Gen 12: YHVH’s Call To Abram, Son of Eber, Son of Shem

Gen 11:31 – 13:1 

From the genealogy in Gen 11, we learn that Abraham (Abram) was born 352 years after the Flood. Noah died only two years before the birth of Abraham! Shem and Eber were still alive (even during Jacob’s life)! Truly, Shem is the father of all the sons of Eber, father of the Hebrews. We do not know for certain whether they ever met and spoke with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob (or even with Ishmael and Esau), but it is likely, and they would have had eye-witness accounts of pre-Flood and post-Flood people and events, as God maintained His witness and passed it on to His chosen persons and family. Noah was the tenth from Adam, and was protected through the judgment of the Flood; Abraham was tenth from Shem, who also was saved out from the Flood. Ch 12 carries on with God’s redemptive plan, choosing Abram – son of Eber, son of Shem, son of Noah — from among all the Gentiles, through whom He would bless the world through covenant and promise – and lots of controversy.

Although we do not have much detail about the history before the Flood, it is not “pre-historic” nor “pre-homo sapiens”. Thanks to the one living God who knows, we have information that connects with us personally from that early history, and with those people who came before us, who are our ancestors. The genealogical records from the beginning with Adam are given us in three different books of the Old and the New Testaments: Genesis 5 and 111Chronicles 1; and Luke 3. Jude v. 14 also says specifically that Enoch was the seventh from Adam. The Holy Spirit is telling us that these are accurate historical records in the canon.  The Bible is true; evolution is not. (Ex 20:8-11;Rev 4:8-1110:5-7Mt 5:5Ps 37:9,112934)

God has not spoken in the dark, or only in parables and riddles. He has spoken plainly with details that sometimes requires researching and studying, paying attention to what He has given here and there, revealing those gems that He has hidden as a treasure, and showing the unity of the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God. These details matter, just as the details of our own lives do; and they tell a BIG story. And our Father in Heaven knows us and loves us, and encourages us to follow His unique and beloved Son wherever the Lamb leads us. For those who believe, we have His Word and His Spirit to guide and preserve us through to the end. As we learn from Abram/Abraham, we are on a journey of faith with God, and He reveals to us along the way where He is leading us. He does not give the whole picture at once, but keeps us dependent upon Him to learn that we can — and must — trust Him completely.

The Creator of the Heavens and the Earth cut (made) a covenant with Abram (Abraham) in order to preserve a holy seed, and to provide salvation to mankind, and to give an inheritance of a land and a kingdom to the children of Abraham, and of his promised son Isaac, and of his chosen grandson Jacob/Israel.  We read in the New Testament that Mary, when she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit with Yeshua, understood that the promise of that covenant had to do with the Son who would be born to her, as did the priest Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer. (Lk 1:54-55, 67-79)

Monotheism did not begin with Abraham.  Despite the knowledge of the true God in the world since the Garden of Eden, and also again from the time of the Flood, human beings, with the Devil’s expert assistance, have turned away from the truth and made their own gods, including seeking themselves to be God.  This humanism with satanic influence has not disappeared, but continues until the Antichrist will claim to be as God and above every God. (Dan 11:36-392Thes 2:1-12James 2:19Rom 1:18-23)

YHVH God chose a man – Abram, a descendant of Eber and Shem – to enter into a covenantal relationship with him in order to preserve the knowledge of the true and everlasting Sovereign God Most High, and to have a family and a people and a nation through whom the Creator would come into the world as the Redeemer and Savior from sin and death and separation from the living God of Life and of the living.  YHVH will glorify His holy name in and through His chosen people Israel, and in and through the believers in Yeshua, the Body of Christ:  they will be His people, and He will be their God and Father, inheriting the Kingdom of God and eternal life.  Glory to God and to the Lamb upon the Throne, forever and ever!

v 1-3 YHVH said to Abram to go out from his own country and homeland, and from his father’s family, and to go to a country which God would show him. YHVH covenanted with Abram to make him a great nation, to bless him, to make his name great, and to be a blessing. He promised to bless all who would bless him, and to curse those who cursed him. In him all the families of the Earth would be blessed.  This covenantal promise of blessing and of protection is still in force.

We saw at the Tower of Babel that the people wanted to make their own name great; but it is YHVH God who promises to make Abram’s name great. God honors those who honor him, and He chose Abram to do just that. (18:17-19) And God has chosen us, and brought us into the blessing of Abraham, through faith in the promised Seed, Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ.

v 4-6 From Acts 7:1-4 we know that the call to Abram came while he still lived in Mesopotamia, in Ur of the Chaldeans, before his father Terah took the family to Haran. Terah was 130 when Abram was born, apparently 70 when he began having children. (11:26, 3212:4) The call from YHVH was to ABRAM, not to his father. Perhaps Terah thought it a good opportunity to leave Ur, too, but decided that Haran was far enough for him and the family. So God waited until Terah died before telling Abram to continue the journey to the land He had chosen for him, which was Canaan. Abram went with his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all their possessions, going as far as Shechem (Nablus today, in Samaria, which is now under disputed Palestinian authority). The Canaanites were already living in the land. (10:15-20)

v 7-9 The LORD promised to give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants. In thankfulness, Abram built an altar to YHVH in Shechem to worship his God.  Abraham continued to journey, and came near to Bethel, where he also built an altar to YHVH and called upon the name of YHVH, which men began to do from the days of Enosh, the son of Seth. Abraham was “taking the land” in the name of YHVH (whose land it is: all the Earth is the LORD’s), who had promised to give it to him and to his descendants as an inheritance. He continued going through the land toward the Negev.

v 10-20 There was a severe famine in Canaan, which caused Abraham to go down to Egypt. He knew the Egyptian culture enough that they would murder him to take his wife, but would not commit adultery with her. He told Sarai to say that she was his sister. She was his half-sister, having the same father (Terah) but a different mother. (20:12)   So it was not a lie that she was his sister, but a way to protect himself, and preserve both of them, as he explained to her. We can also consider that he trusted God to protect her also from being captive to Pharoah, which we know now that God did. What YHVH also demonstrated in Egypt to Pharoah is that Pharoah is accountable to the God of Abraham, to the God of the Hebrews. YHVH is God of the Gentiles and the God of the Jews. (Rom 3:29) In the fear of the LORD, Pharoah sent Abram and his wife away, and all that he had, in peace.

Abraham faced an ethical dilemma, and he acted in a natural way. We all have to make such choices at times, like Rahab also did regarding the Israeli spies. I also, when we go to the UK, tell the passport control that we are visiting friends, which is true after so many years. We do not tell them that we are speaking at a conference, which for themmeans work-for-payment, but not for us. We are not going to teach with any payment agreed to. Also, it is not right to judge Abram for marrying his half-sister in those days: the Law (Torah) only came 430 years later, and then YHVH forbade His people Israel from marrying such a close relative. (Gal 3:17Lev 20:17Dt 27:22)

13:1 Abram and Sarai went up from Egypt, with Lot, and all that they had, back to the Negev in Canaan, the land of promise.

The unfolding of YHVH God’s plan of redemption continues.  He knows who we are, and He is for you and me and us.  He knows the number of hairs on each of our heads.

The first 12 chapters of Genesis – the opening chapters in the first book of the Bible, covering the first approximately 2000 years of world history (the first “two days”) – set the stage for all that YHVH God will do to magnify His great Name in all of His creation. (Rom 8:18-25)  They are full of revelation, and written for our learning and admonition today. It contains the seed and roots of our faith in the one true God. His plan of redemption was factored in even before He created the heavens and the Earth, and the seas, and all that is in them. He has left everyone a witness in every place that He alone is God, and that all that exists is by Him, through Him, and for Him, in whom we live and move and have our being.

Our God is truly an awesome God! And this Wonderful One came down to us in the person of Yeshua/Jesus to give His life a ransom for all human beings of all times and places, offering forgiveness of sins and eternal life to any and all who repent and believe in Him for who He is and for what Jesus’/Yeshua’s shed blood on the cross has accomplished in the New Covenant which YHVH has provided for Israel, and has made available to any Jew and Gentile. Jesus is the Promised Seed of the woman that the Father promised in the beginning – not so long ago really — while Adam and Eve were still in the Garden of Eden.

Jesus paid the price for the redemption of the world that He made, taking full responsibility for the Father’s will, taking full responsibility for the way things are. We did to Him what we think about God, and what we think about our Father in Heaven. (Ps 69:7-9Heb 13:10-15;Jn 15:18-25And the Son of God  did what He thinks of us: He died on the cross for our sins and rebellion, and He asked the Father to forgive us, for we do not know what we are doing. Still He loves us, and the Holy Spirit calls us back home whenever we come to our senses that without – or against — Jesus/Yeshua we have nothing, and we are as nothing. With Jesus/Yeshua, we become children of God the Father– one new man in Christ — and heirs with Him of all that God has planned for those who love Him.

The Bible gives us real-life experiences of people like us, and things are not always clean and nice, clear-cut. There are moral dilemmas, choices to make for the Kingdom of God’s sake. These first 12 chapters help make sense of the world we live in, and of YHVH God’s will and power to make things right through the gospel: to make all things new, a new creation far better than what has ever been from the beginning. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (1Cor 2:6-1213:8-10Rev 21:1-7)

This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, July 12, 2019, and reposted with permission.