Genesis 12:1-3

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Delivered 24 October 2015

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"1 Now ADONAI said to Avram, "Go from your country, and from your family, and from the house of your father, to the land that I will show you.

2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing.

3 And I will bless those who bless you, and he who curses you I will curse, and in you all the people groups of the earth will be blessed." (Gen 12:1-3 mine)


The introduction of Avram in Genesis is a pivotal event in God fulfilling His promise to Chavvah in the Garden of a Seed who would bring redemption from the Serpent's evil. To accomplish His plan God established a covenant with Avram, and that covenant began with a call. The calls of God are not always easy to follow and He stressed the difficulties involved, namely leaving the security of country and relatives and moving to an unfamiliar place. There in that new land Avram would continue the Messianic line to produce the Seed-Savior. In the passage before us God declares what He would do for Avram using four first person verbs:

In verse 1 God says, "I will show you" using a verb form meaning "I will cause you to see" [Heb. ra'ah]. God would lead Avram to see with his own eyes not only the real estate as a personal home, but as holy ground where God would bring about redemption and resurrection. It would be the land of promise, destined for the reign of the Messiah. God did not unveil the land immediately. Avram had to journey step by step, day by day, trusting God to show him the direction.

In verse 2 God makes three more promises. Relocation over such a long distance was a risky proposition in ancient times, but God offered exactly the assurance Avram needed. The promise "I will make you a nation" [Heb. asah], uses a verb of creation and production. That nation was already in Avram's genetic makeup as Paul observed when he said that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek when Avram paid tithes to Melchizedek because Levi was in the loins of Avram at the time [Hebrews 7:9-10]. Also, God would make Avram a great [Heb. gadal] nation, an adjective that signified the number of descendants that would later be compared to the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.

Next, "I will bless you" [Heb. barak]. The verb barak literally means to kneel or to bestow special favor or practical benefit. In that land would God elevate Avram's stature with wealth, importance and influence. But, God also kneeled down in love planting a baby in a barren womb, a type of the Messiah who would humble himself for us, and bless the world with grace and mercy.

Then God said, "I will make your name great." Avram's name would be respected and feared in his own time and remembered for centuries to come. Moreover, God would make Avram's character of trusting faithfulness to become the model for followers of the Messiah. As a result of experiencing these four promises Avram would in turn be a blessing to the chosen land to elevate its spiritual life and prosperity.

In verse 3 God made two more promises, both directed at other people not of Avram's line. The promise "I will bless those who bless you" is plural in scope and without limit in time. Since the object of this blessing activity is Avram and the nation that descended from him, then God clearly intended that Gentiles extend blessing to Avram's people, and God promised to return the favor. The apostle Paul lived this principle of blessing by urging respectful treatment of Jews and collecting an offering throughout the Diaspora to send to needy Messianic Jews in the Land.

The last promise ― "I will curse anyone who curses you."― is shocking, but it illustrates God's sense of justice. The first verb " curse" [Heb. qalal] is not simply a verbal blasphemy, but means to treat with contempt, to despise, to dishonor or even to slight. The social and political incarnation of cursing Avram is antisemitism, manifested historically by discrimination and persecution of Jews, and currently by boycotts and terrorism against Israel. God does not ignore offenses against his people. As Zechariah said, "he who touches Israel touches the apple of God's eye." [Zech 2:8]

God's pronouncement "I will curse" uses a verb [Heb. arar] that literally means to bind, or to hem in with obstacles, to render powerless, or to ban from the favor of God. In Scripture the verb is used of specific and severe punishments God imposed on enemies of His people. The threat should be taken seriously. God has kept that promise for Avram's sake, beginning with Pharaoh in this very chapter.

The last clause of verse 3 is a simple statement of fact. The human race has benefited immeasurably from the cultural and scientific achievements of Avram's people, but more importantly from the spiritual remedy to the curse on sin provided by Avram's Seed. As Paul said, God has "blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah" [Eph 1:3 TLV]. That blessing constitutes a call on its recipients to be humble servants of His grace and mercy to others.

Barukh Hashem!


Copyright 2015 by Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.