Blessing of All Nations: Genesis 12:1-9 (Sermon)

Genesis 12:1-9 Sermon Night

WELCOME 

Hi, I am pastor Rob. 

SERIES

We are continuing on with our series in Advent: Reverse the Curse, hence the t-shirt. The Bible speaks about Jesus coming to reverse the curse from Genesis to the last book in the Bible: Revelation. That is why the tag line for our series is The promise of Christ from beginning to end

LAST WEEK 

Last week, we read that Satan tempted Eve to doubt God’s goodness and eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve fell for that temptation hook, line, and sinker. They must have believed disobedience was better than obedience. They didn’t follow God’s command and the ramifications were horrible. They were 

  • banished from the Garden of Eden, 
  • childbirth became painful, 
  • marriage dysfunctional, 
  • work difficult, 
  • and years later, they surely died. 

After God pronounced this new normal, Eve got pregnant with Cain. Then, she had a second child, Able.
Both grew up. When her kids were adults, Cain became jealous of his brother. God warned Cain that jealousy was seeking to control him, to have power over him. Cain ignored this warning. Envy turned into butchery. Where was the promise of Christ from the beginning? Where was the reversing of the curse? Where was Jesus when they needed him? Genesis 3:15 captured this hope. What does it say? God cursed Satan, 


I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)


“He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Eve would have a descendant who would crush the head of Satan at high personal cost. The serpent crusher was not Cain. He crushed his brother, not the serpent. 

THE GENERATIONS TO FOLLOW

The woman had another child, Seth. Was he the one? No. He would die. But, before he died, he had a family. And his family had a family, and so on and on, the population of Earth grew. Were any of them the serpent crusher? No. From Genesis 3 to 11, we hear of death, after death, after death, after death. Each time we read about birth, our heart longing for deliverance asks, “Is this the child to reverse the curse?” Finally, we get to the end of chapter 11, and it concludes with a child named Abram. Perhaps, he would be the one to reverse the curse. Looking back, he would change the course of history. Let’s learn more from chapter 12, verses 1 through 9. P.H. will be reading for us this morning. Pat, would you come up here at this time? 

TEXT 


12 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.”


4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb. (Genesis 12:1–9, ESV)


Prayer

Thank you, P. Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for your Word. It is light and life. You are good. You send blessings and blessings and blessings and blessings. Be with us now. Shape my words and influence our hearts, in Jesus’s name, and for your glory. AMEN. 

OVERVIEW

This morning we will be exploring Genesis chapter 12, verses 1 through 9. In this passage, God promises a reversal of the curse through Abram. Let me say that again; God promises a reversal of the curse through Abram. Last week, we introduced the theme of sin and death, curse and reversal. This week, chapter 12 makes a connection to those themes through Abram. I see two sections in these nine verses: 

  • Verses 1 through 3, God’s command and blessing to Abram. 
  • And verses 4 through 9, Abram’s obedience and blessing to God.  

Let’s walk through these verses to explore what God was doing and what difference that makes for us today. 

VERSE 1 

God’s Command and Blessing to Abram. Look at verse 1. “Now the Lord said to Abram, (Genesis 12:1). This verse reminds us that God speaks. 

  • He spoke the Earth into existence (Genesis 1:3). 
  • He spoke to Adam. 
  • He spoke to Eve. 
  • He spoke to Cain, 
  • And he spoke to Noah (Genesis 6:13). 

And he speaks here to Abram. He was and is a speaking God. He is relational while transcendent. He is personal but not predictable. After God exiled Adam and Eve from his garden, sin created a wall between man and God. At times, God continued to converse and meet with people profoundly and intimately from time to time. Often, mankind ran in the other direction. In chapter 12, we read of God speaking. It had been about four hundred years since he spoke last in the Bible. 

GO

What did God say on this historic occasion? Verse 1, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 1:1). God told Abram to go. If you heard such a command this afternoon, what would you think? I would be asking, where? Where do you want me to go? God answered that before Abram asked, “To the land I will show you.” Where is that? I find that puzzling because the direction is still unclear to me. Where was Abram to go? The north, south, east, or west? We may only have the cliff notes of Abram and God’s conversation. What we do know is that God commanded him to leave where he was. 

BENEFIT

What do you think was going on in Abram’s mind? Did he second guess God? Did he doubt? I bet he sized up the cost. I wager Abram was tempted to be skeptical. God kept speaking. He gave Abram some promises, some blessings, a covenant, and an agreement that probably was helpful in Abram’s journey. Look at verse 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. 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. (Genesis 12:2–3)


God blessed Abram before he obeyed. Hear that. God blessed Abram before he obeyed. Although there have been many people born up to this point in human history, only Adam, Eve, and Noah were blessed like this as far as we know (Genesis 5:2, 9:1). 

BLESSING

What was Abram’s blessing? 


  • He will have a great name, 
  • Become a great nation, 
  • And be a blessing to all other nations. 


Did that mean that Abram was the serpent crusher? Hold that question. 

SECOND SECTION

This brings us to the second section. We have seen God’s Command and Blessing to Abram, verses 1 through 3. Next, we get to Abram’s reaction and the second section verses 4 through 9. Abram’s Obedience and Blessing of God. How does Abram respond? Look at verses 4 through 6. 


So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. (Genesis 12: 4–6)


God said go, and Abram went. He took his wife, livestock, tents, and servants. His nephew, Lot, tagged along with an entourage. (Eventually, Abram and Lot had to part ways because the land could not sustain both of their enterprises.) 

COST OF BELIEVING 

Following God was not easy. Imagine leaving your country to go live indefinitely in a foreign one. Imagine leaving your culture and leaving the values you take for granted like independence, freedom, hard work, comfort, and safety. Imagine leaving friends. And imagine leaving family. Some of you have. You have lived in other countries, cultures, and communities. What if that was the rest of your life? 

75 YEARS OLD

Not only that, Abram was not a spring chicken. Young adults have a high degree of flexibility. They can virtually be homeless and happy as a lark. They can bum rides, sleep on couches, and survive on ramen. They can live off tips and grandparents’ prayers. They can backpack in foreign countries, immerse themselves in strange cultures, and make their family ex nihilo. Abram was not twenty, nor thirty, nor having a middle-age crisis. How old was he? Did you catch it in verse 4? He was seventy-five years old! Seventy-five. That is shocking! Picture God appearing to you and giving you the vision to pack your things, get a ticket to Timbuktu, and start an international ministry in your seventies. (That is an actual place, by the way, in the country of Mali with a population of 54,000 people and the Koyra Chiini or kojra tʃiːni as its trade language.) 

DISTANCE 

Not only that, Abram traveled about 440 miles to Canaan. They didn’t have planes, trains, or automobiles. They had feet and camels. After traversing that distance, what did he find in this Promise Land? People. This wasn’t an open country. The Canaanites lived there. It was enemy-owned and occupied. Abram was a nomadic immigrant looking for pasture. So, in a sense, God was sending Abram to the great unknown with an uncertainty of how the locals will receive him, at an age when people tend to slow down instead of slogging hundreds of miles and starting NGOs. 

WHY OBEY

Why would Abram take God so literally and go to such lengths to obey? The book of Hebrews gives us an answer. 


By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8) 


Abram did the hard thing because he believed in God’s goodness. He believed what God had said to him. He trusted in God’s Word.  

GOD APPEARS

God was not done. After many miles of travel. Presumably days and days. God connected with Abram again in verse 7, “Then the Lord appeared to Abram” (Genesis 12:7). We don’t know if he appeared in verse 1. But God does in verse 7. God wants a relationship. He isn’t looking for robots but a relationship. And God speaks and appears to Abram. He said to him, “to your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7). God gave clarity to his command in verse 1. I love that. 

ALTAR

What did Abram do once God appeared and spoke? Look at verse 7. “So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him” (Genesis 12:7). Abram had this close encounter with the divine and made an altar. What is that? It was a table of some sort where one sacrificed something in worship. Abram arrived at Shechem and worshipped God. He paused to acknowledge, venerate, adore, thank, and honor the Creator and giver of life as well as the blessings. God was reversing the curse through Abram. Abram was part of God’s plan. Was he the serpent crusher? Let’s keep reading. 

MOVING 

Afterward, Abram kept moving in the land that God had promised. 

CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD

Look at verses 8 and 9 to see what happened. I like this. 


From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. (Genesis 12:8–9)


Abram called upon the Lord. Sometimes God seems to interrupt our frenetic pursuit of doing life to get our attention. God appeared. He spoke. He breaks into the world and arrests Abram’s attention. This time, Abram stopped, took a deep breath, and called upon God. 

SUNDAY

Sunday morning worship can be a time like that. We call upon the name of the Lord. Abram called upon the name of the Lord. He relationally connected with God. This was what people did at the end of Genesis chapter 4. This calling was a good thing. I think it expressed a dependence and reliance on God. He believed in God, so he called upon God. We see his belief all over these verses. Actions demonstrate convictions. Chapter 12 indicates that Abram believed and obeyed out of that belief. 

CONCLUSION

The section concludes, “And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb” (Genesis 12:9). How would God reverse the curse? How would Abram become a nation and bless all other nations? Was he the serpent crusher? Remember Abram had no children. He and his wife could not have children. She was “barren.” Continuing in Genesis, we read Abram had his flaws; 

WAITING

I sympathize with Abram. It is hard to follow God all the time. It is hard to wait on God. 

WAIT

But Abram had to wait. He had to be patient. Then, in chapter 15, we read his prayer to God. He was confused with God’s promise that still hadn’t materialized. Things were not working out as he thought. So Abram and Sarai had a shortcut, and he told God about it. “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir” (Genesis 15:3). God replied. 


“This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:4–6)


God moves in mysterious ways. He reiterated his promise to Abram. But told Abram it was not going to come as he thought. God revealed to Abram later that his descendants would deal with 400 hundred years of slavery. They would leave the Promised Land for a time. Abram had to be patient. So did God’s people. Abram had to wait twenty-five years, twenty-five years. He was 100 years old, and Sarai was 90 when God gave them their one and only son! I would not blame him for doubting. Yet, God is faithful to keep his promises. God came through despite Abram’s doubts. 

CHILDREN

Abram died. He was not the serpent crusher. Abram and Sarai had Isaac. Was Isaac the serpent crusher? Would he bless all nations? Would become a great nation. No. Isaac grew up. He got married and had kids, Jacob and Esau. Were they the ones to reverse the curse? No. They each had many kids (Jacob had thirteen, to the tune of a baker’s dozen). None of them were the serpent crushers. The generations of Genesis go on and on and on without the reversal. So we end up wondering who is the serpent crusher as we come to the end of Genesis.  

GENEALOGY OF JESUS

What was God doing? He would save the world and reverse the curse. He was gradually revealing what he was up to in Genesis 12. The serpent crusher would come. He would. Turn to Matthew chapter 1, verses 1 and 2 in your Bibles, or look up at the overhead. 


The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. (Matthew 1:1–2) 


Matthew connects Jesus to Abram. The point of Abram is Jesus. God would do something special to Abram and his descendants to reverse the curse for the entire world. God was establishing a covenant promise with Abram forever in Genesis. He was pointing him to the Promised Land and making him the father of a Promised People for his Promised Purposes. God was bringing into greater focus what the reversal entailed.  

GALATIANS

Next year, we will begin a sermon series on the book of Galatians. Galatians quotes our passage this morning. 


And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles [That is, non-Jewish people like most of us: AKA the nations] by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:8–9) 


Did you catch that? The Scripture preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham. What is the gospel? It means good news. Paul quoted Genesis 12 stating, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” God was saying the promise of Christ; the serpent crusher would come out of Abram’s gene pool. Abram believed in God’s Word. We see his faith in his obedience and patience imperfect as it is. 

APPLICATION

Jesus was and is the serpent crusher from the line of Abram. He was the fulfillment of the promise to bless all nations. As we look at Revelation, we read that one day through Jesus, every tongue, tribe, nation will be represented before God (Revelation 7:9–11)—In Philippians, we read that one day every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10)—It is going to be amazing. In the meantime, we have to be patient as well—Creation eagerly waits for this day (Romans 8:19)—I think this passage encourages us who know who the serpent crusher, but have to wait for his return, we must be like Abram, 


  • Believe, 
  • And be obedient. 
  • And in that obedience, be patient. 

Will you believe? Will you take God at his Word? We stand on the other side of the promise. Jesus did come, live, die, and rise. He conquered death. He reversed the curse. But the reversal is not complete. God is still at work and one day will return as he left. Will you believe God’s Word to you? 

Will you be obedient? If we believe, then what is God calling you to do? Where is he calling you to go? What is he calling you to say? God is relational, breaks into our world, and wants us to trust and obey. So how can you follow God today? 

Will you be patient? Abram had to wait and wait and wait on God. We know so much more than he did about God and his purposes. Yet, we, too, have to wait. Will you be patient and obey and believe? 

IMPERFECT

We can’t do this perfectly. This is why we have to believe in Jesus. He is greater than any of us. He is stronger than any of us. He is purer than any of us. He is good, and he is God. And he came to reverse the curse that we embraced and haven’t quite shaken. So, however old or young you are, believe, be obedient, and be patient.  

Prayer 

Let’s pray


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