Abraham's Early Life and God's Calling and Promises (Genesis 12)

Abraham was born around 1950 B.C. in a place called Ur of the Chaldees, which was located about 200 miles southeast of the modern city of Baghdad, Iraq. At birth he was named Abram, which means “God is exalted.” Abraham spent his childhood as well as much of his adult life living in Ur. It was there that he married a woman named Sarai (later Sarah).

Later, Abraham traveled with his father, family, and household from Ur to a place called Haran, some 300 miles north of Ur. He lived in Haran until he was seventy-five years old. It was at that time that Abraham received his very special and unique calling from God.

The book of Genesis doesn';t say specifically why Abraham moved from Ur to Haran, but a New Testament reference says, “Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham in Mesopotamia before he moved to Haran. God told him, ‘Leave your native land and your relatives, and come to the land that I will show you';” (Acts 7:2, 3).

After the death of his father Terah, Abraham received this call — and the promises that accompanied it — from God:

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father';s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1–3)

The Bible tells us that the land God promised Abraham';s people would be Canaan, later known as Israel. It also shows us that God made Abraham the father of the great nation of Israel, through which he would bring a blessing to all nations and races in the form of Jesus Christ.

This promise was at the heart of the covenant (or contract) between God and His people, and it was carried through the centuries from Abraham through his descendants, starting with his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob.

Genesis goes on to give the account of the amazing life Abraham lived in service to his God. It wasn';t without its stumbles and mistakes, but it was a life dominated by a faith and devotion to the God who called him to a high place in His kingdom and in human history.

Abraham did as God had called him to do, and he spent some time in Egypt before traveling to what would be God';s land of promise, Canaan (Genesis 13). But that was just the beginning of an incredible story of Abraham';s faith in and obedience to God.

Study Questions

What was Abraham';s verbal response to God';s command? What was his nonverbal response?

Read Hebrews 11:8. What did the writer of Hebrews say about Abraham';s obedience to God';s call to leave his home?

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