This is one of the most significant passages of Scripture found in the entire Bible. Not only does it record how God would eventually establish the nation of Israel, Abraham being the first Hebrew, but it gives us a rare glimpse inside the heart of God.
The word “bless” or “blessed” appears five times in three verses. Make no mistake about it. God deeply desires to bless his people. Jabez understood this and prayed, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!” Guess what? God did. We don't know exactly how he answered the prayer of Jabez, but he did (1 Chron. 4:9-11). While the blessing of Genesis 12 was specific to Abraham and to the nation that God would form through him, both Abraham and his descendants were blessed in order to be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth.
I find myself smiling when I read the words, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” These words are spoken like a true parent who gently warns, If you bless my kids, I will bless you. If you speak kindly of my children, I will speak kindly of you. If you protect my offspring, I will protect you. But if you mess with my family, you’ll wish you had never met me.
These words should also shape every President’s foreign policy toward the nation of Israel. I believe part of the reason the United States is such a blessed country is that she has remained Israel’s friend, oftentimes standing alone in that role. Israel is not perfect but she is divinely chosen. Woe to the nation and its leaders that turn against the apple of God’s eye.
We should never forget that Abraham’s call has specific application to the nation of Israel. Any attempt to make the church the new Israel and thus the recipient of all the promises made to Abraham is, in my opinion, based on faulty, replacement theology. At the same time, we need to remember that God clearly said to Abraham, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” That includes gentile believers who are now in Christ by faith.
All the blessings Abraham was to receive from God were predicated on faith. God told him to leave his country, his people and his family, and begin traveling toward a new destiny. How different the world would be if Abraham chose to disobey.
Abraham had settled into a nice life in the Ur of the Chaldeans, which at that time was the greatest commercial capital the world had ever seen. Life was good. He was surrounded by friends and family who respected him. He was in good health. He achieved a free and clear mortgage with enough sheep and goats to last for a long and prosperous retirement. And his wife Sarah enjoyed beautiful shopping malls, a market filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, and a full pantry. But God had different plans. Abraham was 75 years old when the Lord told him to kiss his comfort zone good-bye.
The word “leave” had both practical and spiritual implications for Abraham. Keep in mind that the Ur of the Chaldeans was not only a booming commercial capital, but it was also home to a thriving religious community. The city was devoted to Nannar, the mood-god. Yes, Abraham and his family were pagan-worshippers and idolaters, polytheists who believed in many gods. However, God graciously called Abraham out of the darkness of idolatry and into the light of the one true and living God.
God is still in the business of calling people out of Ur. The apostle Paul bragged on the Thessalonians by telling how their faith “rang out” in reports all over Macedonia and Achaia. They "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:8-9).
Ring! Ring! Do you have an ‘out of Ur’ story you’d like to share?