01. Abraham: A worshiper of God

UNIT #: 
I
Lesson Theme: 
Worship is an integral part of our faith, which follows us wherever we go.
Aim: 

To understand the significance of worship through the life of Abraham, the great patriarch of the Jewish and Christian faith. 

Bible Passage: 

Genesis 12:1-8

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Call of Abram

12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and invoked the name of the Lord.

Teacher’s Preparation: 

As this is the first lesson you are probably teaching please be cognizant of the learning styles used to teach this material to the students. Some students may prefer visual and audio aids as opposed to a lecture from the Bible or textbook. Other may prefer anecdotes and personal experiences and so forth. This lesson can be complemented with several visual aids such as maps and pictures of ancient Mesopotamia and different kinds of pictures of altars used at that time. Also helping students to understand the challenges Abraham faced in obeying God, can help students put things into perspective.  Lastly, helping students understand the spiritual significance of altars and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will greatly aid them in developing a deeper appreciation for worship. (Note: comments from main body and apply here)

Main Ideas: 

As you begin exploring passages in the Bible, the greatest book ever written, you will come across stories of great men and women who changed the face of history as they chose to serve God in many different ways. In the Old Testament, one of those men was Abram, whom God renamed Abraham.  Abraham was a man chosen by God to follow Him, and today both Christians and Jews identify him as “Father Abraham” or one of the “Great Patriarchs.”  (Romans 4:16) Even Islam considers Abraham to be one of its greatest prophets. A patriarch is someone who is considered as the father or founder of an order or a society of people. But back then, Abraham probably didn’t think of himself the same way. Nevertheless, Abraham trusted God for what was to come, and that was to make Abraham the father of many nations.

As you read before, Abraham, who was called Abram at the time, was asked by God to leave his father’s land and family and follow God to a place that God would show him. How would you react if God told you to pack your bags and leave everything to go somewhere you’ve never been before? Would you say ,“Yes,” “No,” "I’m not sure?" Those are all normal answers, but God had a plan of taking Abram outside the “norm” and the ordinary. But first, Abram had to believe God, even if he did not understand all that God had in mind.

And so God’s plan was to make Abram a great nation through whom all the people of the earth would be blessed. Following this covenant God made with Abram, Abram’s name was changed to Abraham, which meant the “Father of Many.” (Genesis 17:5) And so Abraham and his wife Sarai began that journey with God, and left his homeland to travel to the land of Canaan.

Fun Fact: The distance between Canaan and Haran was about 500 miles. That’s about 8 hours in a car for most of us.  But Abraham didn’t have a car. At 10-20 miles per day (not hour), he was looking at anywhere between a month to 50 days of walking through the desert. Imagine walking for 50 days in the hot sun. That takes a whole lot of commitment, if you ask me.

[Please format the fun fact section as a box on the side. If possible, can the publishers include a small map showing the journey of Abraham from Haran to Canaan?]

Worship—Then and Now

As Abraham arrived in the city of Shechem, in the land of Canaan, he was surrounded by the Canaanites who were people who worshipped different gods and did not share the same beliefs as Abraham.  It could have been easy for Abraham to feel alone and afraid, but God promised Abraham that one day his descendants would inherit the land. And as you will see in another lesson, this in fact came true hundreds of years later when a man named Joshua led the children of God into Canaan to make it their home. (Joshua 1)

Abraham responded to God’s promise by building an altar to the Lord. An altar was one of the earliest means of worshipping God, done as far back as the time of Noah. (Genesis 8:20)  The earliest forms of altars were built using stones on which an animal was placed on top and burned as a sacrifice.  Altars were commonly used in worship for many of the ancient religions prevalent at the time. Altars were also built in places where they could be easily identified and so often served as landmarks or milestones highlighting a certain location as sacred. As Abraham moved along his journey, he built altars to God as a sign of his worship. 

 Worship for Abraham was a faith building exercise. Each time he worshipped God, he was saying that, "God I realize what you have done for me. And I thank you for who you are." Worship was Abraham's response to God's promise and faithfulness.  And the altars he built would serve as reminders of that. 

Although we do not worship God by slaying animals on altars today as Abraham did, there are some vital lessons that we can understand from it. The fact that Abraham built altars wherever he went shows that worshipping God is a continuous process. It's not something that just happens once.  Next, the fact that an animal was sacrificed shows that worshipping God involves us giving  something of value towards God.We need to keep in mind that as we worship God today, it’s not just about singing songs or chanting our liturgy. Worship involves us giving up or sacrificing some of our time, money, and energy and giving those things to God regularly. What will you put on your “altar” for God today?  

 

 

Activities: 

Lots of times in life, we need to make choices like Abraham did which can be scary at times. But we know that if we choose to follow God in those times, he will be with us and bless us.  This week, think of what God might be asking you to do in your school, home, and church. Also, take some time this week to think about what you can put on your “altar” for God. Do you have some spare change to give to charity or some time to give to God by helping out at church?  Make a list of that and share with the rest of your classmates the next time you meet.

Teachers hand students an assortment of items. (Wait for Anissa's e-mail)

Lesson Review: 
  1. God asked Abram, to leave his father’s land which was _____________________ and travel to the land that God would show him which was _______________________.
  2. God changed Abram’s name to _________________ which means, “_________________ of many.”
  3. When Abram landed in the city of Shechem by the _______________________, the _______________ were living in that land. (Hint: Read Genesis 12:6)

Short Answers

  1. Abraham today is called the “Father of Nations” by both Jews and Christians alike. But he did not start that way. In a few sentences, explain what happened in his life that started it all. What did God promise to do for Abraham and how did Abraham respond?

Glossary (please layout this section on the left side of the page)

  1. Patriarch: Someone who is considered as the father or founder of an order or a society of people
  2. Covenant:  A special bond made between God and man
  3. Altar: An elevated place or structure, as a mound or platform upon which animals or grain or other such things were placed on and set fire to, as a sacrifice towards God

 

Values for Life: 

Worshipping God is not a one time action and is something that requires faith as God can take us through places we have not been through before. Let us strive to be like Abraham worshipping God for he is regularly as he leads us through different stages in our lives. 

Life Response/My Decision: 

I will choose to worship God as often as I can offering myself up to him just as Abraham did. 

Memory Verse: 

John 4:23-24

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Closing Prayer: 

Conclude the class with a prayer

status: 
scope and sequence

Comments

Edits made as discussed.