Genesis 12:4
So Abram departed, as the LORD had directed him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.
Abraham's FaithJ. C. Gray.Genesis 12:4
Abraham's JourneyG. Gilfillan.Genesis 12:4
Abraham's ObedienceF. B. Meyer, B. A.Genesis 12:4
An Example of FaithA. Maclaren, D. D.Genesis 12:4
The Blessed Life Illustrated in the History of AbrahamMark Guy Pearse.Genesis 12:4
The Preparations of GraceR.A. Redford Genesis 12:1-5
Genesis 12:3
Joshua before his death twice calls together the people of Israel to urge on them one exhortation of supreme importance. On the first occasion he reminds Israel of its great mission, which is to be a holy nation, the priesthood of the Lord for all mankind, separated by this its high calling from all association with the pagan nations around, and bound to abstain from all contact with idolatry. Let us notice the command and its sanction.

(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.

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.



(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

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.

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.)

Abraham obeyed. The obedience of faith (Hebrews 11:8). Consider how his faith operated.


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.


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.


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.The obedience of faith is the most perfect and acceptable obedience.

II."Without faith it is impossible to please God."

(J. C. Gray.)

Great journey, suggestive of much! It reminds us of the "Pilgrim Fathers" and their memorable expedition; but they, unlike Abraham, knew something of the country to which they were going. It reminds us of the noble travellers, Ledyard and Park; the former saying, when asked when he should be ready to set off for the interior of Africa, "Tomorrow"; and the latter leaving again the peaceful banks of the Tweed for the sandy deserts which had nearly overwhelmed him before; but they, too, knew where they were bound, and besides were certain of renown, if not of safety, and both expected to return. A truer parallel to this wondrous journey of Abraham is found in the case of the dying Christian, who, full of faith and hope, calmly and cheerfully takes his plunge into the darkness of the future world. But he does this, partly at least, in obedience to necessity, whereas Abraham, who might have stayed at home, went in willing submission to the command of God.

(G. Gilfillan.)

Let us notice how Abraham's circumstances helped his faith. "Get thee out of thy country." He was to go away from his possessions, away from the land which he loved and ruled as a chief, "unto a land that I will show thee." He is to find his possession in God. He looses his hold upon those things about him that he may grasp the hand of God, and find what God can give him. See further, his faith was helped by the departure from his kindred. Why from his kindred? We have often thought of the hardness, almost the harshness, of the call. It is strange that we have never thought about the mercy of this command. The troubles of Abraham's life came from the kindred that did go with him: Sarai, brave and faithful as she was, yet once or twice was rather a hindrance than a help to Abraham; and as for the ungrateful and worldly Lot, Abraham had to face many perils for his sake. Remember, too, that the kindred whom he left behind were idolaters; and the bitterest foes a man can have are those of his own household, specially in the matter of religion. Abraham, fearless as he was, yet like many a man of high courage, was so peaceable that he preferred a compromise to strife. His safety was away from his kindred, alone with God. And, turning to ourselves, how little do we know what friendships and early associations may help or hinder the life of God within us. There was yet a further aid to faith: "And from thy father's house." Abraham was to leave his father's house, that henceforth he might live in a tent, and that tent was no less than a very sacrament. It was the outward and visible sign of the inward and invisible grace. It set forth God's command, and it expressed Abraham's obedience. By it he said: I am a pilgrim here, on a journey, seeking a country which God hath promised to give me. Thus the tent, with all its surroundings, was in itself the reminder of the promise, and the prompting of his faith. Let us look back upon the incident once more, and turn to think of its relation to our own lives. The one great purpose of the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is to do for us what God did for Abraham. The New Testament idea of the Christian's life is throughout that of a resurrection. The Cross of Christ is our three-fold death: death to sin, death to self, death to the world. The life we now live is a life begotten in us by the Holy Ghost, who raised up Jesus from the dead; a new life with new faculties, and new aims and new relations. Born of God, our relationship is to God; our affections are set on things above; our home is in God; citizens of the Heavenly City, we are eager for its honours, and jealous for its glory. The Cross of Christ is to do for me all that God commanded Abraham; and I have not rightly found its meaning until it is to me a power so to use the world that in it everywhere I find the presence of God, and by it I am made more fit for His service and more like unto Him, blessed and made a blessing. So is it that by the surrounding of our daily life our God is seeking to lead us into the blessed life. "So Abraham departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him." And as he goes, leaving father's house and kindred and country, shall we turn away and complain that the terms are so hard; that unless one be much more brave and resolute than most men it is vain to seek this good; that humanity so coarse as ours is incapable of any such sacrifice, and that our innate selfishness cannot endure the strain? Nay, verily; love loses all thought of sacrifice, and turns it all to joy. So Abraham departed — not driven, not trembling, but lured and won by the God of glory who had appeared to him with the gracious promise: "I will bless thee;...and thou shalt be a blessing."

(Mark Guy Pearse.)

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