Abraham was destined to become the father of the faithful. His life began millennia ago with God’s sovereign call. During Noah’s day, the Flood destroyed the earth and a sin-infected, genetically corrupt civilization. God’s plan to bring His promised Seed into the world started over with Noah and his family. Because of the depravity of humankind from the indwelling sin of Adam, this new race of people quickly began to spiral downward and will once again be judged by God – not with water but with fire (2 Pet. 3:6-10).
It seems as though God’s incredible promise that the “seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent” will never happen. God used Noah to give us a small glimpse of hope. Noah said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant” (Gen. 9:26). The Bible emphasizes that Shem’s God is the “Lord.” The word Lord (all caps) speaks of Yahweh, the self-existent great “I am,” of the Old Testament (Ex. 3:13-15), who is none other than Kurios, the Lord Jesus Christ of the New Testament (Jn. 8:56-59; Jn. 10:30).
Noah was predicting that his son, Shem, would be connected to the promise-keeping God, just like Adam’s son Seth had been. Shem became God’s candle in the dark on this side of the Flood. The Genesis writer is saying that Shem would worship the living God and not the polytheism around him. It would be through his line that Messiah, the promised Seed of the woman, would come. Shem’s line led to a man named Terah, a pagan moon worshiper.
Terah lived seventy years and became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran (Gen. 11:10–32). Out of the three, God chose Abram to continue the line to the Messiah. God also chose Abram to teach us to live by faith, not by sight. Abram means “exalted father” or “father of the high place.” That name fit him well. He was likely – like his dad – a leader of pagan worship. God’s call began with the unimpressive words “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). Abram, at seventy-five years of age, gathered all his belongings, took his family, and launched out into the unknown. Talk about faith. God’s plan from the jump was to teach Abraham that no matter what this world affords, he was to trust totally in Him, the Giver of the gifts. As long as we have the Giver, we have the gifts.
The promise of a “land that I will show you” is extremely important, even in this day. God’s promise of a special piece of real estate has been severely underestimated by many godly Bible teachers and true believers. It has been over four thousand years since God called this moon-worshiping pagan from Chaldea to go to another desert place, the land of Canaan, yet this land is still in the picture. In fact, it seems to pop up everywhere all the time. The conflict surrounding this land is played out on the stage of world history and the noise from our media today.
God’s promise to Abram was “I will bless you.” The word “bless” (beracah) means “I will do good toward you.” Abram would have a special relationship with the living God. He would enjoy great wealth and peace and happiness, even though he lived in a lowly tent his entire life. This would not be very impressive unless one realized that Abraham lived 175 years. Oh!
Abraham’s tent became a very important object lesson. A tent is a temporary dwelling place. God taught Abram every day, with every entrance and exit from that tent, that his life on this earth was fleeting; this world was not to be his permanent home. He was, as the song says, “just a passin’ through.” Abraham waited for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10). Abraham was not to grow fond of this world’s stuff (1 Jn.2:15-17). Like my father in the Lord, Nap Clark, so often said, “Love people and use stuff, not the other way around.” People are permanent, stuff is temporary.
Also, a tent was not a good fortress against things that could hurt him: the weather, critters of every kind, viruses, and enemies everywhere. They could easily break through the walls and take or destroy everything that he had. He had to depend solely upon God for protection – or not.
Finally, a tent was intended to instill great humility. There is not much to brag about while living in a tent. It would be difficult even to hang the pictures. God used the tent in order that Abraham’s life would glorify (shed light upon) Him. A correct knowledge of God and a personal relationship with Him make us exceedingly wealthy and happy (and safe) no matter what our physical circumstances might be. And by the way, did I mention that we all live in a tent – it’s our physical body (2 Cor. 5:1). This world is not our home, either. Stay safe and stay tuned.