Out of Ur, Egypt, and SIn

“Thou art Jehovah the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham.
Nehemiah 9.7

While it is stated in the verse above that God brought Abraham out of Ur, it doesn’t explain the manner in which God did so. However, there are other texts that do explain how, and these passages will be the focus of the article. As we examine these additional texts, we will find that both God and Abraham had active roles. If it were to be asked, “Did Abraham do anything?” then the answer is clearly, “Yes.” We find that God gave a command to Abraham to leave Ur and Abraham obeyed (Genesis 12.1-4; Acts 7.2-3; Hebrews 11.8). God promised an inheritance to Abraham and Abraham believed God would fulfill his oath (Hebrews 11.9-10).

Abraham’s faith was not dead, like his own body was said to be (Hebrews 11.12). His faith was strong, fully trusting that God would accomplish whatever God declared. The apostle Paul stated the following words of Abraham: “Who in hope believed against hope, to the end that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, so shall thy seed be. And without being weakened in faith he considered his own body now as good as dead (he being about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, looking unto the promise of God, he wavered not through unbelief, but wasted strong through faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4.18-21).

Apart from declaring his will to (and for) Abraham, would Abraham have chosen to leave Ur? What reason(s) would have sufficed for Abraham to even consider such a move? In giving commands and promised to Abraham, God would know whether or not Abraham feared him above all else. God did not forcer Abraham to leave Ur. That is an important fact to recognize. God gave Abraham a choice in regard to the matter. We see his faith made perfect by his obedience. This was how God “brought” Abraham out.

What was true in the case of Abraham coming out of Ur was also true with the children of Israel. We see this from Stephen’s words in Acts 7. In v. 36, Stephen said that God “brought” them out of Egypt. Yet, in vv. 25 and 40, we find that God did so by the hand of Moses. God promised the blessings of Abraham to the people of Israel through Moses and gave them commands. They believed and obeyed (Exodus 3.21-22; 12.35). God fulfilled his promise. The psalmist declared, “He brought the Israelites out with silver and gold, and among his tribes, there was not one who stumbled” (Psalm 105.37). This was how God “brought” them out of Egypt. As with Abraham, so likewise God did not force these people to submit. He gave them evidence whereby they could choose to believe in his power to fulfill his promises if they so desired.

This same thing is true with us in regard to our salvation from sin. We are not forced to stop committing sin. However, we have the resurrection as proof of our eternal inheritance (Acts 17.30-31). In view of this, we can choose to repent or perish (2 Peter 3.9). This eternal inheritance was the same promise God made to Abraham and to the children of Israel. These promises are related. God’s bringing Abraham out of Ur and Israel out of Egypt was with a view to bringing us out of sin. This was what he purposed from eternity. God “brought” Abraham out of Ur to “bless all" in the future, in Christ (Genesis 12.3; Acts 3.26).

The apostle Peter wrote that God has given us “exceeding great and precious promises” through Christ (2 Peter 1.4). Our blessings were promised upon the same conditions that were stated to Abraham and his descendants: Faith and compliance. In this manner, God brings us out of sin. We see the power of God’s word from this process. God’s word has the power to convict the heart to repent and accept God’s offer of salvation (Romans 1.16). The apostle Paul described our blessings this way: “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, ‘In thee shall all the nations be blessed’” (Galatians 3.8).

Let us learn from the example of how God “brought” Abraham out and have hope “through patience and comfort of the scriptures” (Romans 15.4).