Genesis 11:10-12:20

Key Verse 12:1,2

The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. 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." 

Introduction: In Genesis 3:15, God promised to recover man's position and everything through the offspring of woman. Now God started his salvation plan based on his promise by calling one person Abraham.  God blessed his faith, formed one nation, Israel and Jesus came through his line.  He became a source of blessing as God promised.

** GOD’S CALLING FOR ABRAM (11:10-12:9)

What kind of person was Abram? (cf. Gen.11:27-32; 12:4; Acts 7:2-4; Josh. 24:2,3) 

V4 So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot with him. Abram was seventy five years old when he set out from Haran.       

Acts 7:2-4

 To this he replied; "Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. V3 "Leave your country and your people, 'Go to the land I will show you.' V4 So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living." 

Josh. 24:2,3

Joshua said to all the people, "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says; `Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods. V3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the River and led him throughout Cannan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac.

a) He was an idol worshiper.  His family lived in Ur of Chaldeans, worshipping idols, forgetting God's promise.  Ur of Chaldeans was an ancient Babylonian city.  Scholars say it was filled with 3000 kinds of idols. 

Terah ====== Abram - Sarai  

      ====== Nahor - Milcah

      ====== Haran (died at Ur of Chaldeus while Terah was alive)

             Milcah, Iscah and Lot were Haran's descendents. 

Terah, Abram, Sarai and Lot left Ur of Chaldeus to go to Cannan. But in Haran, they settled there.  Terah died in Haran.

Abram had no children because Sarai was barren.  

In fact, no children was serious problem in old days because of two reasons. (1) Children were regarded as God's blessing. (2) To keep family name through having children was the first obligation of the family.  Children problem was a very serious problem for Abram.  But probably because of this serious problem of his, he was attracted to God’s calling.  In many cases, man's problem becomes God's chance.  

He was seventy five years old.  He was an old man.

Read 12:1-3.  What is significance of this calling?  How is God's calling for Abram consisted of?  How many commands did God issue to Abram?  Why should Abram leave?  What was Abram required of in "leaving"?  Where should Abram go?    

V1 The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. V2 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. V3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

a)  God did not forget his promise to send the Messiah based on Gen. 3:15. God was faithful to his promise.  Therefore he called one man Abraham who was 75 years old and who had no-son problem.

This calling is the beginning of restoration of the lost Paradise. 

God did not choose young man who had a full of energy and time.  But rather he chose an old man whose hope was as good as dead and a man in the dusk of his life. God's choosing of Abram shows God's calling is based on God's grace and Sovereignty instead of man's merit. So no one can boast about God's calling.   Read 1Corindian 1:27-29.

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose lowly things of this world and despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, v29 so that no one may boast before him."

God's calling for Abram has two parts - Command (v.1) and promises (vs.2,3)  It was a covenant or contract saying, “If you do this, I will do that.”  God offered his deal to Abram.


God gave him two commands, that is "leave" and "go."

"Leave your country, your people and your father's household."

There were three reasons.

First, Abram had to leave because he needed a new environment to start a new life in God.  Unless he left his country, his people and his father's household, he would not be able to have a new life in God.  If he stayed there, he could not help but become an idol worshiper.  


Many people want to become great, even great servants of God.  But most of them fail because they did not leave from bad influences like drinking, drug, sexual immorality, wicked friend, bad habits, materialism, laziness and so forth.  Leaving from these bad influences is the first step to be blessed by God.

Second, Abram had to leave his country, his people and his father's household so that he might learn how to live by faith in God in his practical life.  

Abram had to learn how to live by faith because God chose him to be a man of God who lived by faith.  Living by faith in God was the very purpose God chose him. 

But as long as he stayed in his country, his people and his father's household, he did not need to rely upon God.  He could do many things with his family power.

His country, his people and his father's household were like his old security, which supported him in many ways.

So in order to learn how to rely upon God, he had to renounce these old securities.  Leaving these old securities is the first step for him to enter the school of faith.  From now on God must be his security, not his material, his family power or his world knowledge.

Our security must not be our country, our people and our father's household, but God only.  If we hold to our old securities, we can never have a chance to truly rely on God.  In order for God to be our new security, we must leave our old securities.

Abram had to leave because the new life in God would be far glorious than his old life.  

Comparing with his new life in God, his old life was nothing.  His old life clinging to his worldly security was ugly and worthless. 

Abram was challenged of decision-making.  He had to make decision to leave his country, his people and his father's household.  

It must not have been easy for him to lose his old securities, his career and cut off the relationship with his family members.  Especially, when you grow old, you do not want change, but security.  But in order to take possession of God's blessing, he must leave.  For the glorious life in God, he must lose his old way of life.  

"Go to the land I will show you."

Here, the land is the promised land.  But God did not mention about the name of the land, because He wanted Abram to leave by trusting God 100%.  

Land is a symbol of eternal (permanent) inheritance. This land is spiritually the kingdom of God.

Read verses 2 and 3 once again.  How many times is the word "bless or blessed or blessing" repeated?  What does this show us about the nature of God's calling?  How many promises did God give Abram?  Describe each of promises.  What do you learn about God who called one person Abram?

V2  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.  V3  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

5 times.

God called Abram to bless him.  The purpose of God's calling is not to torture us but to bless us.  

5 blessings.

First, "I will make you into a great nation."

God was talking about a nation furthermore a great nation to Abram who had no child.  Abram's most serious problem was no son problem.  This promise of God must have been most attractive to Abram.

Second, "I will bless you."

Since Adam's fall, all human being had been under curse.  But what God wanted was not curse but blessing.  Now with Abram God started the history of blessing.  This is really God's purpose for not only Abram but also all people in the world including you and I.  God's plan to bless was fully accomplished through Jesus Christ. 

Third, "I will make your name great."

Being great means that people look up to him.  Because God made him great, many people would honor and respect him and want to be like him.  Many people name their children after Abram such as Abrahamson, or Abraham Lincoln.

Man has desire to be great since God created him in His image.  Now God promised Abram that He would make him great.  

In God, we can be truly great men.  This is God's promise.  If we want to be truly great man, we must commit ourselves to God.

Fourth, "You will be a blessing." = "All people on earth will be blessed through you." 

These are the same promises.  There are many who make troubles wherever they are, at work, at home, at school.  These people bring great headache and heartburn to people around them.  They are a trouble.  God promises here that He will make Abram a blessing.  Wherever he goes, he brings blessings to others, making others happy and joyful.  Do you want to be a trouble or a blessing?

This promise was ultimately fulfilled by the birth of Jesus.  Based on his life of faith, God sent Jesus through the line of Abram.  Through his life of faith, Abram brought blessing to all peoples on earth.   

Fifth, "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse."

This is the promise of alliance (to become one body with Abram.  It doesn't matter whether Abram does good job or not.  The key point is that God is on Abram's side no matter what.  God disciplined Abimelech and Pharoh instead of Abram even though it was Abram's fault. 

In conclusion, God called Abram to bless him. When God wanted to bless all peoples on earth, overcoming curses given to Adam and Adam's descendents, he called one man Abram and started his work of salvation.

All these blessings are not only for Abram but also for those who walk on the footsteps of Abraham.  Read Romans 4:12. 

And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

So let's struggle to follow Abraham's footsteps of faith and obedience.  If we live like Abraham did, we can become a blessing too.


We learn three things about God through this passage.

First, God is the God of hope. 

When God wanted to save all peoples on earth, He called one senior citizen Abram.  Abram was the hope of God.  God's hope never dies. And God's hope is planted in the hearts of those who believe in Him. Even though America is corrupt, in the great hope to save all, God calls few students who are willing to obey.  God is the hope of America, and of the world.

Second, God is the God of blessing.  

So when we live by faith, we can enjoy God's blessing all the time.

Third, God is the God of covenant (promise).  

Though God is the invisible Spirit, God established his relationship with man through his promise. God's promise never fails.  

What was Abram's response (4,5)?  How did the Lord help Abram in the land of Cannan (6,7a)?  How did Abram respond (7b,8,9)?

v4  So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.  v5  He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.  v6  Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.  v7  The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.  v8  From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.  v9  Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

He left because of God's promise. 

"As the Lord told him".  "As" means "according to God's command - to leave his country, people and his father's household."  

By obeying God's command, Abram accepted God's promise.  By faith, he took possession of God's blessing positively.  Spiritually speaking, he signed on the spiritual contract paper of Gen. 12:1-3 and became God's people.   

But the promised land of Canaan was already occupied by the Canaanites.  Abram had to live as an alien.  Comparing to God's promise, the reality was not great.  But God gave Abram his promise of the land on 12:7.  This was a new promise.  Even though God commanded Abram to go to the land he would show him, before that time, God did not promise him to give the land.  The promise of the land was given after Abram obeyed and left.

A land is the symbol of the permanent inheritance.  Spiritually, later Abram realized that this land was the symbol of the Kingdom of the Heaven, the city built by God.   

12:7b.  Abram built an altar there to the Lord who appeared to him. 

Abram was thankful for God's promise.  By building an altar, he expressed his thanks to God.     

** FAMINE TRAINING (12:10-20)

Read verses 10 through 13.  What difficulty did Abram face in the promised land?  How did he deal with this problem?  What does it mean that he went down to Egypt?  How did he try to secure his life in Egypt?  

v10  Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.  v11  As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are.  v12  When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live.  v13  Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."

There was a severe famine.

In those days, people’s life was totally relied on agriculture and tending flocks.  A severe famine was very dangerous.  No good transportation system or roads were there.  A severe famine could devastate the whole land completely destroying the lives of people and herds and cattle.   

He went down to Egypt.

In the time of great difficulty, he should have prayed.  But his faith was very weak and he was very blind.  Also he did not know about God almost at all.  So he did not have any idea about praying in the situation.  Going down to Egypt was the best thing he could do to overcome the situation.

He gave up his life of faith in the promised land because of practical difficulties.

The idea of being a blessing or being a nation sounded very good.  But the reality was very practical and difficult.  So even though he wanted to live by faith, he was forced to give up his life of faith because of the famine.  He had to survive first.  In order to manage his life properly, he left the promised land and went down to Egypt. 

He came to the land of Canaan to live by faith in God and to be a blessing.  But now he went down to Egypt to survive.  Because of harsh reality, he left the promised land and went back to the world.

Many people make the same mistake.  Even though they want to live as God's servants, they go back to the world only because of difficulties they face in the service of the Lord.  At that time, instead of going back to the world, we must pray and rely upon God.

Verses 11 through 13.  

He wanted to save his skin through utilizing his wife.  

When Adam lost God's mission, he blamed her.  But when Abram lost God's mission, he became selfish and wanted to utilize her for his own welfare.

Whenever people lose faith and do not serve God's mission, they become strange. 

Read verses 14 through 20.  What happened to Abram in Egypt?  How did God help him?  What can we learn here about God?

v14  When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman.  v15  And when Pharaoh's officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace.  v16  He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.  v17  But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife Sarai.  v18  So Pharaoh summoned Abram. "What have you done to me?" he said. "Why didn't you tell me she was your wife?  v19  Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!"  v20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had. 

Pharaoh took his wife to his palace.

Things grew very tough.  

In John 21, when 7 disciples gave up their mission and went back to their old way of life of fishing, at that night, they caught nothing.  

Now when Abram gave up God's calling, he lost his wife in the foreign land.  How miserable he must have felt!

a)  God inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household and brought Sarai back to Abram.

Abram also had to leave Egypt.  Through this, God helped Abram not to settle in Egypt but to go back to the promised land.

a)  God is faithful to keep his word of promise and to protect his people.

b)  Even though Abram was not faithful to God, He was faithful to His word based on verse 3.    

Staying in Egypt was not God's will for Abram, but in Canaan, the promised land.  So God arranged the situation so that Abram might come back to his mission field.

Read 13:1-4 and describe his material possession.  What did Abram learn through his journey to Egypt?  How did Abram show his repentance?

v1  So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him.  v2  Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.  v3  From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier  v4  and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.

Despite Abram's failure, God blessed him abundantly.

Abram experienced God's protection and provision personally in the practical matter.  He realized that God had been with him even in Egypt and God was more powerful than the Pharaoh.

When he was called in 12:1-3, he did not have personal relationship with God.  But now his eyes were opened toward God little bit.

Even though he failed the famine training, God did not fail.

He went back to the first place where he built the altar; between Bethel and Ai.  Then he called on the name of the Lord.  He restored his life of faith.

With his own willpower and understanding, he could not help but fail to live as a man of God.  But only by God's grace and help could he return to the promised land and serve God's mission continually.

This is true with everybody here.  We failed to be faithful to God and remain as men of God to the end due to our sinful desires and our lack of faith.  But God always has helped us to restore our faith and put us on the right path and now we are growing up.  "Only by God's grace I am what I am."



LA UBF Bible Study Materials
Copyright © 2024 LA UBF All rights reserved.