16 Verses: Genesis 12:1-3…Abraham

16 Verses

The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses

Genesis 12:2-3 Abraham: In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed


God created a kingdom, and he is the king. And he made human beings to represent him in that kingdom. Adam and Eve rejected this call, which led to sin and death. But God promised to defeat the Serpent through the offspring of the woman, who is also the offspring of Abraham. Through Abraham’s family, the covenant blessings (of salvation by grace through faith)[1] would come to the world.[2]


What do we see? What does it mean? How do we obey?

Abraham is chosen by grace not merit.

As one reads the narrative of Genesis, its hard to read it and not ask why the particular people are central figures in the story are actually central figures in the story. I would likely not do it that way.


What did they do to be rescued? What did they have to offer that others didn’t? Why them? Then, why does it get so hard on them after they are rescued? Shouldn’t it get easier?


Abraham? Really?


Joshua 24:2 (ESV) “And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.”


Abraham’s line is Seth to Noah to Shem to him.


Abraham is chosen by grace through God’s elective work in history to bear God’s kingdom to the nations in order to rescue from all the families just scattered at Babel those who will repent, believe and seek God’s kingdom first.


However, God does not pick Abraham or his descendants of Noah, Shem, Terah or Nahor because they are good people. In fact, there were not all good people.


God chose because all men are sinners and none are deserving of God’s grace.


“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

“…It is not because of works but because of him who calls.” (Romans 9:11)


There were not little holy God lovers wandering around.


There were only offspring of the Serpent and those who will be the offspring of the woman.


Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”


It is because of Genesis 1-11 as his foundational worldview, that Paul’s theology is shaped the way it is. He’s a student of the text, therefore, he recognizes that his salvation is a gracious gift, not his due for being more astute than some other pagan.


So, why Abraham? Simply because God is good to save some when all deserve condemnation. It’s all God’s grace and none of man’s innate goodness.

We have to recognize that one of the devastating consequences of the rebellion and fall is that “you shall surely die” has deadly, long-term, awful consequences and this is what Adam and Eve’s exercise of freedom bought for the human race.

We also must recognize that the fall is an awful backdrop that causes us to see the brilliance of God’s grace more clearly.


God makes a 2-fold promise to Abraham NOT because Abraham was innately good but because God is that good.


2-Fold Promise:

  1. God would make Abraham a great nation
  2. God would make Abraham be a great blessing to all the families of the earth


There are only a couple of problems here: 1. Abraham’s wife is barren, 2. Abraham is a nomad with no land to have a nation on, and 3. Abraham does not yet know the LORD.


Usefulness and ability are never God’s criteria for drafting anyone on his team.

Abraham has no land, a barren wife that will make it hard to give birth to a family, and he was not a follower of the Lord.


The Serpent’s way is to take what his “world system” finds as mighty.


God delights in taking the unlikely, the least and the marginalized to crush the Serpent.


God takes Abraham, a pagan nomad with a barren wife.


God takes Isaac, the younger who was picked on by big brother Ishmael.


God takes Jacob over Esau. The younger brother, scheming, home-body who liked being with the women at the tents over the rugged hunter.


God takes Moses with a speech impediment, rejected by his people in his 40’s and 80 years old when he’s finally useful and capable of leading.


God takes David, least and last of all the sons of Jesse who was out tending the sheep when Samuel was looking for the next king.


God takes the marginalized and widowed prophets who he makes a bit eccentric over the mainstream and accepted court official.


So, no wonder Paul writes things like:

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (ESV) 6 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”


So is it a surprise that the Lord himself would not take any advantage to himself when he enters time and space to take on flesh to pay the penalty for sin and rise to finally crush the head of the Serpent?


No! He comes as a “son” to a poor family. Due to God’s methodology, Jesus’ earthly mother’s pregnancy is suspicious and his earthly father’s character would be doubted. Jesus grew up with this shadow over his ministry, and it would be manifest when people would call him the “son of Mary”, the first century equivalent of calling him a “fatherless son”. Jesus had to grow up doubted by his brothers, and not fitting into the religiously accepted ways of the day.


So, if you find yourself in Christ today, it’s not because God found you as first round draft stock and he won the NBA lottery and picked you number 1. It’s because you and I were the least and last and didn’t get invited to the draft party. We were not what the Serpent wanted. We are cast offs.


This is so that when Jesus made us broken jars of clay to be filled with glory we would get the joy of being made first and he would get the glory as the one who made us first.


THEREFORE, we are a worshiping people. This is why Christians worship the way we do!

God makes his covenant with Abraham in which God alone makes the covenant and promises to fulfill both party’s portions of the covenant.

Genesis 15


A covenant was an agreement made between two parties with mutually beneficial terms in which sacrifices are made and the animals are halved to show what is to happen to the party that does not keep their end of the bargain and that bloody mess is laid out with an aisle for each party to pass between in order to signify that they both agree to the terms of the bargain.


Both parties pass between the halved animals and the deal is made.


In Genesis 15 we see an amazing thing.

God saves Abraham by faith 15:1-6; Galatians 3:6

God brought Abraham out of Ur before he saved him. 15:7

This is why we believe that the Holy Spirit awakens, God the Father calls, gifts with faith THEN we believe.

There would be a price to be paid for the sins of others. 15:12-16

God would cause his people to pay for his patience with the Amorites.

The innocent suffering for the sake of the salvation of some guilty. Does that smell like the cross?

God and God alone passes through the sacrifices and makes the covenant. This means that God and God alone makes and keeps the covenant and thus he is the guarantee of our salvation and keeper of it.


Abraham’s folly does not “unsave” him. God’s guarantee is that when he makes a covenant, gives faith and brings to life he will move heaven and earth to make sure what is his is saved.


This is exceptionally good news.


Because until you understand that on your best and most sin free day your efforts still deserve hell and on your worse day your relationship to Jesus is unchanged.




Because you and I didn’t pass through that sacrifice. God alone did that. God put the Son on the cross and himself passed through with glorious effect. He made the covenant and he keeps this covenant.


This is why Philippians 1:6 is true.


Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Your salvation and mine are secure as the God who saved us and he will complete what he has begun.


This is why when we really believe the gospel we will never go back.


God makes his covenant with Abraham to bless all the “families” of the earth.

The word translated here as families is also translated as “clans”, “kinds” and “nations”. The translation of this word as families here is important because this covenant God makes with Abraham comes on the heals of God confusing the languages of the families of Shem, Ham and Japheth as he scatters the “nations” of people across the globe to fulfill his creation mandate.


In other words, Abraham’s descendants are to have as their mission in this covenant all the nations of the world.


Now Jesus comes along preaching from the Old Testament about how he is the God of the Old Testament and how he fulfills the Old Testament and that upon his resurrection and ascention that his disciples are to disciple “all nations”.


Did Jesus (A) make that up or is he (B) making possible the completion of the mission he gave to Abraham and his descendants?


The answer is “B”.


Galatians 3:7-9 (ESV) Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

God’s people are from Abraham’s faith not his bloodline therefore the kingdom looks like God’s elect from all nations not one homogenous nation alone.

The gospel is not just salvation from sin. The gospel includes the scope of God’s salvation and our joy in joining him glocally.

We are a worshiping people.



[1] Parenthesis mine

[2] Chris Bruno, The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 47.


  1. Hi, I’ve done a bit of research on Abraham and it’s not really by grace that Abraham was chosen, but more along the lines of why Noah was chosen…here is an excerpt (of a work in progress) that clarifies a few points —

    “So how do we know that Abraham, a Gentile, a Hebrew (from the line
    of Eber,) and a non-Jew, who was the father of the faithful (the body
    of Christ) and the friend of God (obedient to God) kept the Sabbath?
    Genesis 26:4-5 tells us:

    “And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven,
    and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in
    thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
    Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my
    charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

    This is a key verse for several reasons. First it makes clear that the
    seed of Abraham will multiply like the stars in heaven. Second, our
    God will give to the seed of Abraham, all these countries and third, in
    the seed of Abraham all the nations of the earth be blessed, meaning
    those nations that are populated by the seed of Abraham will be

    Clearly, the descendants of Abraham and the blessings bestowed
    upon them are not just for the tribe of Judah (Jews) and not just for
    the special land and the nation of Israel that God promised to
    the 12 tribes of Israel (Jews and non-Jews.)

    The second part of the verse describes why Abraham is special: because
    he obeyed God’s voice, kept His charge, His commandments,
    His statutes, and His laws.

    Both characterizations of Abraham, being the father of the faithful
    and the friend of God are revealed again to the seed of Abraham by
    Jesus Christ in Revelation 14:22, “Here is a call for the endurance of
    the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith
    in Jesus.” ”



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