Home > Bible Journal > January 18, Genesis 11-15: The Lord makes a covenant with Abram

January 18, Genesis 11-15: The Lord makes a covenant with Abram

February 5, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Well, after that detour to Job, our Chronological Bible Study returns to Genesis. Recall that we are following the line of Seth and Noah here.

In the account of Terah, we learn that he had three sons, Abram, Nahor and Haran. Haran became the father of Lot, but died while Terah was still alive. Abram and Nahor both married, Abram to his half sister Sarai and Nahor to Haran’s daughter Milcah. Now Sarai was barren, i.e. she had no children.

Terah took his family from Ur of the Caldeans, intending to go to Canaan. But when they got to Haran (I’m assuming they named it after Terah’s deceased son), they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, lying to rest in Haran.

Then the Lord told Abram to leave his country, his people, his father’s household for a land that the Lord will show him. He will make a great nation, blessed by the peoples of the earth.

So Abram left, along with Lot, Sarai, and their possessions. He began this journey at the age of seventy five. And the Bible tells us that he traveled as far at the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At the time the Canaanites were in the land, but the Lord said that he would give Abram’s offspring this land. So Abram built an altar to the Lord there.

Abram pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai in the east. There he built an altar and called upon the name of the Lord. Then Abram set out and continued toward Negev.

But there was a famine in the land, so Abram headed towards Egypt. And here he did a peculiar thing. He knew how beautiful Sarai was, so he told her to say that she was his sister, not his wife. And when they Pharaoh’s officials saw here, they did indeed see her beauty and took her to the palace. Abram was treated well, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.

But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on the Pharaoh and his household. Eventually, the Pharaoh figured out that Sarai was actually Abram’s wife. He asked why Abram deceived him before sending Abram away with all he had.

When Abram went from Egypt to Negev, he had accumulated much wealth in livestock, silver and gold. From Negev he went from place to place until he came to the place between Bethel and Ai where he had previously built an altar to the Lord. There Abram called upon the name of the Lord.

But by now Lot had his own flocks and herds and tents. The land could not support both Abram and Lot’s wealth. To avoid quarreling, Abram let Lot have first choice of the land. Lot chose the whole plain of Jordan, while Abram went the other way. There’s some ominous foreshadowing as the Bible tells us, “This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah” (Genesis 13:10).

The Lord tells Abram that his offspring will be like the dust of the earth, only those who can count dust can count his descendants. And this is the land that will be given to them. Abram then moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the Lord.

Alright, I’m going to summarize since I don’t want to try to type a bunch of weird names. But basically, one alliance of kings went to war against another alliance of kings. Lot got caught in the crossfire and was carried off along with his possessions.

One of Lot’s men escaped and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. When Abram heard his relative had been captured, he called out 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit. He divided his men and routed his enemies, pursuing them as far north as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered Lot along with all his possessions and people.

After Abram defeated Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh.

Then Melchizedek king of Salem (that is Jerusalem) brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram. Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

The king of Sodom told Abram to give him the people and keep the goods, but Abram informed him that the Lord, God Most High, had instructed Abram not to take a single thing from the king of Sodom.

The Lord tells Abram that “I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1). But Abram replied that he was still childless, that Eliezer of Damascus was set to receive his inheritance.

Ah, but the word of the Lord came to Abram. Eliezer of Damacus would not inherit Abram’s wealth. No, look at the stars and count them, for so shall your offspring be.

Genesis 15:6 says:
6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Abram also wondered how he would take possession of the land that the Lord had given to him. So the Lord told him to bring a heifer, goat and ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.

Abram brought all these, cut them in two, and arranged the halves opposite each other. The birds he did not cut. The birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep. Then the Lord said to him that his descendants would be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But the Lord will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward will come out with great possessions. Abram, however, will be buried at a good old age. It will be the fourth generation when Abram’s descendants return, for the sin of the Amorites had not yet reached full measure.

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram.

Abram’s descendants would get the land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.

Questions: Have you ever deceived someone out of fear? Has the Lord ever made a covenant with you?

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