©  Jeff Stacey   |   Last updated:  4 November 2016

4B26.  Abraham and some of his chosen descendants responded with wholehearted commitment to God:

They fully believed God’s Covenantal declarations and promises and obeyed His Covenantal requirements, so were carrying out His Covenantal commission

Cycle 2

4B26(a)    Abraham obeyed God’s command and migrated to Canaan

Abraham then decided to obey God fully by leaving his father behind in Harran and migrating the further 500km to Canaan.  Yet he still took Lot with him, along with their households, possessions and herds, and reached Canaan Gen 12:4,5.  They then traveled through some of Canaan and initially settled at Shechem Gen 12:6a.

Abraham had now made a wholehearted response to God by fully obeying His command to migrate to Canaan.

Continue to 4B27(a)

Cycle 3

4B26(b)    Abraham initially believed God’s Covenantal promise that He would give him the Land of Canaan

When Abraham had first arrived in Canaan at Shechem, God had appeared to him and promised to give the Land of Canaan to him and his offspring Gen 12:6-7a [4B27(a)].  In response Abraham had built an altar to Yahweh there Gen 12:7b.  After he again migrated to east of Bethel he built another altar and “called on the name of Yahweh” Gen 12:8.1

So despite his ongoing need to migrate within Canaan, Abraham continued to honour God wholeheartedly and express his belief in God’s promise of possession of Canaan.

Continue to 4B27(b)

Cycle 5

4B26(c)    Abraham’s further responses back in Canaan

After Abraham returned from Egypt he came to Bethel where he had first built an altar.  There he again called on Yahweh Gen 13:3-4.  Then to avoid conflict with Lot, Abraham decided that they should separate Gen 13:8-9a.  He generously gave Lot first choice of where to settle Gen 13:9b.

This appeared to be an act of faith by Abraham.  It implied that he did not try to grab the land from Lot but believed God’s promise that eventually the land of Canaan would be given to him and his offspring.

Lot selected all the best watered land for himself although this was not in Canaan Gen 13:10a,11a.  He settled near Sodom, an evil city Gen 13:12b-13.

Abraham stayed in Canaan Gen 13:12a.  He had responded by honoring God and believing Him wholeheartedly.

Continue to 4B27(c)

Cycle 6

4B26(d)    Abraham rescued Lot and honored God

Abraham forcibly rescued Lot Gen 14:13,14-15,16.  As he returned, the king of Sodom came out to meet him Gen 14:17.  Melchizedek king of Salem also met him.  Melchizedek’s name meant “king of righteousness” and he was “priest of God Most High”.  He brought Abraham food and drink and affirmed God’s blessing of him Gen 14:18-19.  He also praised God for giving Abraham victory Gen 14:20a.  Abraham honoured him by giving him a tenth of all his possessions Gen 14:20b.

Then the king of evil Sodom offered Abraham the spoils of war Gen 14:21.  But Abraham refused because of his sworn commitment to “Yahweh, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” Gen 14:22,23,24a.  Apparently he was aware of the evils of Sodom Gen 13:13 and did not want to associate his victory in any way with them, but attribute it to God alone.  Yet he justly permitted his allied kings to take their share of the spoils Gen 14:24b.

Abraham had again responded wholeheartedly to God by honourably acknowledging Him to these two kings.

Continue to 4B27(d)

Cycle 8

4B26(e)    Abraham believed God

Abraham believed God’s promises that he would father a son and heir who would indeed have countless descendants! Gen 15:6a.  So by believing God he was again responding wholeheartedly to Him.

Continue to 4B27(e)

Cycle 12

4B26(f)    Abraham immediately obeyed God’s command to go to Moriah to sacrifice Isaac

Abraham set out early the next morning with Isaac, fully equipped to carry out God’s horrendous command Gen 22:3.  After three days he reached Moriah, prepared for the sacrifice and raised his knife to kill Isaac! Gen 22:4-10.  So Abraham had responded to this extreme test by obeying God wholeheartedly.

Continue to 4B27(f)

Cycle 14

4B26(g)    Isaac continued to pursue his agricultural efforts despite further opposition

Isaac relocated to another area of Gerar and re-opened some of Abraham’s old wells there that had also been filled in by the Philistines Gen 26:17,18.  But when he dug two new wells they were claimed by the local herders Gen 26:19-20,21.  Finally he dug another well and it was not disputed Gen 26:22a.  So he expressed his belief that God had given him a stable place to live in Canaan and would bless him there! Gen 26:22b.

He moved on from there to Beesheba and settled there Gen 26:23,25b.  God again appeared to him Gen 26:24 [see 4B27(g)] and he responded by worshipping God Gen 26:25a.

Then Isaac was surprised to be visited by Abimelech from Gerar, but not in hostility Gen 26:26-27.  Instead Abimilech wanted to make a treaty of peace Gen 26:28b,29a because he acknowledged that God was with Isaac and blessed him! Gen 26:28a,29b.  Isaac agreed to this and they sealed a treaty with an oath, then parted in peace Gen 26:30-31.

Isaac had carried out God’s Covenantal commission by his persevering faith in God’s promises Gen 26:2-3a.  

Continue to 4B27(g)

Cycle 18

4B26(h)    Jacob immediately set out for Harran

As Jacob was in mortal danger from his brother Esau it was not surprising that he promptly set out for Harran! Gen 28:5,10.  At least he was doing the right thing by obeying his parents’ instructions.

Continue to 4B27(h)

Cycle 22

4B26(j)    Jacob continued to care for Laban’s livestock diligently

Despite Laban’s exploitation, Jacob remained diligent and honest in caring for Laban’s livestock.  Jacob twice summarized this and the extent of Laban’s injustices Gen 31:6-7a,38-39,40-41.  Yet Jacob acknowledged that it was God who had overruled in the whole situation, prospered him and prevented Laban from leaving him destitute! Gen 31:5,7,8-9,10-11,12,42.

Jacob had responded wholeheartedly to God in this matter.  He did what was right and also acknowledged that God’s favour had been the reason for his prospering.

Continue to 4B27(j)

Cycle 23

4B26(k)    Jacob confronted Laban, then made a covenant with him and continued his journey back to Canaan

As Laban accused and threatened Jacob, he also let slip that God had given him a warning the previous night Gen 31:24,29.

Jacob first admitted his fear that Laban would react violently Gen 31:31.  Then he declared his innocence of stealing Laban’s gods, not knowing that Rachel had actually taken them Gen 31:32.  He allowed Laban to search but Rachel successfully concealed them! Gen 31:33,34,35.

Jacob then angrily confronted Laban not only for his accusation about his gods Gen 31:36,37 but also for all his past injustices.  He rebuked Laban for imposing these on him regardless of Jacob’s diligent and honest service Gen 31:38-41.  Jacob declared that if God had not been with him Laban would have completely impoverished him Gen 31:42a.  He said that this was why God had that night rebuked Laban! Gen 31:42b.

Laban was left without an answer Gen 31:43.  So he proposed that they make a covenantal agreement between them Gen 31:44.  This was intended to ensure the honour of his two daughters, Jacob’s wives Gen 31:50a and to set boundaries between the territories of Jacob and Laban Gen 31:52b.  Jacob agreed to this and it was formalized before God as a “covenant of witness” by a pillar and heap of stones Gen 31:45-47,48,51-52a, vows, a sacrifice and shared meal Gen 31:49,50b,53,54.  Then after Laban had blessed his daughters and grandchildren, they all left him behind and went on their way towards Canaan Gen 31:55 -32:1a.

Probably this was all rather pointless for Jacob.  He was most unlikely to have had any intention of ever going back into Laban’s territory anyway!   But as for honouring Laban’s daughters, Jacob had already greatly dishonoured and humiliated Leah by loving and favoring only Rachel.

Yet Jacob had been wholeheartedly committed to God in working diligently and dealing fairly with Laban despite all he had suffered.  He had also obeyed God’s command to leave Harran and return to Canaan despite the likely hazards.

Continue to 4B27(k)

Cycle 24

4B26(m)    Jacob prepared for his showdown with Esau

Terrified, Jacob organized all his household and livestock defensively into two groups Gen 32:7-8.  The leading group was divided into many separate sections, with flocks and herds to be presented to Esau as gifts with submissive greetings, in the hope of pacifying him Gen 32:13b-21.  Jacob and his family were at the rear Gen 32:22.  He even tried to at least preserve Rachel and Joseph by putting them behind the two maidservants and Leah and their children! Gen 33:1b,2.

Fearing he was about to lose everything, Jacob prayed earnestly to God for deliverance Gen 32:11.  He addressed God by His “full title” Gen 32:9a and acknowledged His past favour despite his own unworthiness Gen 32:10.  He reminded God that He had commanded him to return to Canaan and had promised him prosperity and countless descendants Gen 32:9b,12.

This prayer was highly significant because it showed that Jacob took God’s previous promises seriously and acknowledged that some of them had already been fulfilled.  Yet in referring to his family he spoke of “the mother (singular in Hebrew) with the children” Gen 32:11b (NKJV) implying that he really was only deeply concerned about losing Rachel and Joseph!

Jacob’s earnest prayer for protection and expression of belief in God’s promises showed that he did primarily have a wholehearted commitment to God.  Yet he was also looking to his own scheming for protection, especially to save Rachel and Joseph.

Continue to 4B27(m)

Cycle 27

4B26(n)    Jacob and his household moved to Bethel and he built an altar there

Jacob obeyed God’s command.  He was in awe of Bethel as “the house of God” and “the gate of Heaven” Gen 28:16-19a,  35:7b.  It was where God had first appeared to him and God now reminded him of this! Gen 35:1b.  Jacob also testified to God’s faithfulness since then Gen 35:3b.

But before going to Bethel Jacob ordered all of his household to purify themselves by getting rid of the “foreign gods” they had with them! Gen 35:2.  Jacob was apparently concerned that his whole household be pure before God prior to going to Bethel.  He may also have been aware that this paganism was a reason why his altar at Shechem had been defective in God’s sight.

Although God had made no mention of this, Jacob was apparently only too aware of such evil in his household.  For example, Rachel’s father Laban had used divination Gen 30:27 (see also Joshua 24:2).  Rachel also had dared to steal his “gods” when leaving Harran.  Presumably she too relied on them Gen 31:19,34-35.  Previously she had superstitiously also resorted to using mandrakes to try and overcome her infertility Gen 30:14-15.

In response to Jacob’s command, all of his household revealed that they did have many “foreign gods” in their possession Gen 35:4.  They gave their “gods” to him including earrings that must have been significant pagan items.  Yet why did Jacob not destroy them instead of only burying them in an easy-to-find location “under the oak at Shechem”?!

Jacob then went to Bethel and built the altar as God had commanded Gen 35:6-7a.  He called it el bethel, meaning “God of the house of God”.  This recalled his first encounter with God at Bethel [4B27(h)].

Jacob had wholeheartedly obeyed God’s command.

Continue to 4B27(n)

Cycle 29

4B26(p)    Joseph maintained his integrity despite his dire circumstances in Egypt

# Joseph was diligent in his service under Potiphar and successful in all he did Gen 39:3-4

# Joseph repeatedly refused to yield to being seduced by Potiphar’s wife, telling her that this was due to his concern not to sin against God Gen 39:8-10

# Joseph continued to act responsibly in prison even though he had been put there unjustly Gen 39:20-22

# Two of Joseph’s fellow prisoners asked him for the meaning of their dreams Gen 40:5,8a,9-11,16-17.  Joseph first acknowledged that interpretations of dreams come only from God Gen 40:8b.  He then faithfully told them the interpretations even though one was a death sentence! Gen 40:12-13,18-19

# Joseph apparently continued to fulfil his responsibilities faithfully in the prison for two more years Gen 41:1a,14

# Despite being still a prisoner under Pharaoh’s authority, Joseph did not try to use his opportunity to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams for his own advantage.  Instead he again repeatedly acknowledged that interpretation of dreams was actually only from God, not himself Gen 41:16,25b,28,32

# Although the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams included a prediction of severe drought, Joseph faithfully included this bad news in his reply to Pharaoh Gen 41:29-31

In all of these responses to his various acute heart-testing situations, Joseph acknowledged God and maintained his integrity.  This indicated his whole-hearted commitment to God that caused him to keep God’s Covenantal requirements.  He was carrying out God’s Covenantal commission.

Continue to 4B27(p)

Cycle 30

4B26(q)    Joseph continued to maintain his integrity after he became administrator of all Egypt

# Joseph did not abuse his power over his older half-brothers.  But he did use it to test their attitudes to their past mistreatment of him  Gen 42:14-17,21-22,  44:14-16

# Joseph acknowledged and honored God when dealing with his half-brothers Gen 42:18,  43:29b.  This probably influenced them to admit their own guilt before God Gen 42:28b,  44:16

# Even Joseph’s steward acknowledged and honored God, presumably due to Joseph’s influence! Gen 43:23

# Eventually Joseph humbly and affectionately revealed himself to his brothers and forgave their past mistreatment of him Gen 45:1-2,4-5

# Joseph acknowledged that it was God who had brought him to Egypt Gen 45:5,7-9,  47:12

# Joseph on his deathbed believed that God would fulfil His Covenantal promise to bring his descendants back to Canaan Gen 50:24,25

As well as in his dealings with his brothers, Joseph was faithful to God in other ways, as follows,

# Joseph acted in completely confident belief that Pharoah’s dreams and their interpretation were from God.  His vast promotion also did not corrupt him Gen 41:47-49

# Joseph acknowledged God in the naming of each of his sons  Gen 41:50-52

In all of these responses to various acute heart-testing situations Joseph consistently showed his wholehearted commitment to God.  This was by doing what was right, acknowledging God and believing His promises.  He was carrying out God’s Covenantal commission.

Continue to 4B27(q)

Cycle 31

4B26(r)    Jacob honored God when he went from Canaan to Egypt

After Jacob had his sons’ full report about Joseph in Egypt his spirit revived and he resolved to go and see him Gen 45:27-28.

As Jacob crossed the southern border of Canaan at Beersheba he honored God by offering sacrifices to Him Gen 46:1.  So Jacob expressed his wholehearted commitment to God.

Continue to 4B27(r)


1.   This altar-building may have been not only as acts of worship but also as a kind of “staking claim to the territory”.  See W.J.Dumbrell, Covenant and Creation, page 51.(Return to reading).