Whole Life Whole Bible Day 10
Genesis 12:1-3 (NASB)
1 Now the Lord said to Abram,
“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
2 And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3 And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
9: Restoration, restoration, restoration
The downward spiral of rebellion in Genesis 3-11 is shot through with moments of God’s mercy — in promising the destruction of the serpent, in providing coverings for Adam and Eve, in giving Cain a protective mark, in saving Noah and his family, in reaffirming God’s blessing on creation and humanity after the flood. Even against the backdrop of the building of Babel by those who want to ‘make a name’ for themselves, judgment is not the last word: God does not reject the nations but chooses one family for the sake of the nations, to bring blessing to the nations.
That God does not leave us to our own devices is seen in the promise to Abraham, a threefold promise of restoration — land, descendants and blessing. The guarantee of ‘people’ and ‘land’ shows the inseparability of who we are from where we find ourselves, both still crucial to human identity. Yet, even the assurance of a large family and a place for them to live is not the ultimate restoration. God’s purpose (ratified in chapter 15, marked with the sign of circumcision in chapter 17, and repeated to Isaac and Jacob in the narratives that follow) is to mediate blessing to ‘all peoples on earth’, restoring humanity to its original purpose.
Thus begins the first episode in a long story, rooted in a people and a place, in which God progressively works out his plan of restoration. It will become clear as the story unfolds that all of human life, even creation itself, is included in its scope. In this way, God’s promises to Abraham may be read in conjunction with Genesis 1 — as a reaffirmation of his original blessing on men and women.
Covenants made between God and his people serve as major milestones in the biblical account, but the key that unifies them, and undergirds this covenant with Abraham, is the principle of promise. As Paul notes in Galatians 3:29, ‘If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.’
An inexpensive wine glass cracks and is thrown away. A rare vase breaks and is rebuilt, piece by piece, with precision and care, perhaps over a long period of time, until it is made whole again. Some broken things are restored because they’re precious, because they are loved.
God remains, to this day, in the restoration business.
For further reflection and action
Think about the accounts that follow in the book of Genesis, moving from Abraham and Sarah through Isaac and Rebekah to Jacob and his family. From what you can recall of these stories, spend some time reflecting on how the promises God makes to Abraham appear to be threatened by all sorts of factors, except that God remains faithful, preserving the seed and working for good, even while others intend evil (Genesis 50:20). What significance might we draw from this for our own lives?
Follow up some references to Abraham in the New Testament (for example, Galatians 3:15–18; Romans 4:13–16; Hebrews 11:8–19). How are God’s promises to Abraham ultimately fulfilled?
Think of ‘broken’ people and situations — in our own lives and the lives of others, in families, in churches, in workplaces and in countries across the world — and ask that the God who will one day ‘bring all things in heaven and on earth together’ (Ephesians 1:10, NIV) will provide a foretaste of that restoration to those in need.
Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.