Genesis 11:10-12:9 // What Does Trusting the Lord Mean?

Have you ever been in a conversation where someone was going through something difficult and you said, “You just need to trust the Lord”? After you said it, did you realize it may have felt kind of hollow or cliché? “Trust in the Lord” is a bit of lingo Christians often throw around, but we don’t always know what it means.

How are we supposed to trust the Lord in everyday scenarios? Is it a feeling? Is it something we’re supposed to conjure up for ourselves? How do you have faith in real life?

In Genesis 11:10-12:9, we’ll get an example of what it means to trust in the Lord. We’ll see how Christians are supposed to live by faith.

A Genealogy

The first thing we come to is a genealogy (vv. 10-26). While you might think this isn’t helpful, it does a couple things for us. First, it shows that this isn’t a fairy tale – these were actual people and real history. Second, it shows how God worked all His promises out through many generations.

Verses 27-32 shifts our focus more to Abram, who would become Abraham. Next, in chapter 12, God gives to this man a dramatic command that is secured in concrete promises.

God’s Promises to Abram

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.”

v. 1

God tells Abram to leave his country, his community and his family. If you’ve ever moved to a foreign country, left your hometown or even gone off to college, you’ll know it’s dramatic. Why would Abram obey this command?

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God doesn’t give Abram a plan, but instead He gives him promises. It goes on in verses 2-3:

“… And 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 him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

In order for Abram to get the confidence to go, all he had was God’s promises. For him, faith was based on obedience based on promises. Verses 4-5 tells us that “Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him … and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.” His faith was very actionable.

Then as Abram enters Canaan (v. 6), God gives another promise: “To your offspring I will give this land” (v. 7). There, he built an altar and called upon the Lord (v. 8) – which is interesting in contrast to those who built the Tower of Babel (see “Genesis 11:1-9 // Calling on the Name of the Lord“). And Abram continued to obey as he journeyed on (v. 9).

What It Means to Trust in the Lord

What we see from this section of Scripture is that God works on the basis of promises. He gives people promises and expects them to have faith. And several times, the New Testament points back to Abram’s faith as an example for how we should live (see Galatians 3:5-6; James 2:23; Romans 4:3; Romans 4:18-25).

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Believing in God’s promises results in obedience because of that belief.

So what does it look like to trust in the Lord? It looks a lot like what Abram did: believing in God’s concrete, never-failing promises and therefore doing what He says to do. He has given us specific promises and it’s important for us to know what they are so that we can live by them. Christianity isn’t a feeling – it’s a lifestyle.

If you’re a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit that enables you to trust His promises and obey His commands. This doesn’t happen overnight, though. It takes daily practice. But let this motivate you to get into the Word to know what God’s promises are, to learn His commands and to live intentionally in light of them.

May we be people who trust in the Lord: believing in His promises and living according to them.

Discussion Starters

  • What was the main takeaway for you from the story of Abram?
  • Why does the New Testament continually point back to Abram’s faith as an example for how Christians should live?
  • How do we trust in the Lord?
  • What will you do this week to intentionally trust in the Lord?

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