Genesis 12: The Story of the Bible
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
Although he is technically first introduced in Genesis 11, Abram—later and most often known as Abraham—comes to the forefront in Genesis 12 as a central figure in God’s great plan for the redemption of mankind. In many ways, the promise God made to the serpent in Genesis 3:15 (that the seed of woman would one day bruise Satan’s head and thereby undo what was done in the Garden) is the foundational promise of the Bible. That being true, the three promises made to Abram in this chapter are foundational as well; they are the execution of the garden promise, and the story of the Bible is really about God fulfilling them, and in so doing saving lost souls who come to Him.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:9 that God had an eternal plan for man’s redemption that revolved around Jesus Christ. This always involved the Son becoming the “seed” of woman, which necessitated His birth as a man. But, to whom would He be born? What pieces would need to be in place for God to carry out His promise to deliver His creation from sin? In His wisdom, God ordained He would need a people devoted to Him through which His Son would be born into our world. A devoted people need a place to live and a beginning. God’s three promises to Abram in Genesis 12 are where that all begins.
God promised to make a great nation out of Abram. Several hundreds of years later, his descendants would leave the captivity of Egypt numbered in the million. They were a great nation, and with the acceptance of the Law of Moses (Exodus 19-20), they were a great nation pledging allegiance to Yahweh their God.
But, a great nation needs land—a place to live. So, God brought them to Canaan, their ancestral home. With land to call their own and on which to establish a kingdom, the nation of Israel was born. Everything about them, from their character to their king, was to represent God to those around them. Sometimes they succeeded, often they failed, but they survived by God’s grace because they were chosen (Deuteronomy 7:6). But, for what?
Of the three promises God made to Abram, the most hopeful, yet cryptic, was this: “and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Abram and His descendants were chosen to be used by God to fulfill the promise made Genesis 3. Christ, the seed of woman, was born in Israel as a descendant of Abram (Matthew 1).
Do you see how important Genesis 12 is? It is, in three verses, the story of the Bible.
What do we take from this? The story of the Bible is the story of God’s love. From before time began, God knew we would sin and fail to be what He intended us to be. But, He chose not to give up on us; rather, He would save us. He would bear patiently and mercifully with sinful people to accomplish this; such reminds and comforts us that He will deal patiently and mercifully with us as well. The story of the Bible is also the story of God’s omniscience, omnipotence and wisdom. A great salvation demanded a great plan of salvation. This was never a “last minute,” thrown together plan; rather it was purposed and thoughtfully executed by divine direction over the course of thousands of years. In the end, the story of the Bible affords us the opportunity to marvel at not only the fact that God did save us, but how He saved us. This ought to give us great comfort and confidence in God.
Let's apply this to our lives.