God’s Promise to Abram (February 3)

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Comment

“Pioneers in the Promised Land: Abraham and Isaac
Abraham and his son Isaac were the first Patriarchs of Israel. The covenants, or pacts, which these founding fathers made with the Lord were the beginnings of Israel’s religion. Their story, which begins in the early second millennium B.C. is not only one of faith; it also gives us an authentic glimpse of the nomadic life from which the nation of David and Solomon eventually sprang” (Great People of the Bible and How They Lived, New York: Reader’s Digest Association, 1974, p. 34. Check out this book with a chapter about Abraham and filled with many interesting pictures and illustrations).

Reading the Scripture
Here is a way you might read the scripture or tell the story:

•    Audio:
o    The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).

Teaching Suggestions

•    Show maps and pictures: “Ur of Chaldeans,”  “Egypt to the river Euphrates,” route of Abram’s travel
o    Oxford Bible Atlas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 66-67
o    “The Ancient World at the Time of the Patriarchs,” Atlas of Bible Lands (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1977), B-9
o    A Visual Guide to Bible Events (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2009) pp. 16-19

•    The Formations Teaching Guide (p. 25) refers to a scene in the movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I have posted on the webpage a video clip of this scene (the quote is found at 4:58; you might start the video at about 4:28).

•    Abram/Abraham: Frederick Buechner’s story about Abraham, in Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who’s Who (New York: Harper and Row, 1979, pp. 3-4), is available in my office (Moses, David, and Jeremiah for future sessions are also included). The story begins:
    “If a shlemiel is a person who goes through life spilling soup on people and a shlemozzle is one it keeps getting spilled on, then Abraham was a schlemozzle. It all began when God told him to go to the land of Canaan where he promised to make him the father of a great nation and he went. . . .”

•    “A deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him” (Genesis 15:16). This sounds much like depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 10 Americans suffer from depression (http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdepression/). If that statistic holds true for your class, how many suffer from some form of depression? It might be worth noting to your class that help is available. Tommy can help refer members to trained counselors and medical professionals who deal with depression on a daily basis.

•    Abram was taken outside and shown the stars. Here’s some information about stars in the sky: “When you look up into the night sky, it seems like you can see a lot of stars. There are about 2,500 stars visible to the naked eye at any one point at any one time on the Earth, and 5,800-8,000 total visible stars. But this is a very tiny fraction of the stars the Milky Way is thought to have! Astronomers estimate that there are 200 billion to 400 billion stars contained within the Milky Way” (http://www.universetoday.com/22380/how-many-stars-are-in-the-milky-way/).
    See the webpage for a time-lapse video of stars moving across the sky. It’s a little over a minute long, but you could watch as little as you’d like.

•    The Formations Study Guide notes that, “we need to work at remembering all that God has done for us so far. It might not be as hard to believe that God will still act on our behalf if we remember how God has previously done so” (p. 35). Remember how God has acted on behalf of our church. You might use Glen Taul’s history on our webpage (http://lexave.squarespace.com/history-75th-anniversary-histo/).

•    The Formations Teaching Guide (p. 27) refers to the hymn, It Is Well with My Soul, and the story behind it—Hymn #519 in our hymnal. We have some copies of The Baptist Hymnal that your class could use (Hymn #339). Call the church office if you are interested. We will sing, It is Well with My Soul, in worship on Sunday, February 3.

Resources
I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons. Other resources are kept in my office.

•    Maps and Atlases
o    Oxford Bible Atlas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 66-67
o    “The Ancient World at the Time of the Patriarchs,” Atlas of Bible Lands (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1977), B-9
o    A Visual Guide to Bible Events (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2009) pp. 16-19