In these chapters, we learn about Abram (later Abraham), some of his adventures, and–most importantly–the covenant the Lord made with him and his posterity.
The nature of the Abrahamic Covenant is described in various passages within these chapters.
2. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
(Genesis 12: 2-3)
According to these verses, Abraham’s descendants are to be a powerful nation prospered and protected by the Lord. Moreover, Abraham’s seed will be a source of blessing for all the families of the earth. This is because through his lineage, the Savior would come into the world.
We later read that Abraham’s seed will be in number as the dust of the earth (Genesis 13: 14-17) and that they will come out of bondage from a foreign land to inhabit the land of the Canaanites (Genesis 15: 13-21).
Why did the Lord choose Abram for these great promises? Naturally, he must have been foreordained prior to his birth just alike Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 1:5). However, any foreordained blessings would be predicated on Abram’s obedience and fidelity during his life on earth.
How did Abram become deserving of the blessings received, and what can we emulate in our own lives?
#1. Abram Displayed Constant Reverance for the Lord
Abraham’s lived a fully God-centered life. Note that wherever he went, he built an altar unto the Lord to offer offerings and to worship. He did so in the plain of Moreh (Genesis 12:7) and then when he went to the east of Bethel (Genesis 12:8). When he moved to Mamre in Hebron, he again made his altar unto the Lord.
No matter where he went, what he did, or what stage of life he was in, Abram never forgot the Lord. In turn, the Lord never forgot him.
#2. Abram’s Faith in the Lord was Unconditional
Abram accepted the promises God made him even if he couldn’t understand them. He accepted the Lord’s will to make of him a great nation even though his wife had been barren for decades. In chapter 15, Abram expresses his grief at not having a son, but he doesn’t do it reprovingly or in a way that exhibits any doubt with regard to the divine promises.
After expressing his feelings openly, the Lord makes the grand promise of giving him a son from his loins in whom the Abrahamic covenant would be renewed.
#3. Abram Kept Himself Apart from Worldliness
Abram continually stood in holy places. He didn’t mingle with corrupt influences. He, just like Isaac and Jacob after him, lived the life of a nomad, albeit a very wealthy and powerful one thanks to the Lord’s blessings.
Why did they choose that lifestyle? Because they were righteous men, and righteous men are naturally wanderers and strangers in a fallen world. By living apart from civilization, Abram showed that he was not willing to unite himself to sinful society, in which he would very likely fall to its influence.
We can contrast his choices with that of his nephew, Lot. When the two part ways in chapter 13, Abram continues living as he had been in the land of Canaan. Lot, who was doing pretty well with lots of livestock and servants of his own, decided he wanted to take up city life and went to dwell in Sodom. Eventually, he was taken captive when that city went to war and it was up to uncle Abram to rescue him.
In the aftermath of Abram’s military exploits in chapter 14, we again see Abram’s disposition not to partake of the worldly. He refuses the gifts offered by the King of Sodom for his service (Genesis 14: 21-24). However, he gives of his own goods in tithes to the righteous Melchizedek King of Salem, who confers a blessing on Abram.
Abram was blessed greatly because he lived in constant reverence for the Lord, had unconditional faith in Him, and stood in holy places apart from unholy influences. Let’s follow that example and enjoy the fullness of blessings God has in store for us.