WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 4, 2011
CHOOSING TO FOLLOW GOD
(GOD blesses and leads those who follow HIM)
Genesis chapters 12-50 gives us details about the origins of the Hebrew race, starting with Abraham and Sarah. After relating the story of how sin was first introduced into the world, and, its catastrophic effect on mankind in chapters 1-11, Moses now informs us about the onset of GOD’s plan to bless all nations through HIS seed, which was ultimately CHRIST JESUS.
Abram, whose name GOD changed to “Abraham”, was born in the fabled city of Ur. At that time, about 4200 years ago, Ur was a rich Sumerian influenced city, which was located along the Euphrates River. Its people, culture, and language were heavily influenced by the ancient people of Sumer, who were Babylonians, probably of non-Semitic origin, and, who had established one of the earliest and greatest civilizations of the fourth millennium B.C.
The Sumerians were widely known for their monumental architecture, vast wealth, comfortable homes, music, and fine art. While Abram lived there in his father’s house, he worshiped many other gods, as he had become a product of his environment (Joshua 24:2). However, once GOD spoke to him, he left his father’s house and traveled to the land of Canaan, where, along his journey, he lived a nomadic lifestyle, in tents, for nearly 100 years.
Abraham is the towering figure to whom the Jews trace their origin as GOD’s chosen people. Today he is revered by the followers of three great world religions; Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. He is all-important to us today for two reasons. First of all, we cannot even begin to understand the Old Testament, until we can come to see it as an outworking of the promises that GOD first delivered to him as a man, personally. Secondly, as we meditate on his story, we are able to pick up many, many tidbits and principles that we can utilize today, to enhance our own personal lives and our own personal relationship with GOD.
Abraham was called out from a life of fraternizing and socializing with people who sought after many gods, and who had long ago, fallen in love with themselves, and the things that they could make or buy, by way of their creativity and financial power. At age 75, he left the bling bling and glamour of this ritzy society in order that he might have a personal relationship with the only wise living GOD of the universe, and GOD rewarded him with everlasting fame, honor, and glory from on high. And even though he quickly stumbled, (while feeling the pressure of a severe drought – Gen. 12:10) by moving to Egypt without the divine direction of GOD, putting himself and his family in certain danger, he was able to recover because he never once thought about permanently abandoning his instructions from GOD. He had found himself in his first situation where he had to trust GOD totally, and he obviously failed that test. In his mind, he was only trying to mitigate his own losses and circumstances by moving his family and property out of harm’s way, and into a more livable situation, which he saw in the land of Egypt (Gen. 12:11-16).
Abraham temporarily strayed from GOD’s plan to incorporate a human plan of his own, and he almost paid for it with his own life. However, GOD, WHO knows all hearts, intervened with HIS mercy, and delivered Abraham and his whole family, intact, from the anger of the scorned Pharaoh of Egypt.
There are very striking parallels between this move by Abraham, and the later move by Israel, through Joseph, to find refuge from famine by sojourning in Egypt. For instance, the famine in the land (Gen. 12:10 & 47:13), the descent into Egypt (Gen. 12:10 & 47:27), the attempt to kill the male and save the female (Gen. 12:12 & Ex. 1:22), the plagues on Egypt (Gen. 12:17 & Ex. 7:14-11:10), the spoiling of Egypt (Gen. 12:16 & Ex. 12:35-36), the deliverance (Gen. 12:19 & Ex. 15), and the ascent to the Negev (Gen. 13:1 & Num. 13:17, 22). And so we see, in essence, the great deliverance of Israel from Egypt had already been accomplished by GOD, through its ancestor Abraham many years earlier.
As we view the particulars of the “Abrahamic Covenant”, we can see seven “I will” promises (Genesis chapter 12, verses 1-7), that has either already been fulfilled, or, are being fulfilled right now. They are as follows;
(1). I will make you into a great nation (vs. 2a)
(2). I will bless you (vs. 2b)
(3). I will make you famous (vs. 2b)
(4). I will make you a blessing to others (vs. 2b)
(5). I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you (vs. 3a)
(6). I will bless all of the people of the earth through you (vs. 3b)
(7). I will give this land (Palestine) to your offspring (vs. 7a)
After choosing to follow GOD, Abraham set out upon a faith journey that grew stronger and stronger with each passing day. And out of reverence and respect for GOD, Abraham made it his custom to build commemorative altars of worship to GOD, almost everywhere he went, namely those in Shechem and Bethel. They helped him to remember GOD’s covenant promise with him, and also gave him strength and encouragement to continue on his 500 mile journey, on foot, from Ur to Canaan.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
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