Why did Abram obey God, turning his back on his father’s home and religion? There is only one reason. Abram had confidence in God. Abram did not know where he was going, but he believed the word of the Lord which said, “Move out! If you move, I will greatly bless you!” Abram had confidence in God and left his country as the Lord God had told him. And God, in His faithfulness, led Abram to the land of Canaan, which today is called Palestine or Israel.
Next, the Scriptures say: “Abram traveled through the land…At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.'” (Gen. 12:6-7) Thus we learn that God, who promised to make Abram the father of a new nation, also promised him a new country as well. That is what God meant when He appeared to Abram and promised him, “To your offspring I will give this land.”
Again, we see something which surpasses human wisdom. The land of Canaan had people living throughout it. How could Abram and his descendants possess it? Abram was seventy-five years old. His wife was sixty-five and childless. Could two elderly people have enough children and descendants to fill the land? How could this happen?
Let us try to illustrate what God promised Abram. It is like an elderly man who has no children and comes from a far off land to visit Senegal. He comes with his elderly wife, who has never been able to conceive. When they arrive, someone says to them, “One day you and your descendants will possess the whole land of Senegal!” The old man laughs and says, “You are very funny! My descendants are going to possess the land? I do not even have any descendants! I am an old man; I have no children, and my wife is unable to conceive–and you say to me that my descendants are going to multiply and possess Senegal? Are you ill?”
Perhaps this illustration seems a little absurd; nonetheless, this is the kind of promise God made to Abram-to a man who was old and childless, with a wife who could not conceive. Listen to what God promised Abram in chapter thirteen. He said,
“All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” (Gen. 13:15-17)