Antony Spencer 11am 13th January 2013


From Antony’s sermon on January 13th 2013

Passage: Genesis 11:27-12:9

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This first talk in a series on Abram (Abraham) introduces the themes and people which are later developed more fully in subsequent studies.

Where does the story of Abram fit in God’s story and purpose?

In the first 11 chapters of Genesis the great theological themes and framework of the Bible are introduced.  The themes are:


Genesis 1 and 2.  God said it was very good.


Genesis 3 and 4.  Big trouble:  Relationships man to God; man to woman; man to land; man to man were compromised.  In the early part of Genesis 11 Tower of Babel: scattering of peoples, confusion of language.


The themes of Fall and Redemption are linked in Genesis 6-9.  Read God’s response to humanities wickedness in Genesis 6:5-6.  The outworking of Judgment was the Flood.  But the story continues with God saving Noah and His family and giving humanity a new start through the family of Noah.   Read Genesis 9:1 and contrast this with Genesis 1.  God’s covenant with Noah is established.

When we get to Genesis 12 a decisive new step in God’s redemptive purposes is introduced.  God’s plan for blessing all peoples on earth through Abram (later Abraham) being made into a great nation.   In this way a new theme of future hope is introduced.  (See the family tree at the end of this note which traces the origin of God’s people Israel.  We noted in passing the extent to which unresolved family rivalries and problems went on to bring problems to God’s people – see for example the offspring of Ham, Ishmael, Lot etc.)


The remainder of Genesis traces the ups and downs and the successive adventures of Abraham’s offspring which in due course established the prehistory of the nation of Israel. The Scriptures continue to record God’s redemptive purposes and His promise of Future Hope in the face of broken relationship.

Characters and Themes introduced

Characters Introduced – Genesis 11:27-32

  •  Terah – 3 children: Abram, Nahor, Haran.  Haran dies early in but Lot is his successor.
  • Abram (‘Exalted father’) was later renamed Abraham (‘Father of many’)
  • Sarai (‘my princess’) was later renamed Sarah
  • Milcah (Nahor’s niece) became the grandmother of Rebekah Isaac’s wife
  • Marriage within the family – man to his niece (Nahor and Milcah) man to his half-sister (Abram and Sarai) was not prohibited until the Levitical laws were set many years later.

Themes introduced – Genesis 11:27-12:9

  • In God’s promises of v2 and 3; Themes of Becoming a great nation; promise of blessing and being a blessing;
  • In v7 there is a promise of the land of Canaan for Abrams’ offspring.  (v7).
  • All of this is set in the context of Sarai’s barrenness.  This underlines the key point that in working His purposes out, God often chooses unlikely people or impossible situations so that the glory goes to Him.  Are there any other occasions in Scripture (or in your own experience) that you can think of which show this?


  • Genesis 12:1.  The Lord said to Abram to leave his country, people and his father’s household and to go to the land he would be shown.   See the map
  • Terah together with his son Abram and his wife Sarai and his grandson Lot, set out from Ur to Canaan but got stuck at Haran where they stayed for some time. (From the text you can see that Canaan was God’s destination for this family line – 11:31 gives Terah setting out for Canaan but the call to Abram in 12:1 does not specify a destination. Did Terah receive a call first or Abram?  Acts 7:2 suggests that Abram received the call whilst still in Ur.  Interesting point but either way had stopping off in Haran delayed Gods’ purposes?)
  • Abram set off with Sarai is wife and Lot his nephew.  They travelled into Canaan and when he arrived at Shechem in the north God appeared to Abram and confirmed that this was the land that he would give to his offspring.
  • Abram built an altar to the Lord and travelled further south between Bethel and Ai where he ‘built another altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord’.

I notice from this passage the details of how God related and communicated with Abram.

  • God spoke to Abram (v1)
  • The Lord appeared to Abram (v7)


Trace God’s promise in 12:2,3 and 7.   What are these promises and notice the repetition of the word ‘blessing’.  These promises are made here but are reiterated and confirmed several times at various points in the unfolding story. Trace how these promises were confirmed in chapters 15, 17,18

(The promise covers several area but the central idea and the 5 times repeated word is ‘blessing’.  This promise of blessing is essentially an undertaking that God will show favour to Abram and will grant him success and greatness.  God will protect Abram and make him a means of God’s blessing to all peoples (that included you and me).  In particular God promises to make Abrams’ offspring into a great nation and to give them the land of Canaan.  All of these promises were made to Abram whose wife was barren and who had no children and no land.)


Abram heard God’s call and His promises, and responded to it through …

Obedience   (v4) Abram left and set out for Canaan from Haran.

Worship (v7) Abram built an altar; (v8) Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Worship is where we proclaim the worth of God and demonstrate that we revere and Honour Him.  Obedience is the highest form of worship where we proclaim the worth of God and our commitment to Him by doing what he says.  See John 14:15.


This is a really important point in Gods’ dealing with humanity.  We can see that we are included in the blessing that resulted from Abram’s response to God’s call.   We are blessed through Abram and his line specifically through Jesus.  Through Abram’s line we have received redemption and future hope in Jesus.  Praise the Lord!

  1. Abram responded to God’s call to be a part of His wider purposes in the world.  Jesus calls us in the same way … generally to be part of His purpose and for some specifically in particular ways.  How would you describe the general Jesus’ general call on you?  How has the Lord specifically called you?  Are you fulfilling God’s call on your life?                                                 
  2. Abram’s response was to believe God and show it through obedience and worship.   Abram’s worship is described as Calling on the name of the Lord and building an altar to Him.  I take that to mean involving God in every area of life and privately worshipping Him as well as coming together with others.   In what ways do you call on the name of the lord and build and altar to Him?                                                                                                                
  3. Abrams’ obedience was the gateway into the blessings that God promised.   The call and the promise came first but his obedience brought the promises into effect.  The faith that God approves is the faith that believes and behaves on the basis of what God has said and not on how things appear. Notice too how kind God is in repeating the promises several times to encourage Abram.  Notice too that there were many twists and turns for Abram and it was many years before the promises were fulfilled …
  • Abram was 75 years old when this promise was made; it was 25 years later when he was 100 that the promised son and heir was born;
  • It was hundreds of years before God brought Israel’s children back to the land of Canaan as their inheritance.
  • It was many hundreds of years before Jesus was born to bring blessing on all people.

Are you believing in the promises of God but not yet experiencing or walking in them fully?  If you are then Gods’ word for you is ‘hang on in there’ … keep believing and trusting God.  

Pray for one another as you seek to do that. 

Powerpoint presentation as given during the sermon.

Command and Promise


7th Feb 2013 Posted in: News, Sermon Notes by Fran Varley 0

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