Thoroughly Equipped: Leave, Go, Know

Today’s reading includes Genesis 13:5-15:21, Matthew 5:27-48, Psalm 6: 1-10.  Yesterday, we learned of Noah’s three sons and how the effects of righteous and unrighteous actions affected generations.  We talked of the curses overcome by Jesus, who took the curse on Himself so we would not have to bear it.  However, all of this with Noah and the generations to come was before Jesus, and therefore the curses and blessings were not yet trumped by the Blessed One.

The blessing Noah bestowed on his sons was distributed in order of favor:

Shem first

Then Japheth

Then Ham, or Canaan, who received a curse

Why is this information important to understand the story of Abraham?  First of all, many of you know that the Canaanites, Ham’s descendents, became enemies of the Israelites.  The Canaanites occupied the Promised Land, which was promised to the Israelites.  The Canaanites followed false gods, and God warned His people not to be overcome nor influenced by the Canaanites.

The Israelites, on the other hand, were direct descendents of Shem.  Abraham was a direct descendent of Shem.  Here is the list of genealogy:

Shem had Arphaxand.

Arphaxand had Shelah.

Shelah had Eber.

Eber had Pelez.

Pelez had Reu.

Reu had Serug.

Serug had Nahor.

Nahor had Terah.

Terah had Abram.

It is important to understand this genealogy because when God called Abram, it was because He wanted to reveal the fulfillment of the prophetic word spoken by Noah.  Canaanites (descendants of sinful Ham) were occupying the land that was rightfully owned by Shem’s descendents.  So God called Abram to begin the task of making right the order of things which had been established many generations prior.

God called Abram.  What does that mean?  Was it audible?  Was it a still, small voice he heard with his heart?  Scripture doesn’t really say.

All we know was that God spoke.

He spoke clearly.

Abram heard.

And he responded.

I think maybe the point is not so much how loudly God spoke, but more that Abraham had ears to hear.  Have you ever felt called by God?  I have.  We all are called; some of us just haven’t chosen to hear it yet.

We learn in Acts 7:2 that Abram’s calling began when he lived in Mesopotamia, in Ur.  The NIV Study Bible has this to say about Abram’s calling:

            Early on God told Abram to leave the settled world of  the post-Babel nations and begin a pilgrimage with God  to a better world of God’s making. (Genesis 24:7) 5

What is a pilgrimage? Webster’s Dictionary says that a pilgrimage is:

  1. A journey of a pilgrim, especially a journey to a sacred place.
  2. The course of life on earth.

It also says that a pilgrim is:

  1. One who journeys in foreign lands.
  2. One who travels to a holy place as a devotee. 6

And that is what this study is all about—it is about a spiritual journey down a godly road, which we are all invited to take.  In fact, we all take journeys.  Life is a journey.

But which road will we take?

And what can the journeys of others who have gone before us teach us?

What do we take on this journey?

What is our compass for the journey?

What are roadblocks along the way?

What if we take a detour?  Can we get back on the right road?

Is there still hope for the journey?

These are all questions that are answered in God’s Word.

So let’s dive into the journey of Abram.  After Terah died, the Lord spoke to Abram and said, “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”  This instruction had a seven-fold promise attached to it.  Seven is the biblical number for completion and perfection.

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

                                                                        Genesis 12:2-3

Let’s look more closely at the seven things that made up the promise.  The Lord said:

  1. I will make you into a great nation.
  2. I will bless you.
  3. I will make your name great.
  4. You will be a blessing.
  5. I will bless those who bless you.
  6. Whoever curses you I will curse.
  7. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

God’s original blessing on mankind was found in Genesis 1:28.  God gave the same blessing and directive to Noah after the flood.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and  increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Now it would be fully restored and fulfilled through Abram and his offspring.

Interestingly, the promise was made to Abram before the Lord changed his name to Abraham.  The Lord promised to make his name great.  It was as though the Lord was seeing who Abram would become, not just who he was at that moment.  It was a confident and sure word, indicating He who began a good work, would bring it to completion  (Philippians 1:6).  All of the parts of the promise have been fulfilled, haven’t they?  But let’s focus on the seventh part of the promise—the part that completes and perfects all of the other parts.

            All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

This is a powerful and prophetic statement.  To what, or rather Whom, is it referring? The fact that Jesus came through the lineage of Abram is the fulfillment of the promise.  Jesus, from the seed of Abram, was born, lived as a man, died as the ultimate sacrifice, and rose again as the triumphant King and Savior.  Only through Jesus would all the peoples on earth be blessed.  Revelation 7:9-10 says:

            After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation,  tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

                        And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 

That Lamb is Jesus, from the seed of Abraham, the ultimate fulfillment of the promise given so long ago.

The next sentence we see after the promise was given to Abram says much about the faith and trust that Abram had in the Lord:

            So Abram left, as the Lord had told him.

                                                                            Genesis 12:4

Abram obeyed immediately.  No questioning, arguing, worrying, or procrastinating.  My heart can learn a lesson from that.  As I often tell my own children, “Delayed obedience is disobedience.”  Not only do we disobey when we hesitate to obey, but we also may miss out on many wonderful blessings that the Lord intends for us.  Praise be to God for His wonderful mercies, which are new every morning.  Even if our delayed obedience gets us off the right road for a season, we have a Redeemer who will right our wrongs, if we ask Him to do that.

Abram was called by God.  What was the calling? Let’s look at it again.

            The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household 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.

              I will bless those who bless you, 

              and whoever curses you I will curse; 

              and all peoples on earth 

              will be blessed through you.”

            So Abram went, as the LORD had told him….

                                                                        Genesis 12:1-4

God called Abram to do three main things:

To Leave

To Go

To Know

First, Abram was called to leave.  He was to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household.  The country could be symbolic of the familiar.  Sometimes God calls us out of our safe, familiar surroundings in order to follow Him.   He was called to leave his people.  These were his friends, whom he knew very well.  When we begin to sincerely follow Christ, sometimes we find that those whom we know very well no longer understand us.  This can be a painful and lonely reality.  This doesn’t mean we reject and ignore those who aren’t Christians.  In fact, Jesus called us to exactly the opposite action.  However, just as His closest friends were the committed ones, despite their occasional immaturity, so we must have Christian fellowship as we are on our spiritual journey.  We must sometimes leave our old routines and relationships (at least in their old context) behind.

Abram was also called to go. There is a difference between leaving and going.  You can leave something behind but not go to the other thing.  But Abram was called to go somewhere for something.  He was called to go to the promises that God had for him.  We, too, are called to go.  The final assignment that Jesus gave His disciples before He ascended was the Great Commission.  I believe that the Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:18-20, is applicable for today and for all believers.

            Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”                                                                    

Abram was called to go.  But he was also called to one other thing.  He was called to know.  To know something means to value it as truth, to trust in this truth, and to have faith, which moves us forward.  All seven parts of the promise begin with “I.”  God is saying, “This is about Me. This is My responsibility.  I will do it all.  You can rely on Me to bring fulfillment of the promise and to be with you on the journey.  I will show you which way to go.  I will walk with you.  You simply have to leave, go, and know.”  And there is another aspect of “know” for Abram and for us.  He needed to know God.  He needed to have a personal relationship with Him.  And that relationship would grow stronger and more intimate throughout the journey.   Let’s look again at Abram’s response:


            So Abram left, as the Lord had told him….

                                                                            Genesis 12:4

I love the simplicity of that response.  “So Abram left.”  We don’t see him making a pros and cons list, or discussing it with others.  We don’t see him flipping a coin to decide whether to go.  He just went.  He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and the rest of his household and set out for the land of Canaan, the Promised Land.

Now remember, who was Canaan?  Who were the Canaanites?  They were the descendents of Ham, the one who exposed Noah’s shame.  Abram was a descendent of Shem, the one who covered Noah’s shame.  How perfect that Jesus was in the lineage of Abram and Shem, for He alone truly covers our shame.

When Abram began his journey, he also began the process of fulfilling the proclamation of Noah concerning the descendents of Shem and the descendents of Canaan (or Ham).  This proclamation of Noah, the one who walked with God, could not be fulfilled if Abram had not obeyed and begun his own journey, walking with God.  But Abram did obey, by faith.  Many Scriptures throughout the Bible tell us God counts faith as righteousness.  May our faith, even if it is tiny as a mustard seed, be counted as righteousness.

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