The Abrahamic Covenant
Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3, NKJV)
The call of Abraham marks the beginning of a new development is God’s plan. God calls him in response to the disaster of Babel. He takes the initiative and turns his attention to one man, Abraham. The world is no longer the stage of action, but one little corner of it. This radical call is depicted as a journey. Abraham was told to leave his country (Ur), his people, and his father’s household, to go to the land that God will show him (12:1-3). This is a hard decision to make for it is not easy to move from one country to another. Abraham was commanded to leave absolutely everything he knows – his family, tribe, and home – for a long and uncertain journey to an unknown destination. Abraham has to give all the symbols of security and autonomy with which the builders of Babel sought to boost their own identity.
By focusing on Abraham, God made clear his extraordinary plan. We read about it in the first three verses of Genesis chapter twelve (Gen.12:1-3):
- To make Abraham into a great nation,
- To bless him,
- To make his name great,
- To make him a blessing
- To bless those who bless him and curse (or judge) those who judge him, and
- Finally, to bless all peoples on earth through him.
In Genesis chapter 11, the people have sought to make a name for themselves with the construction of the tower of Babel, but God turned down their ambitious plan. He rejected any attempt to do things their own way, and promised to make Abraham’s name great instead. God was determined to make Abraham into a great nation. The accolade that the people of Babel attempted to take for themselves – fame, security, and a heritage for the future – are God’s free gift to Abraham. God’s response to what has gone wrong at Babel and to his good creation as a whole: Through Abraham God will bring into being the nation Israel, which is to be God’s own people among all the other peoples of the world. And through this nation God will bring blessing to all the other peoples of the earth (Gen. 18:18-19).
It is clear that though God narrows his attention to one man, Abraham, he does not forget his purposes for all the nations of the world. We see that in the use of the word “bless” in Genesis 12:1-3 as mentioned above. The dynamic word “bless” expresses God’s purpose to give his creatures all they need to fulfill their lives in his creation as he intends for them.
Furthermore, the word “bless” occurs five times in that particular passage. The fivefold repetition is set in opposition to the fivefold occurrence of the word “curse” in Genesis 1-11. You will notice if you read that part of Genesis, that God’s curse of judgment means: loss of freedom (3:14-16), alienation from the soil (3:17-19), their estrangement from one another (4:11), and their moral and spiritual degradation (9:25). The repetition of “bless” in Genesis 12:1-3 shows that God intends to reverse the effects of judgment on his creation. Through Abraham God plans to recover the purpose of blessing for all that he has made. Abraham serves as the medium of this divine restoration of the whole world.
Abraham was chosen by God to be the channel of blessing to all the peoples of the earth!
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