Chapter 12, represents a huge change in the plot of redemptive history. While mercy had been previously displayed and redemption had been hinted at, this is the first clear mention of how God will do it. He is going to bring redemption through a particular human family – Abraham* and his descendants. Now, it will become painfully clear in the following chapters that Abraham is both admirable and sinful. He trusts God and becomes an example of true faith. But he struggles in mighty ways. His children and grandchildren are often petty and corrupt. In other words, the redemption that comes through Abraham will have to be “by grace.” Abraham does not earn it.
But what does this redemption look like? God will have a special relationship with Abraham. This will be played out in four tangible ways: (1) his family will be a great nation and his name will be great, (2) God will align with him as an ally and fight against his enemies, (3) he will have a special land to possess, and (4) “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” This fourth promises is a direct answer to the problems seen at the end of the last chapter. God will call a special people to himself and he will use them to be his instruments on earth. From this point forward, the story of the Old Testament will follow the people who are the descendants of Abraham, their entire existence defined by this promise. Redemption will be a group activity. Notice also how this plan for redemption occurs against the backdrop of ongoing conflict (chapter 12-13).
Reflect: How do you see redemption being worked out in the midst of conflict in your life?
Connect: In his letter to the Galatians, Paul describes how faith in Christ can connect all people to the promises of blessing that were first made to Abraham. If we are “in-Christ” by faith, then we receive the blessings due to Jesus – the true heir of Abraham.
Gal 3:27-29 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
*Abraham’s name is initially “Abram, until God changes it in Genesis 17:4, but for simplicity sake, we will refer to him throughout by the later name, following the pattern of Scripture itself (see Romans 4:3).
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.