GENESIS 12 – 13
Bible Study Notes Rev. Betsy Perkins
The Call of Abram
So far in Genesis, God has struggled with the repeated rebellion, violence and disobedience of humanity. Genesis 12 marks a turning point as God’s plan and purposes will now be focused on one particular person, family and tribe. God does not do this in order to show favor to the chosen ones and neglect all the others, but as a means of blessing everyone. Abram is chosen to be an instrument in fulfilling God’s plan for the whole world.
The Call of Abram: “Go forth!” (12:1-9):
o What command does God give Abram in 12:1?
o What are the promises God makes to Abram in 12:1-3? What is the promise in 12:7?
o Compare 11:4 and 12:2. What idea is found in both verses and how are they different?
o God often chooses to work in and through unlikely people. How are Abram and Sarai particularly unlikely for the plan God promises to accomplish through them?
“It would be reasonable for Abraham to react by thinking, “Oh yeah?” and later the story will hint that he did think thusly. It would be all the more tempting a reaction given that his wife cannot have children at all, which makes God’s intention so to work with Abraham seem not only puzzling but perverse. Why not settle on someone to whose wife that did not apply? But God is not especially inclined to do thing the obvious, sensible, or easy way.” John Goldingay
o What is the purpose for God’s promises to Abram in 12:2-3? What advantages might there be in God blessing one person in order to bless other people, rather than blessing people directly? What are the disadvantages?
o Read Deuteronomy 7:7-9. What was the core reason that God choose Abraham?
o How does Abram respond to God’s command and promises? What is the significance of Abram’s response coming after God’s promises rather than before?
o Have you ever been called by God to leave things behind and journey toward something new?
Abram gets off course (12:10-20):
o What is the reason Abram and his family get side-tracked from the land they were sent to? What other worries/fears does Abram face?
o What choices does Abram make to ensure his family’s safety and survival? Do refugees and immigrants today have to make difficult choices for survival?
o How does God get Abram and Sarai back on track? Did the “detour” have some benefits?
o Have you ever had an experience of having God get you back on track?
Abram and Lot Separate (13:1-18):
o How does Abram restore peace between his household and Lot’s household? How might Abram’s example of dividing land with Lot be applied to situations of conflict today over limited resources or the need to divide possessions?
o Where does Abram built altars for the LORD? (12:6-7 and 12:8; 13:3-4 and 13:18)
o What might Abram have experienced when God “appeared to him”? What does it mean that Abram “called on the name of the LORD” in 12:8 and 13:4?
“Although God talks about giving the country to Abraham, Abraham himself will never possess it. For Abraham, therefore, some poignancy attaches to his tour of the land. He will look around but will do so as someone who will always be an alien. Possession lies in the future. He thereby illustrates a consistent feature of the life of the people of God. We live in the present and in the future. (We live in the past, too, recalling what God did in redeeming us; but that is another story.)” John Goldingay
–In what ways do God’s people today still live in the present and in the future?
o What do Genesis 12-13 reveal about us as human beings?
o What do Genesis 12-13 reveal about God?
In light of this passage and our discussion, what one truth about God and about yourself stand out as something to “take to heart” this week?
Are there steps you will take, by God’s grace, to more fully apply it to your life?
Resources: Robert Alter, Genesis, 1996
John Goldingay, Genesis for Everyone, 2010
Max Lucado, Life Lessons with Max Lucado: Book of Genesis, 1997