Chapter 12

  1. The Call of Abram

– The Lord told Abram to leave his homeland and his relatives and go to the land that He would show him.

    • God said that He would make Abram into a great nation, bless him, make him a great name, and make Abram a blessing.

    • God said that He would bless those who bless Abram, curse those who curse him, and that all people on the earth would be blessed through him.

– “We know from Acts 7:2-4 that this promise was made to Abram before he left Ur of the Chaldeans. Now that his father was dead and he was compelled to a more complete obedience, God repeated the promise. Abram’s partial obedience did not take God’s promise away. Instead, it meant the promise was on “hold” until Abram was ready to do what the Lord said. Abram would certainly become a giant of faith, even being the father of the believing (Galatians 3:7); yet he did not start there. We see Abram as an example of growing in faith and obedience.” (Guzik)

-Barnhouse recounts the historical fate of nations who cursed Israel, “When the Greeks overran Palestine and desecrated the altar in the Jewish temple, they were soon conquered by Rome. When Rome killed Paul and many others, and destroyed Jerusalem under Titus, Rome soon fell. Spain was reduced to a fifth-rate nation after the Inquisition against the Jews; Poland fell after the pogroms; Hitler’s Germany went down after its orgies of anti-Semitism; Britain lost her empire when she broke her faith with Israel.”

      • David Guzik inserts Galatians 3:8-9 into his commentary, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”

      • “Luther said the promise in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed should be written ‘in golden letters and should be extolled in the languages of all people,’ for ‘who else … has dispensed this blessing among all nations except the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ?’” (Boice quoted in Guzik’s commentary)

    • So at the age of 75, Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all of their possessions, and their slaves and left Haran for the land of Canaan.

      • Guzik points out that this was still only partial obedience on Abram’s part. God had instructed Abram to leave his relatives, but he brought Lot with him which resulted in a lot of headache.

    • When Abram came to Canaan, he went on to Shechem.

    • Even though Canaan was occupied by Canaanites at that time, God appeared to Abram and told him that He would give this land to Abram’s offspring.

      • “Abram never owned any of this land except his burial plot (Genesis 23:14-20). Yet God’s promise was enough evidence to assure Abram that he did indeed own the whole country.” (Guzik)

    • Abram built an altar there, then went and pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai.

    • Abram built another altar there in his new location between Bethel and Ai and worshiped.

      • “Christians have an altar also (Hebrews 13:10). We meet with God at our own place where we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for sin (Ephesians 5:2), where we submit to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), and where we offer the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15).” (Guzik)

    • From there, Abram traveled toward the South.

2. Abram in Egypt

    • There was a severe famine at this time, so Abram went to live in Egypt for a while.

    • Just before entering Egypt, Abram told his wife Sarai to say that she was his sister. Sarai was beautiful and Abram was afraid that the Egyptians might kill him in order to have Sarai.

      • This was a partial truth, as Saria was Abram’s half sister (Genesis 20:12).

      • It may seem strange to us that Abraham would be concerned that the Egyptians would be so mesmerized by his 60 year old wife that they would want to kill Abram in order to take her, but Guzik offers this logic, “The long life span of Abram and Sarai also explains her beauty. Since Abram lived to be 175 and Sarai to be 127, this was only middle age for her, perhaps corresponding to what we think of as her thirties.”

    • Indeed when they entered Egypt, Saria’s beauty was noticed. Egyptian officials told Pharaoh about her, and she was taken to Pharaoh’s house.

    • Thinking Abram was Sarai’s brother, Pharaoh treated him very well. Abram had livestock, slaves, and camels.

    • However, because of Sarai, the Lord struck Pharaoh’s house with severe plagues.

    • Pharaoh sent for Abram. He asked why he had lied and told him that Sarai was his sister instead of his wife which led Pharaoh to take Sarai as his own wife.

    • Pharaoh then told Abram to take Sarai along with all of his possessions and go.

      • “Sadly, a pagan king had to rebuke Abram. The king shows Abram if he trusted in God and told the truth, everything would have been all right.” (Guzik)

      • “Faith is not a mushroom that grows overnight in damp soil; it is an oak tree that grows for a thousand years under the blast of the wind and rain.” (Barnhouse)

  • An interesting side note regarding the Mormon faith from the Holman Christian Apologetics Study Bible:

    • Mormonism (also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) claim that while Abraham was in Egypt he wrote The Book of Abraham, which is one of the Mormon sacred scriptures. They claim that the book had been lost until it came to Joseph Smith in 1835. Smith allegedly translated the papyrus into English and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art somehow ended up with the original papyri. At the museum, Egyptologists immediately identified it as a portion of the Egyptian Book of the Dead which deals with the funeral customs and worship of the various Egyptian gods. Smith’s translation was completely wrong. Mormons today still refuse to accept this evaluation and continue to hold to Smith’s claims.

    • You may be wondering (like I did) how Joseph Smith would come to possess ancient Egyptian papyri to mis-translate in the first place. The article, How the Book of Abraham Exposes the False Nature of Mormonism, for coldcasechristianity.com explains, using the Mormon History of the Church as their source. The article also contains comparison images of the original papyri and the facsimiles the Mormon church has used in absence of the originals. Michael Chandler, an Irishman who had a traveling exhibit of four mummies and a papyri, came to Kirtland, Ohio which was (at the time) the home of the Mormons. At that time, America did not have the capability to read Egyptian hieroglyphics. Joseph Smith was allowed to see the papyri and he declared that one contained the writings of Abraham and one the writings of Joseph. The Mormon church raised the money and purchased the papyri. It took Joseph Smith 7 years to “translate” the Book of Abraham. (He never translated the “writings of Joseph”). After this the original papyri were “lost”. Many believed that they had been destroyed in the Great Chicago fire of 1871. However, in 1966, they were discovered in one of the vault rooms of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Mormon church evaluated them to ascertain if these were indeed the papyri that Joseph Smith had translated. On the back of the papyri were “drawings of a temple and maps of the Kirtland, OH area” so the Mormon church confirmed that they were indeed Joseph Smith’s original documents. The Mormon church hoped that the rediscovery of the papyri and the re-translation would validate Joseph Smith’s translation. Instead, not only were the translations found to be erroneous, but portions of the facsimile’s (the “copies” of the originals that the Mormon church had always used) were found to have been tampered with.

    • Among other troubling beliefs, Mormons believe that according to Romans 8:17 (which talks about how we are children of God and co-heirs with Christ), we are literal children of God, making Christ our literal brother, and that we have the ability to become just like God. They also believe that God was once just a regular man- like us (Not, as in Jesus becoming man to take our sins on Himself- as in, God Himself had to attain “God-hood”) Mormons do not believe in the trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one, but rather that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three wholly separate individuals.