The Call of Abram
Open Your Bible
Genesis 12:1-20, Genesis 13:1-4, Matthew 1:1-2
BY Guest Writer
Text: Genesis 12:1-20, Genesis 13:1-4, Matthew 1:1-2
Last year started out with such promise. I was about to turn 40 and had a book coming out. Generally speaking, I felt I was hitting my stride in life. And then one by one, different parts of my life started unravelling. Suffering left its fingerprints everywhere.
I wish I could say I responded in great faith, but I didn’t. I was often depressed and angry, consumed with worry and doubt. But God remained faithful and continued to pursue me. He stripped me of my self-confidence and replaced it with a confidence in His strong arm, eternal love, and everlasting grace. As I read the story of Abram’s call, I hear faint whispers of my own life this past year.
Abram received this remarkable promise from God: “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3).
Can you even imagine the heart-exploding joy Abram must have felt hearing those words?
Genesis 12:4-9 tells us his immediate response was to obey and worship God. But then we come to verse 10: “Now there was a famine in the land.” After the promise, there was a major trial, a famine that changed the course of Abram’s life.
He left for Egypt, hoping to find food to provide for his family. But when he got there, he was overtaken by fear. His confidence in the Lord was replaced with doubt, and he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Abram reminded his wife Sarai of her beauty (always a good way to start a difficult conversation), but then asked her to lie about who she is in order to ensure his own safety. Sarai did exactly what Abram asked of her and was taken into Pharaoh’s house and made his wife. In return, Pharaoh then gifted Abram with sheep, oxen, donkeys, camels, and servants as a thank-you for letting Sarai become the newest member of his harem (Genesis 12:11-16).
You’d think the story would end with Abram seeing the error of his ways and then rescuing his wife. But that’s not what happened at all! It is God who rescued Sarai. He sent plagues on Pharaoh until he figured out that Sarai was in fact Abram’s wife—not his sister. And to avoid further punishment, Pharaoh sent Abram and Sarai on their way (Genesis 12:20).
In my mind, that should render the promises from God to Abram void. Abram wasn’t worthy to receive the honor of having all the nations blessed because of him. And yet God, in His mercy, fulfilled His promise to Abram. Scripture tells us that Abram is the beginning of the line of Christ (Matthew 1:1-2). The promised Messiah came from this man.
The shock of the gospel is that we can do nothing to sustain our relationship with God—His faithfulness alone can do that. He’s powerful enough to take the worst of sinners and use their screwed up lives to bring Him glory. This should teach us to place no confidence in ourselves, but rather, to train our focus on Him and His steadfast love.
The glory of the gospel is that God’s love is lavished upon the unlovely, His grace is given to the unworthy, and His promises are fulfilled by Him alone. We serve a covenant-keeping God. The promise that God made to Abram is fulfilled in the sending of His Son to redeem a broken people and make them a beautiful family.
Jessica Thompson has a heart to see women and their families freed from the bondage of moralism, finding joyful freedom in the truth of the gospel. Jess has a B.A. in theology and is a writer and frequent conference speaker. She’s authored several books, including Give Them Grace and Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions (both co-authored with her mother, Elyse Fitzpatrick), Exploring Grace Together and Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships With the Love of Jesus. She’s been married to her high school sweetheart since 1995. Together, they have three teenage children.