Key Verse: “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. 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.”
—Genesis 12:2,3, English Standard Version
Genesis 11:27-32; 12:1-8
THE KEY VERSE CONTAINS the first clear declaration of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul makes the case, saying, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8, ESV) Thus, the concise essence of the Gospel message is that in Abraham and his seed, all mankind will be blessed.
Abram, whose name was later changed to Abraham, dwelled in Ur of the Chaldeans. Archeological evidence suggests that it was an advanced and cosmopolitan city. Abram had a comfortable life, a beautiful wife, and no apparent need to leave that area. In that setting, God called Abram to abandon all that was familiar to him and, by faith, to move to a distant alien land. We are told, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”—Heb. 11:8-10, ESV
On first reading one may suppose that Abram went to a distant land for the wealth and fame promised him. Actually, he did it for another and higher reason. He was looking for “the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Students of the Bible have come to understand that Abram was looking forward to the eternal city of God. We find that city described by the Apostle John, “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, Behold, I am making all things new. Also he said, Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”—Rev. 21:2-5, ESV
The city where God dwells with man on earth is where all tears are dried, every pain is relieved, and death is no more. We believe, as the revelator bears record, that these things are trustworthy and true. That is what Abraham was looking forward to, and as evidence that this was his understanding, we turn to the words of Jesus. Speaking to the Jews who confronted him, he said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56) Jesus, the Lamb of God, the promised seed of Abraham, will rule and bless the earth from the “new Jerusalem.”
Abraham acted upon God’s instructions. Let us follow his example that we, too, may be blessed. “So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”—Gal. 3:9, ESV