The end of chapter 11 connects us to the next story, of Abram. It tells us of a tight knit family who was moving from one place to another. But instead of being a continuation of a hard, cold genealogy, it rests for a moment on the loss of a son who “died in the presence of his father,” a tender, personal moment. It also lists the names of wives, recognizing their importance to the family unit. And it even mentions Sarai’s barrenness, a failure that must have struck to the core of who she and Abram were in the midst of the command to “multiply.” And it ends with a father’s death.
The story of Abram picks up quickly in chapter 12 with God’s call to Abram, but it is in the context of this tight family this covenant is made. Something had to be special about Abram we are not privy to, for God to pick him out all those on the earth at this time. It doesn’t talk about Abram’s worthiness or walk with God like it did with Noah. But something here drew God’s heart towards Abram.
Maybe it was the way he and Sarai were trusting him to have children. Maybe it was the way he honored his father and learned leadership from him. We know when Abram (Abraham) was looking for a mate for his son, he went back to where the rest of his clan was living giving us the idea that they as a knew and worshipped God. Whatever the reason, by God’s grace, he picked Abram.
And maybe it was because, like Noah, God knew Abram would make the choice to be obedient. It feels as if almost immediately Abram left his father’s burial place and relatives and obeyed God. God showed him the promised land. There Abram built altars and worshipped.
But Abram was far from perfect, and didn’t always make the choice to not sin. In a jam, in the midst of famine, he lied and let Pharaoh take Sarai into his house to have sexual relations. But God, in his love, grace, and mercy, didn’t let Abram get away with it and reviled to Pharaoh.
God kept Abram from sinning. He kept Sarai’s womb and his promise pure.
Sometimes I wonder when God has corrected me in the midst of sin, how maybe he is saving me from it being so much worse. God hasn’t made me promises about my life or generations to come, but from turning me around from a wrong direction I was going, was he really saving me from things so much worse?
I’m glad Abram wasn’t perfect, or I wouldn’t be able to relate to him. But he’s like me – he made good, faith-filled choices, and he made terrible, fearful choices.
In all his choices, God was with him, patiently leading him in the direction God knew would get him to the desires of his heart.