Gen. 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 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. 3 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.” (emphasis added)
Genesis twelve seems kind of random because it doesn’t fit with earlier chapters. We go from the Genesis flood (chapters 6–8), to Noah’s blessing (chapter 9), his descendants (chapter 10), and God’s judgment on those descendants at the tower of Babel (chapter 11).
Suddenly we see an abrupt change as God commands a man named Abram (who we have never read about before) to leave his family and friends. As if that wasn’t frightening enough God doesn’t even tell Abram where he is going! The land I will show you in 12:1 can be interpreted “when you get there I will tell you to stop.”
Though this new story is confusing, there is an important reason for it. The sudden change is part of God’s plan because He’s emphasizing a change in the relationship between mankind and Him.
Up to this point man’s relationship with God has been based on our strength, or ability to live a Holy life. If we obeyed the commands of God blessing would come, but if we didn’t a curse would come. Of course there is a problem with this idea since we are broken-or unable to live for the Lord. This paired with the Holiness of God which cannot tolerate sin clearly proves that relationship wasn’t working .
Please understand that God knew this way of doing things wouldn’t work, but He allowed it to happen anyway. This wasn’t done in anger, or an attitude that enjoyed watching us suffer. Instead this was to show us we are poor God replacements .
Our failures or brokenness (Genesis 2–3) and God’s judgment of that brokenness (Genesis 4–11) prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that we cannot take the place of God. This is meant to develop an attitude of humility before Him.
Looking at Genesis 12:1 it’s quite easy to see how this new relationship is different.
- The old one was based on our obedience of God’s commands (Genesis 2:15–17)
- It was based on our willingness to confess our sins (Genesis 3:8–12)
- It was based on listening to God’s warnings (Genesis 4:3–7, 6:1–3)
- In other words it was man’s responsibility to do the work
This new relationship is different because Abram only has to do one thing (leave his family). But notice what God would do.
- I will show you where to go
- I will make you a Nation of people 
- I will make you famous (make your name great)
- I will bless you
- I will care for, and defend you
All Abram had to do was trust God.
Now of course this wouldn’t be easy. In fact in those days this step of faith would have been more difficult since without modern transportation and technology, there’s a strong possibility he would never see them again . But God had promised to give the strength necessary to deal with that challenge. The strength, leadership, problem solving, all of it was God’s responsibility.
Though thousands of years have passed since that time our relationship with God is still based upon faith (relying on Him) instead of our own strength due to the fact that we are all broken in His eyes.
You want to know what’s really sad though?
I find myself returning to the old relationship
The one that hasn’t worked and never will work.
So many times when facing a challenge instead of asking the Lord for help I turn it into “the John show” and deal with it on my own. Your probably not surprised that this always ends in a spectacular failure.
But I still go back to it…Because it’s easier to rely on my own strength and feed my own pride than admit brokenness.
May God give us the strength to understand the old relationship is futility, and allow Him to do the work.
- More thoughts on these points can be found by visiting http://australianmissionary.org/category/who-god-is/ ↩
- Deep inside each of us is an idea that we can do a better of being God (deciding what’s right or wrong) than God. ↩
- interesting since Abram had no children ↩
- Leaving homeland and family was a much greater decision in a traditional society than in today’s mobile, individualistic culture. Abram risked everything he held most dear to obey God’s call. ↩