Put Yourself in Abram’s Sandals

Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 12[1]

For over fifteen years[2], Abram knew about the city God is building and that God wanted to bless him and make him a blessing to all families of the earth. According to the Chronological Bible, Abram left Haran on April 5, 1892 and arrived in Canaan April 15, 1892. For fifteen years, Abram was a mere ten-day journey from an encounter with God. He was so close and yet so far away for so long.

Abram arrived in Canaan looking for God’s city but that is not what he found. God appeared to him a second time and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”[3] Land! Where is the city built on God’s wisdom and justice where anything they imagined would be possible? God had promised to give Abram the city where the impossible is possible when he was living in Ur of the Chaldees. Over a decade later, Abram finally obeyed God only to learn the city didn’t exist yet.

Put yourself in Abram’s sandals. What good did it do to obey God? It appeared God had played a game of bait and switch. There was no city and Sarai was expecting a permanent home. How will Abram explain to Sarai there is only some land already occupied by the Canaanites? And the news gets worse. God promised to give that land to their offspring not to Abram and Sarai. Sarai had been barren all of her life. She is now past the age of bearing children. How can God keep a promise contingent on them having offspring? 

I can imagine conflicting emotions erupting in Abram. He may have been angry that following God made him look like a fool to his family. What kind of God promises something than snatches it away by making it impossible to fulfill? Abram may have been filled with regret. If he had obeyed God sooner, when Sarai was younger, she might have become pregnant. But now it’s too late.

If I were Abram, I would have returned to Haran. Had Terah, Abram’s father, still been alive Abram might have returned home. At this point in his life, he has nothing to go back to. Abram chose to stay in Canaan and make the best of a troubling situation. As a sign of faith God would keep his word, Abram built an altar and worshiped God.

God may have told Abram more than the brief sentence, “unto thy seed will I give this land…” recorded in Genesis Chapter 12. The Apostle Paul explained that God preached the gospel to Abram. You can’t preach the gospel without preaching Jesus. Before Jesus came to earth, he was known as the seed that would crush the serpent’s head. When God told Abram he would give the land to “thy seed,” he was in the process of fulfilling his promise to destroy the serpent’s power and he only had one seed in mind.

God spoke the promises to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] In Stephen’s defense before the High Priest he stated that God appeared to Abram in Mesopotamia before he lived in Haran. There is no indication of Abram’s age at this first appearance. Abram could have known about God’s intentions as long at 30 years or even longer. Acts 7:2  

[3] Genesis 12:7

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