So Abram departed, as the LORD had directed him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.
(1) "The Lord hath driven out from before you great nations and strong; no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day." "Take good heed, therefore, unto yourselves that ye love the Lord your God; lest ye in any wise go back and cleave unto the remnant of these nations that remain among you and make marriages with them (vers. 9-12). Israel is thoroughly to understand that it has not been put in possession of the land of Canaan, to lead the same unholy life as those whom it had expelled. There is a priesthood to be exercised. This priesthood implies separation from the ungodly and from idolaters. This separation, however, is to be for a time only, for all the nations of the earth are finally to be blessed in the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:3). Israel is separated from the rest of mankind for the good of the whole. This separation is not merely external, it is moral, for it is only realised by a life of holiness. Such is still the high calling of the people of God. They are to be priests of the most High, separated from the world by the elevation of their life and experience, even more than by privilege of position. The elect are a priesthood. Their election does not terminate in their own advantage, but seeks through them the good of the whole race, for which they are to prepare the way of salvation. Under the new dispensation, the people of God are no longer divided by material boundaries from the world. There is, therefore, all the greater necessity that the line of spiritual separation be bright, strong, and distinct.
(2) The commandment is enforced by a solemn sanction. "If ye go in unto these nations and they to you, know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you" (vers. 12, 13). The punishment threatened has this notable characteristic - that it is to come by means of those very nations with whom Israel shall have entered into unholy alliance. These shall be made, in the hand of God, the scourge and the goad to His rebellious people, just as Israel had been, in the flint instance, the sword of Divine justice to visit the iniquity of the Canaanites. So is fulfilled the great moral law that sin brings its own punishment. "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Every time that Israel entered into compact with the heathen nations it fell under the hand of the heathen. So whenever the Church allies itself with the world, the world entangles, corrupts, and destroys its life, though, it may be, stealthily and without violence. "Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not" (Hosea 7:9). The worldliness of the Church silently saps its spiritual power. - E. DE P.
Hebrews 11:8). Consider how his faith operated.
I. THE DIVINE VOICE OF COMMAND AND PROMISE. God's servants have to be separated from home and kindred, and all surroundings. The command to Abram was no mere arbitrary test of obedience. God could not have done what He meant with him, unless He had got him by himself. So Isaiah (Isaiah 51:2) puts his finger on the essential when he says, "I called him alone." God's communications are made to solitary souls, and His voice to us always summons us to forsake friends and companions, and to go apart with God. No man gets speech of God in a crowd. The vagueness of the command is significant. Abram did not know "whither he went." He is not told that Canaan is the land till he has reached Canaan. A true obedience is content to have orders enough for present duty. Ships are sometimes sent out with sealed instructions, to be opened when they reach latitude and longitude so-and-so. That is how we are all sent out. Oar knowledge goes no further ahead than is needful to guide our next step. If we "go out" as He bids us, He will show us what to do next. Observe the promise. Our space forbids our touching on its importance as a further step in the narrowing of the channel in which salvation was to flow. But we may notice that it needed a soul raised above the merely temporal to care much for such promises. They would have been but thin diet for earthly appetites.
So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him.I. AT FIRST, ABRAHAM'S OBEDIENCE WAS ONLY PARTIAL (Genesis 11:31). It becomes us to be very careful as to whom we take with us in our pilgrimage. We may make a fair start from our Ur; but if we take Terah with us, we shall not go far. Let us all beware of that fatal spirit of compromise, which tempts us to tarry where beloved ones bid us to stay.
II. ABRAHAM'S OBEDIENCE WAS RENDERED POSSIBLE BY HIS FAITH (Genesis 12:4, 5).
III. ABRAHAM'S OBEDIENCE WAS FINALLY VERY COMPLETE.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
II. THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH. We have here a wonderful example of prompt, unquestioning obedience to a bare word. We do not know how the Divine command was conveyed to Abram. The patriarch knew that he was following a Divine command, and not his own purpose; but there seems to have been no appeal to sense to authenticate the inward voice. He stands, then, on a high level, setting the example of faith as unconditional acceptance of, and obedience to, God's bare word.
III. THE LIFE IN THE LAND. The first characteristic of it is its continual wandering. This is the feature which the Epistle to the Hebrews marks as significant. There was no reason but his own choice why Abram should continue to journey, and prefer pitching his tent now under the terebinth tree of Moreh, now by Hebron, instead of entering some of the cities of the land. He dwelt in tents because he looked for the city. The clear vision of the future end detached him, as it will always detach men, from close participation in the present. It is not because we are mortal, and death is near at the farthest, that the Christian is to sit loose to this world, but because he lives by the hope of the inheritance. He must choose to be a pilgrim, and keep himself apart in feeling and aims from this present. The great lesson from the wandering life of Abram is, "Set your affection on things above." Cultivate the sense of belonging to another polity than that in the midst of which you dwell.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
I. IT SUPPLIED NEEDFUL ELEMENTS OF CHARACTER.
1. Courage. Men were gregarious. Dwelt together for mutual aid and protection. He became bold to go forth alone.
2. Disinterestedness. Might have grown rich on the verdant plains of Mesopotamia. Gave up all at God's bidding.
3. Great activity. At seventy-five years of age he gave up a life of comparative ease, and at a time when men are usually thinking of rest, he went out to found a nation, in a country that he knew not of.
II. IT OVERCAME SURROUNDING ATTRACTIONS.
1. The love of country. This, strong in all men, specially so in an Oriental. The memories of the past and sepulchres of his people endeared the place.
2. The ties of kindred. Though he tool: Sarai and Lot with him, many were left behind, to be seen no more. He went out, "not knowing whither he went," and to dwell among a strange people speaking an unknown tongue. When Englishmen emigrate, they know the land, the people, and the language.
III. IT ROSE SUPERIOR TO PROSPECTIVE DANGERS.
1. An unprecedented journey. Ancient migrations were usually made along the shores of rivers. Pasturage and water for the flocks required this. Abram's path lay across a desert.
2. An unknown destination. To an inhabited land where opposition might be expected.
IV. IT LEANED CONSTANTLY ON GOD. His halting places were marked by the altars he reared. He walked not by sight; or the desert, the famine, and the Canaanite, might have hindered and discouraged him; but by faith. Learn —
I. II. (J. C. Gray.)
II. (J. C. Gray.)
(J. C. Gray.)
(Mark Guy Pearse.)
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