Passage Retelling - Kingdom Story Ministries

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#3: Genesis 12:1-4
Retelling from Abram’s Perspective
My story begins where all our stories begin…My roots are the creation story that brimmed with God’s
grand design for His creation, soon followed by the Garden’s demise when choices aborted God’s original plan
resulting in a planet that is now plagued by a constant, complete individual and corporate intent on rebelling
against God. My ancestors found themselves in the same place where Holy Spirit originally hovered: they were
babbling in chaos and scattered in confusion. The Tower of Babel left my family line wondering if God had
given up on us. Who among us would have guessed King Yahweh would devise a grand plan for rescuing the
world, that like a mother hen the Creator would once more create out of chaos?
The launching of God’s long term plan, His promise and journey toward offering a rich salvation is
inaugurated in today’s story. Now there were many ways God could have decided to save His people but
Yahweh’s choice surprised us all. In a far less instantaneous and in a far less dramatic way than the flooding
rains, God formed something new once again out of the dust.
Rather than save the whole world with a flamboyant display, God instead started with just a few pieces
of dust: Sarai and me. Yes, His plan you see was first to identify me, a simple man, Abram (my name would
later be changed to Abraham), the son of Terah. Along with me He also called my barren wife Sarai, and with
this humble beginning He was going to build a nation, go figure.
I had grown up in a family of nomads in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of Mesopotamia, which was
later to be called Babylon and was the location of the Garden of Eden. Having married Sarai and having
thereafter been unable to have children, we had felt the shame of barrenness from our extended tribe and kin. It
was at this time I received an impression from the God of my human ancestors that I should leave everything
and trust Him to go and settle somewhere south in Canaan. Coincidently, or so it seemed, my father also made a
dramatic decision. He announced he would leave the chaotic city of Ur in hopes of finding a better life in
Canaan. He then invited those of our family willing to join him on this unlikely adventure. My wife, myself and
my nephew were the only ones who joined him, all in reluctant obedience to God’s command to go.
But when we arrived in Haran, instead of merely resting and restocking our supplies, we settled down.
We all settled for less, I forgot God’s original call and instead responded to the cultural expectations and hopes
of the first born son that had entrapped me for so long. But when my father finally passed away, and my small
inheritance was secured, something was now different. Sure, I was still living without my own children or a real
land - the two things that mattered most to us in the Ancient Near East. Feeling vulnerable and out of my
comfort zone, God’s initial call once again came knocking on my heart’s door and this time I responded with a
renewed sense of passion and commitment. He confirmed His commands and added His promises and
purposes. Here I relate to you those surprising and unusual words that have since been branded on my heart:
***
(12:1-4) Go from your country, leave and empty yourself of your kindred and your father’s house, yes GO to
the land that I am not identifying now but will show you later, a land I give you today and you will enter
one future day.
Here are seven promises for you that reveal my heart and my purpose for you, your family and the world.
They are what I am asking you to believe; they are why you should leave everything you know and go:
I will make you and your family into a great nation, and I will bless you, giving you favor in every way as we
walk together, and I will make your name and reputation, your character and honor, great,
- now here comes the purpose, both my second command and also a promise:
so that you and your family will then, like a river, pour out blessings in a thirsty land and be a blessing
to others who otherwise have no access to Me.
As your advocate, leader and rear guard, I will bless those who bless you,
© 2012 John Lewis. All Rights Reserved.
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and the one who curses you I will curse;
and again all will come to you for this overarching purpose: so that you, as a people, shall be my
ambassador; because of my working in you and your family, all the families and tribes of the earth shall
also know me, love me and be blessed.’
In short, you are to be blessed so that you can be my blessing to the world.
So moved by these promises, yet having no other concrete proof of their validity, I obeyed this radical
command. Sure, I wrestled with my own fears and then talked it over with Sarai, but in the end, I went as the
Lord had told me. I felt as if I had no choice in the matter, such was the influence of this Voice. I left behind
my beloved tribe, the only land I knew, taking only my barren wife, my nephew, and simple flocks. We stepped
out in tender faith into promises for land and children, into a purpose more regal than any earthly king could
claim.
***
As I set out, God renewed His covenant promises to me in dramatic and constant ways: circumcision,
visions, and changing my name to Abraham, which means “father of the people” – a fitting name for a
patriarch. That doesn’t mean I always trusted God to provide a son. When the years passed without seeing any
hope for a son, Sarai and I schemed to expedite God’s provision. My son Ishmael, through my wife’s maid
Hagar, will always be a reminder of the inconsistency of my faith! But in the end, despite our disobedience and
impatience, God finally gave my barren Sarah and me our little Isaac – which means “God laughs.” And believe
me, conceiving and bearing a child at our worn out age was truly laughable.
Later on Yahweh would test me in dramatic fashion, asking me to offer up my long awaited and
promised son on Mt. Moriah. God’s response to this act of faith only confirmed God’s commitment to preserve
my line and fulfill all He had promised. Nevertheless, it was not for us to see the consummation of God’s plan:
Sarah and I would die years later, wealthy, but with only this one son, and not remotely possessing the land of
Canaan that the Lord had promised to us. As time passed, it was clear that God did not intend in one generation
to fulfill His promises and fully prepare His people; a larger and developing story needed to unfold.
Isaac then grew up and took a wife Rebekkah. Sarah and I died and Isaac continued the family line by
having two of his own children. He already had twice as many children as Sarah and me … but not nearly as
large a family as we had envisioned for a patriarch nor as extensive as what God had seemingly promised.
Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob, grew up as opposites and rivals, with Jacob, the younger, swindling from his
brother both his father’s blessing and his brother’s birthright.
After this trickery, Esau pledged revenge and Jacob fled to a distant land to live with a relative named
Laban. There he worked for 14 years, being swindled himself out of his first choice for a wife by someone more
clever than he. But Jacob also received God’s renewed covenant promises, and then eventually out-tricked
Laban, leaving that land with wealth greater than his own father and grandfather. After wrestling with God and
being shown mercy by his brother Esau, Jacob indeed received the blessing of God: with Rachel, Leah and two
concubines, he had 12 children. These twelve sons would eventually become the seed/leaders of the twelve
tribes of Israel, God’s chosen people.
Jacob’s favorite son Joseph found himself sold to slavery by his embittered brothers, which launched
this spoiled but chosen child into a period of darkness, discipline and exile. During these thirteen years God
developed his character which ultimately allowed both reconciliation with his brothers and a critical leadership
role in a far-reaching famine. Joseph was eventually rescued from his status as a prison inmate and was exalted
to prime minister of Egypt. During his rule the famine drew all nations, including his family, to travel to Egypt
to buy the food stored because of a God-given vision. Joseph experienced a moving encounter with his family
and eventually arranged for them to all move into this foreign land as their new home. God’s promises were not
yet completely fulfilled, however, as Genesis ends with our family understanding that they have been
strategically placed in this foreign land so that they can be used to bless the nations.
© 2012 John Lewis. All Rights Reserved.
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Empowered by God, my faith and willingness to be the first to “trust and obey” launched God’s
redemption plan to restore His ruined creation. Our Patriarchal story (Genesis 12-50) is the “Genesis” of the
Hebrew people, through whom God’s plan of redemption would be revealed to the entire earth. So you see, the
covenant God made with me and my extended family is foundational to Israel’s – and your own – story. It’s the
family tree of all God’s people. In my family’s story, we can all see our own story and the pattern that will
repeat itself throughout history: rather than God having a people with a mission in the world, God has a mission
with a people in the world. The rescue mission is global; let us behold how His plan unfolds.
© 2012 John Lewis. All Rights Reserved.
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