Genesis 12


‘The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. ‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ Genesis 12:1-3

Notice the text says, ‘The LORD had said’, this is past tense, although we don’t know exactly how long ago God spoke to Abraham, we can know that He did whilst he was in his homeland. We also know from the previous chapter that Abraham is the father of the Israelites, Nahor and Haran were his brothers and his father was called Terah.

Ur of the Chaldeans was a very rich city. They had tombs, wheels, sexagesimal system, in other words, they divided things into 60 i.e. 60 minutes and they used a cuneiform style of writing. They had some kind of theology about the afterlife, as they used to bury themselves alive with their servants.

The city was destroyed around 2100 B.C and after its destruction, those people in the area who migrated to the west were known as the Amorites. We have to remember that Abraham wasn’t a Hebrew or a Jew or even an Israelite but an Amorite, Ezekiel 16:3, and his father worshipped idols, Joshua 24:2.

Whilst in UR, Jewish tradition says that Abraham’s father, Terah was an idol-maker. Once he had to travel, so he left Abraham to manage the shop. People would come in and ask to buy idols. Abraham would say, ‘How old are you?’ The person would say, ‘Fifty,’ or ‘Sixty’. Abraham would say, ‘Isn’t it pathetic that a man of sixty wants to bow down to a one-day-old idol?’ The man would feel ashamed and leave.

One time a woman came with a basket of bread. She said to Abraham, ‘Take this and offer it to the gods’. Abraham got up, took a hammer in his hand, broke all the idols to pieces, and then put the hammer in the hand of the biggest idol among them. When his father came back and saw the broken idols, he was appalled. ‘Who did this?’ he cried. ‘How can I hide anything from you?’ replied Abraham calmly. ‘A woman came with a basket of bread and told me to offer it to them. I brought it in front of them, and each one said, ‘I’m going to eat first.’ Then the biggest one got up, took the hammer and broke all the others to pieces.’

‘What are you trying to pull on me?’ asked Terah, ‘Do they have minds?’ Abraham replied to his father, ‘Listen to what your own mouth is saying? They have no power at all! Why worship idols?’

There must have been something in Abraham was God saw as unique for Him to call him. God asked him to leave his home and extended family in order to go to a country that God would show him. Acts 7:3 / Hebrews 11:8.

Imagine someone asking you to leave your home but you don’t know where you’re going? That’s faith.

The promises to Abraham (Abram)

There are seven promises given to Abram.
1. A People. (Posterity)
2. A Name. See also Genesis 15:5.
3. Protection.
4. Prosperity.
5. A Universal Blessing,
6. A Homeland. See also Genesis 12:7 / Genesis 15:18-21.
7. A Son. Genesis 3:15 / Genesis 17:16.

God promised to make Abraham a great nation, this was fulfilled when Israel left captivity, Deuteronomy 26:5. Earlier Moses asked what great nation had a law like the one given to them by God, Deuteronomy 4:5-8.

God also promised to bless Abraham, again this was fulfilled in Abraham’s lifetime, Genesis 24:1 / Genesis 24:34-35, he was also blessed in the children he was given, Isaiah 51:2.

God also promised to make Abraham’s name great, as Abraham is such a famous man, even those who haven’t read the Bible have heard of him and we know he’s very important to Christians, Romans 4:16 / Galatians 3:7.

God also promised that Abraham would be a blessing to others, Christians today join with Abraham in receiving God’s blessings, Galatians 3:6-9, and of course, Jesus is the ultimate blessing for Christians, Galatians 3:14 and because of Him, blessings come to everyone, Romans 4:7-13.

God also promised to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him, this was fulfilled in God’s protection of Abraham. We see it when Abraham with 318 men went to save Lot from the armies of five kings who had just ravished the region, Genesis 14:18-20, later we see it in God’s protection of Israel, Numbers 24:2-10.

God also promised that in him all nations of the earth would be blessed, Genesis 22:18, the fulfilment would be through a specific descendant, Luke 1:67-79 / Acts 3:25-26 / Galatians 3:8 / Galatians 3:16.

God promised that He will make his descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. While in Egypt, the population of Israel increased greatly, Exodus 1:7, and when they left they were a great nation, Deuteronomy 26:5. By the time of King Solomon, he said the population could not be numbered, 1 Kings 3:8.

Remember too that Christians are also called sons of Abraham, Galatians 3:7 / Galatians 3:29 / Romans 4:17-18.

There is no dispute about the fulfilment of:
1. People.
2. Name
3. Protection.
4. Prosperity.
5. Universal blessing
7. A Son.

Most people are in agreement that all have been fulfilled but there are a few who believe that the land promise hasn’t been fulfilled, millennialists for example claim this promise has yet to be fulfilled. So, I want to spend a little time here to demonstrate how this promise had indeed been fulfilled.

The Land Promise

‘Abraham was now very old, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. Abraham was now very old, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, ‘Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living.’ Genesis 24:1-3

Notice that under no circumstances must Isaac marry a Canaanite woman and under no circumstances must Isaac leave Canaan. To leave would have been regarded as a rejection and loss of title to the land.

In Genesis 26 we find the promises confirmed to Isaac. Genesis 26:3-4 / Genesis 26:12.

In Genesis 28 we see the covenant passes to Jacob, Genesis 28:3-4 / Genesis 28:13-15. In Genesis 35 we see the covenant confirmed again, whilst Jacob’s name is changed to Israel, Genesis 35:11.

In Genesis 37 we find Jacob living in the land and two promises have been fulfilled, a son and a homeland, Genesis 37:1. God then prepares for the fulfilment of a third promise, the development of a nation, Genesis 46:3.

It’s significant that whilst Isaac wasn’t allowed to leave Canaan, no such command was issued to Jacob, on the contrary, God sends him to Egypt. The reason for the move was because of famine, with five more years of famine to come, Genesis 42:5 / Genesis 45:11.

Israel lived in Canaan, Genesis 47:27. Jacob died in Egypt but was buried in Hebron, Genesis 50:13. We also see in this chapter that Joseph prophesied that the Israelites would leave Egypt, although he didn’t indicate the circumstances of their Exodus.

God Fulfilled The Land Promise, Joshua 21:43-45. Terms And Conditions. What people tend to overlook is that Israel’s land promise came with terms and conditions attached. Moses even predicted their captivity, Deuteronomy 29:24-28 / Deuteronomy 30:16-18.


Yes, restoration was possible but that came with conditions attached to Deuteronomy 30:3-5 / Deuteronomy 30:10.


Captivity finally came, in 721 B.C. we find the Assyrian captivity, from which the Northern Kingdom didn’t return. 150 years later, we find the Babylonian captivity. It was Nehemiah who led the return to the land. In Nehemiah 1 we see him praying on behalf of the people and notice especially that his appeal to God’s promise was made through Moses, Nehemiah 1:8.

God Kept His Promise

Notice also that Nehemiah also confirms that the Land promise had been kept, Nehemiah 9:7-8.

The Return To The Land

We read of this in Jeremiah 29:11 / 2 Chronicles 36:22. Take a moment to read Ezra 1.

‘So, Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring, I will give this land.’ So, he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.’ Genesis 12:4-7

If this isn’t an act of faith I don’t what is, Acts 7:3 / Hebrews 11:8. There’s no arguing or questioning God when God asks him to leave, he simply obeys and goes at the age of 75 and he took his Sarai who was a Hittite, Ezekiel 16:3 and his nephew Lot.

On their journey they first came to Shechem, Genesis 33:18-19 / Joshua 24:1 and because the Canaanites were already in the land, it seems that God needed to reaffirm to Abram that this was the actual land that He would give to his descendants. Notice he built an altar to the Lord, this was one of many he would build in his lifetime.

‘From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.’ Genesis 12:8-9

Abram came to Bethel, this is an interesting place as archaeological discoveries have indicated that this city was actually in ruins about 500 years before Abraham’s arrival. It was a fortress city that had originally been built by the Egyptians around 2900 B.C. but was destroyed around 2500 B.C. It’s here that Abraham built another altar and worshipped God.

Abram Goes To Egypt

‘Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, ‘I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.’ When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels. But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So, Pharaoh summoned Abram. ‘What have you done to me?’ he said. ‘Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!’ Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.’ Genesis 12:10-20

It’s clear that because of the severity of the famine in Canaan, Abram took his extended family into the delta regions of Egypt in order to find pasture land for his herds and food for his family. Because of the beauty of Sarai, Abram conceived a plan to spare his own life in view of the lust of the Egyptians for beautiful women. He asks Sarai to lie about her being his wife, even though Sarai was actually his half-sister.

She was the daughter of one of the wives of Terah, but not of Abraham’s mother, Genesis 20:12. It was a half-truth, but a total falsehood and as a result of this lie, the house of Pharaoh was plagued. So instead of Abram being a blessing to the house of Pharaoh, he was a curse on this occasion. Pharaoh then chastised Abram and expelled him from Egypt for his deception.

It’s clear that Abram was scared that he would be killed in order for someone to take his wife, so he came up with a reason that he and Sarai were together without mentioning they were married. Yes, Abram lied through half-truths and he nearly lost his wife because of it.

For some reason, mainly because of fear, he must have thought that it was better to lose Sarai than his own life so that God’s promises to him could be fulfilled. Thank God, that God intervened and stopped both Abram and Pharaoh from making foolish mistakes.

It seems that Abram was allowed to keep the gifts because Pharaoh wanted to compensate for his own error. It certainly looks like Pharaoh just accepted the statement that Abram and Sarai were siblings and never thought to ask if they were married before having Sarai into his home.

One of the beauties of the Bible is that it doesn’t try to hide the sin of some of the godliest men we read about, Noah got drunk, David committed adultery, Abram lied about his wife, and will do so again later, and Isaac tells the same lie.

Go To Genesis 13



"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."