Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you. And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great. And so you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him. And Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan. Thus they came to the Land of Canaan. Genesis 12:1-5 (NASB)
Summary: God is looking for men who will take Him at His word, follow Him, and bless others.
Genesis 12:1-5 is a pivotal passage in the Book of Genesis, in the history of Israel, and in the history of the world. After having informed us how the universe came to be, who we are as human beings, why the world is fallen, why humans can be so wicked, and how God judged the world in the flood, Genesis now turns to God’s program of redemption beginning with one man: Abram.
Verses 1-3 of this passage give God’s command to Abram, while verses 4-5 give Abram’s response. Called the Abrahamic Covenant, verses 1-3 record God’s command to Abram to leave everything he held dear and go to an unknown land. There he was to be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth. The biblical concept of blessing meant the one giving it was giving a guarantee of life, prosperity, security and comfort to those receiving the blessing. In response to the curse brought on by Adam’s sin, Abram’s obedience would result in untold good proceeding to countless people throughout the world.
In verses 4-5, Abram does exactly what God commands him, with the exception that he took Lot with him. God will deal with this issue in Abrams life later on. Lot notwithstanding, Abram responded to the simple command God gave him with simple obedience. He left his home in Haran for a land he knew nothing about. He took his wife, whom we have been told in chapter 11 could not have children, and believed that God would somehow, someway, make him a blessing to the entire world through his descendants.
Application: What does the text mean to us in our context?
So how does God do men’s ministry? Should we see God’s call and Abram’s obedience as a unique event or as a template for how God works with all men? In other words, is this passage descriptive or prescriptive?
If this narrative is prescriptive, then we should see similar patterns in how God has worked in the lives of godly men who came after Abram. And in fact, we do see these same repetitive themes cropping up throughout biblical history. We see the theme of God isolating men so that he can prepare them for service repeated in the lives of Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and David and the disciples. We see the theme of God entering into covenant relationships repeated in the lives of these same men. And we see the theme of God calling men to be a blessing also repeated with these men.
In reality, all believers are living out this same pattern: God is calling us to leave everything behind, to be separate from the world, to take God at his word, to enter into covenant relationship with Him through faith in His Son (the New Covenant), and to be a blessing to those who are around us as well as to the generations that follow us. The biblical concept of blessing means that we become a guarantor of life, prosperity, security and comfort and consolation to those who are in most need around us. This includes our immediate family, but extends out beyond our family as well.
In other words, men’s ministry is God centered and other centered, not primarily man centered. We are to direct our men’s ministry, not first to the needs and issues that men themselves face, but to the needs and issues that others around them face.
Teach: How do we communicate these truths clearly and practically so that our audience understands them, remembers them and responds to them appropriately?
If you are not already, familiarize yourself with the lives of Jacob, Joseph, Moses and David. Note how God isolated them, made covenants with them and then used them to bless others. Meditate on the concept of blessing and do your own word study on this concept. Review the ministry of Christ with the disciples and how he also called them to leave everything and follow him.
Think about your own experience of God’s call on your life and how the Lord has prepared you through this same process of faith, isolation, covenant and call to be a blessing. Talk about how your men’s team ministry can be one aspect of fulfilling this command to bless others with long term needs by guaranteeing their wellbeing.
- Why do you think God focused on one man and his descendants?
- What did God command Abraham to do? Did Abraham obey God completely?
- What was God’s promise to Abraham?
- In what way was God planning to reclaim the world from Satan through Abraham?
- What do you want to be doing when you’re seventy-five years old?
- What is the covenant called that God has made with us (Luke 22:20)?
- What are the requirements of this covenant (1 John 3:23, John 13:34-35)?