Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 14 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Genesis 12 today, and our focus is on the call of Abram and our call. Thank you for joining us for Bible 2021! We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome… Thanks for listening! Our focus this year is on DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan!
Today we are reading Genesis 12, which focuses on the beginning of God’s relationship with Abram, His call of Abram, and His promise to bless Abram and His offspring – one of the most momentous events in the Bible. First, we should note the nature of God’s call:
The Lord said to Abram:
Go from your land,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1 (Our verse of the day!)
I note that almost no specifics are given to Abram, other than the command to go. This must have been shocking to this man – called away from his extended family, with no details beyond – go to the land I will show you. There is so much to discuss here, but let’s begin with Abram himself. What was his nationality? He was born in what the Bible calls ‘Ur of the Chaldeans,’ according to Genesis 11, which is not a country name that is meaningful to most today, but it likely refers to Ur, a Sumerian city that is in modern-day Southern Iraq. Let that sink in a moment – Father Abraham was from modern day Iraq – a true middle easterner in every way. Let’s read our passage and see what other important details we can unearth from the call of Abraham.
Well, the less said about Abram pretending to be Sarai’s brother, and not her husband, the better. What an incredibly strange move – and he does it TWICE! An important lesson to us about solving our problems via sinful means. More positively, we see the wonderful promise of God in Abram’s call, found in vs. 3:
I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt,
and all the peoples on earth
will be blessed through you. Genesis 12:3
I, along with many others, see this passage very similar to the Euangelion – the first gospel – of Genesis 3. God is telling Abram that all of the earth will be blessed through Him. How? The only answer that makes sense is Jesus, of course. Coming full circle from our earlier mention of the ethnicity of Abram, we can also see here that Jesus was descended from an Iraqi person! This would make white supremacy of any form in a person who claims to be a Christian is amongst the silliest, most reprehensible and foolish stances that is possible in a human being.
But back to more good news – the promises of God to Abram. God promises to make Abram into a great nation (remember…this was before Israel became a people!), to bless Him and to make His name great. God further promises that Abram will be a blessing to others, and that God Himself will bless those who bless Abram and curse those who curse Him…and that the whole earth will be blessed through this man. And that’s not all, either. Now we get to the Promised Land:
7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:7
And there it is – the promise of the Promised Land. WHY does God make all of these promises of blessing to this wanderer from Ur of the Chaldeans? We have no idea, and the Bible gives no great indication, but I will tell you that I consider it an act of undeserved GRACE. Why grace? Because at the end of this chapter, we see the character of Abram. In many ways, he seems to be a decent guy, but we see that he is the kind of guy that can put his wife and marriage at great risk just to save his own skin…and that tells me that God didn’t choose Abram because he was the best guy in the world…he chose him by grace. In the call of Abram, theologian Gary Black Jr. sees some parallels to the way that Jesus calls His people too:
In the call of Abraham, God’s blessing was not for Abraham specifically. The blessing was to be shared, highlighted, emulated, and implemented in all the nations of the world. In Abraham’s demonstration of his confidence in Yahweh’s will and ways, other “nations” (goy, or people groups, in Hebrew) would be blessed—would thrive and flourish. This is the same concept Jesus explains in his Sermon on the Mount. His exhortation that we are to be the light of the “world” and the salt of the earth is a repetition of God’s intent to demonstrate God’s worthiness to “all the families” (Hebrew mishpachah, pronounced mish·paw·khaw, meaning tribes, families, clans, or people groups) on the earth through Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 12:3). The whole world—not just the Hebrews, not just Christians—is to thrive as a result of God’s relational engagement with our lives. The Hebrew word for “nations” is the same word we see Jesus using (ethnos in Greek) in what we label the Great Commission in Matthew 28. There, just as Abraham was called and then sent out, Jesus calls and sends his students out into all the people groups of the world to teach his ways and immerse new students in the good news of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And Jesus promises that when we do these things, leading by example, shining our light, he will be with us, just as Yahweh promised to be with Abraham in his endeavors.
Gary Black Jr., Exploring the Life and Calling, Foundations for Learning (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2014), 13–14.
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for January: Mark 1:15 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
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