Genesis Through Joshua- Genesis: Abraham's Life and Israel's Hope Part 1

The Life of Abraham: Starting at Genesis 11:10

An Overview

1) The Exodus Readers
We want to know what Moses was teaching the Israelites through this section.

2) Literary Structure

There is not an easy to discern pattern. But we can say an overarching structure.

11:10-12 Abram’s election and blessing (i)
13-14 Abram and surrounding people (ii)
15-17 Abram’s covenant relationship with God (iii)
18-21 Abram and surrounding people (iv)
22-25 The future of Abraham’s blessing (v)

Gen 12:1-3 = the call of Abram by God
V1: God’s command (12:1 = should be ‘the Lord had said’)
V2a-c: God’s blessing on Abram
V2d-3: Abram’s relation to others. Others will be blessed or cursed through him.

(i) 11:10-12:20 Abram’s election to blessing

11:10-11:32 the background to Abram’s life

1) Genesis 12:1-9
Abram is called to the land of Canaan. This is not an abstract land.
12:7 God says that Abram’s offspring would gain the land. Moses is saying to the Israelites ‘this is your land’.
12:6 The Canaanites were in the land. Abraham went from the north to the south. The Israelites had to go from the south to the north.

Moses message through this passage: As Abram responded to God’s call to blessing in the land so Israel should respond to God’s call of blessing.

2) Gen 12:10-20
V10 Abram travels to Egypt for a little while. Abram gets stuck in Egypt
V17 God plagues Pharaoh for taking Sarai
V20 Abram leaves with riches

The passage obviously corresponds to the situation in Exodus.

(ii and iv) Abraham and Surrounding Peoples

In the stories of Abram’s life he dealt with different kinds of people:
Lot, the King of Sodom, Ishmael, Abimelech.
All of these people are representatives of tribes:

Lot = father of Moab and Amon
Sodom= Canaanites
Ishmael = Ishmaelites (Arabs)
Abimelech = Philistines

The Israelites were to learn how to act with these people groups through Abram’s example.

Duet 20:10-18 shows who were to be destroyed. The Canaanites were to be destroyed but the Ishmaelites, Philistines and Moabites were to be left.

1) Abraham and Lot: Gen 13:1-18
Abraham and Lot have a conflict. Abraham shows kindness by moving northward letting Lot go south. Lot goes to the bottom of the Jordan valley. Lot settles near the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot moves in the way of sin. The Israelites come across the descendants of Lot (the Moabites). They are to be to be kind to them as Abraham was but to be separate because they have an inclination to get in the way of sin.

2) Genesis 14
Northern Kings come to the South and subjugate it. Rebellion against the Northern Kings. The Northern Kings stamp out the rebellion. They move back to the North with Lot and take the treasure. Abram comes with 318 men kills the Northern Kings rescues Lot and returns the riches. Melchizedek blesses Abram.
Abram refuses to deal with the King of Sodom.

Moses’ message from the passage: ‘Israel will have victory against great odds. By kind to the Moabites and separate yourself from their sin. ’

3) Abraham and Mediation 18-19, 20
Sodom and Gomorrah is a listen for the Israelites to intercede for the righteous.
Abram intercedes for Abimelech even though He was from the line of the Philistines.

These stories teach Israel to intercede for the righteousness; even the righteousness that don’t belong to Israel.

4) Abram and the Ishmaelites
From 21:11-13 we see Abram has Isaac (child of promise) and Ishmael. 21:11 and 13 tell us that Ishmael was blessed by God and cared for by God. This should be the attitude of the Israelites and Ishmaelites today.

5) Abram and the Philistines
Abram made a covenant of peace and lived with the Philistines (21:27-32).
Israel should observe these terms of peace.

Overall Meaning

Israel has been called and delivered as Abraham was called and delivered. The church should do the same.


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