-The Lord appears to Abram in Haran with His word to “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house (Terah had passed away by now), to the land which I will show you (Genesis 12:1).” Here Abram is, with much wealth accumulated and servants, and God calls him out of his comfort zone to finish the original vision of going to Canaan. He and his family had taken the northern route to Haran because it is along the Euphrates river and provided the needed water for them; going straight to Canaan would have taken them through much barren desert and survival would have been difficult. Often God takes us on round about routes on His path in our life as He calls us out to do a work. Don’t get frustrated in the transition periods and waiting points along God’s journey for you. They are necessary to build you for your purpose and test you for the greater destination. Abram, in this case, is ready and does exactly as the LORD commanded, taking Lot with him, his wife Sarai, and all their possessions.
-The LORD gives the Abrahamic covenant here in this chapter, which is conditional. Abram must go, that is the condition. If he does, God’s promise to him is manifold. God will make him a great nation (Israel), bless him (Abram was truly blessed with wealth and good things), make his name great (Abraham has a great name to this day and it will continue), and that he will be a blessing. God also says He will bless those who bless Abram and his descendents, but the ones who curse him will be cursed. And in Abram, all the families of the earth will be blessed. This certainly has Messianic implications, a thread which will run throughout the Old Testament in view of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the whole world (John 3:16).
-Abram and his family come into the land where the Canaanites lived (see notes on Chapter 10). He passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. This is a bountiful land with plush vegetation in the northern part of modern day Israel. On the mountains were huge identifying trees made of oak. The prophets would later bemoan the fact that under these trees idolatry was taking place in God’s promised land (Deuteronomy 12:2, 2 Kings 16:4; 17:10, Jeremiah 3:6-13, Ezekiel 6:13). It is here at Moreh that the LORD appeared to Abram and gave him the land of Canaan. Therefore, he built an alter there and worshipped the LORD.
-Abram proceeded south from there to Bethel (House of God) and pitched his tent on a nearby mountain with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. It was here that Abram built another alter to the LORD and worshipped Him calling upon His Name (Acts 2:21). Abram not only builds these alters to praise His Living God, but he is reminding all around him of the promises of the LORD to bless. He is renewing his love and loyalty to God and making Him the center of his life. Regular worship is essential in our lives as well!
-Abram journeyed on southward toward the Negev, or South country. It is here that a severe famine, which is typical of this region of the world, hits and forces a drastic decision on Abram’s part to venture down to Egypt for water and sustenance for he and his family. This is the first of other times that Egypt will play a pivotal role in the salvation of God’s chosen people (Genesis 37-45, Joseph’s story, Matthew 2:13-19, Jesus’ escape as young child)
-It is here in Egypt however that Abram’s faith is tested once more, but this time he fails the test. He half-way lies that Sarai is his sister because he feared the Egyptians. Sarai really was his half-sister (Genesis 20:12), but he was not totally truthful in the situation. This caused problems on the house of Pharaoh, and eventually Abram was allowed to leave with all his belongings including his wife, Sarai, who was beautiful.
Verses to Memorize: Genesis 12:1-3