Abram: The Courage to Leave Home

Take Courage

The first example we will consider in this series is Abram. He displayed courage when God called him to leave home and go to an unknown land which the Lord would show to him.

Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’

So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan” (Genesis 12:1-5).

God is not going to speak to us today and tell us to leave our home like He did with Abram. But there are lessons about acting with courage to be learned from Abram’s example. Courage is faithfulness in the midst of trials and temptations. In the example of Abram, we see one who sacrificed what was comfortable and familiar for hardship and uncertainty.

The Background

Abram left Ur with his wife, father, and nephew and settled in Haran (Genesis 11:31). The text says, “They went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan” (Genesis 11:31). Yet the inspired record indicates that they stopped and settled in Haran. Terah, Abram’s father, would later die in Haran before any of his family ever reached Canaan (Genesis 11:32).

After he and his family settled in Haran, God called Abram to leave. What was he to leave? God said, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house” (Genesis 12:1). He was called to go to a land which God would show him (Genesis 12:1). The Lord assured Abram that he would be blessed (Genesis 12:2).

When God called, Abram obeyed (Genesis 12:4-5). He left with his wife, Lot, and all of their possessions. This occurred when Abram was already seventy-five years old (Genesis 12:4). As we will see later in this lesson, his age was significant.

Why This Took Courage

The Scriptures provide a few reasons why it took courage for Abram to leave his home and follow where the Lord would lead him.

First, it took courage because he did not know where he was going. The text states that Abram and his family left Ur “in order to enter the land of Canaan” (Genesis 11:31), but there is no indication that Abram had any familiarity with the land when God called him. As a matter of history, we know that Abram was going to the land of Canaan. But Abram left Haran “not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). Familiarity with an area would allow one to plan the best route and prepare for specific challenges he would face. Abram did not have this luxury. Instead he simply put his faith in God and followed the Lord.

Second, it took courage because he had to leave his father and his relatives. This was the time of the Patriarchs. One’s identity was tied to his family. While he was alive, the patriarch was the head of the generations that followed. Abram was told to leave his “relatives” and his “father’s house” (Genesis 12:1). He was divorcing himself from his kinsmen during a time when one had to rely on these people for support, protection, and companionship. Furthermore, Abram did this when he was “seventy-five years old” (Genesis 12:4) – hardly a young man eager to move out on his own. He had ties to his family that were firmly established over the course of decades. But he left his family so that he might become the “friend of God” (James 2:23).

Third, it took courage because he had to leave the home he had established for himself in Haran. Again, Abram was seventy-five years old when God called him (Genesis 12:4). Yes, people generally lived longer then, but he was still not far from “old age” (Genesis 21:2). This description was used when Abram was “one hundred years old” (Genesis 21:5). He left with no guarantee that he would ever get settled again. But he was seeking God’s reward. The Hebrew writer said, “By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents…for he was looking for a city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10).

Abram Took Courage

Abram knew what was right. God told him what to do: “Go forth…to the land which I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). He responded “by faith” (Hebrews 11:8). Abram knew what was right because God revealed it to him. The only way anyone can know what is right in the sight of God is through the Spirit’s revelation to man (1 Corinthians 2:10-12).

More than simply knowing what was right, Abram believed in God’s promises. God promised to make of him “a great nation” and that through his seed “all the families of the earth [would] be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3). Though Abram was childless, God promised him descendants; and he believed (Genesis 15:5-6). Because of this belief, Abram became the father of the faithful (Romans 4:3, 11).

After knowing God’s instructions and believing in His promises, Abram acted. God told him, “Go forth” (Genesis 12:1). Without hesitation, “Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him” (Genesis 12:4). “When he was called, [he] obeyed” (Hebrews 11:8), even though it meant being a stranger in the promised land (Hebrews 11:9). Acting according to God’s instructions was a sign of courage on the part of Abram.

Application for Us

God is not directly calling us to leave our homeland and relatives today. But there are certainly lessons for us to learn from the example of Abram.

First, we must be willing to follow God wherever He calls us to go. Again, the calling is different, but we are certainly called. Paul said that we are “called…through [the] gospel” (2 Thessalonians 2:14). Being called through the gospel does not mean we simply hear the word and believe in God’s promises. Many believe that such a response to the gospel is sufficient for salvation. But the example of Abram shows us that salvation is “not by faith alone” (James 2:20-24). If we “do not obey the gospel” we will “pay the penalty of eternal destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Jesus is “to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). If we want to be saved, we must obey the instructions found in His word. As Mary told the servants at the wedding feast, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5).

Second, we must be willing to put God above our family. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against His father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:34-37). If forsaking family in order to follow Christ is necessary, we must do it. Would this be difficult? Sure it would. But we must put the Lord above everyone – even those who are the closest to us in this life.

Third, we must recognize that we are strangers on the earth. But more than just acknowledging this status, we must act like we are strangers. Peter wrote, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). We must “not be conformed to this world, but transformed” (Romans 12:2). Remember that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Abram’s desire was to find “the city which has foundations whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). He desired “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16). This must be our desire as well.

Conclusion

Abram was willing to leave what was comfortable and familiar in order to follow the Lord. We must be willing to sacrifice anything – even our own lives (Romans 12:1) – so that we might please the Lord. It will not be easy, but we must take courage and do it.


When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on Blessings, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Thankful.