Rebecca Van Noord
When God’s promises are lavished on Abram in Genesis, we can’t help but feel a bit surprised. It seems undeserved—mainly because we know nothing about Abram. We haven’t had a chance to weigh his wisdom or foolishness, something Ecclesiastes endorses. Yet God promises to make Abram’s children as numerous as the stars in the sky (a blessing in the ancient Near East). “I will make your name great,” He says. “I will make you a great nation.” He also promises protection: “I am your shield.” Even after the fact, God doesn’t disclose why He wants to bless and protect Abram.
The greater context of the Genesis narrative shows that God’s blessing is certainly not just about Abram. Just before God promises to give Abram a great name, a nation, and land in Gen 12, He had scattered the nations over all the earth. At the Tower of Babel, God dispersed those who were grasping for a relationship with Him on their own terms.
But God doesn’t leave humanity this way. He presents Abram with a promise and a gift—a plan of salvation for humanity. God re-establishes relationship on His terms.
What about Abram, then? His faith is renowned throughout Scripture (Gal 3:6; Rom 4:9; Heb 11:8–12), but it’s not because he did anything particularly noteworthy—at times he even deceives others (e.g., Gen 12:10–20). It’s because of his response to God’s particularly noteworthy promises: “He believed the LORD, and he counted to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6). He responded to God’s promises with faith, and God counted it as righteousness.
In Christ, we have an even greater promise and a greater hope. God has lavished promise and deliverance on us. We can only stand in complete awe of His goodness, and respond with trust.
Do you rest too much in your own work or failings? In what ways can you shift the emphasis to Christ’s work?
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.