Day 7Genesis 15 ... The Plan

Many times God had intervened directly in human history, but always for the sake of punishment-in Adam’s day, and Cain’s, and in the days of Noah, and at Babel.  After scanning these centuries of dismal failure, Genesis changes dramatically at chapter 12.  It leaves the big picture of world history and settles on one lonely individual, not a great king or a wealthy landowner, but a childless nomad named Abraham.

It’s almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of Abraham in the Bible.  To the Jews, he represents the father of a nation, but to all of us he represents far more.  He was a singular man of faith whose relationship to God was so close that for many centuries God himself was know as “the God of Abraham.”

In effect, God was narrowing the scope of his activity on earth by separating out one group of people he could have a unique relationship with.  They would be set apart from other men and women as God’s treasures, his kingdom of priests.  This special group would by example teach the rest of the world the advantages of loving and serving God.  And Abraham was the father of this new humanity.

Dozens of other passages in the Old Testament set forth the details of God’s covenant, or contract, with his chosen people.  (The word testament  means covenant.)  Here is what God promised Abraham:

A new land to live in.  Trusting God, Abraham left his home and traveled hundreds of miles toward Canaan.

A large and prosperous family.  This dream obsessed Abraham and, when its fulfillment seemed long in coming, tested his faith severely.

A great nation.  It took many centuries after Abraham for this promise to come true, but finally, in the days of David and Solomon, the Jews at last became a nation.

A blessing to the whole world.  From the beginning, God made clear that he chose the Jews not as an end, but as a means to the end goal of reaching other nations.

Genesis 12 records God’s first announcement of the plan to Abraham.  In this chapter, God responds to Abraham’s faltering faith with a fiery vision that seals the promise.

Point to Ponder: Do people still rely on "covenants," or contracts today? What purpose do they serve?