“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:” – Genesis 12:1
What a verse. At first sight, this just seems like another one of your typical Bible call to action verses. But its much more than that. Let’s dissect it.
Back when Abraham was called Abram in earlier Genesis chapters, God promises him that he would have children more difficult to count than the stars. Lets talk about that for a second.
If someone came up to you today and told you that you were going to have tons of kids, grand kids, and great grand kids, would you think of that as a blessing and a great honor? Maybe. Most likely though your first thought would be something like ” How the hell am I gonna pay for all those kids?” You wouldn’t be particularly excited about the prospect of bearing, rearing, raising, housing, feeding, and otherwise sustaining a dozen or more kids, especially if you were the female in that scenario. You would certainly have to assume that your life as you knew it was over. I mean say bye bye to all those personal goals you had. Oh, you were going to run a marathon? Good luck. Oh, you wanted to be a millionaire by the time you were 30? Yeah right. So to say that being told you were going to have dozens of children is the coolest thing you could ever hear might be a bit of an overstatement.
But not for Abraham.
Having children, especially male children, was the equivalent of building a kingdom in the Bible. The bigger your family, the more powerful your family. The more land you could acquire. The more wealth you could accumulate. And this wasn’t just from the male point of view. Thats why every woman in the bible who can’t have male babies goes and finds a pretty young thang to bring to her husband for the night. She wanted a bunch of boys too. It was good for everyone. Having girls was great too, but more in the sense that they could, through marriage, connect you to people who already had big families and growing kingdoms.
So when God tells Abraham that he is going to be the father of nations, Abraham is happy. Real happy. He basically has just been told he’s going to be a Vanderbilt. Or a Roosevelt. Or a Rockefeller. Its a wonderful blessing.
But why was he the one chosen to receive this blessing? Two possible answers.
First, it could be, based on your beliefs, that he was foreordained before the creation of this world to carry out such a task. That to be the father of many nations, the start of the branch of Judaism that led to Christ, was his job from before he was born.
Second, it could be because God saw in him a man who was different from others. And by this simple fact he tested Abram and asked him to leave everything he ever knew and start over in a foreign land far from his family. And Abram did it.
God, in Genesis chapter 12 verses 1-3 asks Abram to leave his family, promising him that a great nation will be made from him. We just talked about how a big family equals a big nation and Abram already was a part of a big family. He had a lot (pun intended) going for him. He could have chosen to stay and would have inherited a powerful kingdom.
God was asking him to give all of that up. To start over. With nothing. With just a promise that this God would be different from other God’s and would reward Abram for his obedience by making an even greater nation out of him, one that would surpass the stars in the sky in number. And what is Abram’s response? Does he take a night to sleep on it? Does he ask for proof from God? Chapter 12 verse 4:
“So Abram departed.”
He put his trust in God. And he would continue to put his trust in God for the remainder of his days. Even when God asked him to do things that would seemingly contradict everything Abraham thought he knew about God. Soon, we’ll find out just how far God will push Abram to prove this point.