This week, we’re beginning a new series of lessons on the life of Abraham, based on the accounts mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11. For each of these lessons, we’ll look first at the faith-event as it’s recorded in the Book of Hebrews. Then, we’ll go back to the book of Genesis to get a better look at the story behind the faith lesson.
Today’s lesson will look specifically at God’s call to Abraham to leave the place he had called home, to follow God to a new home. And that meant leaving even though Abraham didn’t really know what his final destination would be. That takes faith!
Lesson 1 Handout
How many of you have telephones in your home? Do any of you have your own cell phones? What do you do when the telephone rings? (allow the students to answer ) Perhaps you answer the phone right away when it rings. But not everyone does. Some people “screen” their calls. Does anyone know what that means? It means they can look at their telephone, and it tells them who it is that’s calling. Then they can decide if they want to answer based on who is calling.
Sometimes moms and dads tell their children not to answer the phone when they are not home. That’s because they don’t want the children talking to strangers, maybe giving them information that could put them in danger. Most of us don’t have telephones that show a picture of who is calling. Wouldn’t it be nice to know for sure who it is?
In our lesson today, a man named Abraham got a call. No, he didn’t have a telephone. He lived thousands of years ago. Long before telephones were invented. But Abraham did have a very special connection with Someone who would call and ask him to do something that seemed kind of crazy. Do you think it would be important to know who was calling, if they wanted you to do something crazy? It would be important to know that you could trust that person; that you have faith in them, knowing they wouldn’t do anything that would be bad for you.
Can you guess who it was that called Abraham? If you guessed “God,” you are right! Let’s look at today’s memory verse. It’s going to tell us just what God called Abraham to do.
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 Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Hebrews 11:8
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for the examples of Your faithful servants that we find in 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. And give us a desire to obey. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: Abraham Answers God’s Call ( Hebrews 11:8 and Genesis 11:27 – 12:5 )
The New Testament Book of Hebrews has a very special chapter that’s full heroes of faith from the Old Testament. This means these men and women lived in ways that showed others that they believed in God. When He asked them to do something, no matter how big or unusual it might have sounded, they obeyed. One of those heroes was a man named Abraham. We’re already familiar with the first verse about Abraham in Hebrews, since it’s this week’s memory verse. Hebrews 11:8 tells us that Abraham demonstrated great faith when he did what God asked him to do. So let’s take another look at our memory verse. Then we’ll go back into the Old Testament, and look at the verses in Genesis that give us a little more information about God calling Abraham.
Hebrews 11:8 tells us that “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
Before there was ever a nation of Israel, before there were any Hebrew people, God went looking for a man named Abraham – to be the Father of a nation who would be God’s chosen people. So let’s go back to Genesis, and see where God found Abraham, and what He asked him to do.
27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
Did you hear the name “Abraham” in those verses? You might have heard something similar, because earlier in his life, Abraham’s name was Abram. “Abram” means “exalted father.” But later, when Abraham has demonstrated his faith in God’s promises, God would change his name to “Abraham,” meaning “father of a multitude.” For now, just remember that Abram and Abraham are the same person. Now let’s continue on in the reading.
29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.
30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
Before we go on, does anyone remember what “Abram” means? It means “exalted father.” But how many children does verse 30 say that Abraham and Sarai had? They didn’t have any. Tuck that away in your memory, since we’ll come back to it in a couple of weeks. But for now, let’s go on with today’s passage.
31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and 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.
32A nd the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
The account actually begins with Abram’s father, Terah. Verse 31 of Genesis 11 tells us that Terah gathered up several members of his family, and they left their home country. Did anyone hear where they were going? They were headed for the land of Canaan. The Bible doesn’t tell us, here, why Terah decided to move his family. But there is a clue in the first verse of the next chapter. We’ll get there in a moment. The passage does tell us, however, that when they got part of the way to Canaan, they stopped. Perhaps Terah became too feeble, in his old age, to continue on the journey. When we get to verse 4 of chapter 12, we’ll find that after Terah died, the journey resumed.
Now, remember that I said we’d get a clue about why Terah left Ur of the Chaldees? Let’s move on to Genesis chapter 12, and find out what made Abraham’s father want to move his family so far away.
1 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 shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Who does verse 1 say God had talked to? It wasn’t Terah. It was Abraham. And what, exactly had God called Abraham to do? There were three things:
– He was to leave his country.
– He was to leave his family.
– He was to go to a place that God would show him.
I don’t know about you, but a call like that would leave me with lots of questions. What questions do you think you might want to ask God if you were Abraham? (allow the students to consider what questions they might have had)
Now I have a question for you. Does God mind when we ask Him questions? Sometimes He does – when we are asking because we don’t believe him, respecting His power and authority. There was a man named Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, who questioned the angel who told him he was going to be a father. As a result, Zacharias was left unable to speak until his son was born. But most of the time, God recognizes that we’re only human, and have many questions. And He doesn’t mind us asking.
But does He always give us an answer? No. And that’s where faith comes in. God wanted Abraham to trust Him and obey Him even though he didn’t have any answers. That’s a pretty big test of faith! And it’s exactly what Abraham did.
Now, God may not have given Abraham any details about where he was going, or why. But He did make him some pretty important promises to Abraham, if he would obey God’s call. God promised
Does anyone know of a special nation that has come from the line of Abraham? Yes, the Jewish Nation, the Israelites, are descendants of Abraham. And the whole earth has been blessed through the coming of Jesus Christ, through Abraham’s line. So we know that God fulfilled His promises to Abraham.
And that must mean that Abraham listened to God’s call, and by faith followed him away from his old country, and away from his family to a new country that God was going to show him. Let’s read the verses telling us of Abraham’s decision.
4 So Abram departed, 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.
5 And 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.
We must never think that just because Abraham did what God asked meant it was an easy decision for him. Not at all! In fact, this was just the first of many difficult decisions Abraham would have to make. God was just starting to test his faith, and to prepare him to be the father of a great nation. But regardless of what questions may have gone through Abraham’s mind, the Bible only says that after his father died, he “departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him.” Abraham showed great faith in God. He trusted and obeyed.
Do any of you know the words to the hymn “Trust and Obey?” The first verse and chorus go like this:
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.
(by John H. Sammis)
God may not give us all the answers about where He wants us to go. But as with Abraham, God has made promises to us, too. Like the song says, if we’ll obey Him and walk with Him, He will stay right beside us, and show us the way. In Hebrews 13:5 Jesus tells us, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” And Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
At your age, it’s not very likely that God would ask any of you to leave your families, to go to some far off country that you don’t know anything about. But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t have other important things He’ll ask you to do. Can you think of something the Lord might ask you to do, even this week?
Do you think you could obey God if He asked you to do these things? He will help you to do them, if you ask. Let’s do that right now!
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your Word, and for the many examples You have given us of people who knew You, and loved You, and obeyed You. Please help each one of us, this week, to be listening for Your voice; and ready to obey whatever You might ask us to do. And if anyone here has not yet learned to know Your voice because they don’t have Your Holy Spirit at work in their hearts, please show them their need for You; even today. For we ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. God told Abraham to bring his whole family with him to Canaan. (false – he was to leave his family)
2. God promised to make of Abraham a great nation. (true)
3. Abraham and his family started out toward Canaan, but stopped in Haran. (true)
4. God said he would bless the whole world through Abraham. (true)
5. Abraham asked God for a special sign before he would be willing to go. (false – he simply obeyed)