Genesis 12 - Outline of Genesis (Book Notes menu page)
12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram,
Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house,
unto a land that I will shew thee:
12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee,
and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:
and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
12:4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him:
and Abram [was] seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
Abram's name will be changed to Abraham in Gen 17:5.
Because of his faith, Abraham is spoken of as the father of all true believers. Rom 4:16
Abraham's life provides many practical lessons in the walk of faith for believers today.
The Lord had said... - Verses 1-3 review God's call of Abram while he was still in Ur. Gen 11:31
  1. Get thee out of thy country...- 'Ur of the Chaldees' was not far from Babel.
    This city was located in a region steeped in Nimrod's religion.
  2. and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house...-
    Abram's relatives were under the influence of that false system. God called Abram to follow Him. Acts 7:2-5; cp. Josh 24:2 (where 'the flood' refers to the Euphrates River); Deut 26:5; 2Cor 6:17,18
    Abram immediately obeyed and left his country, but the family ties seemed more difficult to break. His full obedience was delayed by his sojourn in Haran, until his father's death (11:31,32). During this time of delay, Abram received no further word from God. God had spoken in Ur. He would say no more until Abram did what he knew to do. Fleshly ties (of various kinds) will hinder obedience, until the believer reckons himself dead to them, and moves on by faith. cp. Mat 8:21,22; 10:35-38; Rom 6:11-13
  3. into a land that I will show thee. -
    Abram obeyed by faith, not knowing where the Lord was leading him. Remember that God called Abram, not only to go to a place he had never seen, but also to depart from a place where he was comfortable. Archaeology has shown that in Abram's time, the city of Ur enjoyed a highly developed civilization (complete with indoor plumbing). cp. Heb 11:8-10 (where 'tabernacles' means 'tents')
The Abrahamic Covenant -
The previous covenants encompassed all of earth's inhabitants.
     The Adamic Covenant (Dispensation of Conscience, ch.3) and the Noahic Covenant (Dispensation of Government, ch.9) remain in effect for most of the nations.
     But here, God establishes a special relationship with a specific family & nation, in order to provide Salvation for all peoples. In process of time, He would would confirm & enlarge the points of this covenant, with Abram, Isaac & Jacob (Israel). (see Gen 13:14-17; 15:1-7; 17:1-8,15-19; 22:16-18; 26:2-5,24; 28:10-15; 31:13; 35:9-12)
     This marks the beginning of the Dispensation of Promise. Note that a dispensation is a period of testing, under which man invariably fails. During the Dispensation of Promise, Israel lives under the blessing of both conditional and unconditional promises. With regard to the conditional, they fail in their responsibilities. The dispensation ends when they accept responsibility to keep the Law as their governing principle (Ex 19:8). However, the unconditional promises, of the Abrahamic Covenant, do not end but continue in effect.
A. The parties to the covenant: The LORD and Abram (Isaac, Jacob, Israel).
B. The responsible party is the LORD.
The Abrahamic Covenant is both unconditional and everlasting (17:7,8), resting solely upon promises of God, to which He commits Himself, saying: ''I will...'' (v.1,2,3,7). This covenant is not displaced by the covenants that follow.
C. The provisions of the covenant -
  1. a Land - 'I will give you this land'. (v.1,7)-
    The land of Canaan is assigned to Abram, Isaac & Jacob (Israel).
  2. a Nation - 'I will make of you a great nation' (v.2)-
    More than one nation has descended from Abram. The specific nation in view here is Israel. This will become clear, as the Covenant is restated to Isaac and Jacob. Gen 17:6-8,19-21
  3. a Blessing upon Abram - 'I will bless you, and make your name great' (v.2)-
    • At Babel, man sought a 'name' by self-determination. It came to nothing.
      Here, Abram is given a 'name' by God's grace. Today, Abraham's name is honored worldwide by the adherents of the Jewish, Christian & Islamic religions.
    • God's blessing upon Abram, Isaac, Jacob & their descendants, would in turn make them a blessing to the world.
      This has been fulfilled in...
      1. earthly aspects (eg., Jewish contributions to medical science), and
      2. spiritual aspects (eg., the prophetic revelation and preservation of God's Word, Rom 3:1,2; 9:4).
  4. a Reward to Gentiles - 'I will bless... (or) curse...'
    individuals & nations according to their treatment of you. v.3; eg. Mat 25:40,45
  5. a Blessing to all Nations - 'in thee...' (v.3b)
    The promised Seed, the Savior of the world, would come through Abram, Isaac & Jacob (Israel). Acts 3:25,26; Gal 3:8,16; Rom 9:4,5
So, Abram departed... out of Haran. (v.4)- Abram resumed his walk of faith,
when the earthly ties that hindered his obedience had been severed.
12:5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son,
and all their substance that they had gathered,
and the souls that they had gotten in Haran;
and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan;
and into the land of Canaan they came.
12:6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem
unto the plain
{or, 'oak'} of Moreh.
And the Canaanite [was] then in the land.
12:7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said,
Unto thy seed will I give this land:
and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.
12:8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel,
and pitched his tent, [having] Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east:
and there he builded an altar unto the LORD,
and called upon the name of the LORD.
12:9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south
{ie., the Negev}.
Lot, his brother's son...- This tie to Abram's ungodly roots remains unsevered.
Perhaps Lot professed to share faith in Abram's God. However, he is only imitating Abram's walk of faith & obedience. In ch.13, we will see that his heart's desire was for the world which Abram had left behind.
into the land of Canaan they came -
God blessed them and brought them safely to the destination.
Now that Abram has fully obeyed His calling, God will reveal more of His Will to him.
the Canaanite was in the land - These ungodly people are a test for Abram's faith.
Had God really called him to a land of established opposition forces?
the LORD appeared unto Abram -
This is the second time that the Lord appeared to Abram (the first time was in Ur, v.1-3).
Here, the Lord confirms His previous promises. Abram is to look to Him in faith, rather than looking at potential opposition in fear. cp. Isa 45:22
The Lord also clarified one of His previous promises.
Unto thy seed, I will give this land. (v.7) - Note that Abram had not heard this before.
He had left Ur to go to a land God promised to ''show'' him (v.1).
Only now, after obeying God's call by faith, did he learn that the land would be his possession, or rather the possession of his descendants.
Abram next did two things that become characteristic of his life.-
  1. he built an altar unto the Lord (v.7) - He worshipped the One who had promised.
    This is an expression of his faith in the Lord, and in His promises. Since an altar implies blood sacrifice, it expresses faith in the ultimate promise of righteousness through the coming Seed.
  2. he pitched his tent (v.8) - Abram was a stranger in the promised land. He lived in temporary housing. He possessed nothing in the world, yet he was heir to God's promises. Heb 11:9,10
12:10 And there was a famine in the land:
and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there;
for the famine [was] grievous in the land.
12:11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt,
that he said unto Sarai his wife,
Behold now, I know that thou [art] a fair woman to look upon:
12:12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee,
that they shall say, This [is] his wife:
and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
12:13 Say, I pray thee, thou [art] my sister:
that it may be well with me for thy sake;
and my soul shall live because of thee.
12:14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt,
the Egyptians beheld the woman that she [was] very fair.
12:15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her,
and commended her before Pharaoh:
and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.
12:16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake:
and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses,
and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
12:17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues
because of Sarai Abram's wife.
12:18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said,
What [is] this [that] thou hast done unto me?
why didst thou not tell me that she [was] thy wife?
12:19 Why saidst thou, She [is] my sister?
so I might have taken her to me to wife:
now therefore behold thy wife, take [her], and go thy way.
12:20 And Pharaoh commanded [his] men concerning him:
and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
Abram's faith is tested further, by -
  1. a famine in the land- God had called him to the land of Canaan, and promised to bless him there.
    But, Abram acting in fleshly wisdom, and without hearing from the Lord, departed the place of blessing. During his stay in Egypt, Abram receives no Word from the Lord, and is exposed to new dangers.
  2. the fear of man - 'they will kill me... for thy sake...' (v.11-13) -
    Abram's scheme, based on a partial truth, was used more than once (20:12). In seeking self-protection, he jeopardized God's promise of a seed, which would come through Sarai (17:19). cp. Prov 29:25
the Lord plagued Pharaoh... because of Sarai...-
  • Abram's walk of faith was meant to be a blessing to those around him (v.2).
    The believer who steps off the path of faith, to follow the path of self-will, becomes a curse.
  • God intervened.
    He would fulfill His promises, in spite of Abram's fleshly foolishness and weakness.
    He would use Abram's failures to teach him to have no confidence in the flesh, but rather, to trust Him completely.

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