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Abraham, #1

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Abraham & Sarah


By, James L. Thornton

We will follow Abraham’s footsteps from where the Euphrates empties into the Persian Gulf to the green pastures of the Nile River, and back to the Jordan in Canaan, finally to his grave in Machpelah, where he awaits his final call. His study is taken from the book, Good News From Home, by James L. Thornton

We will entitle this study, “Learning From The Life Of Abraham:”

We are putting ONE SECTION of the early part of the life of Abraham on this page. Each study would be about 20-30 pages if you downloaded them and printed it. There will be SIX SECTIONS when we get it all on the web. We hope you will take the time to read all of them.

Study #1. Learning from the life of Abraham


This study #One contains five subjects of the early life of Abraham taken from Genesis 11:24-32; 12:1-9.


A. Learning from the life of Abraham

B. Abraham, man of faith

C. The beginning of faith

D. The promise

E. Into Canaan



(A.) Learning from the life of Abraham.

Why study Abraham? What can we learn from his life? Abraham has been dead thirty-seven-hundred years, so everything about him is ancient history.

Abraham was the son of a herdsman from the lower Euphrates River and destined to be known in later life, and forever after, as Abraham, the friend of God. We will follow his footsteps from where the Euphrates empties into the Persian Gulf to the green pastures of the Nile River, and back to the Jordan in Canaan, finally to his grave in Machpelah, where he awaits his final call.

Abraham was always searching for the Almighty in a world that bowed, and worshipped, before many gods. The way led past splendid cities, great palaces, and masterworks of irrigation that turned desert to grain-fields. But in the harsh wilderness of Canaan the wanderer found his place.

Abraham left to the world it’s greatest legacy, the concept of one God. Without this idea the whole world would be wallowing in idolatry and the degrading demeanor which it brings on the human race. So, regardless of their race, the entire world owes to Abraham a debt of gratitude.

People in every nation know about Abraham. Some have never heard of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Napoleon, yet know Abraham.

You’ll find yourself in Abraham, for his biography forms a portrait of every Christian’s spiritual journey. In the life histories of men like Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, we have symbolized for us the progress of spiritual growth. These Old Testament stories are examples for our own walk with God. They walk, they stumble, they get up, they grow, they falter, etc….

1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.’

Perhaps the clearest and most helpful of all these Old Testament pictures is the record of Abraham’s life. Abraham is clearly the model of faith. Again and again in the New Testament he is held up as the example of how God works in the life of a man to fulfill his promise of grace.


Abraham is obviously chief of all the heroes of faith recorded in Hebrews chapter eleven. In addition to the Christian faith, other major religions of the earth hold him in high esteem.

 It would be impossible to estimate the impact that Abraham, and the story of his life, had, and will continue to have, upon human history.

It has been said that Abraham affected the lives of more people than any other person that ever lived on the earth.

Today more than three and a half billion people hold him as a spiritual leader of their religion, and one-third of that number claim to be a direct descendant of Abraham.

It would be impossible to cover every event in so long a life in these pages so we will stick to the major things which helped shape his life .


Abraham is first introduced to us in the closing verses of Genesis chapter eleven.

Genesis 11:27. “Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.

28. And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.

29. And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.

30. But Sarai was barren; she had no child.

3l. And Terah took Abram his son, and lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

32. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

In these verses we are introduced to Abraham’s immediate family.

1. Father, Terah.

2. Wife, Sarai. Later changed to Sarah.

3. Brothers, Nahor and Haran.

4. Sister-in-law, Milcah, wife of Nahor.

5. Nephew, Lot, the son of Haran.

All of these were to play a very important part in Abraham’s life, and will surface again and again in the story of his life.

Abraham was born into a life of idolatry. The land of his nativity, Ur of Chaldees, was known for their worship of the moon god. It was sometime during this time that God Almighty appeared unto him. (Genesis 12:1) (Acts 7:2-3) We are not told how this appearance took place, but it must have had an impact on his entire family.

It was probably because of this revelation that Terah decided to take his family and leave Ur of the Chaldees to go into the land of Canaan. (Genesis 11:31) Sometime later, Terah died in Haran, and Abram left Haran because of the urge to fulfill the call that had come from God.

Genesis 12:1. “Now the lord had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that i will shew thee:

The spirit of God passes over his early life in Ur of the Chaldees with but the briefest detail. It begins the sacred record with his encounter with God. This is where life truly begins. His name was originally Abram, it was not until years later that it was changed to Abraham. The reason for this change is very important and we will discuss it later.

Archaeologists have dug into the ruins of ancient Ur. They have learned that this was a city of great wealth and culture with irrigated fields, a library, and a university. The remains of a huge tower still exists there which was used in the worship of the moon. So it is almost certain that Abraham was an idolater, a worshiper of the moon. Joshua 24:2-3, more than hints at this.

But Acts 7:2 tells us that, "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham,.."

We have no knowledge of the form this appearance took, but whatever it was it is important to note that God took the initiative. This is true throughout history. Men may think they are feeling after God, but that feeling itself is the drawing of a seeking God. It was true with Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Peter, James, John, Matthew, and Paul.

Luke 19:10. “For the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Here then is God suddenly breaking into the life of Abraham as he lived in Ur, kneeling before his dumb idols. In this meeting Abraham came face to face with a command and a promise.

Genesis 12:1. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Abraham was commanded to do three things.

1. To leave his country.

2. To leave his kindred.

3. To leave his father’s house.

This is the command that every one must heed.

(1.) We are to leave our country, the place where we have been living since birth. That is not our physical residence, but rather the old life with its ambitions, its loyalties, its worship of money, and fame, and pleasure. All that we have been, by nature, since birth must be left behind when we follow God to a new life.

Yes there comes a command in the gospel to leave our country... The "world", organized society with its Satanic philosophies and value systems.

(2.) Abraham was told to leave his relatives.

In the spiritual sense these are the moral forces that shape our lives. Just as blood relatives affect us greatly on the physical level, so these moral forces at work today tend to change our lives constantly and color all that we think and do.

THE CALL OF GOD IS TOTAL. We must renounce all concern about what others think, and be concerned about what God thinks.

(3.) Abraham was told to leave his father’s house.

That is the "old man (Galatians 4:22),"the "Aramaic nature".

Romans 6:6. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”

That old nature we were born with must be left behind, never to be returned to. (Genesis 24:6)

Romans 6:4. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: ..even so we should walk in newness of life.”


Genesis 12:2. “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

(1.) The first promise, that God would make of Abraham a great nation, was literally fulfilled in Israel, and in the Arab world.

But it has a spiritual symbol for us. In the Bible every nation is but the continuing, expanded life of a man. The family grows and expands, until there is finally a nation. We are promised eternal life... God is saying I will constantly expand your life... Life will take on infinite proportions for you.

The life which God has called us into has unlimited potential. I’m afraid we have promises we have never claimed. We have resources we have never tapped. Our thinking is too small... We limit ourselves... "I will make of thee a great nation."

God told Abraham to,

Genesis 13:17. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for i will give it unto thee.

(2.) The second promise.

Genesis 12:2b ..., And I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

What does this mean for Abraham?

As we trace the story of his life we find it would mean he would have riches, he would find honor, he would be a blessing to others, and he would become influential and effective.

This is spiritually what God offers today. God never commits himself to make us wealthy when we begin to follow him. But He does promise us the riches of Christ.

Romans 11:33. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of god!”

Acts 3:6. Peter said silver and gold have I none but such as I have give I unto thee.

But God offers still more, he also offers to Abraham honor. "I will make thy name great." But the honor of men was not what He promised. If you are looking for honor, genuine honor, then listen to the words of Jesus. John 12:26b. "..: If any man serve me, him will my father honour." He will place your name in the real honor roll.

(3.) The third thing God promised Abraham.

Genesis 12:2c “....; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

The last part of verse three is certainly true. There is not a family on earth that has not been blessed because of Abraham.

From Abraham came,

1. The concept of one God.                                                                        

2. The concept of the holiness of God.                                                      

3. The concept of the almighty God.                                                         

4. The concept that God could be trusted.                                               

5. From his descendants came the ten commandments, and the lawwhich is the basic of the laws of all civilized nations.                             

6. From Abraham’s descendants Jesus Christ was born.

The whole fullness of the divine promise of salvation for the whole world was narrowed up to his line. God has intended for each of us to be a blessing to others as we go through this life. There is nothing more wonderful, or satisfying, than to be used of god to be a blessing to someone. There are many around us who desperately need someone to bless them... To offer a word of encouragement... Or a visit to their sick-room.  Hearts that are bleeding need you.

Note all that God asked Abraham to do was to obey, then all this was his. "Leave all, and go to a land that I will show thee."

What is this land?

This we must recognize for we are going to read, and hear, about this Land of Canaan throughout the Bible. Literally we know that it was a small strip of land in which Abraham finally settled in. Moses led the Israelites to it many years later.

But it also has great spiritual meaning. It is not heaven, except in the sense that heaven begins here on earth. It is not some state, or condition, that we must wait until we die to enter. It is intended that we should enter it at the beginning of our Christian life, and live in it all of our days. We sing about it in our songs.

 "I’m camping in Canaan’s land."                                                       

"I’ve pitched my tent in Beulah land."                                                 

"Is not this the land of Beulah? Blessed, blessed, land of life?"      

What are we singing about?

This is where God called Abraham to go. We are told that he started out for the land, but he stopped along the way. The Bible tells us little of those wasted years at Haran. Maybe as many as thirty or forty years.

Genesis 11:31. “And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

32. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

"And Terah died in Haran."

Maybe Terah just left Haran to get out of Ur, but went only as far as Haran, about half-way to Canaan. "And dwelt there." "And died there."

How powerful is this picture of the thousands today who have left "Ur" and have only gone so far as "Haran." they settled there, and they died there. Haran means "parched," "barren," "unfruitful." what a place to dwell... Still worse to die there.

But many, like Terah, have left the world and its ways. They have joined a Church, become good neighbors, they have got religion, they live moral lives, sing the songs of Zion, perform all the outward motion of faith. They are religious but not born again.

Everyone is living in one of three places, Ur, Haran, or Canaan. Ur is the land of sin, death, darkness...

Ur is the land into which you and I were born.

Haran is the half-way house where we gain the appearance of being religious, but no inward reality.

Canaan is the land of promise, the land of blessings, the place of spiritual fullness.

But Abraham stopped in Haran too... He had left Ur by faith and was on his way to Canaan, but wasted many years in Haran. Finally Terah died, and when the old man was dead, Abraham was free to go into Canaan.

If there is anything holding us back from living a life in the Spirit, pray that God will take it away. We may think that there are things we can’t stand to give up. But it is really the greatest day of our lives when they go. Only then can we enter the land of promise.


Genesis 12:4a. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him;  

This indicates to us that it was some time in the past when God had called him, now Abraham becomes fully obedient to that call.

Genesis 12:4b. “..; And Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

5. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

Abraham did not go forth as a lonely wanderer, but was accompanied by a host of people, including his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and a number of “souls that they had gotten in Haran,” including servants, slaves, and herdsmen.

By this time Abraham had acquired considerable wealth, of cattle, of sheep, of gold, of silver, and of jewels. It was quite a train with tents, and other belongings. Notice also that Abraham was 75 years old. He would live in the land God promised him 100 years until his death. (Genesis 25:7)

Genesis 12:6. “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanites was then in the land. 

The “plain of Moreh” was the first place in the land that Abraham pitched his tent, or made a temporary camp. The Canaanites represented a life of constant conflict.

Genesis 12:7. “And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.

This is the first recorded appearance of God to man since Adam’s day. Although Acts 7:2, alleges that such a divine manifestation had previously occurred in Ur of Chaldees. The Lord frequently appeared to Abram and others, but not in all His Glory. (Exodus 18-20; John 1:18)

“And said, unto thy seed...”

To Abraham himself God gave, “none inheritance in it, no not so much as to set his foot on.” (Acts 7:5) The land was promised to his seed “When as yet he had no child” (Acts 7:5) “Will I give this land.”

Undoubtedly a great promise, that the Canaanites should be disposed, and their country given to a childless old man already over seventy-five years old. The apparent improbability of this ever being accomplished rendered it a strong trial to the patriarch’s faith.


 “And there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.” (Genesis 12:7)

The rearing of an altar in the land was, in fact, a form of taking possession of the land. It is often said of Abraham and the patriarchs that they built altars to the Lord; it is never said they built houses or cities for themselves.

Genesis 12:8. “And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord.” This is the second altar he built.

Bethel = House of God, or House of Bread.                                         

Hai, or ai = heap of ruin, or ruin.                                                         

This represents an unending choice between good an evil.

There Abraham built another altar unto the Lord, and once again called upon the name of the Lord. But it was not a permanent dwelling place for the patriarch.

Genesis 12:9. “And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.

Constantly going on:                                                                        

Hebrews 11:10. for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 

This is more than just a record of what happened to Abraham when he first entered the land. This is also a record of a Spirit filled life and the conditions we face.

(1.) He passed “Moreh” which means “instruction” or teacher. We need instructions from the Word of God and the Spirit of God.

1 Peter 2:2. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”             

James 1:21b. “The engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”

(2.) “The Canaanites were in the land.” trouble makers”. We also have a life of constant conflict.

Ephesians 6:11. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 

In another place Paul says, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:12)                    And again, “We are more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37)

(3.) “There he builded an altar...” (Genesis 12:8)

The life in Canaan is a life of constant cleansing. An altar is a place of cleansing.

Romans 12:1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

(4.) “There the Lord appeared unto him.” (Genesis 12:7) It is a life of blessings.

Matthew 28:20b. “..: And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” 

(5.) Abraham pitched his tent between “Bethel,” or the house of God, and “Hai,” or ruin.

The walk with God is an unending choice between good and evil. I must, you must, constantly choose between “Bethel”, and “Hai”.

(6.) “He pitched his tent,..” (Genesis 12:8)

He never stopped for long... “he journeyed, going on, ...” He lived in a tent because he was a pilgrim, a sojourner, a traveler.

Paul exhorts us to, “walk in the spirit.” (Galatians 5:16) Walk, walk, walk for there is no place down here for us to stop. We can identify pilgrims by two invariable symbols: a tent and an altar.

To be continued in Abraham #2

Thank you for reading this study of the life of Abraham.

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