Chapter 4: He Spoke

When God saw Abram had obeyed his instructions to go “to a land I will show you” or as we learned in the last chapter “go to a land I will see you” God spoke to Abram a second time adding knowledge to the partial knowledge he had already given.

The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” Genesis 12:7, NIV.

 Abram arrived in Canaan believing he would be blessed, and a blessing to all families of the earth, but he didn’t understand how God would fulfill his promise until he obeyed the first instruction God gave to him. God planned to make Abram a blessing to all families of the earth through Abram’s children.

Now, think about the bittersweet revelation Abram received. He came to Canaan expecting to become a powerful nation. We know from the New Testament that Abram “looked for a city” (Hebrews 11:10 KJV). It is possible; he went to Canaan thinking that the city he sought had already been built. He may have expected God to move him into a palace and then tell the people, “This is your new king.” Instead, God said, my summary, you are not getting the land. I’m giving the land to one of your children.

Abram thought as any other man thinks. I think that I know what he was thinking, “To my seed! What about me?” A valid question since he apparently came to Canaan for naught. Clearly, God had in his mind on somebody else, so, what about Abram?

Put yourself in his sandals. He had been married for at least 35 years, and still doesn’t have any seed, children, or descendants. His wife is past the age of conceiving, and his own body is as “good as dead.” By this time, Abram had lost all hope of Sarai bearing a child. He’d abandoned his job, sold his house in Haran, and then he traveled months to reach Canaan. He arrived thinking he would move into a palace and be the ruler of a great nation. When he arrived, God showed him land already inhabited. Then God tells Abram that he will give this land, not to him, but his seed when Abram doesn’t have one seed or hope of having a seed! 

I don’t know about you, but if I’d been Abram, I’d have been ready to go back to Haran. I can imagine what Abram was thinking, “I came all the way down here, God, so you can tell me that you’re going to give this land to some nonexistent child of mine? What about “Me”? What will I get? Didn’t you hear Sarai complain all the way to Canaan? Now I have to go home and tell her to get used to this tent.”

How could Abram tell his barren wife that their child will inherit land they don’t own. No, it’s not hard to surmise what Abram was thinking.  What have I gotten us into? Abram had gotten himself and Sarai into the truth, because sound doctrine is bittersweet!

Let’s see how Abram responded after this bitter revelation for God!

…So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 12:7-8, NIV.

Abram responded to the bittersweet revelation by worshipping God. Remember, God took the initiative to get acquainted with Abram. This started way back in Ur within the first 60 years of Abram’s life. Then Abram moved to Haran, where he lived for 15 years. We know for a fact that God dealt with Abram for more than 15 years before he obeyed God. Therefore, it is crucial to note that we do not have evidence that Abram worshiped God until he understood how God would fulfill his promise. Not only did Abram worship God, he brought God home. Abram found a place to pitch his tent, and then he built another altar at home where he “called on the name of the Lord”.

But Abram is a believer with some partial knowledge that he is not yet thoroughly persuaded of. The revelation that God would give the land to “his seed” gave him a ray of hope that he would somehow be a father. How could God give the land to Abram’s seed unless God truly planned to give him a child? So I can imagine Abram consoling himself thusly: “I may not get the land and the palace, but it sure would be nice for someone to call me Daddy. It sure would be nice to see Sarah changing diapers. Our life together would be complete if we only had a child. So why not worship God? I WILL get something out of this yet! Why not serve a God who will give me what I want?

Isn’t this about where most of us are when we first come to God? We don’t come because we’re concerned with what God wants. We came because we want. We want to be healed. We want our marriage fixed. We want a baby. We have addictions destroying our lives that we want to be free from. We want better lives. We want to be saved from hell. I’ll admit to you — I called on God because drugs were destroying my life and I wanted to be free from them. I didn’t call on God because I knew he had a dream, and I wanted to be a part of it.

Don’t feel guilty if you came to God because you wanted something. We all did, including the father of our faith. Abram’s faith was little more than a tiny seed imparted when God spoke to him the first time in Ur. God chose to get acquainted with Abram, so he could give all families of the earth the gift of faith.

God does not accept or reject us based on the reason we came. “Whosoever will” is welcome to come and receive the gift of faith. If we had to be perfect before coming to God, someone might be excluded, and God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Still, you do have to come to him to learn how to have faith in him. Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith.” If we allow him to write the story of our lives, we will never regret it! It won’t be easy. We might even stray as Abram did.  

Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev. Now there was a famine in the land and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”(Genesis 12:9-13, NIV)

Three things prove that Abram had knowledge of God’s will but was not persuaded of God’s gracious intentions for him. First, if Abram was truly persuaded, he would not have traveled to Egypt. He knew God wanted him to live in Canaan. Yet we see Abram slowly drifting farther and farther south. Why did Abram leave the place where he heard God’s voice for another destination? Unless, he was not fully persuaded that God spoke the truth.

Second, Abram’s obedience was partial. Even though he was in God’s will by coming to Canaan, he had not separated himself from his extended family. Lot was still hanging around.

Third and last, we see Abram afraid someone will kill him. If Abram truly believed God’s promise would be fulfilled, how could he die before he became a father? Abram’s actions speak louder than his words. At this point, God had not promised to give the land to Abram; he had only promised to give the land to Abram’s seed. Why was Abram fearful someone might kill him before he fathered a child, unless, he was not yet fully persuaded God told him the truth?

Weak faith does not stop God from keeping his word. If God doesn’t keep his word, God is a liar. If God is a liar, he is no better than a man. If God is no better than a man, why should we worship him? We could worship one another and get the same results or lack of results. God always keeps his word, but that doesn’t guarantee we will be included.

God can keep his word to Abram even if Abram fails him, because God doesn’t see as we do. God didn’t see Isaac when he told Abram, “I will give this land to your seed.” He had someone else in mind.

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16, NIV)

The promises were made to Abram and one seed. The promises were, in fact, made to two men: Abram the flesh-man and Jesus the Spirit-Man, who existed before Abram was born. God is preaching the gospel to Abram. He made promises to two men, because it guarantees that all men will be treated equally in his sight.

In his infinite foreknowledge, God knew that only one of Abram’s descendants would keep the covenant of law on which God’s righteous nation must be founded, for without law anarchy rules. But it was not God’s desire to bless one man. He desired to bless all men, whosoever will come. How can God bless all men when his own justice dictates “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). By giving the blessing and the right to distribute the blessing to the one man justice cannot condemn!

In God’s infinite wisdom, he made promises to the one “seed” that God knew would not break a covenant of law. Doing so enabled God to save and bless those who break his laws. He knew this one seed would keep the covenant without failing in even one point, because this one seed would be God in human flesh. Jesus is of the flesh of Abraham through a female descendant of Abraham. Jesus did not have a human father; his Father is the Spirit of the Living God. But if Jesus is the only one God can bless without breaking his own laws, how do the rest of us get blessed? The Apostle Paul told us how.  

 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29, NIV)

We are blessed the same way Abram received the blessings of God — by confessing with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and by believing that God’s power will raise, to us has raised, Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9-10). If we belong to Christ, then we are Abraham’s seed who will be blessed, because all of us derive our right to be blessed from one seed. The one seed who obeyed God in every point of law without failure – Jesus.

Paul also told us that “since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20). If I plant one orange seed in the ground, what will I get? I will get a tree with more than one orange hanging from its limbs and within the orange more seeds. From one seed, I can get many seeds. Even so, God planted one man, Jesus, in the ground. From the fruit of that one man’s life, death and resurrection, God has obtained many seeds.

Abram did not receive the things God promised within his lifetime on earth, and we won’t either. In time, our faith will give us everything, but faith gives us nothing first. At this point in Abram’s faith walk, he has not been included in the promise. First, Abram must consider the gospel and make a choice just like we do today!

About Teena Myers

Teena Myers is the Chairman of Southern Christian Writers, a freelance writer and author of three books.
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