Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.
And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.
After his encounter with the Pharaoh in Egypt, Abram and his household returned to Canaan to the land God had promised him in Ur. Stated in simple terms, the text draws our attention to Abram’s impressive wealth as he re-entered the land.
Described as literally “heavy” with goods, the record leaves no doubt that while in Egypt, God used Pharaoh to greatly prosper Abram. Not only was his name revered, Abram’s prestigious wealth was observable.
Abram resettled his household in the valley between Bethel and Ai described specifically as, “the place of the altar which he had made there at first” (v.4). The altar is noted as a geographic marker highlighting Abram’s return to the location where he had previously pitched tents.
At that altar Abram, “called on the name of the Lord” (v. 4). While some commentators suggest Abram’s actions signify that he sought restoration of fellowship with God after being in Egypt, the text does not necessarily support this assumption. The fact that God had protected, preserved and prospered Abram in Egypt seems to negate that argument.
Rather, at the altar where he, “called on the name of the Lord,” Abram prayed to God (Gen. 12:8). His practice of worshipping the One-true God continued as before. The altar he had previously built was a monument that testified to his commitment to the One-true God.
Abram had returned with deeper insight into the character of God and new confidence that He could be trusted in every situation.
Abram’s act of worship suggests that he was focused on the future and everything God had planned for him. Abram’s worship is exemplary for all who choose to live the life of faith and eagerly anticipate God’s unfolding plan.
1) Bible opened to Isaiah. By, Ken Horn, [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) Abram called on the name of the Lord again at Bethel. By the Providence Lithograph Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the NKJV, emphasis added.