I am sure it wasn't a surprise that God would talk to him. This couldn't have been the first time. After all, he was going to uproot his entire household and go… somewhere. It wasn't a very specific word from God. It was rather general, which made it all the more difficult to follow. He must have had a
general direction to move towards, but God, in His infinite wisdom, was making man dependent on Him. Greatness awaited at the end of his journey, but Abraham would only see the beginning of it. God spoke a word to Abraham that would represent his present, near future, and distant future.
Genesis 12:1–4 (NIV84)
1 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. 2 "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." 4 So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.
The distant future would be something that Abraham would not see with earthly eyes. The near future would be seen in a matter of time, but like the distant future, it had to be gazed at through the eyes of faith. God doesn't operate that differently today. Although God follows no model as Jesus has shown us in the gospels, except the model of hesed. (His steadfast, unfailing love). God still gives very non-specific words along with some specifics. It just depends on His pleasure, which is His relationship with us. To be sure, He wants greatness for every one of us, in the present, in the near future, and the distant future. Yet apart from a relationship with us, it is nearly a moot point with Him since that is His main point! Relationship. What is God's word to you right now? What will you be doing now to bring you into your future? What will you be doing to bring your descendants into their future? That is a thrilling prospect for me. To think that my actions in following Jesus will set up not only my kids and their kids but generations to come! The significance of it all is not overwhelming. It is thrilling and propels me to do things I don't "feel" like doing. We may be like Abraham, who was given another promise about His future that seemed unreasonably huge when he arrived in the new land. It all started with a relationship, and within that relationship, trust. You may have been waiting for me to say obedience, but what operated in Abraham was trust. That is why and how he did what he did. And that changed everything!