Genesis 12

This chapter evidently begins a wholly new matter, and relationship with God.
God had formed the world, and called Abraham out of it to be in it to Himself, and deposits all blessings and promises in him as a head of race; it is the beginning of promise to men- save outwardly, no more flood-and it is not to men, but to a chosen person, and then to his posterity, as taken up for God by Himself in grace.
The interesting points of detail I have noticed elsewhere, but this is the place they hold in the history; it begins a new one, and promises, and blessings to descendants.
God elects, reveals Himself, calls out to Himself, and deposits promises. Here the path of faith is entered on, as a stranger in the world which God had formed by judgment- the world around us.
Now, separation from Terah-natural ties-comes first; going down into the world, from natural motives, at the end of the chapter. In the first case, he does not reach Canaan at all; in the second, he leaves it, and denies his wife—Jehovah was forgotten—but he is well off through it. The true relationship of Christ and the Church must be lost when we get into the world.
Abram is a stranger with an altar, but none while with Terah, none in Egypt; they belong to the place of faith, not exactly to the revelation by which God calls, but by the revelation of Himself, by which He associates with Himself in the place of promise, and this brings in necessarily the seed.
We have seen sacrifice for Adam, in Abel, and in Noah, here an altar-worship on the revelation of God Himself (in promise), or that carried on as a known relationship with God. But then in verses 7 and 8 it is immediately connected with Israel and the land; he was in the place of promise. The general testimony brought him out as the Lord commanded him, but worship is only in Canaan. Here note too, as regards the promise and its going, Abram's seed; the descendible quality, though actually enjoyed in the path and place of obedience has nothing to do with a nature, or relative place with God in virtue of the sin, or goodness of that nature.
Abram is shown, called by God's revelation of Himself, and receives the promises; not as Adam, a father of a race in his image, and exclusion from God's presence; there is the path of faith, but God calls and gives, and that to the seed too.
It is not descendible nature and place, but grace and promise -he is a stranger too by faith, out of the world—not out of Paradise, and God's presence, by sin. “I am a stranger with thee," so we as to this world, but besides we sit in heavenly places-we are let in by righteousness (through one Man's obedience), and belong to Christ (as his children to Adam); we are not strangers in our Canaan, but in the world we are; but in our walk we are, for spiritual wickedness is still in heavenly places. We see how union with Christ has given us an entirely new additional element to Abraham; Abraham had not so much as to set his foot on, nor have we, actually, as men in the body, but we are sitting there in Christ.
NOTE.—We pass here definitely from great general principles, in which God is revealed, to special dealings with one specifically called out into relationship with Him.
It is all Jehovah, not that that is the particular name of revelation-that is El Shaddai; but it is not Elohim, but Jehovah's dealings, only he is shown to be Elohim as One who condescends to man-is the Source of blessing, and who executes judgment, looked at as an historical fact; chapters 17:3-14, and 19:29. See also chapters 21 and 22, in the last God Himself looking for absolute obedience and confidence- a contrast with Eve and Adam. But the dealings are Jehovah's; hence, note, we have the question of man's ways in the relationship into which grace has called, and by which conduct is judged-not mere right and wrong in detail.
1. God appears to Abraham, causing him to seek the country; he does so in the land (v. 7), and he builds an altar, it is the ground of worship. This he renews as his habitual portion (v. 8); having none in Egypt, he only returns to the one he had, at the first, on coming back.
This personal designation, instead of dealing with Ha-Adam, is most remarkable; and setting the blessing distinctively in one called out from the system which God had settled as the world. Abraham is called out of his country; his heavenly place is brought out only, when he has not so much as to set his foot on, in the country God had shown him " Had " is right here, see Acts 7:22And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, (Acts 7:2). What has misled many is supposing Abram to be Terah's eldest son; verse 31 clearly depends on this.
2. How is heyeh thou shalt be? It? If it be the name, it is, I suppose, "in thee shall they bless."
3. "I will curse"—pronounce a judicial curse, pronounce a curse - arar (he cursed), him that curseth, speaketh injuriously, wishing evil—kalal (to curse). Here clearly it must be Jehovah not Elohim and the creature Ha-Adam.
This verse then goes back to chapter 10:32, in grace.
Terah was 130 when Abram was born, or a trifle more, i.e., the time between his death and Abram's departure, 205-75 = 130. Terah begat Nahor at 70; there were thus some 60 years between Nahor and Abraham, but most, or a great part, of this was passed in Ur of the Chaldees. Lot was born there, and I suppose Milcah married to Nahor.
They had been some time in Haran.
6. This is the root of perseverance of faith; and being a stranger, he could not have what he was called to.
7. But the Lord's revelation of Himself, in the place Abraham was called to, reveals to him the way he would have it, and is the ground of worship; this continues as his condition-a tent and an altar. Still promises are on earth here.
10. Nothing wrong apparently, but, when tested by the difficulties of the place of faith, he does not walk by faith, nor consult divine wisdom and will for guidance. He acts on the wisdom of sense, but that is Egypt; and this goes further, he must conceal the full truth there.
The world takes up what belongs exclusively to the man of God, but is judged for it; the man of God had denied its being exclusively his, because he had lost his own place of calling with God. This is the forgetting the Church and distinctiveness of blessing where we are called.
The call and blessing of Abram is most deeply important. The world's history had been gone through—the Adam fallen—the world formed by man's sin—Babel—his multiplying and forming settlements-and the earth divided—countries were formed—and then a kingdom or empire by man as a mighty hunter still connected with Babylon. Now we get, not merely individuals called by grace, or walking in godliness, of and in the midst of the race—one of the families and countries of the world—but one called out of the scene which God Himself had settled. Countries were that order; Abram is to get out of his, and blessing established and settled in him as a stock apart. It is not dealing with Ha-Adam in his responsibility, but positive purpose and grace calling out and conferring a blessing. It is on another principle from man's responsibility.
Then countries are left behind as the things called out of; in the millennium they will be taken up—all the families of the earth (ground) will be blessed; but here blessing is deposited in a called out one—further, " I will make thee a blessing," nothing more full or complete than this. Did man, or angel, or any, wish to know what a blessing was, look at Abram. " In thee," it is said, " shall Israel bless, saying Jehovah make thee as Ephraim and Manasseh "; he was blessed of God so as to be a model and pattern of blessing; so we, through infinite grace, in a much higher way, that in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness towards us by Christ Jesus. Hence Paul, in the personal consciousness which we have of it through the Holy Ghost, says, " Would God that not only thou, but all who hear me this day were both almost and altogether such as I am, save these bonds." He was a conscious model of blessing, and that is the true Christian state, nor does any aright, else, truly honor God, when we think of the grace given to us in Christ-in His own Son; things that angels desire to look into are for us-a place in Him above creature name-and not merely glory, but blessed in Him, one with Him and loved as He is loved, and in the same blessed relationship as He is in with the Father.
NOTE.—In chapters 12, 13 and 14, we have the relationship of the called in the earth with the world; failure is seen, but in general it is " called out " and " leaving it "-perseverance in heavenly separatedness from it-leaving, because of the promise, the world to the world, and, in the end, full victory over it, and blessing in it from the Possessor of heaven and earth under Melchizedek. In chapter 15 we have the principles on which, by faith, the called is sustained in going through it, while not enjoying the effect of the promise; while chapter 16 is the failure, and here the earthly people are under oppression of the free but must submit. In chapter 17, the inheritance of the world is brought out by the covenant of circumcision, and Sarah-the free woman, under the new covenant, is mother of the heir, for He was rejected under the old. Here, mark, however, it was historically a covenant to keep a covenant in the flesh; Israel had to keep it, and execute it, and one who did not would be cut off; it was imposed, the bought servant was to undergo it-it was his duty. This was connected with faith, i.e., the position of the believer-he was father of many nations before Him whom he believed, for this hangs on chapter 15 (compare Rom. 4); still the word is, " Thou shalt keep," chap. 17: 9. Now in Christianity, the seal of faith is a gift-it is the Holy Spirit, and it is power, " after ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise-earnest of the inheritance, till the redemption of the purchased possession," and baptism, which has the form of outward recognition, is conferred-granted, " who can forbid water? " " what doth hinder me to be baptized? " it was more in association with Jewish ground and ways of relationship with God.
The commission in Matthew supposes the residue of Israel all right, and sends out to gather in the Gentiles, all baptizing them according to the new light. Paul, though he owned and submitted to it, for all was to be linked together, was not sent to baptize, but to preach the gospel in power.
Even this, however, did not impose a law on flesh, nor seal a promise by man's act, but implied remission of sins, and deliverance, complete—by death and resurrection in Christ- that immense saving, and divine life-giving boon, which is given through Him.
Hence, though they came under it by the call of God, it was, in form even, a conferred benefit; they were baptized—the Church baptized them to confer the benefit, and admit them by death and resurrection into its blessings, and standing before God; thus, in ordinance, the character is opposed-the seal of God is the Holy Spirit. Circumcision is before the birth of the son of the free woman; hence we find it also as to time in connection with the effort to have the promise by law—the unbelievingness of the vessel of promise—Sarai.