God Chose Abram's Descendants
We must understand that our relationship with God is not based on our works or worthiness but on God's grace. His faithfulness to us is unquestionable, so we must respond to him with faith and obedience. So, this is precisely what Abram did, and God rewarded him by eventually forming the Nation of Israel. God chose Abram's descendants to open the doors of the Gospel, bring forth the Messiah, and give the world the opportunity to be saved, born-again, and have eternal life and an eternal relationship with God.
In chapter 12, God shares his plan to bring humanity back to obedience. The Lord spoke to Abram and told him to leave his country and follow him, and He would show Abram the land that God promised to him. God shared no details at this time but simply told Abram what he had to do. Abram was willing to step out in faith and trust that God would always have his best interests in mind. God told Abram that he would make a great nation of his descendants and bless Abram and curse anyone who stood against him. God also shared that all the nations of the world would be blessed through Abram, a promise which has since been fulfilled through our savior Jesus Christ.
Abram Steadfastly in Obedience
So, 75-year-old Abram gathered up his wife Sarai (Sah-Ray), his nephew Lot, and his servants (he acquired in Haran), all their personal belongings, and then departed from the city of Ur. They left and headed for Canaan, and their route took them through what is now Iraq and Syria to Haran and then through Lebanon into the West Bank of Israel to the city of Sichem (she'-km). Sichem is about halfway between Jerusalem and Nazareth, on the plain of Moreh (mo'-re), a journey of about 450 miles. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and told him that this was the land He was giving to the seed or descendants of Abram. Then without questioning God in the least or hesitating, even though his wife was well beyond childbearing age (65) and had always been barren, he obeyed the Lord and built an altar to the Lord. Now that's faith!
Respond in Faith
God invited Abram outside, asked him to look up at the innumerable stars, and told him that his descendants should also be countless. Abram, by faith, believed the Lord, and the Lord said that he brought him out of Ur of the Chaldees (the Chaldean people) to give his descendants all he had promised. Then God shared with Abram that his descendants would be afflicted and in captivity for four generations before they would finally inherit the land God promised Abram. This delay was because of the current inhabitants, the Amorites because their iniquity was not yet complete. We have an incredibly generous and patient God. Verse 17 presents how Abram's people would suffer affliction in the "smoky furnace" (a reference to Egypt) but then be led out past the broken pieces of their lives by the burning lamp to the land God had promised. This "burning lamp," or pillar of fire, was a picture of God fulfilling His covenant with Abram.
God Chose Abram's Descendants
While most of us are not descendants of Abraham, which Abram would later be called, we have been grafted into the family. For all those that love the Lord and accept Him as Savior and Lord, we become adopted children of Abram and God. God's not through with the people of Israel yet. He has plans, in the end, to open their hearts and minds to His Messiah, Jesus.
I look forward to that glorious day!