Responding to God's Call

05.03.15 | Rev. Darin Pesnell  |  Genesis 11:27-12:9

Two key issues that people deal with: 1) uncertainty; 2) purpose: what should I build my life around? We will explore such things in this new sermon series in Genesis concerning the life of Abraham entitled “Into the Unknown: Walking With God in Uncertain Times.”

Just prior to the story of Abraham we find the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. The people sought to make a great name for themselves apart from God, but God put an end to their plans and scattered the people over the face of the earth. In the aftermath of Babel we find the account of Abraham. In the midst of barrenness, God appears to Abraham and calls him to go to a place that he had no knowledge of. Three things to see:

1. The call

  • You don’t encounter God and leave unchanged.

  • The call will always make us uncomfortable:  

  1. Genesis 12:1 – Abraham was called to leave his country, kindred, and father’s house--everything that brought him comfort and security, and go into the unknown.

  2. Walter Bruggeman sums it up: "The whole of the Abrahamic narrative is premised on this seeming contradiction: to stay in safety is to remain barren; to leave in risk is to have hope." 

  3. Abraham would experience separation from the ways of the world so that the world would be blessed through him.

2. The promises (Gen 12:2)

  1. “I will bless you” - our steps of faith are made with confidence in the fact that God is the true promise keeper. Dig deeper: reflect on God’s character: He never lies and promises to reward them who diligently seek him (Heb 11:6). The ultimate reward is God himself.

  2. “Name great” – the idea of having a great name was also seen among those who were building the Tower of Babel (Gen 11:4). They found failure. But here God shows us the right way to achieve a great name: it is only by His sovereign gracious choice. Dig deeper: the true great name is God’s Name in Christ, which is our through faith union in Christ.

  3. Abraham’s blessing would spill over unto others. This is a paradigm for the church: God blesses us to be conduits of God’s blessings and grace. Dig deeper: if we are living in isolation, we are not really receiving God’s blessing because God’s blessing pushes us to look out from ourselves.

  4. Promise and call – Abraham had no idea what his life would become, but trusted in the God who fulfills all of His purposes. Dig deeper: we do not know what tomorrow holds, but we are confident that God works in all things for the good to them that love God (Rom 8:28). As we trust in the God of promise, He enables us to take risks for the cause of Christ.

3. Response

  1. Genesis 12:5ff - Abraham believed God, which was demonstrated by his obedience.Dig deeper: reflect on what James says: “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)

  2. He leaves his country and arrives in Moreh, a center of pagan idol worship. God appears to him and tells him that He will give Abraham this land.

    1. God waits to tell Abraham what He would do until He sees Abraham’s obedience.

    2. DIG DEEPER: have you not done something that you believe God wants you to do because it seems uncomfortable, or because of fear of the unknown? Trust God and obey Him and He shall direct your paths (Prov 3:5-6)

  3. Abraham’s 3-fold response: obey, trust, and worship (he builds an altar in Moreh to worship God in the midst of the paganism all around him). Result: he finds God in the midst of the unknown. Dig deeper: do not trust your own instincts, but what God says and live in conformity to that. Read and reflect on Luke 17:33.

  4. What does it look like to respond to the call? Are you living your life to avoid being uncomfortable? As we obey, follow, and trust in the Lord, we discover that God is worth it.


Unlike Abraham, Jesus did not go into the unknown. Jesus knew that God the Father was taking Him to the cross (Hebrews 10:5-23; 12:2), where He would shed His blood to purchase these amazing promises and blessings of God that were made to Abraham thousands of years ago, and would for everyone down through the ages who trusts in Christ alone.