He emerges from the line of Shem, the son of Terah in the land of Ur. From among the people in the world, God selects one man, Abram, to receive a special call. Information about Abram’s life is scant prior to these landmark utterances from the lips of YHWH:
“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 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 12:1-3)
If Genesis 1-11 casts the backdrop of human history in cosmic, universal terms, Genesis 12 counters with a story of a particular man at a particular time in history receiving a call from a particular God — YHWH, the name of Israel’s covenant God, the name revealed to Moses centuries later in the form of a flaming bush. This call by God elevates Abram to exemplar status.
The word “bless” is used five times in v1-3, directly countering the fivefold curses of Gen. 1-11 (3:14; 3:17; 4:11; 5:29; 9:25). Abram is promised the blessing of land, lineage, and favor with YHWH. But this blessing is much more than divine reward for obedience. Through Abram’s faithful response to this call, God intends to bless the entire earth. All humanity will experience the reverberations of one man’s faith, the particular impacting the universal. God’s missional impulse is to work through the faith of one man, Abram, to bring fulfillment to the Gen. 3:15 promise of redemption and hope.
This is the focus of Abram’s choosing, the purpose of his election.
You have been blessed in order to be a blessing.
God is not turning His back on His universal creation by narrowing his concern to Abram.
In Abram, God is seeking to bless all peoples.
For it is through Abram that the ultimate promise will find fulfillment.