The Kraig Josiah Rice
Devotional Bible Commentary on Genesis

Genesis chapter 12

Kraig J. Rice
www.7-star-admiral.com

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Clicking on these links will move you down this web page)
Genesis chapter twelve
  Chapter 12- the life and times of Abraham
  Gen. 12:1 God called Abram to leave Haran
  Gen. 12:2 - 3 God's promise to Abram
  Gen. 12:4 - 9 Abram was obedient to God
  Abram searched for New Jerusalem
  Why did Abram live in a tent?
  Why did God call Abram?
  A general timeline of Abraham's life
  Gen. 12:10 - 20 Abram and Sarai in Egypt
  Why did they go to Egypt?
  Did Abram tell a lie?
  Abram had a big mountain in his way
  Why did Abram have problems?
  Two couples in contrast







Genesis Chapter Twelve
The beginning of the life and times of Abraham and his family

God called Abram to leave Haran:
I am sure that Abram reached out to God in prayer. Then God answered him:

"Now the Lord had said unto Abram:
"Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee"
(Genesis 12:1).

The name Haran means "mountainous country". Abram left Haran and headed west towards the Promised Land of Canaan. It was a journey of about 186.4 kilometers (300 miles). How long did it take him to go that distance? Some scholars estimate that it took him one year with his grazing livestock. In a similar manner, when God gives us our marching orders, let us move out without delay. Let us be obedient to God like Abram was.


God's promise to Abram:
God told Abram:

"I will make of thee a great nation, and
I will bless thee, and
make thy name great; and
thou shalt be a blessing: and
I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and
in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed"
(Genesis 12:2-3).

Abram pleased the Lord. In response to him, to reward and bless him, God gave him certain promises. If you and I please the Lord today He will bless us and help us also.


"So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 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 gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said:
"Unto thy seed will I give this land"
"and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south"
(Genesis 12:4-9).

Abram was obedient to God:
Once in the Promised Land (of Israel), Abraham was headed south because he was coming from the north. This general territory was also called the Land of Canaan. He went to Shechem (now named Nablus) that is about 18 1/2 kilometers (30 miles) north of Jerusalem. The name Shechem means "part" or "portion". The name Jerusalem means "vision of peace". Then he went to Bethel meaning "house of God." Later, Jacob had a vision of the ladder to Heaven here. This town is less than 7 1/2 kilometers (12 miles) north of Jerusalem. Then he went farther south, past Jerusalem. Jerusalem in those days was a fortress city of the Jebusites with a different name.

The Promised Land was said to be a land flowing with milk and honey. What does the expression "a land of milk and honey" mean? It simply means "a land of plenty"
(Deuteronomy 26:9).

God rewarded Abram's obedience with a personal visit. God is the greatest treasure in the universe.

What is the relevance? It is very simple- the one who obeys God is rewarded but the one who disobeys God is punished. There are many example of that in the Word of God. I encourage each of us to always obey God.


The writer of the bible book of Hebrews also had this to say:
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles (tents) with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God"
(Hebrews 11:8-10).

Abram searched for New Jerusalem:
Abram searched and searched for New Jerusalem, for the city that has (spiritual) foundations, whose builder and maker is God, but he never found it. He wanted Heaven on earth but the timing was not right. New Jerusalem is a type for Heaven and there will only be Heaven on earth in the future when Christ rules from Jerusalem during His second advent (His second coming) and afterwards
(Revelation 3:12, 21:2). Did God build and make New Jerusalem? Yes. God gave us the building plans for the city
(Revelation 21:15-27). Does New Jerusalem have spiritual foundation stones? Yes.
(Revelation 21:14). How is that relevant? Heaven is a beautiful place and God wants each of us to go there but we have to take a bath first. Why do we have to take a bath? Because we stink. Why do we stink? Because of the filth of sin that clings to us. We have to be bathed in the spiritual blood of Christ that washes away our sins so we are made presentable to the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings when we get there. I pray that you take such a bath today so you are cleansed from your sins.


Why did Abram, who was a millionaire, live in a tent?
Abram, Isaac, and Jacob lived in tents. They realized that this world was not their home so they needed no permanent dwelling places. They also realized that they were only pilgrims and strangers passing through this world. That is how you and I should view life. We should not be so in love with this world and with this life that we want to stay here. Our goal is Heaven so this earth and everything that it has to offer should only be temporary in our thinking.

He set up an altar to God at nearly every place where he camped. Why? Because this altar was a visible representation of his strong faith. The altar is where he had church. It was a place where he, his family, and others could come to in order to worship God. It proved that he had love for God and enjoyed worshipping Him. He also had humility because only a humble person would have church outside and worship before a pile of rocks. These were whole rocks- no tool of any kind could be used on them lest they be misinterpreted as being an idol. Today we have church altars where the faithful gather to worship God. God honored him for this. How did God honor him? God revealed Himself to Abram and made a covenant with him.


Why did God call Abram?
We may also want to ask:
What did God want? What was His will? What was His plan?

I believe that God reveals His will to us in Genesis chapters 12-50:

With God's plan
everything eventually
falls into place
.

1) God wanted Abram to be a witness for Him in this spiritually dark world
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
2) God would bring about the nation of Israel to be His witness:
(Deuteronomy 33:26-29; Isaiah 43:10-12).
3) God wanted a nation, set apart for Him, through which the Messiah would come
(Genesis 3:15, 12:2-3, 49:10; 2 Samuel 7:16).
4) God wanted a nation where the holy scriptures (the bible) would be preserved:
(Deuteronomy 4:5-8; Romans 3:1-2).

God had to start somewhere so He chose a man named Abram to be the patriarch (or father) of the nation of Israel.

God wanted a witness for Him about His redemptive plan in regards to the salvation of all mankind from sin. The entire bible is a development of this plan. The beginning of this plan (or the seed of it) started with Seth and continued on through Noah and then through Abraham and then through Jacob. It was very important that Abraham get it right and he did.
God also called Isaac (Genesis 26:3-4) and
God also called Jacob (Genesis 28:13-14, 35:11-12, 46:3-4).

A general timeline of Abraham's life:
He was born when his father was about 130 years old
He was 75 when he entered the Promised Land of Canaan
He was about 80 when he rescued Lot and met Melchizedek
He was 86 when Ishmael was born
He was about 99 when the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed
He was 100 when Isaac was born
He was 137 when Sarah died
He was 160 when Jacob was born
He died at the age of 175


Abram and Sarai in Egypt:
"And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say: this is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said: what is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, she is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had"
(Genesis 12:10-20).

Sarai was 65 years old and was still a beautiful woman. Men of power in Egypt wanted ownership of nice things and beautiful women. Women did not have many rights in those days and were considered to be chattel- the property of the one who owned them. Sarai was Abram's half sister. She was the daughter of his father, but not the daughter of his mother
(Genesis 20:12).

Pharaoh treated Abram well. Have you ever noticed that some people will treat you well when they want something from you? Pharaoh wanted Abram's sister for his harem. He gave Abram all kinds of gifts for her. The Egyptians believed in marriage
(Genesis 12:18). Many folks today don't believe in marriage for one reason or another. Anyone who wanted to marry a woman had to negotiate with her father. If he were dead then he would have to negotiate with her brother. So Pharaoh negotiated with Abram as her brother. The number of wives a person had in those days was a sign of wealth so it was a status symbol. Remember, that King Solomon of Israel had 300 wives and 700 concubines.

Pharaoh set Sarai apart as his bride elect. There was a one year period of preparation to make any woman more beautiful in his harem, so Pharoah did not have sex with her. If the consummation had taken place, it would have wrecked God's plan for Abram and Sarai. So, God worked it all out. The moral of this story might be that if you get into trouble in a strange land, trust God to bail you out, but there is a lot more to it than that, so let's start at the beginning.


Why did Abram and Sarai go to Egypt in the first place?
There was a famine in the land. That means that there was no food. Abraham was responsible for feeding his own family and for feeding the families of the hundreds of folks who worked for him. Sometimes a person has to make some difficult decisions.

Israel had the early and the latter rains. It was supposed to rain in November and December. If these rains did not come then the springs of water would dry up and grass for the animals would wither and not grow. Abram's animals were starving. Sometimes, the latter rain is compared with spiritual blessings in scripture:
(Job 29:23; Proverbs 16:15; Jeremiah 3:3; Joel 2:23; Zechariah 10:1; James 5:7).

Sometimes a person has to move to where the work is, or for some other reason, and has to take their family along. Like with Abram, it may be only for a limited time and then one can return after things get better. Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence?

So Abram looked toward Egypt. Egypt was originally founded by Mizraim. He was a descendant of Ham and so that land was known, for awhile, as the Land of Ham. Abram went to Egypt, but it was only "a temporary stop-over move" on his part. He had no intention of permanently settling there. The name, Mizraim, means "tribulations." The name, Egypt, means "anguish." I guess that meant for Abram that when he went to Egypt he was going to get anguish and tribulations.

Egypt is a type of the world (the evil world system). A true Christian does not need to be tangled up with the world. Unfortunately, many Christians are lured in that direction today and rationalize their behavior for doing it. This is not good as the world is not our friend but is hostile to God and will only give us anguish and tribulations. Abram was not supposed to be involved with the world. Two Apostles stated:
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God"
(James 4:4). "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world"
(1 John 2:15-16).
In other words, since Egypt is a type of the world and worldliness then any true Christian should avoid wallowing in the evil world system for too long lest the world's corrupt value system rub off on him or her. There was no love of God in Egypt. They worshipped idols there- this was Satan's domain. A true Christian does not do well in the world. You may find that you are outnumbered and they may gang up on you. Those folks may want to take away from you much that you place value on, especially your relationship with God. Then you might backslide or become spiritually cold, forget God, and embrace a sinful lifestyle
(2 Peter 2:20-22). Also, no matter what you have materially, there is always someone who may want to take it away from you. In other words, unbelievers may want to take away possessions from believers. They seem to do this best when they have power in the government, in the military, in the court system, and in law enforcement. A good example of this is found, later on in Genesis, when the political leaders of Shechem talked about how they coveted Jacob's possessions:

"Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours?"
(Genesis 34:23).
My earthly father used to tell me: "Get a good education because they can't take that away from you."


Did Abram tell a lie?
Yes. Telling a half truth is a lie. It is done with the intent or purpose of the heart to deceive. God disclosed Abram's deceitful plan. If you and I are deceitful, will we get away with it? God through Moses said:

"...behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out"
(Numbers 32:23).


Abram had a big mountain in his way:
If Abram made one false move in order to get his wife back, after Pharaoh forcibly abducted her, it might have meant the death penalty for him. Pharaoh was considered the most powerful man in the world, so no one was going to take one of his wives away from him. Have you ever had a mountain in front of you (a big problem) that appeared to be too big to climb or remove? What did Abram do? He prayed to the Mountain Mover (God) to take care of the situation. This is what you and I need to do when we face a great challenge. Here is what Jesus said:

"Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, be removed and be cast into the sea, it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive"
(Matthew 21:21-22).

God caused a lot of trouble for Pharoah- so much trouble that Pharoah knew that he was in trouble with God. God must have warned Pharaoh somehow, like He did with Abimelech
(Genesis 20:3). Pharaoh had plagues come on his household that made him miserable. God will judge those individuals who persecute us and treat us unkindly for no reason.

God has miraculous ways to keep someone in His will. Satan may cause problems for you and I to get us out of God's will, but God, Who is GREATER and has more POWER than Satan, will take matters into His own hands to make circumstances turn around. He does this for His own purposes and for His own glory. God loves you and only has your best interests at heart- in other words, He only wants the best for you. One time the prophet, Daniel, was not thrown into a lion's den but into a den of lions. God worked the circumstances out where an angel protected him, he was delivered, exonerated, and the false accusers punished
(Daniel chapter 6).

Through all of this trouble, God introduced Himself to Pharoah. That may seem strange to you or I but God has many ways that He can use to introduce Himself to a person. And He has many ways that He can use to get a person's attention when He wants to. God got my attention, one time, when I was an unconverted sinner in the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Randolph, an aircraft carrier. Here is a short quote from my personal testimony:

"...My circumstances had me checkmated. I prayed and asked God to help me if He really existed. Then I felt a little better. I seemed to have hope where previously I had despair. Also I was able to go to sleep and get a good night's rest. That night while I was asleep a most unusual occurrence happened.

Directly in front of my conscious mind the face of Jesus Christ appeared to me. He looked at me face to face and without a doubt in my mind I knew it was Him. His face was partially blemished by large black splotches I knew to be my sins that separated us. Then He spoke these exact words to me, "You are going to be a cook." Then He left but I never forgot the encounter.

All the next morning I went around thinking about this heavenly visitation. I wondered why Jesus had come to me. After all, who was I? I had heard a little about Him from times I had gone to the Methodist church as a boy, but I did not know what He required from me. Why did He comfort me with those words? Why should He care if I was a cook or not? I wondered if there were truth to His words. Why did He come to me at night while I was asleep?

I still had not heard one word about my third set of transfer papers I had submitted, but I knew if they got approved it would be a miracle. I waited all morning very expectantly. Then the news came. The transfer had been approved! I was on my way to the Supply Division to be a cook. When I received the news I was astonished and happy all at one time. I knew Jesus Christ had given me that transfer..."

After my transfer, I was invited to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, which I did. So, the point of logic is this- God does appear to some folks to get them to follow where He is leading them, He has ways of getting a person's attention, and He can introduce Himself to anyone who He wants to in His own way and in His own time.

Sarai probably purchased a young female slave in Egypt named Hagar. This slave would eventually cause her much pain. Physical slavery is an international evil and none of God's true believers should ever engage in it.

Abram and Sarai were banished from Egypt. If you belong to Christ, the world does not want you- so expect rejection. Christ and the world have opposite value systems. Yes, Abram and Sarai sinned and left Egypt in disgrace. What do you or I do when we sin?
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"
(1 John 1:9). "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?"
(1 Peter 4:17).


Why did Abram have problems?
Let me ask you a question. Do you think that Abram and Sarai were in the will of God in moving to Egypt? If you say no, you are not alone. Let me ask you another question. If you and I get out of the will of God, do you think we might have problems? I think there is a lesson here for us.

Could there have also been other reasons that they had problems? Well, let's kick around a few other reasons. God called Abram to the land of Canaan, but after he was there for awhile, there was no rain. Abram was in God's will- at the right place and at the right time. But then a problem arose. Why did the problem arise? Why do problems arise in your life and in my life? There could be one of several reasons:
1) God was allowing Abram to go through a trial of his faith. Sometimes a person is like a beautiful but sharp pointed rock with jagged edges. God takes out his sand paper and starts sanding on that rock, rounding off the sharp edges and polishing it to make it better. But this is always painful.
2) It could have been a natural disaster that randomly arises from time to time and affects the lives of the best of people. Abram made a logical choice and responded to it- he went where the food was.
3) God directed Abram to go to Egypt through "open and closed doors" to testify to Pharoah about God. Souls were at stake and a preacher of righteousness was needed there.
4) When Satan and his imps find a person in God's will, they will do all they can to get that person out of God's will. Satan wanted him there to destroy him.
5) And there may be other reasons not listed here. Why do you think he had problems?


What was the difference between one couple, Abram and Sarai, and another couple, Ananias and Sapphira?
(Acts chapter 5). They each told lies, yet one couple was killed while the other couple was blessed. In my opinion, the difference was ownership. God owned Abram and Sarai, while Satan owned Ananias and Sapphira. Abram and Sarai were trying to do God's will but, like a lot of us, sometimes they fall down and skin their knees. In other words we all make some mistakes along the pathway of life and that means we are only human. But when we do, our Father in His great love for us, picks us up, bandages our wounds, and helps us get started again. However, Ananias and Sapphira were trying to do Satan's will in lying to God and attempting to destroy the early church. God killed them on the spot. I am sure that Abram and Sarai repented of their sin and asked God to forgive them. God will forgive you and I also if we ask Him to and we should forgive others also
(Matthew 18:22).



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