Teaching Notes are Bible studies we taught before GraceLife Ministries began publishing articles online in 1995. Some were presented as sermons, others as group studies.
Our hope is that these older studies will be a blessing to you in your life and ministry. Please use them in any way God leads you.
These teaching notes are from a series of studies about the Book of Genesis.
[These notes are from a study from almost 45 years ago.]
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: 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: 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.
Next we see God intervening again in human history by calling Abram to leave Haran and follow Him to another land.
So far, God has intervened in the events of human history several times:
- In creating human beings
- In the Garden to find fallen humans and remove them from the Garden
- In warning Cain, then sending him away
- In directing Noah to build an ark to protect him and his family and some animals and birds from a global Flood
- In making a covenant with humans following the Flood
- In confusing the languages of humans
- In calling Abram out of Haran
God tells Abram to leave three things that are dear to him:
- leave his country
- leave his people
- leave his father’s household
God called him to a land that He would show him.
God is quoted as making a covenant with Abram. Nothing is said here about it having any conditions (unconditional covenant). It is apparently something true for all time.
- Abram would become a “great nation”
- Abram would be blessed
- Abram’s name would be great and he would be a blessing
- God would bless people who blessed Abram’s descendants and curse those who cursed them
- All the people of the earth would be blessed through the line of Abram
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. 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.
Abram obeyed God and left. Act 7:4 says that Abram left after his father’s death. He took Sarai and Lot, his nephew, with him. He also took possessions and servants that they had acquired and set out for Canaan, which they reached. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran.
And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. 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.
Abram traveled as far as the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. Shechem lies in the pass which cuts through Mt. Ephraim, Mt. Ebal and Gerizim. Moreh is derived from the verb yarah, “to teach, to direct.” This may have been a place of teaching in Shechem (šəḵem).
The Canaanites (descendants of Ham through Canaan) had possession of the land, but God promised the land of Canaan to Abram’s offspring. Abram built an altar to the Lord who had appeared to him.
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. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
Abram moved on toward the hills east of Bethel (ḇêṯ’êl). He pitched his tent between Bethel, on the west, and Ai (‘ay) on the east. Abram built another altar and called on the name of the Lord. This may speak of his worship of God rather than a prayer for help.
Next time Abram moved again, this time for Negev (neḡbāh), which was located south of Judah. [Some Hebrew texts include Negev.]
Modern excavations support the biblical account. Even the name “Abraham” has been found on clay tablets that were excavated. (1)
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. 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: 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. 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.
“And there was a famine in the land.” Famines were not uncommon in the Middle East. Egypt was a center of agriculture for the region and many would travel there to get food, waiting out the famine.
This is what Abram did. The famine was severe (grievous) and he took his family to ride out the time in Egypt.
Archaeological discoveries show that people from the region of Palestine and Syria came to Egypt in the period of Abraham. This is clearly indicated by a tomb painting at Beni Hassan, dating a little after 2000 BC. It shows Asiatic Semites who had come to Egypt. (2)
Abram was aware of a practice in Egypt where beautiful women were taken and their husbands killed (a most heathen and ungodly practice). Out of fear for his life, Abram asked Sarai to pretend to be his sister so the Egyptians would spare his life.
And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 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.
Pharaoh’s officials praised Sarai to the pharaoh and she was taken into the royal palace. (Senusert II of the 12th Dynasty is thought to have been the pharaoh at this time.) Abram was treated well for Sarai’s sake and received sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels and servants (male and female). This was also an apparent custom of the day.
And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife. 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? 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. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
God wasn’t at all happy with what was happening here. The Lord inflicted serious diseases on pharaoh and his household. Pharaoh found out why and called Abram to see him. Pharaoh chewed Abram out and then had his escorted out of town. Abram may have been humiliated by this, but the biblical account doesn’t show Abram saying anything in response to pharaoh.
God blessed Abram in a way though. Abram kept all the animals and possessions he had acquired while in Egypt.
This may be a picture of the believer who comes upon difficulties and spiritual famine and goes to the flesh to work out the problems. There may be brief respites, but there is danger in depending on the flesh to provide. It may be that Abram should have not left the promised land where God supplied.
(1) Archaeology and Bible History, Joseph Free, p 53
(2) ibid, p 54
We will look at Genesis Chapter 13 in the next part of our special series.
[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from almost 45 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you and your life and ministry.]