Proclaim God’s Plan to Bless the Nations – Genesis 12: 1-3

Bible mapIn each of the three failures in pre-patriarchal era, Yahweh had a saving word of grace (Gen 3,15; 9,27; 12,1-3). It is this third gracious word that concerns us here, for it emphasizes God’s word of grace over against the failures of people and their idolatrous questing for a “name.”[1] Against this Yahweh gives His grace by saying, “I will bless you” five times in Genesis 12,1-3. The key word here is “bless or blessing.”[2] This comes over against the vacuum of looking for human status, reputation and achievement devoid of God. Genesis 12,2 suddenly announces that God would give Abraham a “name” as a blessing from above rather than as an achievement of works which left God out of the picture.

The significance of this grandest of all missionary texts cannot be fully appreciated until we begin to realize that there are actually three promises of blessing[3] in Genesis 12,2-3 in which God promises: a) “I will make of you a great nation,” b) “I will bless you,” and c) “I will make your name great.” But this is immediately followed by a purpose clause. It is “so that you will be a blessing.” Not one of these three promises of blessing was to be for Abraham’s self-aggrandizement.[4] Indeed, he and his nation were to be blessed so that they might be a blessing.

The message and its content, in fact the whole purpose of God was that He would make a nation, give them a ‘name,’ bless them so that they might be light to the nations and thereby be a blessing to all the nations. To shrink back would be evil on Israel’s part. Israel was to be God’s missionary to the nations.


[1] Cf. D. I. Block, “The Role of Language in Ancient Israelite: Perceptions of National Identity,” JBL, Vol. 103, no. 3, The Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, (1984), 321-340, 328-330.

[2] Cf. J. S. Baden, “The Morpho-Syntax of Genesis 12, 1-3: Translation and Interpretation,” CBQ, Vol. 72, no. 2, The Heffernan Press Inc., Massachusetts, (2010), 223-237, 224-237.

[3] Cf. J. S. Baden, “The Morpho-Syntax of Genesis 12, 1-3: Translation and Interpretation,” CBQ, Vol. 72, no. 2, The Heffernan Press Inc., Massachusetts, (2010), 223-237, 236.

[4] W. C. Kaiser, “Israel’s Missionary Call,” in R. D. Winter and S. C. Hawthrone (eds.), Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, William Carvey Library, California, (1983), 25-34, 27.

Advertisements

One thought on “Proclaim God’s Plan to Bless the Nations – Genesis 12: 1-3

What do you Think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s