By Faith, Abraham
Lesson 2: Abraham Finds His Promised Land

Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson


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By Faith, Abraham
Lesson 2: Abraham Finds His Promised Land

Author’s Notes:  Last week, we began a new lesson series on the life of Abraham.  In this series, we’ll be specifically looking at the events in his life that are recorded in Hebrews chapter 11, where Abraham is noted for his faith.

This week’s lesson will find Abraham following God to the Promised Land.  We’ll look at where he settled, how he lived, and why he made some of the choices he did.  The answers all point in the same direction…to God.

If you have access to a small tent, it might be fun to have the students join you, sitting in a tent while hearing this lesson.

Opening comments/story:

Have you ever been someplace, and suddenly felt like you didn’t belong there?  Like you were a stranger, even though you might have been in a familiar place with familiar people?  For instance, you might be with a group of your friends, and they start telling jokes or looking at things that you know are not appropriate.  You have to make a choice – will you stay, and probably end up joining in?  Or will you move away from that group?  Can you think of any other examples when you might have felt like you just didn’t belong?

In our lesson today, we’re going to see Abraham settling in the Promised Land.  It’s the place God led him to.  And it’s the place God would promise to give to him and his descendants.  But even though this was true, Abraham never really felt completely at home there.  Yes, he would enjoy the many blessings the Lord would provide.  But he knew a special secret.  He had something even better waiting for him!  Let’s look at today’s memory verse to find out what that was.

Memory verse:  (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves.  And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)

“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles… For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”  Hebrews 11:9a-10

Let the students know that “tabernacles” is another word for “tents.”  There were many cities all around Abraham.  But he was looking for a very special one.  Would anyone like to guess what Abraham meant?  What was he looking forward to even more than finding the Promised Land of Canaan? He was looking forward to Heaven!

Opening prayer:  Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today.   And thank You for the examples of Abraham’s faith that we find in the book of Hebrews.  Help each one of us to be attentive to what You would have us learn, today.  Give us open ears and hearts, ready to listen to Your words.  Amen.

This Week’s LessonAbraham Finds the Promised Land (Hebrews 11:9-10 and Genesis 12:5 – 13:18 )

(Abraham arrives in Canaan)
Last week, we learned about Abraham’s faith in God, as he left his home country and his family, and followed God to a country he had never been to.  God had made some very special promises to Abraham.  Does anyone remember any of those promises?
God promised

God had even picked out the country where Abraham’s great nation should live.  It was the land of Canaan.  And that’s where we’ll find Abraham settling in our lesson, today.  Let’s pick up our reading in Genesis right where we left off in our last lesson.

(Genesis 12)

5And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
6And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
 7And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

How did Abraham know where to stop?  Had God told him the name of the place ahead of time?  No.  In fact, we saw last week that Abraham had demonstrated great faith in going to the land of Canaan, even though “…he went out, not knowing where he went.” (Hebrews 11:8)  So how did he know where to stop?  Our passage tells us that when he got to the plain of Moreh, the Lord appeared to him and told him that this was the land He would give to Abraham and his descendants.  That left no doubt in Abraham’s mind that he was in the right place.

Now, the Lord doesn’t usually work the same way today that He did back in Abraham’s day.  Abraham didn’t have the written Word of God, the Bible, to tell him about God and His will.  And before Jesus died, was buried, rose again, and went back to Heaven, the Holy Spirit didn’t live in believers as He does today.  So when God wanted to tell an Old Testament believer something very important, He sometimes would send a prophet with a special message for them; or sometimes He appeared to them, Himself, to be sure they got His message.

Even though God doesn’t usually do that today, can we know when we’re in the right place, doing the right thing?  Do you remember our discussion earlier about sometimes feeling we’re in the wrong place; like we’re someplace we don’t belong?  How can we know these things?  If we’ve been saved, asked Jesus to take away our sins and become our Lord, then His Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us.  And one of His jobs is to make sure we’re uneasy when we’re doing something wrong; and give us peace when we’re doing something right.

So for Abraham, even though there were things that might have made him doubt whether he was in the right place (like the Canaanites who were already living in the land), God made absolutely sure that Abraham knew he had arrived in the Promised Land.

(living in tents)

Well, it didn’t take very long before God began fulfilling His promises, blessing Abraham. He became a very wealthy man.  And he could have lived just about any place he wanted within the Promised Land.  He could have built himself the grandest home, or even a whole city for himself if he had wanted to.  But as we read on in Genesis, we’re going to find that Abraham chose to live a different life than others might have chosen.  And that is what Abraham is next commended for in the book of Hebrews.  Let’s go there, for a moment, and read what God had to say about the faith of His servant, Abraham, when it came to choosing his home.  You might recognize these verses as our memory verses for today.

(Hebrews 11)
9By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Do you remember what we said “tabernacles” were?  Yes, “tabernacles” means “tents.”  Rather than building a large, fancy home in a walled-in city, Abraham chose to live in tents.  We should keep in mind here that if any of you are campers, your idea of what a tent looks like and Abraham’s might be a little different.  Abraham’s was probably very large, with many big poles holding it up to give them plenty of room.  His entire family lived in there, after all.  But what is true of all tents that wouldn’t be true of a house built of wood or stone?  (allow the students time to consider this question, and suggest an answer)  A tent is not a permanent dwelling.  You can pick it up and move it whenever you want or need to.  We’re going to look at why Abraham chose this sort of home in just a moment.

But before we do, there is one more important thing about where and how Abraham chose to live.  And we find it later in our passage in Genesis.  You may remember that along with his wife, Sarah, Abraham also brought his nephew, Lot, to the Promised Land with him.  And after a time, God had blessed them both so greatly that they could no longer live so close together. Their herds of animals were competing for the same food and water.  So the time came when Abraham realized that they needed to separate. 

(Genesis 13)
11Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.
 12Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

13But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

These verses tell us that although both of these men had followed the Lord’s leading to the Promised Land, when it came time to chose where and how to live, they made very different decisions.  Abraham stayed in his tents in the land of Canaan.  But where did Lot go?  He headed toward the cities.  And what does verse 13 tell us about the people in the city of Sodom?  They were very wicked!  Lot chose to move his family closer to what the city life had to offer.  And before very long, he and his family ended up moving right into the city.  We aren’t going to go there, today, but if you were to read on into chapters 19 and 20 of Genesis, you would find that his decision to “pitch his tent toward Sodom” ended up tragically ruining Lot’s family.

But God was very pleased with Abraham’s choice.  Let’s read what He had to say when Abraham chose to live where God had led him.

(Genesis 13)
14And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
 15For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
 16And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
 17Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
 18Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

Notice, here, that God uses this opportunity to repeat His promises to Abraham.  In choosing to live as God wanted him to, Abraham had once again demonstrated his faith in God.  And as a result, God wanted to reassure Abraham that His promises would, indeed, come to pass.

I’d like for you to notice two more things from these verses.  First of all, Abraham was not done moving.  God instructs him to get up and walk through the Land of Promise.  Abraham was so in tune with God’s voice that he knew when God wanted him to stay; and when God wanted him to go.  And he was ready and willing to do whichever God asked him to.  And remember, he lived in a tent, so he could pick up and move whenever God called.

The second and most important thing is that when Abraham came to a new place, what did he do?  He built an altar.  No matter where Abraham went, his focus continued to be on God. 

(Abraham’s secret)
So what made Abraham different from Lot; and from all the other people around him?  Why was he able to be content living in tents, instead of taking what the world had to offer, as Lot did?  Abraham’s eyes were not focused on the sights and sounds around him.  His ideal home was not any that he’d seen on this earth.  He had his sites set on something even better:  “…he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10)  Abraham, in some ways, felt like this world was not his home.  He lived in tents because he was just, as the Apostle Peter puts it, “…strangers and pilgrims, [abstaining] from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)  Abraham saw himself as just passing through this world, on his way where God, Himself, was… Heaven. 

There’s a songwriter named Albert E. Brumley who said it this way:

This world is not my home, I'm just passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

O Lord you know I have no friend like you
If Heaven's not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

Closing Comments:

But just because you don’t feel at home in the middle of a sinful world doesn’t mean you can’t feel at home, at all.  Listen to these verses that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians living in Ephesus: 

(Ephesians 2)
19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Do you see what a great trade-off the Lord is offering?  Before we are saved, we live like strangers to God.   But if we choose God, and to live like the strangers and pilgrims of 1 Peter, so that we can avoid being sucked in by the world as Lot was, then we are no longer strangers and foreigners to God.  We become fellow citizens.  We have a place where we belong… in the kingdom of God! 

If you have not yet made that decision to accept Jesus as your Savior, then instead of feeling out of place in the world, you may feel out of place here, hearing about the Lord.  But He would love nothing more than to change your heart, today; to make you a stranger to this world; and a beloved child to Him.  Won’t you make that choice today?

Closing Prayer:   Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your Word, and for the lessons we are learning about the faith that Abraham had in You.  Thank You, too, that when we are saved, we are no longer strangers to you.  But citizens of the same city Abraham was looking forward to – Heaven.  If anyone here has not yet become a stranger to this world, and a citizen of Heaven, then I ask that this very day their hearts would be open.  That they would hear You calling them, just as Abraham did.   And that they would choose to follow You.  For I ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Activity:  (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks

  1. God led Abraham to the Promised Land in Canaan.
  2. Abraham took his nephew, Lot, to Canaan with him.
  3. Abraham showed his faith by living in tents.
  4. Lot chose to live near the wicked city of Sodom.
  5. God wants us to live as strangers in this world, but not strangers to Him.

  True or False
1.  God sent a prophet to tell Abraham when he was in the right place.  (false – God appeared to Abraham Himself)
2. God blessed Abraham, and he became very wealthy.  (true)
3. When Lot made a bad choice, God took back His promises to Abraham. (false – He repeated them when Abraham made the right choice)
4. Lot’s choice to live near Sodom ruined his family.  (true)
5. Abraham was looking for a city whose builder and maker was a very famous man.  (false – whose maker was God )