. At once, they left their nets and followed him (Mk 1:17, 18). To those who hear this call and obey, Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to mark them as children of God (Eph 1:13). Obedience means a turning away from our empty way of life, however comfortable and choosing to offer ourselves to God “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Rom 12:1). Today, we must commit ourselves to obey God and follow Jesus, as taught in the Bible, in a renewed life of faith. If you have already done so will you, this week, renew your commitment to love and obey God where he has placed you?