Genesis Study #5

Bible Class – Study #5 (Gen 12-14) – Notes and Discussion questions

Genesis Study #5: The separation of Abraham (Abram)

Main passage of study: Gen 12:1 – 14:24

Related passages For:
Pt A: Ge 17:7-8; 1Ch 16:17; Isa 51:1-2; Jos 24:2-3; Ps 105:7-11; Neh 9:7; Mt 19:29; Ac 7:2-4; Ga 3:6-9; Heb 11:8-10
Pt B: Ge 20:2; 26:1-7; 43:1; Ru 1:1; Ps 105:13-15; 1Jn 2:16
Pt C : Ps 34:14; Mt 6:19-20; 1Ti 6:9-10; He 12:14
Pt D: Ge 15:20; Dt 2:10, 2Sa 21:16, 1Ch 20:4; 2Pe 2:8
Pt E: Ps 85:10, 110:4; Zec 6:12-13; He 7:1-4

Outline & Notes

  1. Abram’s call– Gen 12:1-9
    1. The call to faith – Genesis 12:1-3
    2. The response of faith – Genesis 12:4-6
    3. The worship of faith – Genesis 12:7-9
  2. Abram’s compromise – Gen 12:10-20
    1. The inspection of Abram’s faith – Genesis 12:10-13
    2. The interruption of Abram’s faith – Genesis 12:14-16
    3. The intervention of the Lord – Genesis 12:17-20
  3. Abram’s character & Lot’s choice– Gen 13:1-18
    1. Restoration to the path of faith – Genesis 13:1-4
    2. Altercation on the path of faith – Genesis 13:5-9
    3. Separation to the path of faith – Genesis 13:10-13
    4. Confirmation of the path of faith – Genesis 13:14-18
  4. Lot’s consequences – Gen 14:1-16
    1. Coalition & conflict in the world – Genesis 14:1-10
    2. Vexation & vulnerability to the world – Genesis 14:11-13
    3. Readiness & recovery from the world – Genesis 14:14-16
  5. Abram’s conversation with two kings – Gen 14:17-24
    1. Abram’s preparation by the king of Salem – Genesis 14:17-20
    2. Abram’s profession before the king of Sodom – Genesis 14:21-24

In the book of beginnings, we embark upon yet another beginning in Ge 12, that of the Lord’s chosen people. We also cross the threshold into the 2nd large division of the book of Genesis, where in chapters 12-50, we trace the history of the patriarchs and their dealings with God. We have considered 4 great events in chapters 1-11, the creation, the fall, the flood and dispersion of the nations from Babel. Now, we will consider 4 great men, who were made great only through the grace and work of God in their lives. It is just part of the greater story of redemption that God unfolds in His word as we see the nation established out of which will come forth His own Son at the appointed time to provide salvation to all who will believe as faithful Abraham.

Textual notes

● Ac 7:2-4 sheds more light on the timing of both Abram’s call and his departure from Haran to come into the promised land. We learn from Ac 7:2 that the call came before he dwelt in Haran and from Ac 7:4 that he left Haran after his father’s death.

● We are introduced to a number of notable place names in these chapters as Abram begins his journey of faith – and as is often the case, the meanings of these names are instructive. Shechem means ‘shoulder’; Moreh means ‘instruction’; Bethel means ‘house of God’; Hai (Ai) means ‘heap of ruins’; Egypt (Mizraim) means ‘mounds’ or ‘fortresses’; Sodom means ‘burnt’ or ‘scorched’; Mamre means ‘vision’; Hebron means ‘fellowship’ or ‘communion’; Salem means ‘peace’.

● In Ge 12:8 and Genesis 13:4, we read of Abram calling on “the name of the LORD” or Yahweh (Jehovah). But in Ex 6:3, we read that God says to Moses: “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.” The following explanations have been offered for this apparent inconsistency:

○ 1) Ex 6:3 should be in the interrogative – i.e. Was I not known by this name…? Although, I could find no English translations with this rendering.

○ 2) The name YHWH was added after the fact by editors into the Genesis accounts where the name is now seen. But the Bible is pretty clear about the Mosaic authorship of “the book of the Law”, known to be the first five books of the OT and the Lord Jesus also cited Moses as the writer of the Law. And Moses was already writing after these events took place.

○ 3) The name was used in an anticipatory sense – so while the patriarchs did not know God by this name, the author indicates that they interacted with Him as the YHWH by which name He would come to be known.

○ 4) The Hebrew verb yada ,translated here to know, can have a wide range of meanings in its many uses in the OT. So that God was not known by the name YHWH in Ex 6:3 doesn’t mean that the patriarchs didn’t know or use this name for God but that they didn’t know the full implications of His name or how God would come to be known by His people in the Exodus deliverance through Moses in particular (more in the context of Ex 6) as they received promises that were not yet fulfilled. I personally favour this view.

● In Ge 14:13, Abram is the first person to be called a Hebrew in the Bible. The term possibly comes from the name of his ancestor Eber (Ge 10:21) as it came to refer to all descendants of Eber. There is also a possible etymological link to a Hebrew word meaning to pass over which could connect to Abram’s passing over the Euphrates into the land of promise.

Doctrinal notes

● The Lord’s covenant with Abraham expressed in the promises of Ge 12:2-3 is unconditional and everlasting (Ge 17:7) and is formally enacted in Ge 15.

● Whenever God gives a revelation of Himself or His word, He always looks for a response of faith.

● One important principle that we see in evidence in God’s dealings with Abram is that of progressive revelation, where God gives progressively more light as his children take steps of faith. When God first calls Abram, He tells him only to go to “a land that I will show you”. But then once in the land, God reveals more to him.

● The important picture of the world in the land of Egypt is introduced for the first time in Ge 12. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will all make their way “down into Egypt” where Jacob’s progeny, the nation of Israel will become enslaved.

● As the story unfolds between Abram and Lot, we have the spiritual and the material placed in opposition. But the lesson is not that one comes at the expense of the other but that our focus needs to be on the spiritual.

● Melchizedek (introduced in Ge 14:18) will be developed as an important type of the Lord Jesus in Hebrews 5-7. Some have speculated on his identity, suggesting Shem or even the pre-incarnate Christ. But Heb 7:15 speaks of Christ as a priest who arose in the likeness of Melchizedek . Many important links can be drawn but it’s interesting that in the book of beginnings and genealogies and also a book strewn with death, that we read nothing of the origin nor of the death of this man, Melchizedek. He simply appears at a critical time to bless Abram as a king who is also a priest of the most high God and is not mentioned again until Ps 110:4.

Discussion questions

1. Read over the promises of God to Abram in Ge 12:2-3. We know that Abram believed God (Rom 4:3) but what do you think he believed specifically about God as he left Haran for a land that God would show him?

2. Note the names of the places to which Abram first comes in Ge 12:6-8 and the meanings given in the notes above. What lessons do you think we can learn from Abram coming to these places in his first steps of faith?

3. Abram starts well in his journey of faith into the promised land but then when famine comes, he veers from the pathway of faith. What specific evidence can you point to in the latter part of Ge 12 that Abram was not living in the good of God’s promises to him in the first part of the chapter?

4. What are the consequences of Abram’s failure here? (Look beyond the context of this chapter as well.)

5. We have the first mentionof riches in Ge 13:2. What lessons can we learn about this topic from this section?

6. Sadly, interpersonal conflict is often a source of division and marred testimony among believers. What can learn about the way in which Abram handled this situation?

7. We have references to Lot and then Abram lifting up their eyes in Genesis 13:10 and Genesis 13:14. What critical differences are there between these two?

8. What is the significance of the Lord’s command to Abram to “walk through the land” in Ge 13:17 when he would not personally possess it in his lifetime?

9. Ge 14:2 gives the first mention of war in the Bible. What do you notice about the details given here?

10. Ge 14:4 also contains the first mention of the numbers twelve and thirteen. In the scriptures, 12 is the number of administration and government while 13 is the number of rebellion and apostasy, both of which are illustrated in this verse. Search up these numbers elsewhere in the Bible to see which other examples of these connections to these themes you can find.

11. Abram could certainly have had a different reaction to the news of his backslidden nephew. What lessons can we learn about the actions that Abram took in terms of how we might treat believers who are away from the Lord?

12. Melchizedek is a remarkable type of Christ as Hebrews brings out in terms of His work as our great High Priest. Looking at this passage (Ge 14:18-20), what other connections can we make between Melchizedek and the Lord Jesus?