New Hope UMC

Chapter 1: The Call of Abraham (Genesis 11:27 - 12:9)D

August 11, 2016.

Key Verse:

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’” (Genesis 12:1)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Glenn Houser, Bill Metts, Art Whetstone. 


The author begins with a somewhat lengthy introduction which is important to an understanding of the life and faith of Abraham. He begins with the time period in which we find Abraham, or Abram as he was originally known. We will look at his career, his family and the people of the land he inhabited, particular their worship practices. We look at how Abraham came to believe in a single god. The geography of the region is essential to an understanding of his life as he was a nomadic shepherd and traveled extensively. Then we review the chronology of his life which gives us an overview of the lessons ahead. 

Chapter 1 highlights. 

1. Abraham's family. This takes some study and reflection as intermarriage among family members was common. The family tree is presented in surprising detail.  Ab

2. From Ur to Haran. Abraham's journey at God's behest. 

3. The call of Abraham. This is the beginning of the covenant between God and Abraham. 

4. Abraham's Journey to Canaan. 

5. The Promise of Land. 

Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1(11:32) Have you ever begun something in response to God’s urging and then stopped? Did God want you to stop? Is it time now to renew your obedience and begin again? (Don’t take this question lightly. Sometimes circumstances prevent us from doing what we once felt God wanted us to do. However, he is able to redirect you into his will for you now. Seek him diligently to learn his will.)

Discussion question 2 (12:2-3) In what ways was Abraham blessed? How have all the peoples of the earth been blessed? In what way does Abraham continue bless people through your life?

Discussion question 3.(12:1 with Hebrews 11:8-10) Why does it take special faith to begin to do something in obedience to God before we see how it will turn out? Have you had any of these “opportunities”? Are you in the midst of this adventure now?

Discussion question 4(12:9) What was the significance of Abraham “calling on the name of Yahweh”? What does it mean for you to “call on the name of the Lord”?


Chapter 2: Sarah's Abduction (12:10-20 and 20:1-18)

August 18, 2016.

Key Verse:

“Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die.” (Genesis 20:7)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Miles McCorison, Barbara Paul, Sandra Whetsell, Art Whetstone. 

There is a famine in the land which causes Abraham and his family to journey to Egypt in search of grazing land for grazing land for the herds. The famine is caused by a prolonged drought Egypt is ruled by a Pharoah, and foreign women are susceptible to be included in the Pharoah's harem. These women are selected based on their beauty and apparently Sarah fits that description and was taken into the palace. Were Abram to recognize Sarah as his wife, he would run the risk of being killed. So he introduced her as his sister, only a partial truth.  Pharoah and his entire family become ill and he blames it on the deception of Abram, which he had discovered  

We look at this story and then another similar deception which occurred 25 years later.  This took place in Gerar with Abimilech, king of the Philistines. God came to Abimilech in a vision and told him to release the women, Sarah, as she was the wife of a prophet and a healer.


Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1((12:10) What dangers faced Abraham and his family as aliens and sojourners in Egypt and elsewhere? Who might oppress them? What “aliens and sojourners” live in your community? Why did they come? How are they being oppressed or discriminated against by employers and others in the community? What can you and your church do to “love those who are aliens”?

Discussion question 2 (12:17-20) Why did Pharaoh and his household get sick? What effect did this have? What was God seeking to accomplish through this affliction? Did it have the desired effect?

 Discussion question 3.(20:3-6) What does this story teach us about God’s view of adultery? Can God forgive a person who has committed adultery?

Discussion question 4What do you think about Abraham’s and Sarah’s ethics and faith? Are they ethically and morally wrong? Does the Scripture intend to show that their actions as a lack of faith? What lessons should we disciples learn from these stories?

Chapter 3: Abraham Rescues His Nephew Lot (13-14)

August 25, 2016.

Key Verse:

““Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,   ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,   Creator of heaven and earth.   And blessed be God Most High,   who delivered your enemies into your hand.’ Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14:18-20)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Miles McCorison, Barbara Paul, Glenn Houser, Sandra Whetsell, Art Whetstone. 

In Lesson 3, we have the story of Abraham's rescue of Lot and his family. Lot was caught in the middle of a squabble between a ruling coalition of kings and their vassal states, who had refused to pay continue paying tribute to the monarchs. The kings then set out to take by force what which was wrongfully theirs. Lot was living among the vassal states when Abraham got word of his distress, he set out to rescue him in a daring show of cunning and bravery. 

Lot and Abraham had to separate because their was not enough grazing land to support both their herds. Abraham had become very wealthy, hence the first discussion question regarding God's blessings of material wealth. Lot ended up taking the best land but as it turned out it was fraught with danger and was in the infamous sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham moved to Hebron which was later the site of David's headquarters before taking over Jerusalem. In the battle between the kings and the vassal states, Lot was taken captive. With a small, but trained force, Abraham attacked at night and routed the captors.   

Returning to Hebron, Abraham meets Melchizedek, a "priest of God Most High". Thus ensues and interesting discussion as to how Melchizedek had become a priest, since all Biblical priests had to come from the tribe of Levi, which had yet to be formed. This was discussed in a newsletter article as Jesus was also referred to as a high priest in the book of Hebrews. 

When Abraham left Melchizedek. he gave one tenth of the spoils to him. This is one of the first instances of "tithing" even before it became part of the Mosaic law. 

Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1(13:2) Does Abraham’s material wealth reflect God’s blessing on him? Does material wealth always reflect God’s blessing? Does physical poverty always reflect God’s curse? .

Discussion question 2 (14:13-16). What does Abraham’s military expedition to rescue Lot from the Mesopotamian kings tell us about his character? About his abilities? About the way he deals with neighbors? What is here for us to emulate?

 Discussion question 3 (14:20). What is the significance of Abraham giving one tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek? Does tithing today represent the same kind of worship? Why should we tithe to God first (like Abraham did) before dividing up our paychecks to pay our bills?

Discussion question 4(14:21-24) Why does Abraham refuse to take the spoils of war that the king of Sodom offers him? What does this tell us about Abraham’s character? What is the lesson here for us to learn?

Chapter 4: God’s Covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15)


September 1, 2016.

Key Verse:

“Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Miles McCorison, Barbara Paul, Glenn Houser, Sandra Whetsell, Art Whetstone. 

 Abraham has faced fear in battle with the Mesopotamian kings. But now he faces fear of a different sort – fear in the presence of an awesome God who appears to him. God appears to Abraham in some kind of visual perception, perhaps a vision or a dream.Now God assures Abraham, “Do not be afraid, Abram,” calling him by name. God offers the promise of compensation. But compensation is not what Abraham wants. He already has wealth. Abraham wants an heir. As things stand now, one of his servants, Eliezer of Damascus, will become his heir at his death.

Abraham had questioned God’s first promise of reward. Now he believes that God will fulfill his promise of offspring. “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (15: 6) What is the essence of Abraham’s faith? This element of belief is discussed along with God's response, which includes his acknowledgement of Abraham's righteousness. 

Now we turn to God' purpose in bringing Abraham to Canaan, i.e., taking possession of the land. Abraham acknowledges God’s promise but wants to be sure. Thus ensues a ceremony and a vision resulting in a covenant with Abraham. “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.’” (15:13-16)

This covenant and its application to people of faith today is discussed. 


Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1.What does it mean to you personally to call God your “Shield”? What does it mean to you that he promises to you (as heir of the promises to Abraham) “an exceedingly great reward”? What does it mean to you to call God your Suzerain or Sovereign?

Discussion question 2 (15:6) What is so amazing about this verse? On what basis does God declare Abraham a righteous person? What significance does this have to our New Testament understanding of justification by faith?

 Discussion question 3 (15:16) Have you ever been frustrated with God for not fulfilling his promise to you immediately? Why does God sometimes delay the fulfillment of his promises to a future time?

Discussion question 4.(15:17-18a) Why did God go through the covenant ritual with Abraham, with the divided carcasses? Why does God bind himself to a solemn promise? How does Abraham respond to God’s promises (15:6)? What promises has God made to us that affect our futures? What significance does blood sacrifice have in those promises?


Chapter 5: God Speaks to Hagar, Abraham’s Other Wife (Genesis 16)


September 15, 2016.

Key Verse:

““She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” (Genesis 16:13)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, Miles McCorison, Barbara Paul, Glenn Houser, Terry Boone, Sandra Whetsell, Art Whetstone.  

Sarai was without child at age 65 and with no good prospects of giving an heir to the family of Abraham. According to well-established law, a barren wife could give her maid to her husband so that she might vicariously bear a child through her (30:3-4). A firstborn son born of such a union would become Abraham’s heir unless the primary wife later bore a son herself. This is precisely what Sarai did and her maidservant, Haggar, came through with a son, who was called Ismael. It follows that later Sarai was blessed with her own son, Isaac. Sarai eventually sent Haggar and Ishmael away. 

This is the story of Abraham,  Sarai and their children. The birth of Ishmael and lineage to the Abrahamic line is significant in that Muslims view him as the father of their faith. This will be covered a a later chapter. For now, we concern ourselves with the relationships of God, Abraham, Sarai and Haggar. 


 Discussion question 1(16:1-6) Why does Sarah take her anger out on Abraham? Why does she take her anger out on Hagar? Is she trying to get rid of Hagar or the baby? In what sense is Hagar’s pride Abraham’s fault? In what sense is Hagar’s affliction Abraham’s fault? What situation in your family does this remind you of?


Discussion question 2 (16:7-9) Why does the angel ask Hagar something that the angel already knows? (“Where have you come from, and where are you going?”) Why does the angel send her back to Sarah? Have you ever reacted and got yourself out of the place God wanted you?

 Discussion question 3 (16:13-14) What is the significance of Hagar’s name for God – El Roi, the God Who Sees? What does it mean to a person who is discouraged and losing hope? What does it mean to you personally?


Discussion question 4What lesson is God teaching you out of Hagar’s experience? Which situation that God is calling you to is most difficult for you to submit to?

Chapter 6: The Covenant of Circumcision with Abraham (Genesis 17)

September 22, 2016.

Key Verses:

“‘This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised....’ On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him.” (Genesis 17:10, 23)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, Miles McCorison, Barbara Paul, Glenn Houser, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Sandra Whetsell, Art Whetstone.  

It has been 24 years since Abraham came to the promised land and 13 years since Ishmael was born to Hagar. Thirteen years of silence from God. Now God appears to him again to reaffirm the covenant that God has given him. Now God appears to Abraham with an affirmation of the original covenant and some new conditions. Among other things, God gives Abraham his new name.  Abraham will be fruitful with nations and kings as his descendants. The covenant will be everlasting and will include not only Abraham but his descendants as well. It will include all of the land of Canaan. 

In this lesson we explore the renewed covenant and its meaning along with the requirement of circumcision. We look at the continuing saga of Ishmael as he is now a teenager. We consider God's promise of a male offspring to be born to Sarah even at their advanced ages. This is indeed the beginning of the Hebrew nation. We look at references in the New Testament to the significance of these recorded events in Genesis 17.  

Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1(17:1-2) When God tells Abraham, “Walk before me and be blameless,” is he requiring moral perfection? What kind of blamelessness does he require of Abraham? Does he expect more (or less) of Christians under the new covenant?

Discussion question 2.(17:11) What does circumcision signify for Abraham, his household, and his descendents? Why is some kind of definite act on Abraham’s part important to confirming the covenant? What does Abraham’s obedience the very same day signify?

Discussion question 3 (16:13-14) What is the significance of Hagar’s name for God – El Roi, the God Who Sees? What does it mean to a person who is discouraged and losing hope? What does it mean to you personally?What does it mean to have your heart circumcised? Why is this a necessity for all true believers, both Jew and Christian? How can we keep our faith active as an inward expression of love rather than become only an external religion? Have you ever struggled with this?

Discussion question 4In your own words, how would you explain why circumcision is now obsolete for Christians and that baptism is now the sign of the covenant?


Chapter 7: Abraham Intercedes for Sodom (Genesis 18)


September 29, 2016.

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14a) “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:19)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, Miles McCorison, Glenn Houser, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Sandra Whetsell, Art Whetstone.   

At the beginning of this lesson, Abraham is visited by three angels, whom he welcomes, although he is not quite sure yet who they are. But he entertains them with true hospitality and it finally becomes clear that they are special and sent from God. They assure that Sarah will bear him a son in a year. Then the conversation turns to Sodom. God decides to let Abraham on his plans to destroy Sodom because of their wickedness and then commences to bargain with him over the number of good men it will take to save Sodom from God's wrath.

This is a lesson that shows God's unique inclination to listen to a person whom He considers good and righteous. Such a person is Abraham. We can take away many life lessons from the exchange between God and his faithful servant as told in Genesis 18.   

Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1(18:14) How can we tell if we really believe in God’s present willingness to do miracles in our day? Is there any indication in Scripture that God will stop doing miracles? Is there any indication that God continues to do miracles? How can we regain an active faith in the God of miracles?

Discussion question 2. (18:16-19) How can fathers and husbands strike the right balance – of being godly, caring leaders without being dictators? How can mothers and wives strike the right balance – of being submissive and at the same time being open about their needs and desires? (I know of no Christian cookie-cutter answer to this. It must be conscientiously worked out within the crucible of marriage.)

Discussion question 3 (18:19) In your own words, describe what a lifestyle of “keeping the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just” looks like in the twenty-first century. In what ways is this difficult? In what ways is this easy? What are the special challenges?

Discussion question 4On what ground does Abraham so boldly address God? Do you think God desires us to do the same? Why or why not? Why do you think Abraham’s intercession pleased God? What will it take for us to please him in our prayers?


Chapter 8: The Destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19) 

October 6, 2016.

Key Verse: “The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.?” (Genesis 19:13)

“But Lot's wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, Miles McCorison, Barbara Paul, Glenn Houser, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Sandra Whetsell, Art Whetstone.  

This week we continue with the actual destruction of Sodom. The angels came to Abraham in last week's lesson. Now they are off to Sodom. Remember that Abraham's nephew, Lot ahd his wife, and family are in grave danger. This lesson has many twists and turns but gets deeply into the sins and iniquities of the people of Sodom and the consequences that befell them.  

Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1(18:14) How can Christians keep balance on the issue of homosexuality in our day? Is it really possible to be loving and compassionate toward practicing homosexuals at the same time as you condemn the sin? Should the church be silent about homosexuality? If not, what should we be saying? Where should we be saying it? (Be gentle and loving as you discuss this subject –please!)

Discussion question 2Why did Lot and his family hesitate? Have you ever hesitated when you should have been fleeing a danger? What is the lesson for us?

Discussion question 3 (19: 26) After being nearly delivered, why did Lot’s wife stop and gaze rather than escaping? What was in her heart? Have you ever struggled with this in your heart? What lesson does Jesus draw from Lot’s wife in Luke 17: 31-33?

Discussion question 4(19: 30-38) Why did Lot’s daughters turn to incest? What does this tell us about their values? About their faith? Why does Lot turn to intoxication? What does this incident tell us about his faith? His hope? His influence? His choice of residence? What lessons should we learn from this story?

Chapter 9: Isaac Born, Ishmael Banished (Genesis 21)

 October 20, 2016.

Key Verses:  ”But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.’” (Genesis 21:9-10)

“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the Lord, the Eternal God.” (Genesis 21:33)

 In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, Glenn Houser, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Sandra Whetsell, Art Whetstone.  

We move forward to the birth of Isaac. Abraham is 100 years old. Ishmael is 16. There was great celebration over the birth of the promised descendant of Abraham as could be expected. But for reasons that aren't explained in detail, Sarah became upset with Haggai and Ishmael and demanded of Abraham that they be banished and sent away. Abraham was told by the Lord to comply with this request while being assured that the Lord would protect the mother and child and make a great nation of him. They were sent away with some food and water, but it looked like they would perish when the Lord sent an angel to guide them to water. They lived in the desert and Haggai eventually went to Egypt and found a wife for Ishmael. We don’t see Ishmael again until he and Isaac together bury their father 73 years hence. Ishmael becomes the father of a "great nation" which we know as the Arabs. 

Abraham once again encounters Abimelech, the Phillistine king, and a treaty of sorts is agreed upon at a place called Beersheeba. A well is given to Abraham in exchange for 7 ewes. Abraham has prospered to the point that he is in a stronger position in this encounter with the king of Gerar.   


Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1(21:5-7) The name Isaac means “he laughs.” What is Sarah’s laughter like now compared to her laughter in 18:12-15 and Abraham’s laughter in 17:17? What does this tell you about God’s sense of humor? .

 Discussion question 2(21:8-10) What motivates Sarah to demand Ishmael’s expulsion from Abraham’s family encampment? Is she righteous in this? Have you ever tried to force your spouse to act against his or her principles? Have you ever been forced yourself?

 Discussion question 3In what ways has God blessed Abraham in this difficult chapter 21? Given what we know about Ishmael’s character (16:12;  25:18), how has Abraham been blessed that he sent him away? How has Isaac been blessed? What might have happened if Ishmael hadn’t been sent away? Have you ever been rejected or sent away? Where is God in all of this?

 Discussion question 4. (21:33) How does the realization that God is El-Olam, the Eternal God, effect you? How does it alter the way you live your life?


Chapter 10: Abraham Offers Isaac on Mt. Moriah (Gen. 22:1-19)


 November 3, 2016.

“Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” (22:2)

“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (22:8) “Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:12)

  In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, Glenn Houser, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Sandra Whetsell, Barbara Paul, Miles McCorison, Art Whetstone.  

In this chapter, we visit the amazing story of Abraham offering his son as a sacrifice to God. We begin with God saying in a clear voice to Abraham that he should go to Mt. Moriah and sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. Human sacrifice was done, though infrequently, in the Ancient and Near East during the time of Abraham. It was later banned in the laws of Moses, but Abraham did not have that law in his possession. We, of course, know that God through his angel called the whole thing off. But not before Abraham had journeyed 3 days with the young Isaac and two servants going from Beersheeba to Mt. Moriah, near Jerusalem. That is a lot of time to ponder the command of his Lord. 

There are many thought provoking questions and we will cover them in the lesson. An observation that must be made is the absolute determination of Abraham to follow God, never mind the pain and consequences. Another is the parallel drawn between God's requirement that a life be sacrificed and the sacrifice of God's own son, Jesus. It also brings into the play the Christian concept of losing one's life in order to save it, a primary teaching of Jesus. 

Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1(21:5-7)What effect does Satan want trials to have in our life? What effect does God want them to have? The effect really depends upon how we respond to the trial. Have you ever been through a trial that strengthens and invigorates you at the end? Have any of your trials inspired others or have you been inspired by another’s trial?

 Discussion question 2Can we really know God until we can trust him with our whole lives? Have you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ? If not, why not now? If you have, what has that surrender entailed for you? How has God blessed you in return?

 Discussion question 3(22:14) How have you learned to trust God to provide for you? How has he provided for you in the past? What are you facing right now that will require God to be your Provider, your Jehovah-Jireh?

 Discussion question 4.How does Abraham’s near sacrifice of his beloved, only son Isaac help you understand better Jesus’ crucifixion?


Chapter 11: Death of Sarah and Abraham (22:20 - 25:1-11)


November 10, 2016.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.” (Genesis 24:27)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, Glenn Houser, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Sandra Whetsell, Miles McCorison, Art Whetstone.   

We come to the end of our study on Abraham and also to the end of the lives of Abraham and Sarah. In this lesson, we review the life of both of these characters who are pillars of our faith. We also look at the circumstances surrounding the assurance that God's will would be carried out in future generations in the manner that God had covenanted with Abraham. To accomplish this, Abraham's servant, believed to be Eliezer of Damascus, was given instructions to carry out an action that would result in selecting a wife for Isaac. The wife must be from the family of Abraham and not a Canaanite or any other of the tribes that would be conquered. The story of how this was carried out includes a prayer by the servant which is preserved for us in the scriptures. This prayer was one of the first recorded in the book of Genesis and was uttered by a servant. (24:12-14) It is a prayer of petition and was answered immediately as we shall see. 

Sarah preceded Abraham in death. Abraham lived to be 175 years old and saw his son Isaac marry Rebeccah, who gave birth to the twins, Jacob and Esau. Abraham's firstborn, Ishmael, attended the burial along with Isaac.  

Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1Take some time to review Sarah’s life and legacy. What were her strengths? Her weaknesses? Where did she show faith? Where did she lack faith?

 Discussion question 2(23:3-20) What is the significance of Abraham’s faith in God’s promises at the same time as he pays dearly for this small property? What does this tell us about faith?

 Discussion question 3(24:12-14) What do you think of the servant’s prayer and test of God? Did the servant find the right girl on the basis of his hasty prayer? If not, then how?

 Discussion question 4. Which of Abraham’s achievements inspires you the most? As you reflect on his life, what stands out for you?


This was the final week of the study of Abraham. All agreed it had been a great experience, with learning and inspiration aplenty. The last week was special in another way as we celebrated Mark's birthday complete with candles, gifts, cards, cake and a slightly off key "Happy Birthday".