Covenant Father 1: Called and Blessed - Genesis 12:1-9

Abraham is not only the father through whose line Jesus came into the world, but he is also the father of all who believe. God promises Abraham that his offspring will be a blessing to the world, and enters into a covenant with Abraham to confirm that promise. Abraham believes God, and is counted as righteous by faith. This faith in God’s covenant promises is the faith that saves us today, as all those promises are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and so we see in Abraham our Covenant Father.

Abram’s story begins in Genesis 12, which forms a transition point in the Bible’s first book, where the camera zooms in from the whole world to a chosen family through whom God’s promise of redemption would come true. God comes down to bring His covenant blessings, and He begins by calling Abram out of the past and into the future. God wants Abram to start fresh by leaving his country, his kindred, and his father’s house to go to a nameless land that God promises to show him in the future. God’s call meant leaving his whole life behind, which seemed like a great deprivation, but was actually salvation, because by leaving his father’s house behind, Abram left paganism and idolatry behind as well.

But God’s call included much more than a command to leave. God emptied Abram, but He also promised to fill him up, too. Verses 2-3 contain a sevenfold promise of blessings that will be poured out on Abram and through Abram to the world. In the fullness of this blessing, God is saying that no matter what Abram gives up to follow Him, God will more than make it up to him. You cannot give up more for God than God will give to you.

In v. 4, we see Abram’s obedience. He takes God at his word, and leaves Haran, along with his nephew Lot, his wife Sarai, and their household. When they get to Canaan, Abram makes his way to Shechem and goes to the oak of Moreh, which is almost certainly a pagan worship site. All around him are Canaanites and false worship. At this point, it seems that nothing God has promised can come true: Abram can’t become a great nation, because he has no children, a barren wife, and an aging body. He’s left his own land and is now wandering through occupied territory, sitting in the shade of pagan worship. Obedience hasn’t led to blessing, but to trials and loss.

It’s at this moment that God appears to Abram and tells him that this land is the land of promise, and reiterates that Abram’s offspring will inherit it. After this meeting with God, Abram acts in faith to build an altar and begin to spread true worship throughout the land of Canaan.

As we seek to learn from Abram’s call, there are four lessons for us to start with. First, we see that salvation is a gift of grace. God calls, Abram responds. God promises blessing before Abram has done anything to earn or deserve it. Salvation is of the Lord, and Abram simply believes and obeys and receives.

Second, following Jesus means leaving the world behind. Abram didn’t need to leave his wife or his possessions behind, but he did need to change his environment, to leave his family and his father’s house. You too need to be willing to make drastic changes when God calls you to follow Him, and so a great question to ask of everything in your life is this: is this helping me follow Jesus, or keeping me from following Him?

Third, Abram is blessed to be a blessing. God pours out blessings on Abram so that Abram can pour out blessings on the world. So look at your own life: when God’s blessings come to you, whether material blessings like money or spiritual blessings like the gospel, do you put them on the shelf, or do you multiply them so that you can share God’s blessings with the world?

Fourth, conquest starts with worship. God promises the land of Canaan to Abram, and instead of raising up armies, Abram raises up altars. Thousands of years later, God promised all the nations to Jesus, and Jesus didn’t march against Rome. He built a Church. By gathering together today to worship God, we are inheriting the world along with Jesus, in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abram. And so if we really want to see the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, then we should be planting churches in places full of Canaanites, because worship is how we begin to claim the promises and spread God’s blessings to the world.

Posted on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 by CJ Bowen