Lech Lecha
For the week of November 8, 2003 / 13 Heshvan 5764
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 12:1 - 17:27
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Originally published for the week of
November 11, 2000 / 13 Heshvan 5761

The Promise: Part 3

The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Bereshit / Genesis 12:1-3)

The promise which we first heard in Genesis chapter 3, and looked at a couple of weeks ago, now begins to unfold. It would be through Abram (whose name was later changed to Abraham) that God's blessing would come to all people on Earth.

These words to Abram provide us with a foundational understanding of the nature of God's promise. God's words in chapter 3, spoke of the goal, while this passage outlines some of how it will occur.

First, we see that it is through God's own initiative that God's promise is fulfilled. Throughout history so many have sought to bring about God's will through their own plans and ideas. This is what we saw in last week's portion. As the people sought to secure their own destiny, they found themselves at odds with God and further divided. It is for God to fulfill his own promise.

Second, God initiates, but people need to respond. Abram had to go where God told him to go. God has no intention of accomplishing his purposes completely on his own. He calls people to be involved with him. While we need to take care not to take God's matters into our own hands, we are to do what he calls us to do.

Third, the promised blessings come to the world through a particular nation. It would be through Israel that God would eradicate the evil Satan introduced in the Garden. I assume that God could have done this through any means he wished, but he decided to do it this way. It was necessary for him to create a nation from among the nations to bless the nations.

Fourth, the context of the promise never changes. God committed himself to bless and curse others on the basis of their treatment of Abram and his descendents.

Finally, it is necessary to mention that even though Israel was to become the instrument of God's blessing to the world, it was never to become the focal point. God is the one who blesses. Just as he was the one who made the promise in the first place, and he was the one who initiated its fulfillment, and he is the one who has determined how it would be fulfilled, so we need to remember that it is all about him. That doesn't mean that we disregard how he does what he does. Far from it! But if we want to experience the blessing spoken to Abram, then we need to live as he did, being responsive to what God says to us today.

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