Abram Called, and Worshipping.

Genesis 12:1-9.

1889 369 This chapter occupies a place of great importance, being the first public call by which a saint is separated from the world.

Genesis brings out the great principles of God's actings with those taught of the Spirit to know His mind: the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob — not as the God of the whole world, though this is true, but specially of individuals. God is not ashamed to identify Himself with them. God is not ashamed to be called our God, because we are not of earthly but of heavenly calling. A time is coming when He will be God of the whole earth, when Satan is bound. Till then He is God of those called out to Himself. Abraham is the depositary of promise; Isaac is the son in resurrection; Jacob is the elect of God, type of Israel cast out and brought back again. Thus God gives the principles of His dealings with men (individuals having been called secretly before).

In Noah another principle had been developed: government for the restraint of evil. Then we saw the whole order of earth formed by families and tongues, after their nations and in their lands. After this corruption in a new form comes in. Man set up in responsibility fails now as before. It is the history of the world. There is the violence of men in Nimrod, and the rebel union of men in the confederacy of Babel. But the more serious evil is that Satan sets himself up before man's imagination as the head of power by idolatry. The Gentiles worship demons. "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not unto God" (1 Cor. 10:20). It was the delusion of ascribing to Satan under a creature form those things which God did. They "served other gods" (Joshua 24). Even the line of Shem was involved in this idolatry like the rest; but as Satan had thus introduced himself into heavenly places as an object of worship, God's people must be delivered from it. In order to effect this, God calls out Abram.

The chapter consists of two great parts: what Abraham was as blest in connection with God (ver. 1–9); and what his failure was when yielding to his own thoughts (ver. 10-20), of which last we do not now speak.

In the first part we have two things: God called Abram to come into the land; and then his worship in the land. "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 show thee." This called for separation from all God's natural order of things. God did not say, Leave off worshipping other gods, but Leave thy kindred. So it was afterward even as to the Jewish system when Christ was rejected: God's religious order then had to be left. "When He hath put forth all His own, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him; for they know His voice" (John 10).

God's ties hitherto were made by natural order, by family blessings and inheritances. Out of all this (not evil things only) is Abram called. This was the divine way of breaking the link of idolatry. The word is not, Correct your ways in the country of your birth where you are, but "Get thee out … to a land that I will show thee."

The law was given to Israel for the place where God was to keep them, as the rule for them in Canaan; for, before, the Lord God dealt with them in grace, which alone brought them out of Egypt. The law was to direct them where they were to be afterwards. But they broke it in the wilderness before they got it down into their midst; so that Moses pitched the tabernacle without the camp, and every one who sought the Lord went out.

Thus man ever fails; and there is nothing to rest on but God's revelation of Himself, the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ. Well may we believe His word; seeing that by the word of God all things came into being and subsist. By His word the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water perished. The word of God is a necessary authority to the believer, who is under the responsibility of the obedience of faith. The ground of faith is "The Lord hath said."

But even at first Abram could not get into the land of Canaan, because Terah was with him. Terah was not called, but, being the father, he took Abram. Going thus Abram did not go in faith, and therefore did not get into Canaan. They came to Haran and dwelt there; but Haran was not Canaan. Thus nature cannot break from nature: only faith can. It is natural order once more, all within the limits of the flesh, and therefore outside the blessing promised. There is in this no faith in the word of God. Now nothing can set aside the immediate and personal responsibility of obedience to God's word; nothing must be tolerated between God and the soul, save His word. The error of the church in all ages springs from putting something else between. All divine means is to bring the soul to God. This is a simple principle God will never give up — the immediate claim of obedience to His word.

Nothing in nature is according to purpose. God has created, and will cause all to pass away: these things are all to be dissolved. But He never sets aside His purposes if His counsels stand. His will must surely be done. The gifts and calling of God are not repented of. He calls man to Himself out of corruptions and the lie of Satan.

Blessing is two-fold (ver. 2, 3): first to be recipients of blessing; next to be instruments of blessing to others. How good it is thus to be twice blessed — and the occasion of blessing. It is God's own joy to bring the lost into blessing as we see in Luke 15:9-25.

But in Abram's case there was a hitch. He could not come into the land the Lord would show him while one link of natural ties remained unbroken. When Terah died, Abram starts afresh. "So Abram went as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls they had gotten in Haran. And they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came" (Gen. 12:4-5). When Terah his father took Abram, "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" (Gen. 11:31). His father gone, Abram and those he took went with him; "and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came." Now the result followed.

There Jehovah, we are told, appeared unto Abram; there he builded an altar unto Him; and if he pitched his tent elsewhere, it was where he builded an altar unto Jehovah. It represents our being blessed in heavenly places in Christ, while the Canaanite is still in the land. Compare Eph. 6:12. For we have to wrestle with spiritual wickedness there. Our bodies are not in heaven of course, but we are one with Christ Who is there; and there in spirit we are called too. Faith has to act on God's word. The testimony is plain. We are blessed in heavenly places in Christ. We are not of the world as Christ is not. Our conversation, our citizenship, is in heaven; in the world, but not of it; not in heaven, but heavenly, 1 Cor. 15. We walk by faith, not by sight. We are called to set our minds on heavenly things, not on things here.

It will be noticed that Abram's worship began with the LORD'S appearing to him. So it always is in principle. Faith takes God at His word and acts on it. The manifestation to Abram was the source of his worship. So the disciples, when they saw Christ going up to heaven, thereon worshipped Him; and ever after drew near worshipping Him in heaven, as they worshipped the Father. Worship supports a man in peace, and for us properly is heavenly, for Christ is there. Without Him we can do nothing, still less worship; and He has given us the Spirit that it might be real, and of divine character. Through Him by one Spirit we draw near to the Father. This is unfolded in Ephesians, which shows us manifesting to principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God.

If the prodigal came to his father, he ran, fell on his neck, and kissed his son. Yet this was not worship; but where is the house, the feast, the music and the dancing? These figure worship. What communion! We are called as knowing ourselves free for our Father's home above. He has revealed Himself in His Son that we might draw near there. It is one thing to be on the way to God; another to be there in Spirit, and at home there as already brought to God, Christ "having obtained everlasting redemption." Then we worship. It is the same when the father kissed the returning prodigal, as when he had him within the house with the best robe and the fatted calf and the music and the dancing; yet how different man's state! We should be at home with God now, rejoicing in what the Father is in His own house, and not be occupied with what passes in our hearts, save to judge it and turn to Him Who is beyond all thought.