SMALL GROUP CURRICULUM (Download PDF)
Spend the week studying Genesis 12. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
Determine which discussion points and questions will work best with your group.
Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their receptivity to God’s Word.
Focus on the Main Point. Faith in God is the beginning of our relationship with God. Faith isn’t just believing in God—it’s believing God.
What is the most important promise you have ever made? Have you kept it? If so, what has helped you stay committed to doing so?
Why is it essential that we are able to trust those who make promises to us? What does this say about our relationship with them?
We make promises all the time. We promise our friends and family that we will do certain things. We promise to have work done at a certain time. Those of us who are married made a promise to love our spouses unconditionally and to be faithful to them for as long as we live. Promises are based on trust, and the integrity of that promise is only as good as the person making it. If we are dishonest or have poor character, people are not likely to trust in our promises. In Genesis 12, God makes a promise to Abraham. Abraham believed God because of who God is. The essence of faith is believing God.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ GENESIS 11:27-32.
What was Abraham like before God appointed him? Do you notice anything significant about Abraham in these verses?
When we meet Abraham, he is an ordinary man living in the land of Ur (modern day Iraq). There is nothing significant about Abraham that would have led God to choose him over anyone else—at least not by earthly standards. But out of His own love and grace, God chose Abraham to be the father of faith, and to sovereignly write His story of redemption through a promise to this one man.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ GENESIS 12:1–3.
What did God ask Abraham to sacrifice? What did He promise Abraham in return?
How do you think Abraham felt hearing these promises from God? How can we be confident that God is utterly trustworthy?
Why did God bless Abraham? How are we beneficiaries of God’s blessing to Abraham?
God promised Abraham a nation—both land and people. Abraham was God’s chosen instrument to fill the earth with God’s blessing. The extension of God’s blessing is the through line of the Bible. When Jesus appears in the gospels, He is referred to as the son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). Through God’s good purpose, He created a nation of people to be a physical representation of His presence and blessing on earth. All of this began with Abraham’s belief in God.
At the time of his calling, Abraham was 75-years-old and had a barren wife (11:30). What kind of faith must Abraham have had to believe God’s promise?
Read Genesis 15:6. How did people achieve righteousness in the Old Testament?
All people who have secured righteousness have done so by God’s grace through faith in Him—from the beginning of time until today. Abraham was counted righteous on the basis of his faith. Old Testament righteousness was not achieved through the keeping of the Law. We know this because the story of Abraham proceeds the law. Abraham stepped out in faith and God credited Abraham’s faith as righteousness.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ GENESIS 12:4-9.
How did Abraham respond to God’s promise? Why is this so significant? What did Abraham leave behind in order to follow God?
Read James 2:21-24. How is faith demonstrated by the way we live our lives?
Verse 4 begins with the words “So Abraham went...” Abraham heard God, and responded with his actions. We are saved by faith, but saving faith is always accompanied by works. It is our faith that makes us righteous, but it is our works that demonstrate our faith. Abraham left behind everything he knew in order to walk with God.
Abraham did not set out on his own. Who and what did he take with him? What does this reveal about his faith?
What promise does God make to Abraham in verse 7? How was this possible, given that Abraham and Sarah were advanced in age? How did God fulfill His promise?
Faith that saves is faith that grows. For other people to have gone with Abraham means that Abraham had to tell others he was going. He shared his faith in God with Lot and brought Lot with him when he left Ur. Abraham’s faith grew steadily over time. We see in Abraham an increasing willingness to believe and follow God. Abraham was able to do this because he was able to see a better future. Faith gives us eyes to see.
We learned on Sunday that “we are saved by faith alone, but that faith that saves is never alone.” How is faith demonstrated in action? What do your actions reveal about your faith?
When have you had to exercise great faith to believe God? What did you learn from your experience?
Abraham did not follow God by himself. He immediately told others about God’s promises. How does faith grow in community? How have you seen evidence of this in our small group?
How do we help each other as a small group see a better future? How can we, through faith, support one another and trust God, even when it is difficult to do so?
Pray and thank God for choosing you. Ask that He would grant you a vibrant faith that is evident in every area of your life. Praise God that even when we are faithless, He is faithful. Confess your faith in Christ and your need for Him, praying that you would live in a way that demonstrates the depth of that faith to others.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Where is God leading you to exercise faith this week? Is your faith in God evident in your actions?
- What keeps faith and works from being at odds with one another? What is the difference between legalism and obedience?
11:27. The family records of Terah is the sixth of eleven toledoth sections in Genesis (Gen. 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 25:12,19; 36:1,9; 37:2). Far more than a simple genealogical table, this section stretches across parts of 15 chapters and includes a rich supply of information about the life of Terah’s most famous son, Abram (later called Abraham). In the Hebrew, the spelling of the personal name “Haran” differs from the place name Haran (v. 31).
11:29. Nahor’s wife Milcah eventually produced eight sons (22:20-23); her most famous son Bethuel became the father-in-law of Abraham’s son Isaac (25:20).
11:30. In contrast to Milcah, Sarai (later called Sarah) was unable to conceive. This painful fact is emphasized by the biblical writer restating the fact: she did not have a child. God’s provision of an heir for Abraham in spite of Sarah’s barrenness is a major theme in the narratives that follow (15:2-4; 17:15-21; 21:10).
12:1-3. According to Acts 7:2, The Lord spoke to Abram while he was still in Mesopotamia (Gen. 11:31). God gave Abram a one-verb command with four aspects to it. Abram was to go out from (1) his land, (2) his relatives, and (3) his father’s house, (4) to a land chosen by God. Obedience to God often means leaving one thing in order to receive something else even better.
12:4. Having migrated with his father’s household from Ur (11:31), Abram stayed an uncertain amount of time in Haran. Since Terah lived 145 years after the birth of Abram (11:26,32) and Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran, Abram literally fulfilled the command to leave his father’s house (v. 1).
12:5. Abram was apparently his nephew Lot’s protector since Lot’s father had died in Ur (11:28). The group’s journey to Canaan was about 450 miles.
12:6. Shechem is in north central Israel on the slope of Mount Ebal. Abram’s grandson Jacob would live for a time in this region as well (33:18-19). Later, Abram’s great grandson Joseph would be buried there (Jos. 24:32). The Canaanites were a distinct cultural group (Gen. 15:21), but the term “Canaanite” is also an umbrella term for many different people groups who were living in the region, including the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites.
12:7. This is the first of three times Scripture indicates that the Lord physically appeared to Abram (cp. 17:1; 18:1). The Lord’s promise to give the land of Canaan to Abram’s offspring is the single most repeated affirmation in the Torah. At least 37 references are made to it in the books of Moses. The altar Abram built at Shechem is the first of four he is said to have built; others were set up between Bethel and Ai (v. 8), at Hebron (13:18), and at Mt. Moriah (22:9).
12:8. As a shepherd, Abram frequently moved to new locations to provide food for his animals. Bethel, modern Beitin, was about 20 miles south of Shechem. This altar is the second of the four that Abram built in the land of Canaan (v. 7). When Abram called on the name of Yahweh here, he identified himself as a true member of the godly line of Seth (4:26). This is the first of three occasions on which Abram is said to do this (13:4; 21:3).
12:9. The Negev is the semidesert region west and south of the Dead Sea. About 50 miles south of Bethel, this area has been inhabited by nomads since ancient times.