Introduction: Many times recently I’ve read that younger adults are gripped with anxiety and fear. We normally fear the unknown. Our study this week is about a man who has every natural reason to be filled with fear based on facing the unknown. Abraham leaves his country and all his friends to go to the country he has never seen. What changes Abraham’s situation is the supernatural. But, the change is not immediate. Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about Abraham and overcoming fear!
A. Read Genesis 12:1. Who is Abram leaving? (All of his family.)
1. Where is he going? (God simply says that he will “show” Abram his future land. Abram doesn’t seem to know!)
B. Read Genesis 11:31-32. Where was Abram’s original home? (Ur of the Chaldeans. Recall in our study last week the people resisted God’s command (Genesis 9:1) to “fill the earth.”)
1. After the flood, where is Terah heading? (To Canaan. This suggests that Abram’s father was already on the move to Canaan, but he never made it past Haran.)
C. Read Genesis 12:2. I’m sure Abram is wondering why he has to leave to be blessed. What clue do you find in this text about the reason to leave? (God is going to make a “great nation” from Abram. Ur of the Chaldeans is connected with what will become Babylon. Two great nations in one place would be a problem.)
D. Read Genesis 12:3. What do you think the promise that all families will be blessed through Abram means? (Read Acts 3:25-26. This is a prophecy that Jesus will come from the line of Abram.)
E. Read Genesis 12:4. From where does Abram depart in response to God’s call? (Haran.)
1. Look again at Genesis 11:31 and read Acts 7:2-4. Genesis 11:31 suggests that Abram’s father started the journey to Canaan, and Abram already knew the destination. How does Acts clarify this? (Acts clarifies that Abram receives the original call from God and he delays in Haran until his father dies. God then renews the call to Abram.)
II. Egypt and Gerar
A. Read Genesis 12:10. Does this reveal a lack of trust in God? Or, is Abram just being practical? (It shows that Abram fears the future.)
B. Read Genesis 12:11-13. Does this reveal a lack of trust in God? Or, is this just being practical? (The journey to Egypt is debatable, but this crosses the line. Abram depends on his lie and his wit for safety instead of relying on God.)
1. Think about Abram’s logic. If the Egyptians would kill Abram to have his wife, they certainly would have no barrier to taking his sister as a wife! Abram loses his wife either way. Do you have an argument supporting Abram’s logic? (Augustine argues that this was not a lie because Sarah was “near of blood.” Abram simply did not disclose she was also his wife. I don’t think I would buy a car (or in his case a camel) from Augustine.)
C. Read Genesis 12:14-15. Has Sarah now become the wife of Pharaoh? (Read Esther 2:12. Commentators tell us that this only began the process of Sarah becoming a wife of Pharaoh.)
D. Read Genesis 12:16-17. What is Abram doing about this terrible turn of events? (He is accepting favors from Pharaoh!)
1. What is God doing about this terrible turn of events? (Sending plagues on Pharaoh!)
2. What lesson does this teach us about God’s kindness to us even when we are irresponsible?
E. Read Genesis 12:18-20. What do you think that Abram concluded about his lie? (He is still alive and he has his wife back.)
1. How does this reflect on Abram’s God?
F. Read Genesis 20:1-3. Why do you think that Abraham lies again? Has he learned nothing?
G. Read Genesis 20:4-6. Who else lies? (Sarah! The person of integrity is the pagan king.)
H. Read Genesis 20:9-11. Did Abram lie because of fear?
1. Who is showing integrity in this situation? To whom is God speaking? (We need to be aware that pagans will sometimes act more properly than followers of God.)
I. Read Genesis 20:12-13. The Bible records that Abram lied twice about his relationship with Sarah, but this tells us this was Abram’s regular practice because of his fear. Before we discuss this, read Genesis 11:31. This does not say that Sarah is Terah’s daughter, it says that she is his daughter-in-law. If that is accurate, then Abram has also lied about the basis for the claim that Sarah is his sister. What does this say about Abram?
J. Read Genesis 20:17-18. Think about this. Abimelech is innocent and God agrees(see Genesis 20:4-6). Read Genesis 12:3 also. Does the promise to Abram extend to all those who follow God? Is the playing field tilted in our favor and against pagans?
K. Read Psalms 23:3. Whose name is taking a beating in Abram’s fearful misadventures? (God wants us to walk in His ways in part to protect His name. Abram, the follower of the true God, appears much less moral than the pagans. Abram, due to unfounded fear, wrongly assumes the pagans are willing to kill him for his wife.)
L. Read Isaiah 41:8. God calls Abraham “My friend.” Can you ever doubt God’s love for us sinners?
M. Read Hebrews 11:8-10. Does God view us in the most favorable way possible? Do we give God the benefit of the doubt?
A. Read Genesis 13:7-9. Who would naturally have first choice of the land? (Abram, because he was senior and had God’s promise.)
1. What does this tell us about Abram and selfishness? (He is not selfish.)
2. We just discussed that Abram was a fearful and habitual liar. What should we conclude about his character? (Abram is just like you and me. He has certain character flaws, but he also has certain character strengths.)
B. Read Genesis 13:10-12. Is Lot selfish? (Yes. He took the best land for himself.)
C. Read Genesis 13:14-15. Notice that when Abram was ling to Abimelech God communicated with Abimelech and not Abram. Now that Abram shows that he is unselfish, God communicates with Abram. What does this add to our picture of a loving God? (God remains faithful to Abram, but God does not show Abram the favor of speaking directly to him.)
A. Abraham is living peacefully in Canaan, but world events overtake his neighborhood. The successors to Nimrod form a coalition that ends up warring against a coalition of kings in Lot’s area. This is a momentous event. Read Genesis 14:11-12. How does Lot’s choice of the better land turn out? (It is a disaster. Lot loses everything, including his freedom, as a result of the war.)
B. Read Genesis 14:13-14. Abram has a “trained” army. What does that tell us, if anything, about a Christian and the use of force?
C. Read Genesis 14:15-17. It would be tempting to say that Abram attacked just a small part of the coalition army, but this tells us that Abram defeated “Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.” Recall that Abram lied because he was afraid for his life? What does this tell us about the growth of Abram’s faith? (Abram is fearless. God gives him an astonishing victory.)
D. Read Genesis 14:18-20. To whom does Abram credit his victory? (He believes that God gave him the victory for he pays a tithe to Melchizedek who is a king and a priest of the true God.)
E. Let’s revisit the question I’ve been asking: what is Abram doing for God’s reputation? (Fearless Abram is now a shining witness for the power of God.)
F. Friend, do you see how Abram has progressed from fear to a fearless trust in God? Do you see how Abram has gone from damaging the reputation of God to being a great witness for God? Will you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, determine today to trust God and thereby be a great witness?
V. Next week: The Covenant With Abraham.
Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.