Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Calling of Abraham - Youth Sunday School Lesson on Genesis 12:1-8

Intro Activity: Students pair up. One student wears a blindfold. Give the other student a card with the location of somewhere around the building written on it. Student with the card must guide the person to the location by giving them directions (right, left, forward, backward, etc.). Students switch once they reach the first location. Illustrates having faith to be led somewhere. God is leading us in life but we don’t always know exactly where to.

Historical Context:  This portion of our history, takes place at approximately 3'000 B.C.

Authorship: The Torah books are all attributed to the authorship of Moses, which he most probably wrote during Israel's forty-year period of wandering in the desert.  Some editorial remarks were later added to these books by priests and other divinely inspired writers, such as Joshua and Samuel.



Discussion Points:

1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

What did Abram have to leave behind in order to obey God?  He had to leave his country, his people, and most of his family.  What kinds of things do you think we have to leave behind in order to obey God?  We have to leave our sin, our selfishness, our pride, our concern about what other people think of us, etc.

Where was Abram supposed to go?  He was supposed to go to the land that God would show him.  Abram didn't really know where he was going.

Why do you think God didn't just tell Abram where He was leading him?  God wanted Abram to have faith in God.  God wanted Abram to have to trust Him, instead of being able to trust in himself to get where he was supposed to go.

We also do not always know where we're supposed to go in life.  We don't always know what we're supposed to do.  We don't always know what's going to happen to us, just like Abram didn't know what was going to happen to him on his journey to the land that God would show him.  But, like Abram, we have to have faith in God's leading.

 God was leading Abram to a new land.  Where do you think God is leading you?  God told Abram to leave his country and his people and most of his family.  What is God telling you to do?  Will you have enough faith in God to do what He tells you to do?

2 "I will make you into a great nation
       and I will bless you;
       I will make your name great,
       and you will be a blessing.

 3 I will bless those who bless you,
       and whoever curses you I will curse;
       and all peoples on earth
       will be blessed through you."

What did God promise to do for Abram if Abram would have faith in God and obey?

1) God says that He will make Abram into a great nation?  What nation did God make Abram into?  Israel came from Abram so all of the Israelites, all of the Jews, are the nation that God made Abram into.

2) God promised Abram that He would bless him.  "To bless" simply means "to make happy".  God is telling Abram that He will make Abram happy if he has faith and obeys.

This is also what God does for us when have faith in Him and obey Him.  God will make us happy, as well.

What are some ways that God makes us happy?  He is with us.  He allows us to experience His presence.  He helps us to make good decisions.  He rewards us.  He gives us peace and wisdom and shows us the right way to live.  He gives us talents and spiritual gifts.  He gives us eternal life.

3) God told Abram that He would make Abram's name great.  How did God do this for Abram?  Everyone in the world knows who Abram was.  He is in the Bible so Jews and Christians know who he was.  And Muslims believe that their religion also came from Abram.  Jews and Christians trace our religion through the son that God miraculously provided for Abram, whose name was Isaac.  Muslims trace their religion through Abram's first son, the son that Abram had with his slave, Ishmael.

4) God says to Abram in these verses is that He will bless whoever blesses Abram and will curse whoever curses Abram?  What is God promising to do for Abram here?  God is promising to protect Abram, if Abram will have faith in God and obey Him.

5) The next part of God's promise to Abram was to use him to bless all the peoples on the earth.  How do you think God used Abram to bless everyone?  Through Abram, Jesus came into the world. 

Matthew 1:1 - A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:   

Abram, whose name God later changed to Abraham, was the ancestor of Jesus.  We are blessed through Abram because Jesus came from Abram.  That's why we have Abram's story in the Bible.  The whole Bible is a big long story about Jesus' ancestors.  Everything in the Bible is building up to the story of Jesus.  There is a lot we can learn in the Bible before Jesus comes, but Jesus is really the climax of the story.   

God also blesses us through Abram because his life in the Bible is what we learn from.  God is using Abram to teach us, to bless us. 

God also uses us to bless other people.  How does God use us to bless other people or make other people happy?  He uses us to do nice things for others and to help them.  He uses us to tell other people about Jesus.   

4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

 6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

In these last few verses, what do we see Abram doing two times?  He built two altars.  And what do you think Abram was doing at these altars.  He was sacrificing things.  Normally we think of sacrificing in terms of having to sacrifice something when we sin, to take away our guilt.  The Bible tells us that when we sin, we should die for it.  But God allows us to kill something else instead of Him killing us.  That's why Jesus came and died for us.  He died – He took our place- so that God didn't have to kill us for all the sins that we commit. 

But that isn't what Abram is doing on these altars.  He isn't using them to make sacrifices for his sins.  He's using them to offer sacrifices in thanksgiving.  The Bible tells us that one way to worship God is to sacrifice something extra, to say thank you for something that God has given us or for something that God has done for us. 

We believe that God has done something really great for us.  Jesus died to save us.  So now, as a sacrifice of thanksgiving, we offer ourselves to God, to live for Jesus, since He died for us.

Romans 12:1 - Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

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