TEXT: Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-8
The students will be able to list the benefits that came to Abraham through believing and following God. They will further be able to cite the benefits that come to Christians today when they follow the same course of action.
The account in Genesis 12:1-3 takes place about four hundred years after the Flood, and already man had forgotten God. In verse 2, God promises Abram to “make thy name great.” Abram means “a high father.”
Abraham means “the father of a multitude of nations.” Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise of many descendants.
The first use of the word Hebrew is found in Genesis 14:13. There doesn’t seem to be a clear meaning for its origin. The first suggestion in Smith’s Bible Dictionary is that Abraham was called Hebrew because he had crossed the river. His original home, Ur, was near the Euphrates River. The name also may have referred to his ancestor Heber (“Eber” in Genesis 11:14), the great grandson of Shem.
God is continually looking for one who will make up the hedge and stand in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30). Often He is disappointed, but the Bible tells us of some who did respond to the call of God. Among these was Abraham. Because of his implicit faith in God, he is known as "the Friend of God" (James 2:23). Isn't it wonderful that Jesus said we, too, can be His friend (John 15:14-15)?
- What were the promises that God made to Abram and on what were they conditioned?
Response: The first three verses of our text establish the framework for this lesson and reveal the seven special promises that were given to Abram. God’s promises to Abram were conditioned on his leaving his country and kindred. Ask your students if Abram would have benefited from the promises if he had not followed God’s command. Sum up this question by bringing out that receiving the fulfillment of God’s promises is based on some prerequisites. Then move directly to the next question.
- List some promises God has made to you and reflect on what you have to do to receive them.
Response: God has made many promises to the saved and unsaved. Starting with the universal call to repentance, God promises eternal life, the fruit of the Spirit, spiritual experiences, healing, etc. Added to these, He has promised that we can be joint heirs with Christ. But as Abram had to leave his country and kindred, so must we be willing to turn our backs on our former life, and become new creatures in Christ. Also, as Abram believed God, we, too, must exercise faith and look for that City “whose builder and maker is God.”
- Of the seven promises God gave to Abram, which do you consider to be the most important to us? Why?
Response: Discussion of this question should bring out that the promise, “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,” refers to the coming of a Savior—Jesus. What a wonderful promise! Ask the class if they think Abram knew just what this promise meant. Might it be possible that there are depths to some of the promises God has given us that are not fully understood yet?
- Genesis 12:1 tells us Abram was promised a land which God would show him. Where was that land? What other verse in our text brings out God’s promise that He would give this land to Abram’s descendants?
Response: In Genesis 17:8 we read that God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his children forever. He confirmed the covenant in many other Scriptures: Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 15:7,18; 26:3; 35:12; 50:24; Exodus 6:8; Leviticus 20:24; Numbers 14:8; Deuteronomy 6:10; 31:20; Joshua 5:6; Judges 2:1. The students should understand that this land was given to Abraham’s descendants by the Lord and it should be theirs today.
- When Abram was ninety-nine years old God told him to “walk before me and be thou perfect.” Explain in your own words what this means. Why did God require this of Abram? See Genesis 17:2.
Response: God knew that a covenant between Himself and Abram required a close communion, and that required perfection. God is still looking for sinless perfection—not absolute perfection. Sin is the deliberate transgression of the known will of God, to do something one knows he shouldn’t, or failure to do what he knows he should do. Mistakes, errors, miscalculations, and oversights are not sin, but are human frailties that we should ask the Lord to help us overcome.
- In His sermon on the mount, Jesus tells us to be perfect (Matthew 5:48). How many other references to perfection can you find in the New Testament?
Response: Some of the New Testament references on perfection: Matthew 19:21; Luke 6:40; John 17:23; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:15; Colossians 1:28; 2 Timothy 3:17; Hebrews 13:20-21; James 1:4; 1 Peter 5:10.
- What significance is there in the fact that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham?
Response: Genesis 17:5 indicates that his name was changed as a confirmation of God’s promise that he would be the father of many nations. This was the first recorded instance in the Bible where God changed a person’s name. Ask your students some of the ways God confirms His promises to people today. For example: His Spirit bears witness with our spirit, He brings to our minds portions of Scripture which confirm a promise, or He allows another person to receive the same assurance.
- List some ways that Psalm 1 might apply to Abraham.
Response: Allow time for your students to discuss each verse. For example, verse 1 of this Psalm might remind them that Abram followed God’s leading rather than seek the advice of the ungodly (Genesis 12:1,5). Verse 2: Abraham’s delight was in his communion with God, and he often built altars unto the Lord (Genesis 12:7; 13:18). Verse 3: He was very prosperous (Genesis 12:2). Verse 4: When four ungodly kings fought against Sodom and Gomorrah and took Lot captive, Abraham overcame them with 318 men (Genesis 14:14-15). Verse 5: He recovered all the spoil, and the four kings fled before him (Genesis 14:16). Verse 6: The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, and He knew Abraham’s heart and ways (Genesis 18:19).
- It is obvious that Abraham received some wonderful benefits by following the Lord. In reading Psalm 1, we find some benefits to which we, too, have access if we follow the Lord. The first verse of this Psalm lists three contingencies. For each, give an example or illustration applicable to our day.
Response: Your students’ examples of the phrases, “walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” should reinforce the necessity of being separate from the world if they are to receive the blessing of God. Just as Abram left Haran and the things with which he was familiar, so must they disassociate themselves from things which might interfere with whatever God calls them to do.
- Psalm 1:3 promises the godly man that “whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” How can we explain this verse in light of the fact that, obviously, all Christians are not materially prosperous?
Response: As your students talk this over, they should conclude that prosperity does not mean only financial plenty. Direct them to Matthew 6:33 which promises that if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness then all these things will be added unto us. God knows what is best for us, and if we are living according to His Word and His will, then we can be sure that whatever happens to us is for our good. Conclude your class session by considering Abraham once more. As he stepped out in faith to obey God’s command, did he see prosperity every step of the way? Did he immediately see the blessings that had been promised him? Christians today may, like Abraham, have to walk by faith for a time. But consider the eternal reward for doing so!
Figure how many times you would have to walk around your own church building to cover the distance Abraham journeyed. (It was over one thousand miles!)
Bring a jar of sand to class and let the students try counting the grains.
Make a covenant with your students. Example: “If you will read your lesson and memorize the key verse, I will bring you a prize next week.”
Prepare a question-answer matching chart. Down one side write a list of questions about the lesson such as, “Did God tell Abram where he was going?” “How old was Abram when he left Haran?” “Who went with Abram?” On the other side of the chart list the answers but not in the correct order. Draw a line between the questions and the correct answers the students give.
Bring a dozen plastic eggs (or as many as you need for your class). In each egg put a slip of paper on which you have written a question about the lesson. Tell the students to choose an egg, and if they can answer the question they may have a prize.