Week 1 – Abraham
In Genesis 12, God speaks to Abram, whose name changes later to Abraham. But who is Abram? Aside from mentioning Abram as a descendent of Adam and Eve from the land of Haran, scripture doesn’t say much about his origins. However, once we see God speak to Abram we can start to make sense of the lack of Abram’s backstory, if only because scripture doesn’t provide any basis for why God came to Abram. It doesn’t say anything about Abram earning God’s favor or attention. In fact, based on where he lived and the time period he lived, Abram was most likely a pagan who didn’t even worship God. To the reader this reveals God as the divine initiator who entered into a promise with Abram when Abram had done nothing to merit it. Note that the text doesn’t start with God asking if Abram will agree to the promise; it starts with God’s call on Abram and the declaration that he will bless Abram greatly.
To this Abram simply agreed. God called him to leave behind his land and family, and Abram went. In this exchange we see the kernel of the idea of faith, which is expounded throughout the rest of scripture. That kernel is an interaction: God initiates, and we respond. In God’s promise we see the second foreshadowing of the gospel message (the first being Genesis 3:15), when God promises to bless the world through Abraham’s family. In Matthew 1 we find out that Jesus is the direct descendant of Abraham and the fulfillment of God’s promises.
The Bible Project: Genesis 12-50
Check out this video to learn more about Abraham (0:00-2:15).
About The Bible Project
The Bible Project makes broad biblical narratives accessible through short, publicly available videos. Narrative summaries combined with visual story telling makes their videos compelling and incredibly helpful for studying scripture. Check out their Youtube channel for videos on books of the bible, biblical characters, word studies, and more.
Questions for Discussion
• Read Genesis 12:1-9
• What stood out to you from this passage?
• Why do you think God made these promises to Abraham?
• What could these promises tell us about God?
• How could this story help us understand the bible as a whole?
• How might God’s promises and Abraham’s response relate to us today?