Genesis 12:5
And Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all the possessions and people they had acquired in Haran, and set out for the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan,
Effectual Calling -- Illustrated by the Call of AbramSpurgeon, Charles HaddonGenesis 12:5
Going ForthAlexander MaclarenGenesis 12:5
Half-And-Half ChristiansH. C. Trumbull.Genesis 12:5
Right BeginningsJ. Vaughan, M. A.Genesis 12:5
The Christian's Journey to CanaanE. Temple.Genesis 12:5
The Journey of Abram into the Land of CanaanF. W. Robertson, M. A.Genesis 12:5
The Obedience of FaithT. H. Leale.Genesis 12:5
They Went ForthSpurgeon, Charles HaddonGenesis 12:5
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.

They went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came.
This is one of the most comforting verses in the Bible. It is so simple and yet so sure. It tells us that the end is certain if the beginning is right.

I. The text is WRITTEN FROM HEAVEN'S SIDE OF THE QUESTION. It is the history — put in short — of all the saints who ever went to glory. They took a long journey, and at last they got safely home. The rest — how it was, why it was, all that makes up the interval — is the grace of God.

II. THERE WERE DIFFICULTIES BY THE WAY: why are we not told of them? Because from the mountain top the way by which we have travelled looks level and easy. Things that were great at the time seem so small from that height that we do not care to see them.

III. WHAT IS IT REALLY TO SET OUT? It is to recognize and answer God's call. The great secret of life is to have a strong aim. All through his life Abraham had one single object in view. It was Canaan. The record of each antediluvian patriarch was, "He lived so many years, and he died." That is one side of the picture, but there is another: "They went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came."

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)




1. He was a wanderer in the land which God had promised to give him.

2. He was beset by enemies. "The Canaanite was then in the land."

3. The Divine promise opened up for him no splendid prospect in this world.


1. It was unworldly. The action of Abraham in building an altar amounted to the taking possession of the land for God. Thus the believer holds the gifts of Providence as the steward of them, and not as their possessor.

2. It satisfied a pious instinct which meets some of the difficulties of devotion. It is difficult for man to realize the invisible without the aid of the visible. Hence the pious in all ages have built places in which to worship God. This arises from no desire to limit God in space; but in order that men might feel that He is present everywhere, they must feel that He is specially present somewhere. God meets man by coming down to his necessity.

3. It was a public profession of his faith. Abraham was not one of those who hid the righteousness of God in his heart. He made it known to all around him by outward acts of devotion. Such conduct glorifies God, and gives religion the advantage that is derived from the corporate life of those who profess it.

4. It was an acknowledgment of the claims of God. By building an altar and calling upon the name of the Lord, Abraham confessed that all claims were on the side of God, and not on that of man. He confessed that sin requires expiation, and that all true help and reward must come to man from above. The only religion possible to man is that of penitence and faith.

(T. H. Leale.)

1. Observe here the gradual revelation and accomplishment of Abram's destiny. And this is the history of every one of us: gradually and slowly our destiny opens to us. Our Redeemer and Master teaches us not to be over anxious for the morrow, for we cannot discern its duties; all that belongs to us is to do the duty that lies before us today, and we may be sure of this, that when we have done the duty that is close before us we shall understand and see clearly the duties that lie beyond.

2. Observe again the number of the ties that were rent asunder when Abram left for Canaan. We must learn to live alone, not with regard to external things, but in our inward spirits. Let us not be anxious to hear the hum of applauding voices round us, but be content to travel in silence the way which our Master travelled before.

3. Observe again the two-fold nature of the promise given by God to Abram; it was partly temporal, partly spiritual. The temporal promise was that he should have a numerous posterity, and that they should inherit Canaan; and the spiritual promise was that he should be blessed (ver. 2). Now this record was of great importance to Moses, who gave it to the people of Israel. He was about to take Israel away from Egypt, and therefore he had to make them understand that the land they were going to was their own land, from which they were unlawfully kept out. In proof of this he could refer to this promise of God to Abram. Observe once more the manner of Abram's journey through Canaan. As he went along he erected altars to commemorate the mercies of God and to remind his posterity that this was really their own land. Here we have that strange feeling of human nature, the utter impossibility of realizing the invisible except through the visible.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)


1. Abram's call was the result of the sovereign grace of God.

2. Abram's call was divinely applied and enforced.

3. Abram's call was personal, and it grew more personal as it proceeded.

4. This call to Abram was a call for separation.

5. Abram was obedient to the call.

6. It must have required in Abram's case much faith to be so obedient.

7. Abram's obedience was based on a very great promise.

8. Abram may be held up as an example to us in obeying the Divine call, because he went at once.

9. Abram did his work very thoroughly. He set out for Canaan, and to Canaan he came.

10. The difference between the Lord's effectual call, and those common calls which so many receive.Perhaps some of us who are professors have been called not by the grace of God, but by the eloquence of a speaker, or by the excitement of a revival meeting. Beware, I pray you, of that river whose source lies not at the foot of the throne of God. Take care of that salvation which does not take its rise in the work of God the Holy Ghost, for only that which comes from Him will lead to Him. The work which does not spring from eternal love will never land us in eternal life.

II. If our text may very well illustrate effectual calling, so may it PICTURE FINAL PERSEVERANCE. "They went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and to the land of Canaan they came." That is true of every child of God who is really converted and receives the faith of God's elect. God has purposed it. He purposes that the many sons should all be brought to glory by the Captain of their salvation; and hath He said it and shall He not do it? The way shall not weary us: He shall give us shoes of iron and brass, and as our days so shall our strength be. The roughness of the road shall not cast us down; He will bear us as upon eagles' wings; He will give His angels charge over us, lest we dash our foot against a stone. In conclusion — Think of these three things:

1. We have set forth for the land of Canaan; we know where we are going. Think much of your haven of rest. Study that precious Scripture which reveals the new Jerusalem.

2. In the next place, we know why we are going. We are going to Canaan because God has called us to go. He gives us strength to go, puts the life force within us that makes us tend upward towards the eternal dwelling place, the happy harbour of the saints.

3. And we know that we are going; that is another mercy.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

There can be no impropriety in applying the passage before us to Christian pilgrims going forth from the city of destruction, through the wilderness, to the heavenly Canaan. It gives us a short and comprehensive view of it, which will be interesting, and I trust profitable, for us to consider.

I. IN ITS COMMENCEMENT. "And they went forth." This is descriptive of the period when the sinner, having felt in some measure the importance of Divine things, is resolved to give himself up to God, and, acting under His guidance and direction, leave the broad road of destruction, and enter into the way of life eternal.

1. The scenes they have to abandon. From what do they go forth?(1) From the world to God. They are to be separated from it. In it, but not of it.(2) They go forth from a state of nature to a state of grace — from that spiritual darkness in which the mind of every unconverted man is enveloped, to that heavenly light which is imparted by the Spirit — from all that is degrading, and that tends to debase the soul, to the highest honours and dignities that can ennoble our nature.(3) They go forth from all vulgar prejudices against religion, and mistaken notions which in ignorance they have formed, and rejoice to come to the true light, that their deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God.(4) They go forth from the practice of sin to the pursuit of holiness.(5) They go forth from self to Christ, renouncing all human merit, and pleading the all-sufficient atonement of Him who is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, and bled on Calvary.

2. The principles on which they act. Abram went not of his own accord, but as he was directed by the Almighty. It is so here. Believers are influenced by a Divine power, in going forth and seeking a better country. If left to themselves, they would still remain satisfied while at a distance from God. But He influences them by His Spirit; He shows them the vileness of sin, the deceitfulness of the human heart, and gives them another spirit, by which they are enabled to follow Him fully and serve Him joyfully. They go forth in God's strength — they go forth relying on His power. They now act from conviction: they are assured that nothing can supply the place of religion. They go forth as the result of deliberation: they have weighed both worlds, and the future preponderates. They are led to form their estimate by faith, and not by feeble sense. This was the principle on which Moses acted (Hebrews 11:24-26).

3. The opposition they have to overcome. It is not an easy thing to break forth from the world, and pursue the Christian course. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Our course must be marked by firmness and decision, so that we shall neither be laughed nor threatened out of our religion.

II. IN ITS PROGRESS. "They went forth to go into the land of Canaan." When the pilgrim leaves the Egypt of a natural state, he enters on a journey, and his way lies through a wilderness. His course is of a most peculiar nature, and is diametrically opposed to the course of this world. The way in which he goes is divine — marked out by God; it is the right way — the way of truth, and peace, and pleasure. But there are three things in particular we may mention about it: —

1. It is identified with all that is important. For what do they go forth? Oh! it is not to secure the fleeting, transitory pleasures of a vain world — it is not to obtain worldly aggrandizement. They go forth for an object infinitely superior to every other pursued by mankind.

2. It is connected with much that is trying. We have alluded to the opposition the heavenly pilgrim meets with at She commencement of his journey. Let it be remembered that his way runs through a desert, filled with thorns and briars, and not a garden of roses. There is no going to Canaan but through the wilderness — "a dangerous and tiresome place." The way to the kingdom is by the cross, and it is through much tribulation we must enter into the joy of our Lord. There are privations to be endured, trials to be encountered, sorrows to disturb us in our Christian course; but still we must go forth.

3. It is associated with pleasures that are divine. God has not left us without provision in the wilderness. "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." There remaineth a rest — yes, and it is not only future, but present. "We which have believed do enter into rest." You rest in His grace, His love, His righteousness, His bosom, His Spirit, His promises.

III. IN ITS TERMINATION. "And into the land of Canaan they came." The end crowns all. And what a consummation is here! He who delivers His people from the world, and leads them through the wilderness, will land them safe on Canaan's shore. This termination is a joyful one — it is an honourable one — it is a peaceful one. Let us here —

1. Draw a comparison between the land of Canaan and heaven. There are many points of resemblance.(1) It was a promised country. So is heaven.(2) It was a land of plenty — "a land flowing with milk and honey." In heaven there is everything that can possibly contribute to the joy and happiness of His people.(3) It was a land of peace. So is heaven. There is nothing to annoy and disturb there.(4) Jordan must be crossed before Canaan could be entered. So it is here — "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." We must die to live with God above. We must die to go home. We fall to rise — we die to live again.

2. Show the superiority of the one to the other. The earthly Canaan was only a temporary possession; but the heavenly Canaan is to be enjoyed forever. The one excels the other, inasmuch as the antitype surpasses the type.

(E. Temple.)

Compare this singular expression with Genesis 11:31, where we have Terah's emigration from Ur described in the same terms, with the all-important difference in the end, "they came" not into Canaan, but "unto Haran, and dwelt there." Many begin the course; one finishes it. Terah's journeying was only in search of pasture and an abode. So he dropped his wider scheme when the narrower served his purpose. It was an easy matter to go from Ur to Haran. Both were on the same bank of the Euphrates. But to cross the broad, deep, rapid river was a different thing, and meant an irrevocable cutting loose from the past life. Only the man of faith did that. There are plenty of half-and-half Christians, who go along merrily from Ur to Haran; but when they see the wide stream in front, and realize how completely the other side is separated from all that is familiar, they take another thought, and conclude they have come far enough, and Haran will serve their turn. Again, the phrase teaches us the certain issue of patient pilgrimage and persistent purpose. There is no mystery in getting to the journey's end. "One foot up, and the other foot down," continued long enough, will bring to the goal of the longest march. It looks a very weary journey, and we wonder if we shall ever get thither. But the magic of "one step at a time" does it. The Guide is also the upholder of our way.

(H. C. Trumbull.)

1. Energetic action! Men are not saved while they are asleep. No riding to heaven on feather beds. "They went forth to the land of Canaan."

2. Intelligent perception! They knew what they were doing. They did not go to work in a blundering manner, not understanding their drift. We must know Christ if we would be found in Him. Men are not to be saved through the blindness of an ignorant superstition. "They went forth to the land of Canaan, and to the land of Canaan they came."

3. Firm resolution! They could put up with rebuffs, but they would not put off from their resolves. They meant Canaan, and Canaan they would get. He that would be saved, must take heaven by violence. "To the land of Canaan they came."

4. Perfect perseverance! "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." Not a spurt and a rest, but constant running wins the race. All these thoughts cluster around the one idea of final perseverance, which the text brings out.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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