Wednesday, January 23, 2013

EJ100 #21 Genesis 12:1-9

Today's Essential Jesus reading: Genesis 12:1-9.

This is a pivotal passage in the Old Testament, where God calls the first of his people (Abram, later a.k.a. Abraham) and makes direct promises to him and his offspring about blessing that will come to and through them.

This passage is short and sweet, and for many Bible readers, especially those who have done any sort of Bible Overview study or course, very familiar. Genesis chapter 12 opens with what is known as the Abrahamic Covenant, the first of the great promises in the Bible that point to Jesus, who was the final, fullest means of the blessing Abraham was promised:
"The LORD had said to Abram, 'Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.' " [Genesis 12:1-3]
Note that "the LORD had said to Abram ...": this is a flashback passage, describing events that may have occurred before Abram left Ur with his father Terah and temporarily settled in Harran, before moving on to Canaan [Genesis 11:31; 12:4]. It may have been while Abram was in Harran that the LORD showed Abram the land as he promised in 12:1, but at the time of the initial promise, Abram had to trust God to show him what land he would be taken to by the LORD.

The Abrahamic Covenant was repeated with slight amplifications in Genesis 15, when Abraham was told he would have a son from his own flesh and blood and offspring (descendants) as numerous as the stars. He was also warned that, though his descendants would be slaves in a country not their own for 400 years, after that time they would be given the land between the Egyptian delta and the Euphrates river, after the sin of the present inhabitants of the land had reached its full measure.

The Abrahamic promise was again repeated and expanded in Genesis 17, when Abram, whose name meant "exalted father", was given the new name Abraham ("father of many"). Abraham would be the father of many nations, a promise that was fulfilled through his sons Ishmael and Isaac and his sons through his second wife Keturah. But the son of the promise would come through Abraham's wife Sarai, now renamed Sarah, and kings would be among her descendants (Saul, David, Solomon ...). Directions for circumcision as a seal of the covenant were given.

But if we turn back to Genesis 12, we see that the very next verse after the promise is described tells us Abram's response: "So Abram went, as the LORD had told him" [12:4]. Abram was obedient to God's instruction, even before the later clarifications were revealed to him. Abram, Sarai, Abram's nephew Lot and all their household "set out for the land of Canaan" [12:5b]. This time, they didn't just set out as they had with Terah leading the family, "they arrived there" [12:5c]. Hooray!

Once Abram was actually in the land that God wanted to give to his descendants, he again heard from God. At the great tree of Moreh, at Shechem, Abram built an altar to God in memory of this event. It was there that God told Abram, "To your offspring I will give this land" [12:7]. The next few verses describe Abram's explorations of the land God had promised him, as he travels past Bethel, east toward Ai [12:8], and then south to the Negev [12:9]. At last the specific site to which God was drawing Abram had been reached and recognised.

As I read my Bible each day I am challenged over and over again with God's voice instructing me in the way he wants me to go. This passage is a reminder that it is important not just to hear God's voice, not just to begin to obey God, but also to carry through my obedience to the end. It is vital to press on toward the goal of total obedience to God until I have won the prize for which God calls me heavenward in Christ Jesus [Philippians 3:14].

> In what area of your obedience to Christ have you been slipping in recent days? Of what do you need to repent? How will you press onward?

Why do I love and worship Jesus?
I love and worship Jesus because he is the cause of all and every blessing in my life.

Thank you Jesus,
for the many blessings you have given me by your Holy Spirit:
I have faith in your sacrifice on the cross;
I have a husband who loves you and strives to serve you by pastoring your flock;
I have four delightful and yet also frustrating children with whom to share and demonstrate the gospel of your love;
I have a joyous task of teaching other women from your word in the Bible study groups that will start up again soon.
Thank you for these blessings and opportunities.

Tomorrow's reading: Jeremiah 23:1-8.

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