Key Texts: Gen. 12:1-3; 14:8-24; Heb. 11:8-19; Gen. 3:6; Gen 12:6, 7; 18:18,19
The lesson this week invites us to look at Abraham, one of the most notable people from ancient times. His initial story is found in Genesis 12:1-3 where we find him being called by God to leave his native country to become a wanderer in search of a land God promised to show him. The fact that he acted on God’s calling, that he wandered around until he came to the land that was promised to him, sets him up as a paradigm of sorts for all who have followed God’s callings thereby making this world a temporary home while they travel and long for the promised home.
This story of Abraham (or Abram as he was first known) is one of great significance, so significant that I once read an assertion that the Bible does have two great divisions, but not the usual ones of Old Testament and New Testament. Rather, the great division is Genesis 1-11 and then from Genesis 12 to the end of Revelation. That was a surprising suggestion but a little thought will make some sense of it because with the calling of Abraham, history changed significantly because from the point at which Abraham decided to follow the calling of God, there have been on this earth some identifiable agent of God living on earth. It is because of the response to the call of God that our lesson identifies Abraham as the first missionary.
A key component to the story of Abraham is the promise God made to him, a promise expansive enough to affect the whole of the human race. A close look at the promise will reveal it had at least three elements:
- Abraham and his descendant’s would be the recipients and guardians of the truth about God’s kingdom
- Abraham would be the channel through whom the promised Redeemer would one day come.
- Abraham and his descendants would carry the news of God’s kingdom to the whole world.
Think about the stories we have in the Bible about Abraham. Here are some questions to discuss in light of the stories of his life:
- What do you think it was like for him to leave his past home behind acting only on a promise from God? How might that affect the way we live today?
- According to Hebrews 11:8-19, Abraham was a man of great faith. What might we learn about the process of faithful living from the stories of Abraham? At what point in his experience do you think he obtained perfection? Or, better yet, how would you describe perfection when you look at his life?
- What can we learn from Abraham’s dealings with other people. Include in your discussion his interactions with the various kings mentioned in his life-story.
- Hebrews 11:10 is a wonderful verse to contemplate as Abraham is described as one who looked for “a city with foundations whose builder and architect is God.” What lessons might we learn from that verse?
- If you were a missionary, how might the story of Abraham be of help to you?
- How do you understand the phrase, “step out in faith” as a result of contemplating the story of Abraham?
- What lessons would you draw from the fact that Abraham wandered around following after God? What spiritual lessons might come from that fact?
- One of the comments made about Abraham is found in Genesis 18:18, 19 where it speaks about Abraham directing his own household about keeping the ways of God. What might we say about being missionaries in our own homes?
- What do you have to say about the occasions of unfaithfulness recorded about Abraham? It has been said that those failings made him the father of three generations of liars.
- It would be beneficial to spend some time thinking about the story in Genesis 22 at Mt. Moriah and the near-sacrifice of Isaac. What lessons can you draw from that story?
- What reflections do you have on account of Abraham being a significant person in all three of the great mono-theistic religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity? How might this fact benefit missions?