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Understanding Genesis 12: No One is Perfect

Updated on June 8, 2015

Read the entire chapter 12 of Genesis on your own. You can read a variety of versions, from contemporary English to literal translations. You can download bible apps, websites ( or or buy one from your local bookstore. I will use King James Version because some of the nuances are missing from other translations. When you read the chapter, don’t just read it—study it with questions and try to make sense of it.

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Genesis 12:1-3

At this point, heathenism has become rampant, and among his generation, Abram is the sole representative of God’s intended family. Through Abram’s descendant, will come the Messiah that will bless “all the families of the earth.” God has not done anything outwardly powerful for him, and Abram may not have known God fully, but Abram hears God’s promise and obeys Him.

God Comforts Abram

So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there built he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. Genesis 12:4-6

When he arrives in Canaan, he comes upon a land already occupied. “They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.” Numbers 13:27,28 The country is fertile and lush, but it's already occupied. And probably occupied with mighty men that made his descendants afraid. So God comes again and affirms His promise and Abram trusts in God’s promise and builds an alter showing faith in God’s promise.

Whatever challenges face us each day, there is a natural response to give up/give in and vent our anger and frustration. But God is there with us, and we need to have faith that He will provide means to get out from under our troubles. "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." 2 Corinthians 1:4

A Pagan Recognizes God's Chosen

And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. Genesis 12:11-13

Twice Abram trusts in God and believes Him when God promises to give him the land, but when a difficulty challenges him, Abram loses faith and plans his own solution. A famine drives Abram to move near Egypt, and fearing that they would kill him and steal Sarai, he decides to lie and protect himself. The pharaoh becomes attracted to Sarai and takes her into his household and gives gifts to Abram thinking he is her brother. But God interferes before Pharaoh can sin against Abram and God, and sends plagues to him and his people. It must have been more grievous and obvious than a natural occurrence, because the land was already suffering a famine. The plague was so bad, that even a pagan like the Pharaoh knew that God was giving them a warning. Pharoah confronts Abram but knowing that Abram is God’s chosen—allows Abram to leave unharmed. He sends them away with his gifts, and Abram leaves Egypt richer than he already was.

Despite Abram’s mistake, he was so obvious a follower of God that even a pagan recognized God’s touch in Abram’s life. We should live a life where anyone can see we are set apart, and special for having God in our life. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:" 1 Peter 2:9

Abram Loses Faith

Everyone loses faith, especially in the face of difficulty. Abram had the desire to follow God and have a relationship with Him, but when it came to the crunch, Abram lacked faith. He grew up among idolaters and his relationship with God was still an ongoing process. He was willing to move his massive household to an unknown country. He looked on the unknown land and saw the vast multitude still occupying the land, but had faith that God would take care of it. But when it came to his personal safety, in the face of his household dying of starvation, he looked into his own intelligence and not up at God. He didn’t pray and look to God for protection, but looked inward and came up with a solution.

How often do we do the same in face of challenges? When we’re faced with health issues, our loved ones dying with illness, loss of job, loss of loved ones, our immediate reaction is “why?” But this is when we need to cling to God even more. We may never know “why?” but we will know peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

To get a deeper understanding of the Bible, read along with Patriarchs and Prophets, written by Ellen G. White. The book is available on and


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