Gen. 12:1 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 shew thee:
Gen. 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
Gen. 12:3 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.
Gen. 12:4 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.
Gen. 12:5 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.
The Lord speaks to Abram and tells him to leave this land and his relatives. According to Stephen (as recorded in Acts), God called Abraham to leave his homeland before they came to Haran.
Acts 7:2 “And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran….”
As we continue to read these verses, it would seem that God spoke to Abram a second time after his father died, since verse 4 seems to indicate that Abram responded in obedience shortly after the LORD spoke to him.
No other background is provided regarding Abram’s relationship with God. Maybe the time in Haran allowed time for that relationship to grow. It also seems that Abram wasn’t surprised at hearing God speak to him.
Abram and Sarai were childless (v11:30), but God promised to:
The only thing Abram had to do to receive God’s blessing was obey God’s call in faith. I liked this comment by Deffinbaugh: “Faith is not developed by living life by some kind of map, but by using God’s Word as a compass, pointing us in the right direction, but challenging us to walk by faith and not by sight.”
So, at age 75 Abram sets out to obey God. He takes his wife, his brother’s son Lot, and all their substance and the souls (servants) they had gotten in Haran.
There is one thing Abram chose to disregard—God told him to leave his kindred, but he chose to take Lot with him. That seems to disregard God’s instruction to leave his family, even though he probably looked on the fatherless young man as a son. This choice will prove to have future consequences for Abraham and for future descendants of both men.
I liked this application from Ray Stedman: “The opinions of others, the traditions of men, the pressures from family and friends, the attitudes of our employers and others around us -- these are the kindred we must be willing to forsake when we hear the call of God. When God confronts us with his call, these are not to count any longer. We are to renounce this concern about what others think and be preeminently concerned about what God thinks.”
And this observation: “Everyone is living in one of three places -- Ur, Haran, or Canaan…..Ur is the land of death and darkness, the land into which we were born. Haran is the half-way house where we gain the outward appearance of being religious but where there is no inward reality. Canaan is the land of power and blessing, the place of the Spirit's fullness.”
Gen. 12:6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
Gen. 12:7 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.
Gen. 12:8 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.
Gen. 12:9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
They traveled to Sichem (Shechem) in the land of Canaan and God appeared to Abram. Twice in verse 7 we are told that God appeared to Abram. Until this time he had been obeying someone he had only heard. (Thought: How would it change our lives if we actually thought that God would show up to see us at any time?) Just because we can’t see Him, we seem to think He can’t see us—at least that is what many of our choices and actions indicate.
God tells Abram that He will give this land to his children. In response, Abram builds an altar to the Lord. He leaves Shechem and goes to a mountain east of Bethel. When he pitches his tent, Bethel is on the west and Hai (Ai) is on the east. Again he builds an altar to the Lord and prays.
Once again, Abram picks up his journey and heads further south.
Gen. 12:10 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.
Gen. 12:11 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:
Gen. 12:12 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.
Gen. 12:13 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.
Gen. 12:14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
Gen. 12:15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.
Gen. 12:16 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.
There was a great famine in the land so Abram heads to Egypt to provide for his entourage. We are not given any indication that God instructed him to do this. The last command we heard was for Abram to go to “a land that I will show thee.” He did that and received God’s promise to give that land to him and his children. He had trusted God to this point. Why not through the famine? How I can identify!! God is so faithful and provides in so many wonderful ways. Why do I ever worry and doubt that all of a sudden He is not going to come through in a given situation or circumstance? We are so quick to try to “do it myself” instead of asking for and waiting on God’s direction or provision.
Now we know that Abram was 75 when he left for Canaan. How old was Sarai? According to Genesis 17:17 Abram is ten years older than Sarai; so she is at least 65.
Evidently, she was still very beautiful since Abram decided to lie about the fact that she was his wife because he feared for his life. Again, he doesn’t trust God enough to protect him from the Egyptians. Sad thought to this wife—He doesn’t seem to be concerned about how his decision will affect her.
Sure enough, the Egyptians thought she was beautiful, and she was taken to Pharaoh’s palace. Pharaoh gave Abram sheep, cattle, donkeys, servants, and camels for her sake.
Gen. 12:17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.
Gen. 12:18 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?
Gen. 12:19 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.
Gen. 12:20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
This section is very interesting because after Pharaoh’s house is afflicted with diseases, he realizes it is because of Sarai. By the time he talks to Abram, he knows that Sarai is his wife. So he sends Abram away with Sarai and all his other possessions. We are never told how Pharaoh learns all this. He could have been a lot more violent and angry—but it was like he feared something if he harmed Abram. So, he just told him to leave.