We all have our callings and how do we live out our callings with so many distractions? How do we make sense of what’s happening? God’s Word doesn’t change and always remains the same. It speaks deep into our hearts. Abraham is a tremendous figure in the history of the world and Abraham knew about loss. In Genesis 12:1-9, God calls Abraham and God calls us as well. Abraham has and will experience a tremendous amount of loss. Everything is disrupted. Abraham understands when life doesn’t make sense. There’s a reason for this. God wants to bless the world through Abraham. God will bless those who bless Abraham and will curse those who curse him. We are all asking why this is happening in our world today. How do we understand our calling? God speaks into our lives. In chapter one God calls Abraham to leave the known and venture into the unknown. We can relate to this. We have a lot of unknowns now. What will happen with my job? What will happen with my school? What will happen with my church? What will it be like? Things will be different. There’s lots of changes and we see unknowns as well.
God speaks into our lives.
Here God speaks to Abraham:
1Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.
Abraham is given a command. God calls for a separation. Verse one shows us what Abraham is leaving. First he is leaving his country, his culture, and his convenience. He is also leaving his kindred, his income and his business. Thirdly, he leaves his father and his family. We can relate to that as we are distanced from friends and relatives too. It’s easy to focus on what we are losing. We can miss the simplicity of this verse. There’s one thing God asks Abraham to do: to go and follow God. There are seven promises after God says go. God says, “I will bless you.” God called Abraham to step into the unknown and walk and live in the unknown. We have many unknowns as well, but we also have things we do know. We know God loves us and sent Jesus to the cross in our place. God calls Abraham back into some of these knowns. God says He will show Abraham what’s coming next. Abraham has known things that have been passed down to him. For example, some scholars believe it’s possible that Noah was still living during Abraham’s lifetime. There are ten generations in between Noah and Abraham. Abraham knew Noah’s story. Just like God was with Noah, Abraham knew God’s faithfulness. Abraham knows God is with His people. God knows how to keep us through the storm and through a flood. The same God is still with us and guiding us today.
We move forward because we know that God is with us.
Even though things are different, we move forward because we know God is with us. This is simple obedience.
4So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
God tells him to go and he goes. This is simple faith. It’s easy for us to miss the fact that Abraham is facing all kinds of challenges. Can you imagine right now stepping out into the unknown? Six years later Abraham’s father passes away, but what stands out for us is that Abraham moved forward. We too can move forward.
I enjoy running, but not for one hundred miles. Once I had a student in my class that was an ultra-marathoner. It was mind blowing. I asked him how you do that. How do you run for one hundred miles? He said, “You just keep taking the next step. You keep moving forward and before you know it you’ve run one hundred miles.” As we try to make sense of all of this, we learn that some of it doesn’t make sense and that’s ok. Maybe the command is just to follow and take the next step.
God gives us glimpses of the future.
The reason all of this is happening is the future. Abraham is about to get a vision for what God will do for generations to come. Abraham will be a blessing for future generations. Every person on earth will be blessed through Abraham. We all want to be a blessing to others. We want people to say that they’re better off having us in their lives.
7Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land."
Abraham is at Shechem and there’s nothing there. It’s a huge wide open space, but there IS something there. God invites Abraham to see what will be there. Maybe you have unknowns? God might be asking you to see with your mind. Abraham has no way of knowing what will happen in this spot. In Deuteronomy 11, Moses preaches a message to the people and God is making them into a nation. God will establish you in Shechem. Joshua’s last message to the people, in Joshua 24; Joshua is standing in this very spot. All the descendants of Abraham are in this very spot in victory. God is faithful and has done exactly what He has promised to do. Jesus was with a Samaritan woman and Jesus probed into her life. She’d had a difficult life with poor choices. Jesus engages her and we too have chosen a life apart from God. If you remember this story the woman tries to change the subject by asking where one is supposed to worship, in Jerusalem or on the mountain. When she refers to the mountain she is referring to Abraham. She is a descendant of Abraham. NO WAY could Abraham have envisioned she’d be in that spot talking to Jesus. God says to Abraham that there’s a future here, a hope. God has great purpose in all of this. Just like God called the Samaritan woman to worship He calls us as well.
We worship and follow God in the now.
We don’t know what God will do with all of this. God calls us to think about the future, but to be present in the now. We all want to get past this, but what is God doing in the NOW?
8From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. 9And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.
God is still moving Abraham to where He will use him. God walks in his life through this journey. Everyone needs a place to worship. Abraham built an altar. Pitching a tent is temporary. Building an altar is permanent. Abraham will pitch many tents. Circumstances will change, but altars and acts of worship will not. I was hiking recently and someone asked me if I knew where a good place to camp is. I told them I didn’t know, but that I did see a fire pit a ways back. The fire pit is evidence someone was there. The altar remains. The Samaritan woman knew Abraham worshiped there. Abraham stopped, built and altar and called on the name of the Lord. I want to press us to stop and ask God what He is trying to show you. Ask God to clarify your calling in your heart and in your life.
The Negeb was dry land. You can’t stay there very long. There’s not enough moisture there, but it was still a part of God’s journey and plan for Abraham. God called Abraham back to a place of worship. Trust me and follow me. My promises are still true. Just trust God and give your life to Him. Can you confess to god that you know you’ve messed up? God promises to forgive you and He will give you a life full of meaning and purpose. We want all of this to be over. Can you pause and worship in good times and in struggles as well? Talk to God an express you want Him to show you what to do.
Small Group/Family Discussion Questions taken from the Serendipity Bible:
1. Where is “home” for you? When did you first leave there? What for? Who or what did you take with you? What did you leave behind?
2. What do you hope to be doing at age 75?
1. What command and promises did God give Abram? With what qualifications? What do you make of their unconditional nature? Their universal scope?
2. What does God promise Abraham a great name (vs. 2), when God foiled the name building efforts of others? (see 6:4ff and 11:4ff)
3. “Actions reveal true character,” so who is Abram?
1. Which restriction would you find more intolerable: Leaving your country, never to return? Or never leaving your hometown? Why?
2. Of the promises to Abram, which appeal to you and why? Would you rather be blessed or be a blessing?
3. To what (place, people, and priority) might God be calling you? Why not go?
Sermon notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.