Scripture Reference: Genesis 12:1-9
Suggested Emphasis or Theme: We should have living faith, the kind that involves both trust and action.
Memory Verse: “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17 (NIV)
God chose one man, Abram, to be the beginning of a whole new nation that would be called God’s people. He told Abram to leave his home and his relatives and begin travelling. Abram took his wife, Sarai, and his nephew, Lot and left his home and began to travel and live in tents. The Lord also told Abram that his name would be great and that the whole world would be blessed through this new nation. Abram believed God and had living faith—the kind of faith that proves it is real by doing actions.
God wanted to bless all the families and nations of the earth and he chose to accomplish his purposes through one man, Abram. Abram was far from perfect but he was a man with great faith who was willing to act on that faith and blindly go when God told him to “go”. Years earlier men had infamously tried to make a “name for themselves” (Genesis 11:4) by attempting to build the Tower of Babel. But this was different. Now it was God who promised to make a great nation from this man with a barren wife saying, “I will make your name great.” (Genesis 12:2)
To better understand Abram and his family read Genesis 11:27-32. Abram was born in the large and advanced city of Ur of the Chaldees in the area of modern-day Iraq. In that city Abram would have experienced the modern conveniences of the day including culture, marketplaces, libraries along with the general wealth of that ancient city.
This was left behind when Abram’s father Terah decided to move the family to Canaan. For whatever reason, they stopped and settled in Haran which is located in what is now southeastern Turkey. Years later it was in Haran that God told the now 75 year old Abram to leave everything he knew and go. Abram’s faith is revealed in the fact that he was not even told where he would be going before he left. Read more about Abram’s faith in Hebrews 11:8.
“Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (Contemporary English Version)
God promised Abram that he would be a blessing. All the families on the earth would be blessed because God would:
- Make a Great Nation of him.
- Bless him.
- And make his name great.
- Bless those that blessed him.
- Curse those who dishonoured him.
When he left, Abram took his barren wife, Sarai, his nephew, Lot, as well as the possessions and people he had acquired during his time in Haran.
The land of Canaan was already inhabited but God promised that this land would someday belong to Abram’s offspring. While traveling through Canaan Abram stopped and worshiped at Shechem and Bethel. These would later become well known in the story of God’s people. Because of a famine Abram and Sarai will make their way down to Egypt before returning to Canaan. Their sojourn in Egypt reveals flaws in Abram’s character yet God continues to use his faith to accomplish his bigger purposes. Later in Abram’s life God will say the following to him:
“I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:17-18, NIV
Way to Introduce the Story:
Bring some sand to class today. Use a magnifying glass to see the individual grains of sand. Have the children count out ten grains of sand. Then have them count out twenty or any other number. Have fun estimating the number of grains of sands in a teaspoon, cup, bucket, etc. “Did you know that God once told a man that he would have so many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on that their number would be greater than the grains of sand on entire seashore? That man’s name was Abram and we are going to be learning about him today and in the weeks to come.”
Once there was a man named Abram who loved God very much and had faith in Him. Abram and his wife, Sarai lived in the city of Haran. Many of Abram’s relatives also lived in this city. Sadly, Abram and Sarai could not have children. It must have been sad for them to think about how they would never have grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But this did not stop Abram from having faith in God.
God loved Abram and Sarai but God also loved all of the other families in the world. So God made a plan to bless everyone. His plan was that he would use Abram and Sarai to begin a family that would become very, very big. Their family would be so big that it would be a nation. This nation would be the means by which he would help the world. Everyone in the world would someday be blessed through Abram’s family.
So one day God told Abram to leave his country and his relatives and to go to a new land that he would show him. God did not say where the new land was. He just told Abram to go and that He would show him later.
Faith means believing something to be true even if you can’t see it. Abram had faith in God even though he could not see him. In the Bible book of James we read, “If faith does nothing, then that faith is dead.” James 2:17. Some people might say that they have faith in God but be too afraid or disobedient to obey him. That kind of faith is like a dead faith.
But Abram had a living faith. He trusted in God and was willing to do what he said. Abram and his wife, Sarai, began packing up everything they owned. Abram’s nephew, Lot, and all of Abram’s servants and helpers also joined them.
Everyone would have been very busy for many days. They would have packed up all their things, loaded the big, heavy objects onto their camels. Their servants and helpers would have gathered all of Abram’s sheep and cows and donkeys for the trip. Finally everything would have been ready! Abram and his relatives left their home country forever. Now they would live in tents and travel around wherever God told them to go.
In the land of Canaan God told Abram to have a good look around. Other people lived there but someday Abram’s children and grandchildren would own this land. They stopped in a placed called Shechem so that Abram could build an altar of stones and worship God. Later they stopped in a place called Bethel and did the same thing.
Later they would go to other places, like Egypt. Abram was not a perfect man who did the right thing every single time but he continued to have a living faith in God. And God kept his promises to Abram and protected him. God had a special plan for Abram.
And remember how Abram and Sarai had no children? God promised that that would change someday. God wanted Abram to have a family that would bring blessing to everyone. God would start a great nation from Abram.
In the future God would say to Abram, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here to download the slideshow or click here to download the pictures to print.
Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.
- Who was Abram’s wife? Sarai
- Where did Abram live when God told him to go to a new land? Haran
- How many descendants did God say that Abram would have? As numerous as the stars in the sky and grains of sand on the sea-shore.
- Did Abram know where he was going when God told him to leave his home country? No
- If faith does nothing, what kind of faith is it? Dead
- Quote “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17 (NIV)
- Three Wandering Jews Song
- My God is So Big Song
- Father Abraham Song
- Refer to the Song Page on this website for more options.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Use the “Post-it In Your Heart” method to guide the children in memorising James 2:17.
- List all of the things a person has to do before they move. Talk about how much work Abram and Sarai had to do to obey God.
- If you have extra time, ask the students to act out the story. Chairs placed in three areas of the room may represent the city of Haran and the new land. Students may pack imaginary tents and belongings, load them on imaginary camels, and travel to each place. Ask them why they are moving. (They are obeying God’s call)
- Write situations on cards. Let the children take turns acting out the situations. They can choose to have “dead faith” or “living faith” as they act out the situation. The other children can guess which kind of faith the child has. [Example: Read out this situation: “Tim says that he has faith in God. God says to help people. Tim’s neighbour is sick and cannot collect the mail.” The child chooses to act out the situation showing either living faith (collecting the mail) or dead faith (doing nothing for the neighbour).
- Pack bags for a trip. Younger children can talk about what they would take on a vacation.
- Puppet Skit for Pre-schoolers: Try using simple finger puppets or dolls to act out this very simple and straightforward Puppet Skit about God’s Promise to Abram which was submitted by Jenny Ancell, Australia.
- Memorise today’s memory verse. Click here for ideas to help children memorise scripture.
- Tell the children to pretend that their parents told the family to pack their bags because they were going to go on a fun vacation. The parents would not say where they were going to go. How would you know what to prepare for? Beach, mountains, skiing, camping, scuba diving? Abraham did not know where he was going.
- Create a “sand painting”
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page of Abraham (Church House Collection)
- Colouring page of descendants like stars (Church House Collection)
- A number of illustrations showing Abram’s Family Tree
- Old Testament Worksheets (HubPages)
- 3D paper star craft (DLTK)
- Printable camel craft (Learn Create Love)
- Various Abraham activities and crafts (Church House Collection)
- Maps depicting Abram’s Journeys (Bible History)
- Various puzzles and activities specifically about Sarah (Garden of Praise)
- Various toddler activities for Abraham and Sarah stories (Toddler Activities)
- Lesson with activities, visual aids to print, and craft ideas (Bible Fun for Kids)