The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday is written in the first book of the Torah, Genesis. The text is Genesis 12:1-9 and is the beginning of an entirely new section of Genesis frequently referred to as the Patriarchal era. This is the first time the LORD calls out to Abram to establish a covenant. More details on the actual covenant are provided later but this is the beginning. We have no evidence of what kind of faith Abram already possessed in the LORD, if any. Jewish tradition provides interesting stories telling us how Terah, Abram’s father, was an idol maker. When Abram received the Call from the LORD he went into his father’s workshop and destroyed all the idols. Again, this is according to Jewish tradition and not in the text of Scripture.

One of the major themes in this pericope is the motif of separation and reunion. Abram is called to leave his country, his kinsmen and his family and go to the land of Canaan. Note the threefold nature of this separation. This is a recurring theme throughout Scripture, and we see its fulfillment in the person of Christ who left His country, the heavenly host of Heaven and His Father to journey to our earth—Heaven to Earth to Hell and back again. It is important to understand the purpose of this separation. God sets apart the people of Israel, but for a purpose. The people are set apart and kept separate from the other nations for the Covenant to be fulfilled and the Messiah to come and bless them and, thereby, bless the whole world (blessed to be a blessing). Because this has occurred, as God kept His promises and fulfilled the Covenant, the purpose for this separation no longer exists. In fact, the people of Israel are no longer the chosen, set aside people of God—this would be the Church! So, the LORD God separates in order to bring about reunion. God sets apart the people of Israel, beginning with Abram, in order to reunite the entire world to Him in Christ Jesus. Now, the Church is set apart to be a light, salt, and a city on the hill in order that the whole world might be saved through the Gospel. Note how the Church is not supposed to blend in to or mimic the culture. The Church is not called to be a chameleon. Rather, the Church is called to be counter-cultural, to stand out in order that the world might see and hear the truth and be brought into the Kingdom.

Of course, we know the struggles Abram would have faced if he had not been separated from country, kin and family. This is easily applied in our preaching as we live in this world but are called not to be a part of the world. Again, the Church and her people are to be different, to stand out from the world in which we live. This is a way in which the Gospel is proclaimed in Word and deed.

12:1 לֶךְ (lech) root: הלך (haw-lak) Qal, imperative: “to go”

וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ (u-mi-mo-lad-te-Cha) from: מוֹלדת (mo-leh-deth) “relations; relatives; kinsmen; kindred”

אַרְאֶךָּ; (ar-E-ka) root: ראה (raw-aw) Hiphil: “to show; to see” (cause you to see)

12:2 וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ (ve-e-es-Cha) root: עשׂה (aw-saw) Qal: “to make”

וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ: (va-a-Va-rech-cha) root: ברך (baw-rak) Piel: “to bless”

בְּרָכָה. (be-ra-Chah) “blessing; source of blessing”

12:3 וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ (u-me-kal-lel-Cha) root: קלל (kaw-lal) Piel, participle: “to curse; to declare cursed; accursed”

אָאֹר (a-Or) Qal: “”to curse; to bind with a curse”

12:4 בְּצֵאתוֹ. (be-tze-To) root: יצא (yaw-tsaw) Qal, infinitive: “to go forth; to depart”

12:5 רְכוּשָׁם (re-chu-Sham) “possessions; goods; property”

רָכָשׁוּ (ra-Cha-shu) root: רכשׁ (raw-kash) Qal: “to acquire; to collect; to amass; to gather property”

12:6 אֵלוֹן (e-Lon) “oak; large tree; terebinth”

12:7 וַיֵּרָא (vai-ye-Ra) root: ראה (raw-aw) Niphal: “to appear; to be seen”

וַיִּבֶן: (vai-Yi-ven) root: בנה (baw-naw) Qal: “to build; to construct; to raise”

12:8 וַיַּעְתֵּק: (vai-ya-Tek) root: עתק (aw-thak) Hiphil: “to move forward; to move further along; to move”

מִקֶּדֶם (mik-Ke-dem) from: קדם, (keh-dem) “east; in front”

12:9 וְנָסוֹעַ (ve-na-So-a) root: נסע (naw-sah) Qal, infinitive: “to journey; to move”

הַנֶּגְבָּה (han-Neg-bah) “Negeb; south-country”

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Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Genesis 12:1-9.

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Genesis 12:1-9.