Genesis 12: Moving Day

The plan is simple.

  • Read through the book of Genesis, ONE CHAPTER A DAY.
  • Restate 5 things you learned (that you previously didn't know).
  • Ask 5 questions about the chapter that you'll ponder all week.
  • As the Holy Spirit gives you wisdom and insight, ACT ON IT.  

Genesis 12:1-20

Insight 1: According to Acts 7:2-3, God’s invitation to Abram takes place in Ur of the Chaldeans (Mesopotamia), long before Grandpa Terah settled in the land of Haran with his family(Genesis 11:31). So, when the whole clan initially moves, it was more than likely in response to God’s call to Abram recorded in Genesis 12:1. Terah, however, never completes the journey. He cuts the journey short and settles in Haran (Genesis 11:31), which is NOT where Abram was supposed to be. His death, then, frees Abram to proceed on his journey to his original final destination – Canaan (which will eventually become Israel).  

Insight 2: There is some irony to Abram’s name. It means “exalted Father”, yet when we first meet him, he has no children because Sarai (his wife) was barren; and could not have a child. This of course makes the promise of him becoming a great nation even more strange because in order to do that, you need children! God is going to birth an entire nation bless the world through a man whose wife cannot (yet) bear a child. Wonder of all wonders!

Insight 3: Joshua 24:2 points out that Terah (and most likely, his household) “served other gods”, meaning Abraham comes from a family of idol worshippers and was probably one himself too when God called him. God’s call on his life was of God’s own initiative, not something impressive about Abram that would draw God to Him. Our salvation in Christ works the same way – Ephesians 1:4-6, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[b]predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

Insight 4: Abram’s faith shines brightly when you consider what he had to leave behind to go to an unknown “land that I will show you” [Genesis 12:1]. He was leaving behind his country (allegiance), his kindred (identity), and his father’s house (family). These came at a great cost to him considering he was following the orders of a God he had never met/known. Abram had the option NOT to go, which makes his faith all the more admirable. However, had he chosen that option, the promise of being made into a great nation would never have been his to own. 

Insight 5: Abram was 75 years old when God calls him (Genesis 12:4) and he dies at age 175 (Genesis 25:7). In light of how long he/humans lived in this post-flood world, he was still considered a young man (middle age?). He had seemingly done well for himself in Haran considering all the property he has to move in Genesis 12:5, “he took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.”

Insight 5a: Having obeyed the “voice” that instructed him in verse 1 to pack up and move, Abram finally comes face to face with God in verse 7; “The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” It’s peculiar that God doesn’t show up to make Himself known till after His instructions had been obeyed and Abram arrived at the agreed upon final destination – Canaan. In commemoration of these appearances, Abram builds his first altar to the Lord (a pagan practice he probably learned in Ur, but now re-dedicated to the LORD he now knows) in Shechem and Bethel.

Insight 5b: Abram going “down to Egypt” is not a good sign. Despite his circumstances (famine), Canaan was the place God called him to dwell. The events that ensue prove that it was a bad decision. Abram, however, is still new in his relationship with the LORD. He is still learning to trust that the God who called him and who promised to bless him is a God who can also provide in the more dire of circumstances.

Insight 5c: His shocking actions in verse 10-18 (pimping his wife) is further indication that this great patriarch is a mere man from a pagan background who is still learning the ways of the God of heaven and earth. In spite of Abram’s bad decision, God still shows Himself to be faithful in that Abram plunders the Egyptians and leaves with his wife (verse 16 + 21). This experience is also one of the first times Abram is getting to see just how powerful the God who called him. He’s seeing that this God fights for him even behind the scenes.

Insight 5d: God's promise to Abram in Genesis 12:3 that, "...and him who dishonors you, I will curse" is fulfilled in the judgment that comes on Pharaoh's house in Egypt. Though Abram was deceptive, God STILL honored His end of His promise. By "taking" Sarai into his harem, Pharaoh was dishonoring Abram, and true to His word, God was obliged to lay the smackdown of the Egyptians - Genesis 12:17 "But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai."

Insight 5e: Lot appears to have been raised in a wealthy household and experiences much of the material blessings Abraham accumulates along the way. Terah takes him along on his journey (Genesis 11:31) as does Abram (Genesis 12:4), so much so that by Genesis 13:5-6, Lot is so stinking rich, he has to part ways with Abram so they have enough land for their livestock.

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Question 1: Why did God pick Abram? Why not Nahor, or any of the other thousands of men in Ur of the Chaldeans? What was it about Abram's life that made God pick him out of the bunch?

Question 2: Verse 4 suggests Abram obeyed God without any protest or questions. Why was he so willing to obey and follow a God he had never heard or seen?

Question 3: Why did Terah pause in Haran instead of going through all the way to Canaan like he'd initially intended (Genesis 11:31)? Did it have to do with the fact that the name of the city - Haran brough to memories of his lost son, Haran? 

Question 4: When Abram finally reaches the land God had promised him, verse 6 says, “…At that time the Canaanites were in the land.” What must Abram have been thinking as he saw the natives? Did he wonder if God knew what He was doing? Shouldn’t this land be empty? Vacated? Was there a moment of pause where Abram wondered if he had made the right decision in traveling all this way for a promise that may or may not come to pass (since the Canaanites were already in the land, and landowners generally don’t like to give away their land to foreign strangers?).  Perhaps it’s for this reason that God shows up immediately in the next verse (7) where it says, “Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” (God’s way of saying, “I gotchu!” and “I got this!”)

Question 5: What was Abram’s plan in all this (verse 10-20)? Did he anticipate that God would intercede or was he really willing to give Sarai away to save his own neck? Did this have anything to do with the fact that she could not bear him any children? Why in the world would he do that to his bride? Perhaps I’m viewing this through the lens of 2017? (Were women more like property in his day)?

Question 5a: How did Pharaoh discern that the plagues on his house were a result of Abram lying about Sarai? How did God intercede on behalf of Sarai and Abram?


Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.