Genesis (Chapter 12 – 25) – Be Obedient
– Presented on 9 Aug 09 by the Young Adult ‘D’ Class (Teacher: Quek Yong Kwang and Nelson Lim)
Our Sunday School has just completed Part 1 study on Genesis. The first 11 chapters of Genesis brought us thru on Creation, “In the beginning” to the Fall of Adam and Eve, universal judgment of sin by the Flood spanning the first 2000 years of human history.
Two chapters of this book are devoted to creation while 9 chapters to man’s earliest history. Genesis was written to tell us clearly and definitely that God created all things. The beginnings of marriage, languages, nations, sin as well as worship were introduced in this book.
The introduction of this presentation will cover life in biblical Land during Abraham’s period and the summary highlights of the chapters which we will be doing in the next 3 months.
Region Transverse and Location – The region whereby Abraham traversed is commonly known as the Fertile Crescent. It cover modern day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Nile delta. Mesopotamia means “the land between the rivers”.
Northern Mesopotamia in ancient times is known as Assyria and southern Mesopotamia as Babylonia. This land is bounded by the Tigris River to the east and the Euphrates River on the west. Both rivers originate in the mountain of Armenia and join about 100 miles north of Persian Gulf into a single stream. Mesopotamia has little rainfall and situation today never change much. The 2 rivers form a fertile region which attracted early settlers.
The city of Ur was known to be an important urban and trading centre during this period. Most biblical scholars believe that Ur is the site excavated bet 1922 to 1934 about 230 miles south west of Baghdad. The pictures on the right show ruins at the excavated site. Remain of the houses built is shown in the next picture while the next slide show the structural plan of a typical house built during this time.
On the contrary, Canaan forms a land bridge between Mesopotamia and the River Nile.
The region is not well developed during this time. It extends along the coast of the eastern Mediterranean with Lebanon to the north and Egypt is to the south. Typical dwellers will build tents at open desert area in Canaan as shown:
Place of Worship in Ur – We now take a look at the place of worship in Ur during this period. Pagan worship is common in Ur. In Josh 24: 2, we learnt Abraham’s father Terah, served other gods”.
This may be illustrated by the sacred general enclosure of the moon god Nanna. These are pictures of the temple uncovered in Ur call the Ziggurat.
Joshua highlighted Abraham’s father worshipped idols and Abraham may have done so as well for many years. We now take a look at the artist impression of Tower of Babel which bear certain resembles to the earlier picture of the Ziggurat. Some biblical scholar reference the temple to a possible remains of the tower of Babel as highlighted in chapter 11 of Genesis.
The Government – During the days of Abraham, the city of UR was enjoying one of the most brilliant periods in history of Mesopotamia.
Accordingly to some scholar’s reference it may well be during the golden period of the powerful and prosperous Third Dynasty of UR.
This kingdom was founded by King Ur-Nammu bet 2112 to about 2095 BC.
Early Writing – Next we would like to see some of the earliest invention of writing recorded and invented by the Sumerian during this period.
Peoples of Ur built their homes, temples and public building from clay brick which is baked and dried in the sun since there are little stone in this region. Hence when they developed their writing, they wrote wedge shaped characters on clay with a small wooden stylus. It was the world’s first written language. Cuneiform is a script in which numerous ancient languages were written.
Early pictograph resembled the objects which they represent.
This earliest form of writing was gradually replaced by the alphabetic writing during the Iron ages.
Means of Travel – Travel during Abraham‘s times often took place on land. The donkey was pack animal of choice as well as the mule, oxen and horses.
Scripture also mentions use of camels in Abraham’s day and later in Rebekah’s day in northern Mesopotamia.
Travel in biblical times was often fraught with difficulty and danger. There was the threat of heat and exhaustion, cold and hunger, danger pose by wild animals as well as bandits and robbers. Hence there was no earthly reason why Abraham should want to leave Ur.
Summary Highlight on Genesis 12- 25 – We now go to the summary highlighted bet Chapter 12 – 25 in book of Genesis.
God initiated an unconditional covenant with Abram that promises him a land, a nation, and blessed name and Abram goes to the new land in obedience. Abraham does so in faith and obedient to God’s promise and it is credited to him as righteousness.
As Abraham obeyed God commandment to leave Ur and upon reaching Canaan, there were a famine in the land. Abraham, his wife Sarah together with his nephew Lot then left for Egypt.
God protected them and lead them back and upon return to Ai in Canaan, Abram proposed to Lot that they should separate, allowing Lot the first choice of the Land. Lot took the fertile land lying east of the Jordan River near to Sodom & Gomorrah, while Abram lived in Canaan.
When there was a war in the land, Lot was captured as hostage by the King of Elam. Abraham then assembled his men and rescue Lot and upon their return he is met by the king of Salem, Melchizedek who blesses him.
Though Abraham pleads with God to spare the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, God passed judgment on the city with fire and brimstone due to grievous sin of the people in the city.
Lot’s wife disobeyed and as she looked back longingly at the city, she was turned into a pillar of salt.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord again appeared to him and reaffirmed the covenant. God then changed his name to Abraham. Abraham was instructed, for his part, to circumcise all males of his house as a sign of the covenant.
Isaac was then born in the following year as fulfillment of God promised blessing. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Some years after Isaac birth, Abraham was commanded by the Lord to offer his son up as a sacrifice in the land of Moriah.
As they were proceeding toward the mountain, Isaac asked Abraham where the lamb for the burnt offering was. Abraham replied that the Lord would provide one. Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, he was prevented by an angle and was provided with a ram caught by the bush which he sacrificed in place of his son.
When Isaac grew into a young man, Abraham sent his servant into Haran in Mesopotamia to find a wife for his son within his family line. Eliezer the servant then went on and with God’s guidance returned with Rebekah.
Sarah died at the age of 127, and was buried in the cave of the Patriarch in the southern city of Hebron and Abraham died at the age of 175 years. He was buried by his sons Isaac and Ishmael. The nation of Israel descended from Abraham through his second son, Isaac.
The promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12 that through Abraham’s seed, all the people of earth would be blessed. Notwithstanding this, John the Baptist specifically taught that merely being of Abraham’s seed was no guarantee of salvation. The promise in Genesis is fulfilled through Abraham’s seed, Jesus Christ our Lord. It is also a consequence of this promise that Christianity is open to people of all races and not limited to Jew only. The New Testament portrays Abraham as an example of faith, affirming that the promises God made to Abraham would extend to all who believe.