Promise 3- Gracious Blessing

In the first 11 chapters of Genesis we see a span of history that lasts several thousand years. From time to time Moses drops in on significant events like the Flood or the Tower of Babel. However, in chapter 12 things slow way down. We are introduced to man who would eventually be called Abraham and spend the next 14 chapters looking at his life and the lives of his immediate family. What was so special about this man? Why him? Have you ever thought about what endeared Abraham to God so much that he would lavish on him great blessing and place him as the ancestral patriarch of three of the worlds largest religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam)?

Maybe it was his wealth. Perhaps he came from a solid family or was a man of great character. Was he handsome? Popular? Charismatic? Ambitious? All of these things may have been true about him, but what was it that made God call him out above all the other people of his day?

The answer is nothing. God chose Abraham because he wanted to; it pleased him to do so. Romans 4 affirms this as it says that nothing was gained before God by Abraham's works. God chose Abraham, then Abraham responded with obedience and faith, and "it was counted to him as righteousness." (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3) God's sovereign choice and blessing of Abraham came about solely as a result of God's grace, as does the inclusion within this blessing. This blessing is like a tree, spreading its branches from a common root. We find shade in the common ancestor of Abraham and the blessing given in Genesis 12:2-3:

"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. 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."

This blessing is all of grace, not based on merit. Just as Abraham found grace in the eyes of the Lord, so we find grace through the shed blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We don't have to work for it or meet a certain list of standards. God isn't waiting for us to make the grade or get our act together. "Even when we were dead in our sins, [he] made us alive together in Christ." (Ephesians 2:5) This should be an incredible comfort to us. This means that, just as we aren't blessed because of our good works, neither are we cursed because we lack them. As the story of Abraham unfolds we see deceit, infidelity, and fear mixed in with great humility, sacrificial love, and faithfulness. Throughout it all God is faithful to His word and continues to pour out blessing after blessing in this man's life. 

Abraham is a shining example of God's grace, and we get to share in that family blessing just as he did. This patriarch may not be your physical ancestor, but if you are in Christ then he is your spiritual father. As Galatians 3:29 tells us, "...if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." We'll get into that more next week.

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