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Genesis 12 & 13

Categories: GenesisTags: 3.2 min read

In Genesis 11 we read that, after leaving the city of Ur, Abram lived with his father Terah, wife Sarai and nephew Lot in Haran. He lived there until his father died.

Genesis 12 v 1 – 3 reminds us of the reason why Abram and his family were told to leave Ur and travel to the land of Canaan. It was in this land that God chose to make a special covenant (agreement) with Abram. This would become a great blessing not just to Abram and his family but to all the peoples of the earth if they believed God’s word. At the age of 75 Abram set out on a journey of about 300 miles.

We can see in Genesis 12 v 4 – 9 that Abram lived a nomadic life with his family and animals but never lost sight of what he had been asked to do by God. Although the Canaanites (who practised the worship of pagan gods) were living in the land, Abram was reminded that this was the land which was promised to his descendants for ever and where he was to worship the one true God. Abram’s response was to build an altar and ‘call upon the name of the LORD’ (Genesis 12 v 8). This phrase means much more than praying. It means to proclaim the meaning and purpose of God’s holy name to those around him.

Because Abram, his family and servants needed to move around to find good pasture for the animals they were affected by times of famine as can be seen in Genesis 12 v 10. Abram went down into Egypt where the land was more fertile but his time there taught him that he needed to trust more fully in God. Abram knew that Pharaoh had the power to kill him and take his wife Sarai but if Pharaoh thought that she was Abram’s sister he could take her into his household for a time of purification before taking her as a wife. In other words Abram was playing for time by being careless with the truth. Sarai could have been considered his sister because they had the same father but different mothers. This half-truth was revealed to Pharaoh by God as we can see in Genesis 12 v 17 – 19.

In Genesis 13 v 1 – 4 Abram leaves Egypt and returns to the place where he built an altar to the LORD and it is here that he again ‘calls upon the name of the LORD.’ This indicates that Abram was a stranger in the land of Egypt and could not worship freely until he returned to the land of promise.

When Abram and Lot decide to separate and graze their flocks in different parts of the land we gain an insight into the character of Abram. Despite being the elder he was prepared to allow Lot the first choice of pasture knowing that God’s purpose for him would be revealed wherever he went (Genesis 13 v 8 – 9). Lot chose the fertile plain of Jordan but with that choice came the danger of living near the sinful lifestyle of the men of Sodom (Genesis 13 v 13).

As soon as Abram and Lot have parted we are again reminded of God’s promise to Abram but this time it is not as a promise that is far away. Abram is asked to look around at the land that he can now see with his own eyes and told quite specifically that both he and his descendants would own the land forever. Although Abram had no children at this time he is told that God would make his offspring as numerous as ‘the dust of the earth’ (Genesis 13 v 16). The most important descendant of Abram was Jesus and we know that through Jesus all ‘people on earth will be blessed (Genesis 12 v 3). We see that Abram believes God’s promise and again builds ‘an altar to the LORD.’

ADDITIONAL READING

FURTHER THOUGHTS

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