The call of Abraham: Genesis. 12:1
(freedom from belief in many gods)
This call of Abram is an emblem of the call of men by the grace of God out of the world, and from among the men of it, and to renounce the things of it, and not be conformed unto it, and to forget their own people and their father’s house, and to cleave to the Lord, and follow him whatsoever he directs them.
When God took Abram from his own people, he promised to make him the head of another people. 2. I will bless thee. Obedient believers shall be sure to inherit the blessing. 3. I will make thy name great. The name of obedient believers shall certainly be made great. 4. Thou shalt be a blessing. Good men are the blessings of their country. 5. I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee. God will take care that none are losers, by any service done for his people. 6. In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Jesus Christ is the great blessing of the world, the greatest that ever the world possessed. All the true blessedness the world is now, or ever shall be possessed of, is owing to Abram and his posterity. Through them we have a Bible, a Saviour, and a gospel. They are the stock on which the Christian church is grafted.
Abram believed that the blessing of the Almighty would make up for all he could lose or leave behind, supply all his wants, and answer and exceed all his desires; and he knew that nothing but misery would follow disobedience. Such believers, being justified by faith in Christ, have peace with God. They hold on their way to Canaan. They are not discouraged by the difficulties in their way, nor drawn aside by the delights they meet with. Those who set out for heaven must persevere to the end. What we undertake, in obedience to God’s command, and in humble attendance on his providence, will certainly succeed, and end with comfort at last. Canaan was not, as other lands, a mere outward possession, but a type of heaven, and in this respect the patriarchs so earnestly prized it.
Abram found the country peopled by Canaanites, who were bad neighbours. He journeyed, going on still. Sometimes it is the lot of good men to be unsettled, and often to remove into various states. Believers must look on themselves as strangers and sojourners in this world, Hebrews 11:8,13,14. But observe how much comfort Abram had in God. When he could have little satisfaction in converse with the Canaanites whom he found there, he had abundance of pleasure in communion with that God, who brought him thither, and did not leave him.
We can learn a great deal about God’s call as we consider Abraham’s call. Abraham is a central figure in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the book of Genesis, his life spans twelve chapters. He is called a friend of God three times in the Bible (2 Chron 20:7; Isa 41:8; James 2:23), and he is referred to four times in the New Testament (Romans, Galatians, Hebrews, and James). He is called the father of all those who believe (Gal 3:7), and he is considered the founder of three religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
God called Abraham many years after the flood in Genesis 6–8. The earth was so sinful that God destroyed it and started over with Noah’s family. However, even Noah’s descendants became sinful. In Genesis 11, his descendants gathered to build the Tower of Babel. They declared, “Let us make a name for ourselves.” Like Adam and Eve, and Satan before them, they became proud and wanted to bring glory to themselves instead of God. They decided to disobey God’s commission of moving throughout the earth and settling it. Instead, they decided to stay in one place and build a tower for their honor. Because of that, God confounded their speech and the people scattered.
Abraham’s call was very special. God called him out of a rebellious world to be a conduit for salvation. He is a pivotal character in redemptive history. As we study him, we will learn a great deal about living a life of faith (cf. Heb 11:8–19). But, specifically in this passage, we learn about God’s call. In this study, we will consider ten characteristics of God’s call on the life of a believer.
The call of Moses Exodus. 3
(To free Israelites from slavery)
In the first chapter of the Book of Exodus, we learned of the cruel oppression of the Israelites by the Egyptians. God’s blessings of the Israelites caused the Egyptians to fear them and to attempt to insure their control over them. This began with enslavement and harsh treatment. When this failed, Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew handmaids to kill all the Israelite boy babies at birth. This also failed to accomplish the goal of annihilating the Israelites as a race. The first chapter ends with the order of Pharaoh to the entire Egyptian population that they must throw the Hebrew boy babies into the Nile.
The bush burning but not being consumed was a magnetic sight to Moses – it drew him in for a closer examination. Some say the burning bush here is a picture of God’s grace that draws us to Him. In this picture, you have a thorn-bush (the original Hebrew word comes from the word “to stick or to prick,” this meaning a thorn-bush or bramble) which is a figure of the curse (Adam was cursed to bring forth thorns and thistles from the earth, Genesis 3:18). The “curse” is burned (a picture of judgment) without being consumed – therefore, a picture of God’s mercy and grace.
Some people in the days of Moses might have thought that God neglected His covenant for the 400 years of Israel’s slavery in Egypt, since the time of the patriarchs. Nevertheless, God was at work during that time, preserving and multiplying the nation.
And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who arein Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
The land of Canaan belonged to Israel since the day God promised it to Abraham. God will move Israel there now because of the compassion of His heart. The actions were ordained long ago, but the timing was prompted by God’s heartfelt love for His people.
The reign of David
(The freedom the Israelites achieved)
He united not only the 12 often fractured Tribes of Israel, but, as a kind if priest-king, stitched together the religious faith of Israel with its governance. King among them, he also collected and disseminated the great prayer-book of Israel, the Book of Psalms, composing many of them himself. So great was David, that among the most well known titles of Jesus would be, “Son of David.”
David, second king of ancient Israel. He was the father of Solomon, who expanded the empire that David built. He is an important figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The youngest son of Jesse, David began his career as an aide at the court of Saul, Israel’s first king. He so distinguished himself as a warrior against the Philistines that his resultant popularity aroused Saul’s jealousy, and a plot was made to kill him. He fled into southern Judah and Philistia, on the coastal plain of Palestine, where, with great sagacity and foresight, he began to lay the foundations of his career.
As an outlaw with a price on his head, David became the leader and organizer of a group of other outlaws and refugees, who progressively ingratiated themselves with the local population by protecting them from other bandits or, in case they had been raided, by pursuing the raiders and restoring the possessions that had been taken. Those actions eventually ensured that he would be “invited” to become king as the true successor of Saul after the latter was slain in battle against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa.
According to the biblical account, David was proclaimed king in Hebron. He struggled for a few years against the contending claim and forces of Ishbaal, Saul’s surviving son, who had also been crowned king, but the civil war ended with the murder of Ishbaal by his own courtiers and the anointing of David as king over all of Israel. He conquered the Jebusite-held town of Jerusalem, which he made the capital of the new united kingdom and to which he moved the sacred Ark of the Covenant, the supreme symbol of Israelite religion. He defeated the Philistines so thoroughly that they were never again a serious threat to the Israelites’ security, and he annexed the coastal region. He went on to establish an empire by becoming the overlord of many small kingdoms bordering on Israel, including Edom, Moab, and Ammon.
David’s great success as a warrior and empire builder was marred by interconnected family dissensions and political revolts. To tie together the various groups that constituted his kingdom, David took wives from them and created a harem. The resultant family was an extreme departure from the family in the consanguineal context, the traditional clan structure. David’s wives were mostly completely alien to one another, and his children were without the directing support of established social patterns that provided precedents for the resolution of conflict or for establishing the rights of succession.
The coming of Jesus who liberated people from sin
Without Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, no one would have eternal life. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). In this statement, Jesus declares the reason for His birth, death, and resurrection—to provide the way to heaven for sinful mankind, who could never get there on their own.
When God created Adam and Eve, they were perfect in every way and lived in a virtual paradise, the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). God created man in His image, meaning they also had the freedom to make decisions and choices of their own free will. Genesis 3 goes on to describe how Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptations and lies. In doing so, they disobeyed the will of God by eating of the tree of knowledge from which they were forbidden: “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’” (Genesis 2:16-17). This was the first sin committed by man, and, as a result, all mankind is subject to both physical and eternal death by virtue of our sinful nature inherited from Adam.
God declared that all who sin will die, both physically and spiritually. This is the fate of all mankind. But God, in His grace and mercy, provided a way out of this dilemma, the shed blood of His perfect Son on the cross. God declared that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22), but through the shedding of blood, redemption is provided. The Law of Moses provided a way for the people to be considered “sinless” or “right” in God’s eyes—the offering of animals sacrificed for every sin they committed. These sacrifices were only temporary, though, and were really a foreshadowing of the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross (Hebrews 10:10).
This is why Jesus came and why He died, to become the ultimate and final sacrifice, the perfect (without blemish) sacrifice for our sins (Colossians 1:22; 1 Peter 1:19). Through Him, the promise of life eternal with God becomes effective through faith to those who believe in Jesus. “So that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe” (Galatians 3:22). These two words, faithand believing, are critical to our salvation. It is through our believing in the shed blood of Christ for our sins that we receive eternal life. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).