Personal studies in Genesis 12 & 13

Sunday, June 18, 2006
Oh, I am excited. Today was one of those wonderful days when the Word of God had so much to say to me. As you will probably figure out, I am back in Genesis, and when there is no Bible study from Pastor Don, you get to hear what God is saying to me where I am in the Bible. Today wowed me. In our church many people are delighting in looking up the meanings of names of various Bible places and people as part of examining the passage. So today I used Strong’s and did that with Genesis 12 & 13 and was blown away as the Holy Spirit showed me a connection I hadn’t seen before. And of course this passage, as often is the case, is right in my face about what I am working on in my life.

From what I am seeing Chapter 12 is where the Bible starts getting particular. Chapters 1-11 seem to cover almost 2000 years, and the rest of Genesis is just about 400 years in 39 chapters. So it is more detailed. I remember once telling Pastor Don that I was amazed at how many times the Israelites made the same mistake over and over again. He pointed out to me that the Bible covers such a vast expanse of history – 4000 years in only 1189 pages (my Bible) that God was very careful about what examples he gave and just like the news, He covered the most important points. So while these people in the Bible might have done hundreds of things right, God will show us where they missed the mark so we can learn about the mistakes without repeating them ourselves. God had to be very careful about what He wrote, to cover the important details.

So, now the Bible will focus on Abram (later to be called Abraham), and he is by far one of the most important of the Old Testament Patriarchs, his name is mentioned over 70 times in the New Testament. What I find interesting about him is that he is one man that is elevated in all the major religions on earth, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and he holds one of the most unique titles in the Bible, one I wish to aspire to: Friend of God.

Chapter 11:31 And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.

Now to Chapter 12:1-3 Interesting first line of verse 1 (Caps are mine) “Now the Lord HAD said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

This is a cool blessing that applies to us as we are spiritual descendants of Abram, and are part of all the families of the earth. But notice in verse one that the Lord HAD (past tense) said to Abram – to leave his country. He must have heard that command in Genesis 11 or before, and is now responding. But notice something. God also said, leave your father’s house, and family. What did Abram do? He took his father and Lot. Lot, as you know is the cause of many of the problems that we still face today. Imagine what life would have been like if Abram had fully obeyed God.

Just like me, sometimes I hear a command from God, and do not completely do what He commanded, ultimately that leads to some consequences that I could have easily avoided had I obeyed more fully. I think sometimes I am guilty of half-hearted obedience, forgetting the important fact that if God has a plan for me, His plan is His best for me. I stopped here and prayed that God help me to obey Him more completely. Yet, I can take comfort that God still blessed Abram even when the obedience wasn’t perfect.

Where did Abram Go? he went from Ur of the Chaldeans (which is east of the Euphrates) to Haran which is only 1/2 way to the land of Canaan, and still east of the Euphrates.

Ur was an idol worshipping country and we can infer that Abram was a gentile, who worshipped idols. His faithfulness to God would cause him to be known as Father of the Faithful, but he came from pagan roots. Given my past, it is so good to realize that God can change a pagan to someone faithful to Him and use him greatly. I think I appreciate Abram in this reading of Genesis because he is so like me, so like us, in that he makes mistakes, sins, asks forgiveness, and God continues to use him, mistakes and all.

Sometimes it is good to use other parts of scripture to explain things that aren’t clearly spelled out where you are reading. So Stephen in Acts 7:2-6 gives us a clue. “And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you. Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And form there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him.”

What an interesting piece of information this tells us. Number one, The call of God happened to Abram when he was in Mesopotamia (Ur of the Chaldeans) and that he stayed in Haran until his father died. I have to tell you, I highly respect Sarai who had to move with her husband. I can’t even imagine my reaction if Jim would come home and say, God told me to pack up and move, we are going to be migrants, camping in a tent. When asked where we would go, imagine my reaction if He told me, I don’t know, God will show me. I am honestly not certain I would have enough faith to follow such an obscure call. I would most certainly prefer to have a marked map with DETAILS. What faith both of them had!!!

Now God APPEARED to Abraham, he walked with Noah and Adam. I am curious if there is any difference in that, and the cloud of glory, how incredible. I honestly hope that one day, in Heaven God has videotapes of all of these great events. I would love to see them. I keep reminding myself, when I find myself critically examining one of the Bible character’s actions, that they were doing their thing in real time, without the benefit of hindsight and others awareness of the outcome of their actions.

It seems that God really likes us to act in faith. First there is a call (for Abram that occurred when he was in Ur), then Abram picked up and obeyed (he moved his family to Haran – partial obedience, but still obedience), then God revealed Himself to Abram. Frankly, I would like it to be in reverse order. A wonderful revealing that leaves no room for doubt, then I would obey, but that doesn’t seem to be how God works with people in the Bible, so I suppose that is how He works with us today, expecting us to act in faith without the details I would so like to have..

But just like me, Abram heard the call, and moved a bit – 1/2 way, not all the way. It took the death of his father to get him uprooted and moving again (but he still took Lot with him an act of disobedience that would have far reaching repercussions). I have noticed in my life that there are times when I cling to the old, familiar favorite, and it takes a sort of death to pry that out of my hand and get me to take the next step. Obedience is hard, but sometimes holding onto the past, the things we are comfortable with, and then the necessity of them having to die in us so that we move on is even harder. I wish I would learn to step out in faith more. This is so key to what Pastor Don was saying on Friday, about how we often do not stay long enough on the altar of sacrifice to burn off the old and make room for the new that God has for us. I really mess up when I think I know better than God what is best for me, it is then that I suffer the most. Now for a bit of excitement, the altar of sacrifice, the death of the old, here are a few meanings of names to knock your socks off!

UR – comes from the root word in Hebrew – charar – or Flame
HARAN – means parched or desolate
TERAH (Abram’s Father) – means Delay
CANAAN – means lowland coming from a root meaning humble

I really think the Holy Spirit has a sense of humor. Abram stayed in Haran (parched and desolate) because of his Father (delayed from going where God wanted him to go), and he left Ur (the fire), but did not make it to Canaan where he could get refreshed and renewed by humility to God.

Well Abram finally moves on towards Canaan. Joshua 2:2-3 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River, led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.” Most probably the moon god sin was the God of Ur. And notice that God said, “I”, it wasn’t Abraham who moved, it was God who moved Abraham.

Hebrews 11:8-10 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations; whose builder and maker is God.

Do you notice what is omitted in the Hebrews’ account? Abram’s disobedience, his mistakes, his foibles, his 1/2 obedience. God only put into the Hall of Faith those actions that Abram did in Faith. I suspect that God takes notice of every time we act in faith, and that holds more weight than our mistakes, which when repented of are separated from us as far as the east is from the west. That is a comfort to me because I certainly make enough mistakes.

What is interesting is that if you put Nahor and Abram together and compared their lifestyles today you would see that Nahor built cities, and Abram was a nomad. By earthly standards Nahor would seem to be successful and Abram a bum. But by God’s standard it is Abram who is the successful one, for Abram was looking for a city who had foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Basically, Abram dwelt in tents, was a nomad and a pilgrim. The only piece of property he would own would be a plot of ground to be buried in, but the permanent structures that he built were altars to worship God.

What is also interesting is that God promises Abram that he would be a blessing. It is God who will make the blessing. The blessing does not depend on Abram’s conduct, which is not above reproach. It is God’s faithfulness that bestows blessings on us, who are sinners. It is not our works or righteousness that does it. Blessings flow from God.

Notice that the promise is that God will bless those who bless him, and curse those who curse him. Jesus spelled that out too, in Matthew when he talked about the judgment of the sheep and the goats – where those who did not help his sheep were cursed. A look at history shows how much God keeps his word in this. Ham sinned against his father and was reduced to being part of a minor nation, The Greeks were successful until they desecrated the temple, then Rome took over – when Rome leveled the city of Jerusalem, Rome fell, Spain ruled until the Inquisition of the Jews, and then failed, Germany lost a war when they set out to destroy the Jews. I suspect that the rise and fall of nations will continue to occur based on how well they treat Israel. Our country should be very careful about how they deal with Israel. The climax of God’s blessing will be Revelation 5:9 when all the nations (those who accept Jesus) stand before the throne of God, and Jesus begins to open the seals on the title deed of earth.

Galatians 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’

Back to Genesis 12 – So Abram got up and moved on, bringing Sarai, and Lot. Lot will cause a lot of trouble (sorry, couldn’t resist).

So where did Abram go? He went in verse 6 – to Shechem (which means back and shoulder – reminds me [Heather] of Jesus and his back bruised for us, and carrying the cross on his shoulder). near a trebinth tree of Moreh (which means teacher, instructor and if you look at the origin of the name that meaning is former rain!- as in former and later rain). It was there that God promised him (after Abram obeyed and came to Canaan) that God would give Abram and all his descendants the land. Now remember – Abram was over 75 years old, and his wife was also old and they had no child. And the first act that Abram did in Canaan was to built an altar to God (just as Noah built an altar after he left the ark.).

Now verse 6 has an interesting phrase, “And the Canaanites were THEN in the land.” I haven’t been able to figure that out. Is it just that Abram is now in Canaan, so now the Canaanites were there, or were there others in the land. Not sure of this.

Anyway, here is the thing that blew my mind this morning: Where did Abram camp? Verse 8 tells us. And he moved from there to the mountains east of Bethel, and he 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.

Now AI means – heap of ruins (AI was on the east)
BETHEL – means House of God.

The Holy Spirit reminded me, and I checked it out. That the Holy of Holies in the Temple was toward the West, and the door to the Temple was toward the East. So, when we enter the temple from our Ai’s we leave the heap of ruins and move toward the Holy of Holies in the West – which is the House of God. Abram was still sort of straddling, between the two, but I find it so interesting that the Temple layout is sort of hinted at here.

I think I will stop here, because this is so long, but I can’t wait to share more tomorrow. How far reaching are the consequences of our half compromises with obeying God, and how easy it is to fall back into sin when we don’t fully give ourselves on the altar of sacrifice.

This is cutting me to the quick, and convicting me greatly.

Hoping you are having a wonderful Sunday.



About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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