Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. 28 Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29 And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.
Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32 The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. – Gensesis 11:27-12:3
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. – Galatians 3:16
The promise of Genesis 3:15, the covenant of grace, is now focused on Abraham as the avenue of fulfillment. God promises to give Abraham land and descendants; a great nation and, ultimately, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. This is a unilateral promise; God placed no conditions on Abraham to make this come true. God says, “I will show you,” “I will make of you,” “I will bless you,” “I will bless those.” This is a continuation of the unilateral promise of Genesis 3:15.
This covenant God made with Abraham is fleshed out in a three episode mini-series; it starts here in Genesis 12 where the promise is given, in Chapter 15, the second episode, God confirms this promise with an oath, and in the third episode he gives Abraham the sign of the covenant in Chapter 17. These subsequent episodes will reveal more wonderous delectable truths contained in this covenant but not yet made clear here in the first episode in Genesis 12.
This episode is most immediately meaningful to you and me because the promise is that in Abraham all the families of the earth shall be blessed, that includes your family and my family.
The first lesson that comes to my mind comes from the fact that Sarah is barren, she has no child, and the implication in the text is that she cannot bear children. But God still promises not only a child but a great nation. That sounds like a pipe dream, does it not? A great nation from a dead womb? I can think of at least two meaningful lessons here.
- I was dead in my sins and trespasses until the Holy Spirit regenerated me and made me alive in Christ. There was no hope of fruitfulness in my life until I was made alive by God himself. Now I have been regenerated, justified, and glorified, all in Christ alone (Romans 8:30). All that from being a dead person.
- This story to some degree prefigures another child of Abraham, one born to a woman who had never had a child. In this case, she wasn’t barren, but was a virgin and, like Sarah, was enabled to have her first child by the Holy Spirit. As Sarah’s child, it was a child of promise that was born of God, not a child born of normal fleshly processes. And this child was indeed THE seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). Through this Seed shall all the nations or families of the earth be blessed; Jesus and the gospel laid out in Genesis 12.
The more immediate fulfillment of the “great nation” is through Israel. The land is, of course, the land occupied by Israel that was formally known as Canaan. We will see more fully later that there is a more permanent fulfillment in the people who have become the seed of Abraham through faith in Christ. The land will be ultimately the New Heaven and New Earth. These are the final fulfillment of the two-pronged promise to Abraham of a people and a land.
I find I am enthralled by the beauty and intricacy of the story that is weaved by the Spirit, the author, from Genesis all the way through to the end of Revelation. It is a beautiful story, and we all are included in the story. It is a story of promise.
If you would like to do more indepth reading on the concept of covenant in Scripture, I recommend this book, Sacred Bond. Click on the book and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase a copy.