The Big Picture
Study 2: God's Call & Promise to Abraham, Genesis 15, 22
The downloadable study offers a more scripted format. This version is only the basic steps.
In addition to standard icebreaker questions, answer the question, "What was something in your life that was challenging to do but rewarding in the end?"
The Bible is full of many stories and teachings, but all of them tell a bigger story about God and the whole world we live in. It is the story of both God and us.
In this series, we'll look at the big picture of the Bible starting at the very beginning. This sets up important passages to understand the story of God and how all the Bible leads up to Jesus.
Introduction to the Passage
Study 1 was about how humans decided to disobey God, therefore damaging their relationship with him, each other, and the earth. Brokenness entered the world. However, God wasn't content to let the world stay that way -- he had a plan to fix things, and that plan started with Abraham.
2,000 passed after Adam and Eve left the garden (for more background on those years, read Genesis 4-11), and then Abraham was born. He enters the story with God's call:
“Now the Lord said to Abraham, “Go from your country and your people and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abraham went, as the Lord had told him.” (Genesis 12:1-4)
The first passage in this study takes place about 10 years after that first call.
Read the Passage
Have everyone read the passages silently to themselves, and write down questions they have as they read. Then, read the passages out loud, each person reading one verse.
1. Who are the people/characters in this passage?
The Lord, Abraham, Isaac, servants (they also might mention Eliezer, the Angel of the Lord, and Abraham’s future offspring.)
2. In the beginning of the passage, the Lord spoke to Abraham and told him that He will be his shield and that his reward will be very great. How did Abraham respond?
He says, “I’m childless and have to pass my possessions on to one of my servants instead of a son…what can you give me that will make my situation better??” He questions.
3. How do you think Abraham felt? Why do you think he felt that way?
Frustrated, discouraged, a little hopeless. He still respects God and his power though (he calls Him “Sovereign Lord”). Abraham left his family and friends behind to obey God. When he did that, he wasn’t just leaving behind people he cared about…he was leaving behind security and comfort. And he took that risk because God promised to make him the father of a great nation. Now, 10 years later, he still had no children and was getting too old to have any. How can you be the father of a great nation if you don’t even have any children?!
4. How did God respond to Abraham’s frustration?
He responded with patience and a reaffirmation of His original promise. He told Abraham that he will have a son, and even that he will have more descendants than the stars in the sky. It was a very generous promise to someone who was feeling pretty hopeless.
5. How did Abraham respond to the Lord? How would you have responded if you were in Abraham's situation?
It says he believed the Lord, and that the Lord counted him righteous because of it. In other words, because Abraham had faith in God, he was in good standing with Him.
6. Over 15 years later, Isaac was born, and then 12 years after that, what did God tell Abraham to do?
He told him to take his only son and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.
7. How do you think Abraham felt when God asked him to do this? Why?
He was probably devastated…he had given up everything to obey God and patiently waited for almost 25 years before he finally had a son. Isaac was the only means to which God could fulfill his promise to Abraham to make him the father of a great nation. Now, God was apparently going to take him away. And of course, he was probably upset because he was Isaac’s father and loved him.
8. What did Abraham do? Why do you think Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac?
He obeyed! We don’t know what exactly went through Abraham’s head. But, the Lord had promised to make him the father of a great nation many times, and had also provided in other ways such as keeping him safe from danger and giving him favor with kings of other land. So, maybe He trusted that somehow it would turn out ok. Maybe he thought God would provide another son. In another part of the Bible, it says that Abraham believed that God could even raise Isaac from the dead if necessary. Whatever the motivation, we see that Abraham was willing to give up his own son in order to obey the Lord.
9. What happened when Abraham was ready to kill Isaac?
The Angel of the Lord said, “STOP! Don’t hurt the boy…now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld your son.” In a sense, He was saying, “You have passed the test.”
10. So why do you think God told Abraham to sacrifice his son in the first place?
He wanted to test him. When God first told Abraham to leave his family behind, he was asking him to give up his past. And when he told him to sacrifice Isaac, he was asking him to give up his future. God wanted to see if Abraham fully trusted Him enough to obey even when it didn’t make sense.
11. What do you think the main point of this story is? (Or, what do you think this story is supposed to teach us about God?)
One possible idea: God is always faithful and can be trusted, even when we don’t understand what He is doing. He made a promise to Abraham, and he kept it. (V. 14…The Lord Will Provide) Abraham probably questioned whether or not God would follow through his promise because he waited 25 years for Isaac to be born. And when God told him to kill Isaac, he probably doubted God and questioned whether or not He should follow through. He might have thought it would be better to ignore God. But God wants us to SURRENDER our lives to Him, so that He can provide for us and keep his promises. Since Adam and Eve, people doubted God and tried to live a part from Him, but his desire is for us to surrender to Him and obey, so that He can give us all the good things he promises. (And remember, if Abraham hadn’t surrendered to God, he would never had had a son in the first place, because it was a miracle!)
12. According to what we’ve read so far, why do you think obedience to God is important?
God is always good and always provides for us…he has the best intentions for us. When we chose to do things our way, the world was broken and ruined. But when we choose to obey God, we are acknowledging that His way is best…we are choosing something better than we can offer.
This would be an excellent place to share a testimony about a time God called you to do something uncomfortable or hard that led to something great you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Hit on His faithfulness to fulfill His promises!
14. How was Abraham different from Adam?
13. At the end of the passage, God tells Abraham that because he obeyed, He will surely bless Him and his descendants. What does verse 18 say? What do you think it means?
It basically means that God wanted to form a people group, a nation, that would bless the rest of the world. This nation would show the rest of the world who God was and what it was like to follow Him and obey Him. They would show people that His way was better than the one we come up with. SO, the world was broken and messed up, but God wanted to do something through these people to help fix it. This was the beginning of God’s plan to renew the broken world!
15. Any other questions?
Abraham was a man with a lot of faith in God. He had plenty of reasons and options to doubt God or turn away, but never did. He trusted God enough to be willing to give up everything, even his own son, for Him. Because of his faith, God blessed Abraham and made him the father of a nation - a nation that will bring restoration to the earth.
God is the one who promises and who provides. Do we try to control everythig and do things the way we think are best, or do we surrender our lives to God and trust that He will provide for our needs? What would it look like for you to obey God like Abraham did?