1. God speaks to Abram in the first three verses of chapter twelve. Review the three verses carefully.
What root word is repeated five times to indicate God's intentions in His speech?
The Hebrew root word that signifies blessing (brk) occurs five times in those three verses. The intention of God is clearly to bless. The frequency of the word indicates God's emphasis on His intent to bless and the nature of the word implies God's future action or promise of blessing.
God had last spoken to man when He spoke to Noah and blessed him and promised stability and commanded Noah to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Now God makes a covenant to bless Abram, Noah's direct descendant.
2. There's another word that's repeated seven times in the first three verses that further defines God's intentions. Which word is it and why is it important?
The root form of the word "you" is repeated seven times in significant fashion in the first three verses:
The importance of this is clear.
It's through Abram alone that God promises to bless. God has chosen a particular family to bless all people. This sets up God in direct contrast to those who wished to make a name for themselves with the building of the tower of Babylon (Genesis 11:4). In verse two, God states it is He who will make a person's name great.
3. List the five things God promised Abram in the first three verses.
God promised Abram that He would:
1. make him into a great nation
2. make his name great
3. curse those who cursed him
4. bless those who blessed him
5. bless all peoples on earth through him
4. How has God blessed all the people on earth through Abram? Read Acts 3:25 and Galatians 3:8 to develop your answer.
God has blessed both the Jews (Acts 3:25) and Gentiles alike (Galatians 3:8) with great blessings if they believe in faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who was and is the Son of God.
Genesis 12:3 announces the Good News of the Gospel in advance. It gives us God's sneak preview of His promise of redemption and salvation to all who will believe in Jesus Christ.
In his commentary on Genesis, Bruce Waltke offers this observation:
"The modern Christian's experience is not unlike Abraham's. Abraham hears God speak a call and promise. The believer today opens Scripture and hears God's word. Christians are people of the ear, not of the eye. God does not appear to be seen but speaks to be heard. God is always present in words that bind. The community of faith is built around these speech acts."
5. Consider the promises of God to Abram in the first three verses. What do they tell us about the power of God and what are the implications for us today?
But God will do this not to honor any man but to bring honor and glory to Himself through people.
Satan - the false god - will trick people and offer the opposite or counterfeit, preying on the pride of man to offer false or shallow and temporary promises of fame and fortune. He does this only to trick people so they won't give honor and glory due to the True and Only God. Satan always wants to rob God but God has always, is always, and will always be honored by those who believe in and trust Him.
6. How many altars did Abram build and where did he build them?
Did Abram always do the same thing when he built an altar?
Abram built two altars.
After Abram built the second altar, he called upon the name of Yahweh (verse 8). In his commentary on Genesis, Victor Hamilton notes:
"For a second time in this chapter we read that Abram built an altar toYahweh. The additional element here is Abram's invoking Yahweh by name (lit., "he called upon the name of Yahweh"). Thus, worship for the patriarchs, at least on some occasions, is composed both of action (altar building) and of word (invocation of deity)."
7. Abram asked Sarai to say that she was his sister. While this was deceitful, it was also true that she was his wife as well as his half sister (see Genesis 20:12). Some would say that this is an example of a "white" lie.
In his book Growing in Christ, J.I. Packer reminds us that Jesus called Satan a liar and the "Father of Lies" (see John 8:44). He observes that men lie to others in order to impress, move, or use someone.
Packer also notes that when we lie to avoid being seen in a bad light, it's simply our pride motivating our deceit. He notes that men offer lies:
So was Abram wrong to ask Sarai to lie and was Sarai wrong to obey him?
The answer isn't as clear cut as we might want it to be. In the book Moment with God: A Devotional on Every Biblical Book, it's noted that:
However, these lies were offered when lives were in danger.
What about Abram, if he perceived that his life were in danger, was he wrong to lie?
A nobler approach to his fear would have been to trust in God's promise of blessing those who bless him and curse those who treat him with contempt. Perhaps Abram thought he was "assisting" God or acting within His blessing, but we don't know that.
In fact, we don't know Abram's thinking on why he devised the scheme because the text doesn't tell us. However, maybe he used his 20-20 hindsight to understand that God was going to protect him. After all, God didn't allow him to be killed by Pharaoh, instead he was blessed by Pharaoh because of Sarai with increased wealth.
Perhaps we can see in our 20-20 vision that Abram should have trusted God from the start but most of us would likely have done the same or perhaps worse. In the end, this episode in Abram's life could only have strengthened his faith in God's promise. Abram left his homeland to follow God to an unknown land and when he arrived there he found a severe famine.
So he traveled to Egypt, because some might say that he possesed a doubt in the back of his mind. If this is true, it certainly wasn't there after God inflicted Pharaoh with plagues and he was blessed with the return of his very beautiful wife and increased wealth. He must have returned to the promised land with an increased or perhaps sustained confidence in the promise of his God.
8. Abram asked Sarai to "please say" she was his sister (verses 11-13). So apparently, this was a request not an order. What's more surprising to you, that Sarai was so beautiful at age 65, or that Sarai agreed to her husband's request?
Your answer here
9. What can we determine about God from verses 16 and 17?
God never forgot His promise to Abram that He would make him a great nation (verse 2) and that He would curse those who treat him with contempt (verse 3). He remained true to that in that (although he did so innocently) Pharaoh suffered for treating Abram and his wife contemptuously.
Although we're not told, we would assume that Abram prayed to his God to rescue Sarai for him after his method of protection failed. It seems that God did so to protect His promise to make Abram a great nation. God's always faithful to keep His promises.
10. Why do we continue to take matters into our own hands regarding our circumstances like Abraham did in hiding his marriage from Pharaoh instead of relying on God?
Too often we look around at our circumstances and forget to look up to our all-powerful God who loves us. Too often we think we have to fix something that's wrong right away and forget to stop, to pray and ask God for His guidance in resolving a problem.
There's no problem that God:
He knows all, and understands all, of our circumstances much better than we ever will. Yet, too often we forget to pray to Him - the God Who Loves Us - and ask Him to fix our problems.
It's true that sometimes, we experience problems to help us grow spiritually. But if we do, then we eventually understand that and see the eventual good that comes from our trials.
But when we seek to solve our problems with God's help, it's an act of worship in that: