What does it say?
This (Gen 12) is the call of Abram (later Abraham) and the beginning of the Hebrew people. Earlier (Gen 11), Abram, wife Sarai, father Terah and nephew Lot immigrated to Canaan. Chapter 12 opens with a flashback to show that God’s call brought them to Canaan. Terah is now dead.
Returning from Egypt (Gen 13) after severe famine, Abram and Lot separate as their flocks and families have flourished. Lot chooses the rich Jordan valley, while God promises Abram innumerable offspring all the land he can see.
A four-king alliance from Mesopotamia (Abram’s homeland) invades Canaan (Gen 14), probably protecting the trade route to Egypt. Five local kings rebel against the foreign kings near the Dead Sea and are defeated. These foreign kings from near Babylon start the Bible’s first war and take Lot and household captive.
Abram, first called “Hebrew” (“son of Eber”)(14:13), rescues Lot. Returning, Melchizedek (king of righteousness), king of Salem (later Jerusalem), a priest of the true God, meets him. Abraham gives tithes (10 percent) of the war spoils to Melchizedek, yet refuses anything from the king of Sodom.
God establishes a covenant with Abram (Gen 15) and promises multitudes of descendants. Paul uses this story to picture our salvation by grace (Rom 4).
What does it mean?
Genesis 12 sets God’s mission throughout history. The earth’s families are separated by language due to sin in Genesis 11. Immediately, God ramps up his mission to redeem by choosing Abram. God will bless Abram to become a great people, but the purpose (12:3) is to bless all the families of the earth (Mat 28:18). Truth: we are blessed to be a blessing.
Abram learns the difference between living by fear (12:10-20) or faith (13). Growing, Abram learns to be a giver, tithing the war spoils to Melchizedek while refusing personal gain offered by the king of Sodom. Melchizedek, a real person, is a type, or symbol, of Christ to come (Hebrews 7), a priest centuries before the Levitical priesthood under Moses.
How will I respond?
I have been incredibly blessed! What one thing will I do today to bless another person? Long term, do I understand my place in God’s mission to reach the peoples of the earth? I am blessed to be a blessing.
What is my biggest challenge today? Will I go forward in fear or faith? How can Abram’s example of growth benefit me?
Am I a giver or a taker? Am I a victor or a victim? If I am blessed, am I returning that blessing by being a giver to the church, my community and others?