Bible Readings for January 12th
Although God had extended shocking grace by calling Abram in Genesis 12:1–3, we read in Genesis 12:10–20 that Abram disbelieves God and leaves the land of Canaan (where God had commanded him to remain) to go to Egypt during a famine. This act of disbelief and disobedience snowballed, and Abram was eventually caught in a lie by the pharaoh of Egypt, who had innocently taken Abram’s wife, Sarai, into his own house because Abram had said that she was merely his sister.
Two important things happen in the last half of Genesis 12 that set up what happens in Genesis 13. First, God preserves Abram and his promise to Abram in spite of Abram’s disobedience. Just like what will happen later in the story of Moses in the book of Exodus, God sent plagues on the house of Pharaoh to force Pharaoh to let God’s people (specifically, Sarai) go free. And second, Pharaoh expelled God’s people out of Egypt with a great deal of wealth—again, just like what will happen in the book of Exodus (Gen. 12:16; Ex. 12:35–36).
So, Abram returned with all of his great wealth to a place where he had earlier built an altar to offer sacrifices and worship the LORD, between Bethel and Ai (Gen. 12:8, 13:3–4), where “Abram called upon the name of the LORD” in worship and prayer.
But because of the great wealth Abram brought out of Egypt, the land he lived in was not enough to support both him and his nephew Lot, and so the two families had to part ways. Abram allowed Lot to choose for himself a portion of the land to live in, and Abram would take whatever was left over. So, Lot chose for himself the Jordan Valley, the region of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abram moved to Hebron.
The important part of this story is the fact that God reaffirms his promise to Abram to give all the land of Canaan to Abram’s offspring forever—and that Abram’s offspring would be as numerous as the dust of the earth (Gen. 13:14–17). Even in the wake of Abram’s disobedience by going to Egypt, God insists he will keep his promises so that his redemptive purposes would not fail. God reaffirms his promise that Abram would be the father of a new nation, out of which God would raise up the promised offspring who would redeem humanity from the curse of sin by crushing the head of the serpent.
And because God eventually raised up Jesus, this story in Genesis 13 proclaims to us that we can trust God even in the aftermath of our own failure. In Jesus, we have an assurance that God’s salvation comes not on the basis of our obedience but on the basis of Christ’s obedience by God’s mercy toward us.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.