The Abrahamic Commission (Genesis 12)

Date: 3/12/2017
More audio from All Saints Church
Type: Sunday Sermon
Topic: Abraham
Organization: All Saints
Price: FREE

Abram’s Country - Genesis chapter 12 is one of the most important passages in the Bible. It references the call for Abram to leave his father’s land and to go to the promised land. God called Abram to leave his home when he was in Ur (Acts 7:2ff). Ur was a highly civilized with a high art culture for the aristocracy, trade, literacy, and even running water. It boasts the old recorded musical notation and song. But Ur was enslaved to the false religion of moon worship. The names Terah, Sarah, Milcah, and Laban suggest moon worship. Joshua 24:2–3 explains, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods. 3 ‘Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.”

Abram’s Call - The picture of humanity in Gen. 11 is bleak. Project Babel has failed and now the mass of humanity is disunited and idolatrous. Seeing that Abram was an childless idolater suggests that God’s plan for human flourishing was over. Abram is seventy-five and “Sarai was barren; she had no child” (Gen. 11:3). Sarai’s dead womb is first of many images of resurrection through miraculous birth to barren women. This was also true of Rebekah (Gen. 25:21), Rachel (Gen. 29:31), Samson’s mother (Jdg. 13:3), Hannah (1 Sam. 1:2), and Elizabeth (Lk. 1:7). In the call God promised the miraculous. God would bless childless Abram, making him a great nation and bless all the families of the earth through him. The promise involved giving him land, a Seed, and blessing all nations through him.

Abram’s Commission - Through Abram God would restore to the world what was lost by Adam. The Jews certainly believed this. The Apocryphal book, Sirach indicates the promise to Abraham meant God's covenant faithfulness would Abraham’s “exalt his offspring like the stars, and give them an inheritance from sea to sea and from the Euphrates to the ends of the earth” [NRSV 44:21-22]. The Book of Enoch says, “But for the elect there shall be light and joy and peace, And they shall inherit the earth” (5:7). The Rabbinic tradition said, “he has called Israel to be his people. ‘I will make Adam first,’ says Israel’s God in the midrash on Genesis, ‘and if he goes astray I will send Abraham to sort it all out’” (NTW, NTPG, 251). So when Abram’s mission is fully unfolded in the new covenant era, we are taught that Jesus Christ is the [one] Seed (Gal. 3:16) and the “Land” is the whole world or universe (cosmos) under the dominion of Abraham’s faithful offspring, the Church of the Lord Jesus. Romans 4:13 expresses this, “For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.” The blessing of all nations is the great commission gospel bringing salvation through Christ to the multi-ethnic Church in all the world. Thus we are included in this covenant. Romans 4:16 captures this profound truth: “The promise will be guaranteed to all descendants, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.”

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more