Genesis 11:27–14:24. Abram Left Home at 75.
Key Notes: God called a man out of the city and gave him a monumental blessing. Abram made a stupid mistake. Lot headed for trouble and had to be rescued. Melchizedek is an important mystery. Surrogates of Christ. We fall down; God picks us up.
The Biblical account of how God made the universe, created man and woman and how they fell into sin takes up only five pages of Genesis. The life of Abraham takes up 20 pages. We are much more interested in theory; God is interested in practice. He will also devote 4 pages to Isaac, nineteen to Jacob and fifteen to Joseph in Genesis. He cares much more about how we humans respond to Him than that we understand all the ins and outs of our origins. So much for theory. For us the story of Abraham is like a Chinese mystery story which starts with the puzzle solved and spends the content of the book unraveling the mystery. We all know how it will end, with the birth of Isaac. The interest is in the details, especially Abram's spiritual education.
11:27–32 "The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia before he lived in Haran, and said to him. 'Depart from your land and from your kindred and go into the land which I will show you.'" (Acts 7:2–3)
Terra took Abram, Sarai and Lot and they headed away from Ur in Chaldea toward Canaan. They settled in Ha ran instead, and stayed there until Terra died. Abram delayed until his father died; he also did not leave his nephew behind. Lot will prove to be expensive.
12:1–3 On God's second call, Abram was given a covenant: Abram, You shall go to a land I will show you.
*I will make you a great nation.
*I will bless you.
*I will make your name great.
*I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.
*By you all families of the earth shall be blessed.
Gen.12:1–3 is the second prophecy of the Messiah, following Gen.3:15.
Peter tells us that the core of the blessing is "...turning everyone of you from your wickedness". (Acts 3:26)
That word was directed first to Jewish converts.
Paul elaborated: "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying 'In you shall all the nations be blessed'." (Gal.3:8)
This proves the great importance of the fifth clause in the covenant; the promise is given to all the peoples of the world.
12:4–9 God's second promise to Abram was that Canaan would be his land.
12:10–20 A severe famine in Canaan pushed Abram out of politically relaxed Canaanite territory into the absolute monarchy of Egypt. Commentators are divided on whether he should have stayed in Canaan ( his land) in spite of the famine and asked God's care or whether he did right by going to Egypt, but he had a large retinue to support (Gen.14:14). His wife was a trophy, and to save his life they had a policy that they would call each other brother and sister (a half-truth; Gen.20:13) so that he would not be killed in any attempt to capture her. If she was his sister, they would leave him alone. Pharaoh soon found out about this beautiful woman and put Sarai into his harem. [The veil was apparently not in use.] Abram was awarded a rich dowry.
However, Pharaoh and his family were soon severely ill and he deduced that this followed his attachment of Sarah to his harem. He scolded Abram for lying about his wife and had them escorted out of the country, laden with rewards.
Abram blundered badly. He had lied to save his life but risked Sarai's health and his marriage. Any child she conceived by an Egyptian would clash with God's plan for Abraham. He disgraced himself and was sent away humiliated. He may not have doubted God's ability to save him, but he had his own ideas about how he would survive.
13:1–13 By now, Abram's cattle had grown to the point that he and Lot had to separate. Abram generously offered Lot his choice of territory and Lot chose the best land and the worst people (wicked; great sinners; sodomites). Could Abram legally give away what God had given to him?
13:14–18 God's third promise to Abram, after Lot was gone, was that his descendants would be beyond counting and that he would inherit the land as far as he could see in every direction. He was encouraged to explore it all. He did move, although not very far.
14:1–12 Now Canaan was invaded by a federation of Mesopotamian kings They attacked the five cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiem and Zoar and subdued them. After 12 years, the five cities revolted and were again invaded. Lot and his family were among the captured.
14:13–16 Abram, “the Hebrew”, had a personal army of 318 men and did not hesitate to pursue four kings that had been successful twice in war against five cities and their kings. He marched at least 80 mile before he caught up with the armies, probably celebrating at night and routed them by attacking from two sides. He recaptured the goods and people, including Lot. We would love to know what he said to his nephew, and what Lot said in return.
14:17–24 On returning from the battle, Abram was confronted by two kings, king of Sodom and the king of Salem.
The king of Salem (Jerusalem) was Melchizedek, He is called “Mel chi-” (King) “Zedak.” (of Righteousness), and priest of the Most High God. He prepared a ceremonial meal for Abram of bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed Abram and God Most High ("El Ely on") and Abram gave him a tithe of all the loot he had captured.
Melchizedek is a type of Christ. In more modern terms, we could think of him as a proxy or surrogate of Christ: "...resembling the Son of God". (Heb.7:3) In Melchizedek we have a model of what Christ is like. Christ is King, and Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. His priesthood is outside of the Levitical line (Jesus is from Judah). Hebrews 7:1–7 points out Melchizedek's superiority to Abraham: the greater (Melchizedek) blesses the lesser; the lesser (Abram) gives tithe to the greater. He also feeds him a ceremonial meal of bread and wine that makes us think of the Last Supper.
Melchizedek is a mysterious figure who appeared briefly on the stage of history and then disappeared again. But Psa.110:4 prophesies that another priest would arise after Melchizedek and Hebrews pursues the concept. Thus Melchizedek’s name appears three times in Scripture: in Abram’s history (2000BC), in David’s psalm (1000BC), and about 70AD in the text of Hebrews.
Other surrogate images of Christ are David as shepherd (Ezek.34:23–24 with Psa.23) and Solomon as the king of glory. ( King 10:14–25 with Matt.12:42.) We also include Moses the law-giver (Deut.18:15 with Acts 3:22–23) and of course, Adam, the representative man. .ICor.15:45–49
In contrast, when the king of Sodom, the ruler of a wicked city (Gen.13:13), arrived, he tried to negotiate with Abram: he wanted his people back and Abram could keep all the loot. Abram shunned him. He already had an embarrassment of riches from Egypt and he would not be in debt to Sodom.
In summary, Abram was a smart, rich, successful city dweller with a beautiful wife who was called to leave the metropolis with its idolatry and live his life in the open fields, a nomad following God. He showed a checkered pattern of faithful, feckless, and magnanimous behavior. God did not stop him from being irresponsible, but made him pay the consequences without letting him suffer irreversible damage.
"The steps of a man are from the Lord, and He establishes him in the way He delights; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand.” (Psa.37:23)
These words are addressed to all of us, and they apply beautifully to Abram as our example.