Eternity Daily Bible Study
The Life Of Abraham
Verses: Genesis 12:4-9
Topic: And Jehovah Appeared to Abraham
Date: 29th November 2005
Genesis 12:4-9 MKJV And Abram departed, even as Jehovah had spoken to him. And Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. (5) 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 gained in Haran. And they went forth to go into the land of Canaan. And they came into the land of Canaan. (6) And Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, unto the Oak of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. (7) And Jehovah appeared to Abram and said, I will give this land to your seed. And he built an altar there to Jehovah who appeared to him. (8) And he moved from there to a mountain on the east of Bethel. And he pitched his tent with Bethel toward the sea and Hai on the east. And he built an altar there to Jehovah, and called upon the name of Jehovah. (9) And Abram journeyed, going on and pulled up stakes toward the south.
In these verses we find that God spoke to Abram (v.4) and that God appeared to Abram (v.7). Then everything Abram does flows from these personal encounters with God. It is part of the paradigm of faith – life flows from our encounters with God. God speaks and it alters everything; and we simply hear, and believe and obey. Abraham does not try to figure out God, he simply follows His instructions to the letter.
Now Abraham's encounters with God are not like talking to an imaginary invisible friend.
Abram does not imagine God, or conjure up God. Instead the sovereign, covenant-making God appears when He chooses and speaks just that which He wishes to say.
God seems to be rather terse in His dealings with Abraham “I will give this land to your seed.” is not a very long speech. In fact, God seldom says any more than a short paragraph or two when He appears to various Bible characters such as Solomon (1 Kings 3:11-14). Messenger angels tend to get the longer speeches such as the revelations to the prophet Daniel (see Daniel chapters 10,11&12). But God speaks with such complete authority that a few words can mean a great deal and the ramifications of “I will give this land to your seed” are still being felt today!
We can expect our encounters with God to be brief, and yet to be highly significant. When God speaks conclusively into your life, everything will change for you from that point on, and perhaps even for centuries afterward.
In our daily dealings with God we sense His love and His peace and His guidance in this direction or that. But real words, whole sentences from God, pregnant with meaning, are generally rare, coming perhaps three or four times in a lifetime. Sometimes more often, sometimes less. We may converse with God daily as Moses did but that “big encounter” the revelation of His glory (Exodus 34;6,7) is a rare thing for most of us. When it happened to Abraham he had to do something in response so he built an altar to God who appeared to him (v.7).
Because God has given us His Holy Spirit we can know God very deeply and intimately. We can have a personal relationship with God, and we are called into fellowship with Him.
1 Corinthians 1:9 MKJV God is faithful, by whom you were called to the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 John 1:3 MKJV that which we have seen and heard we declare unto you, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 13:14 MKJV May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Philippians 3:10-11 MKJV that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.
We are to walk with God, and to encounter God, and to live life out of these encounters with God in the face of Jesus Christ. When Paul encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road everything changed. And when Zacchaeus climbed a tree and saw Jesus, his life turned around, as did the lives of blind men and lepers and demoniacs who encountered Jesus.
Fellowship with God is a mixture of these “big encounters” with many little moments of grace and joy. Most days should be lived in Christ, in love, and in the peace of God. We have good quiet times, great worship and are touched by sermons. But no matter how hard we try we cannot make God appear in a burning bush and speak to us. That is His prerogative. God is in command of the great moments of faith, but we still need to be faithful in our daily quiet times as well.
After God appeared to Abram a few times Abram started “calling on God” in return. “And he built an altar there to Jehovah, and called upon the name of Jehovah.” (this was the second altar that Abram had made). Abram had worked out that a) God was personal and had a name YHWH (Jehovah) and b) That this God was interested in hearing from Abram and would respond to him if he called out. This is a huge jump from Chaldean idols and astrology and “fate” and moon worship, and “fortune”. This was personal faith in a living God who was good and who rewarded His worshipers and who interacted with His Creation.
Hebrews 11:6 MKJV But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Calling on God is often associated with some danger or great request. It is seeking help from one's Creator and is fundamental to true worship and the journey of faith. It is very common in Psalms e.g.:
Psalms 18:6 HCSB I called to the LORD in my distress, and I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears.
For Christians the name we must call on is the name of Jesus Christ:
1 Corinthians 1:2 HCSB To God's church at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called as saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord--theirs and ours.
Romans 10:13 HCSB For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Calling on the name of Jesus was what got the early Christians in trouble because it was considered blasphemy: Acts 9:13-14 HCSB "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. (14) And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on Your name."
As a “faith experiment” try this in your next quiet time – start by quietly and reverently calling out the name of Jesus half a dozen times “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus...”. Literally “call on God by His name”. I find that I very quickly enter into the Presence of God when I do this. God responds when His name is called!
John Edmiston (email@example.com)
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