The ten generations following the flood fill the earth with idolatrous people, including Shem's descendants, one of whom is Terah, Abraham's father. Joshua 24:2 fills in the informational gap in Abraham's background, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods."
God speaks to Abram, this man with idolatrous roots, and makes him a promise so audacious that Abram cannot fulfill it by any of his own efforts. God promises Abram and Sarai, a barren couple, a son through whom He will build a nation and bless all the families of the earth. This promise picks up the thread of redemption begun in Genesis 3:15, where God promises to send One who will redeem man.
Abram believes God and moves his family to Canaan. There he builds an altar to the Lord. Immediately a famine tests Abrams" faith when it strikes the land, and Abram flees south to Egypt, where he defaults to selfishness and self-protection, at great cost to Sarai. God intervenes, and the couple returns to Canaan immensely wealthy. Immediately Abram returns to his altar and calls on the name of the Lord. Conflict between his servants and Lot's servants arises, and they separate, with Lot choosing the best land for himself (repeating Adam and Eve's error of making a decision based on what appeals to the eye and appetite). Abram builds another altar to the Lord.
You might say that Abram was an "altared" man! He was altered. Faith in the promises of God does that to a man. He worships God, and that brings transformation.
Lot gets into trouble, and Abram rescues him. Abram has testified of faith in God through his obedience to Him, but after meeting Melchizedek he publicly swears his allegiance to the the Lord, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth" (Gen. 14:22).
Abram, this progenitor of a great people, teaches a number of truths about God and the one He chooses:
All God asks of a man is simple childlike trust.
Read Isaiah 46:9-10 and state God's method of operation.
Where in Genesis 1-10 has God made promises regarding His future activity? What does this reveal about God and how He works?
How does Abraham respond to God's promises? From whom does he learn to build an altar?
What does Abraham learn about himself and about God while in Egypt?
What is the first thing that Abraham does when he returns to Bethel? How does this prepare him to resolve the conflict that arises between his servants and Lot?
How does wealth affect Abraham and Lot's relationship?
What does their resolution tell you about Lot? Abraham?
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