6 ¶ And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. 7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. 8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. 9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
Noah built an altar to the Lord and offered sacrifices upon leaving the ark in 8:20 acknowledging thanksgiving and God’s mercy. Abram here builds an altar to the Lord confirming his acknowledgment of God’s promise and direction. In between Noah and Abram there was a great deal of counterfeiting of the religious impulse placed in man by God that carried on through the centuries, even today where we don’t necessarily refer to God directly but call our god by the names of Self, Ambition, Science, Entertainment, Sports, Country, etc. etc. But, modern man does build altars quite regularly acknowledging his relationship with his god.
After Noah, perhaps in remembrance of the sons of God who led the pre-Flood earth in rebellion and eventually in veneration of elders who died such as Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, men accepted that there were gods everywhere, little gods, gods that could easily be made angry because they were so irritable and malevolent. This belief, “crushed man with the fear of always having the gods against him, and left him no liberty in his acts.”(41)
For Abram to turn from this powerful social and religious impulse of man, to leave his own responsibilities for the family religion, to turn from the gods to THE God, this return to monotheism, as a scholar might say, was remarkable evidence of God’s interaction with him in choosing this man out of thousands to reveal Himself to a fallen world and APPEARING to him.
Not having God walking physically with them as Adam and Eve enjoyed in the garden in Enos’ time man called upon the name of the Lord.
Genesis 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.
And again, in this age of man, which some call “the church age,” we bring into our minds the authority of our Creator over us and He establishes a relationship with us and His Spirit indwells us by our calling upon His name and acknowledging His sovereignty over us and over all that exists.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
But, God, in the form of His physical presence, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word by which all things were created, appeared to Abram. One cannot see the soul of God, the seat of His will and self-identity, God the Father, so an angel, which is an appearance of someone or something which is someplace else actually, or a vision, or the physical presence of the pre-incarnate Christ is what Abram could see. And the LORD appeared unto Abram and made this covenant and promise.
(41) Ibid., 211.