The Book of Genesis focuses on origins: Genesis 1-11 focuses on the origin of man, and Genesis 12-50 on the origin of God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel. In Genesis 12, God begins to reveal how He will fulfill His promise of a Seed that would crush the head of Satan, the promised Messiah (Genesis 3:15). We begin to see God’s divine plan of salvation unfolding through one family. This plan started with a man named Abraham.
God Calls Abraham
Around 2,000 years after creation and 250 years after the Tower of Babel, Abram was born to Terah, who was a descendant of Shem, the son of Noah. Abram’s name means exalted father but was later changed by God to Abraham, which means “father of many” (Genesis 17:5).
Abraham lived in the Ur of the Chaldeans, a pagan nation in Mesopotamia. Abraham’s father served the pagan gods of his homeland (Joshua 24:2). We are not sure how Abraham, surrounded by paganism, was first introduced to God. But we know from Stephen’s account that God didn’t call on Abraham just once, but He called on him twice to leave his home and go to a “land God would show him” (Acts 7:2-3).
The first time God called, Abraham set out for Canaan with Terah, his father, his wife Sarah, and his nephew Lot. On the way to Canaan, they stopped in Haran, where they lived until Abraham’s father died. (Genesis 11:31-32). When Abraham was 75, God called him a second time to leave his home and go to an unknown land (Genesis 12:1). Abraham, not knowing where he was going, heeded God’s command and took his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot, and headed towards Canaan.
God’s Promises to Abraham
When Abraham arrived in Shechem, a town in Canaan, the Lord appeared to him and said, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7). God’s promise of possession was not for Abraham but for his offspring. Consequently, Abraham would never occupy the land; he would live in the land by faith only (Hebrews 11:9).
God also promised spiritual blessings to Abraham. In Genesis 12:3, God says to Abraham, “All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” God again repeats this promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:18, but more specifically, He says, “In your Seed, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed My voice.”
This Seed through which every nation, whether Jew or Gentile, would be blessed is the same Seed God promised Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15, Jesus Christ. God gave Abraham the Gospel in advance in the 12th chapter of Genesis. “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” (Galatians 3:8).
Not only did God bless Abraham spiritually, but God blessed him materially as well. To illustrate, a servant of Abraham said this of his master, “And the LORD has greatly blessed my master; he has become a wealthy man. The LORD has given him flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, a fortune in silver and gold, and many male and female servants and camels and donkeys” (Genesis 24:35).
God Makes Abraham’s Name Great
God also promised to make Abraham’s name great (Genesis 12:2). In Genesis 11, we read about a people who wanted to make their name great by building a tower to the heavens. The account of Abraham is in stark contrast to this earlier story of disobedience, where Noah’s descendants decided to pursue greatness on their own terms.
Here, God promises Abraham that if he is obedient and goes where God calls him, He will make Abraham’s name great. From Abraham’s story, we see that God doesn’t frown upon personal success when individual success is a side effect of the larger goal of blessing others. Abraham was faithful and obeyed God, and his name is known to the world even now, thousands of years later, because God made his name great.
Abraham Trusts God
God called Abraham from the rebellious, pagan world of his ancestors to a new place
where Abraham would build a new nation through which salvation would
come for the world through Christ Jesus. Abraham, in faith, obeyed God’s calling and “went without knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). Abraham was willing to trust and obey God’s voice and leave everything he knew behind him.
God is also calling us from a rebellious, pagan world into a new place of honor, seated with Jesus at God’s right hand. Are you willing to leave everything familiar behind to serve God? Abraham was.