Sabbath School Summary
By Elder Dr Masimba Mavaza
The Roots of Abraham
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8, NKJV).
We have now reached the center of the book of Genesis. This central section (Genesis 12-22) will cover the journey of Abraham, from God’s first call, lekh lekha, “Go!” (Gen. 12:1), which leads Abraham to leave his past, to God’s second call, lekh lekha, “Go!” (Gen. 22:2), which leads Abraham to leave his future (as it would exist in his son). As a result, Abraham always is on the move, always a migrant, which is why he also is called a “stranger” (Gen. 17:8).
In his journeying, Abraham is suspended in the void—without his past, which he has lost, and without his future, which he does not see. Between these two calls, which frame Abraham’s journey of faith, Abraham hears God’s voice, which reassures him: “ ‘Do not be afraid’ ” (Gen. 15:1, NKJV). These words of God mark the three sections of Abraham’s journey, which will be studied in weeks 6, 7, and 8.
Abraham exemplifies faith (Gen. 15:6) and is remembered in the Hebrew Scriptures as the man of faith (Neh. 9:7, 8). In the New Testament, Abraham is one of the most mentioned figures from the Old Testament, and this week we will start to see why.
SABBATH: Although Abraham is best known as the “man of faith”, he can easily be referred to as a “migrant” or a “stranger” (Gen. 17:8). He was always on the move. His life dangled between the past he lost & the future he couldn’t foresee. But God bid him; “Do not be afraid” (Gen. 15:1). His story forms the central part of Genesis (Gen. 12-22). God’s call was “Go” & he gently obeyed (Gen. 12:1).
SUNDAY: Abraham was the next to hear God’s voice after Noah (Gen. 9:15-17; 12:1-9). God’s promise that another global flood wouldn’t occur was followed by a promise to bless all nations by the seed of Abraham. God’s call “Go” occurs 7 times & starts from Babylonia (see Gen. 11:31; Isa. 13:19, 48:20, Rev. 18:4, Gen. 22:18, 26:4, 28:14, Acts 3:25). We’re also called to “go” out of Babylon; get rid of past sins.
MONDAY: By faith, Abraham left Ur but by self-volition Abraham left Canaan (Gen. 12:10-20). Famine led Abraham to leave the Promised Land for Egypt. Ancient writs, the Merikare (2060-1700 b.c.), reveal that people from Canaan often left for Egypt for food & water. Egypt was known for temptations (Num. 14:3, Jer. 2:18). It was a symbol of self-trust. Abraham in Egypt lied but God forgave him (PP, p. 130).
TUESDAY: God calls backsliders to return. Abraham saw his journey to Egypt as an unfortunate detour (Gen. 13:1-18). He came back to Bethel where he was before in the Promised Land to start with God again. His repentance & how he handles family issues tells us that he’s a man of peace & generosity. Lot was greedy & Abraham faithful (Gen. 6:2). God Himself chose a land for Abraham (Gen. 13:14-17).
WEDNESDAY: The Battle of the Vale of Siddim is the first war in the Bible & it was a big one. Nine kings were involved; 4 armies from Mesopotamia & Persia against 5 Canaanite armies (including the kings of Sodom & Gomorrah). This war occurs right after God’s gift of the Promised Land to Abram (Gen. 14:1-17). The kings fought over the land but he was the true owner. He fought only for Lot (PP, p. 135).
THURSDAY: After victory in saving Lot, Abram gave tithe to the Priest, Melchizedek, from Salem (means “peace”). Thanked by Canaanites kings, Abram thanked God, Giver of victory. “izedek” in Melchizedek meant “justice”, a contrast to the king of Sodom, Bera (“in evil”) & Gomorrah, Birsha (in wickedness). The priest blessed Abram (Gen. 14:2, 18-24, 28:22; Heb. 7:2-6, Deut. 7:13, 14:23, 2 Chron. 31:5).
FRIDAY: Christ’s church is to be a hub of blessings & its members are to be blessed as they bless others. God’s plan to choose a peculiar people was not only that He might adopt them but to use them as a channel of blessings to all nations. Thus, Abram was not simply the special friend of God but His medium of blessing. We’re the light & salt of the world. Let your light shine & sweeten lives!
——Ellen G. White, “Abraham in Canaan,” pp. 134–136, in Patriarchs and Prophets & Reflecting Christ, p. 205.
PP- Patriarchs and Prophets
Abram- Later referred to as Abraham. God changed His name to mean “father of all nations.” He’s popularly called the “father of faith.” He made mistakes but God didn’t forsake him, just like any sinner. God’s grace is stronger than sin.
Babylonia- It refers to our bitter past & past sins. God calls us to “come out of Babylon”. We’re to “Go” and make disciples of all nations.
Egypt- It stands for atheism, human trusting in humans rather than in God, and temptation (2 Kings 18:21; Isa. 36:6, 9). Egypt often had abundant food & water in contrast to other lands of famine.
Merikare- text composed during the period of the Middle Kingdom (2060–1700 b.c.).
Promised Land- Canaan.
Melchizedek- A priest of “God Most High.” He was a reprensatitve of God and not Christ. He served “bread and wine,” an association that often implies the use of fresh-pressed grape juice (Deut. 7:13, 2 Chron. 31:5).
SUNDAY- Abram’s Departure
MONDAY- The Temptation of Egypt
TUESDAY- Abram and Lot
WEDNESDAY- The Babel Coalition
THURSDAY- The Tithe of Melchizedek
📌 In light of the blessing of Abram, “ ‘I will bless you . . . and you shall be a blessing’ ” (Gen. 12:2, NKJV), what does it mean to be blessed? How can we, as people who serve the same God as did Abram, be a blessing to others?
📌 What was wrong in Abram’s half lie regarding his sister-wife? What is worse: lying or saying some truth while still, at the same time, technically lying?
📌 Read again Genesis 14:21–23, Abram’s response to the offer of the king of Sodom. Why did he respond as he did, and what important lesson can we take from this story? Would not Abram have been justified had he decided to take what the king had offered him?