Genesis, Typically Considered. Chapter 12

Genesis 12  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 10
This great principle is brought out—called to act—on faith, in God's Word for a promise only in hope, and when there only in earnest, a land to be shown—a nation—blessing—and all families blessed in him—this was the most general promise—he was the man, the depositary of promise, and promised blessing.
The Canaanite—the power of already announced evil—was already, and now, in the inheritance where he was brought; so we, see Eph. 6:1212For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12); but the principle, "they went forth to go" and "they came"—that was their condition—through this, and in this, however, he moved in liberty; but there was a famine in without call, or direction, goes down to Egypt—the world—then denies his wife, gets presents for it, and the prince of this world, and his house judgment, till they are let go.
This is entirely a new principle in the world; God had, under Peleg, settled them in countries of their dispersion. They had not only settled in their countries, but it was divided—allotted out. Abram is told of God to leave his country—he becomes a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth, as regards original natural ties in flesh, but he has not here done with earth as the scene of blessing—he was to go into the country which Jehovah would show him.
But the calling of an individual, and settling blessing in him, is a most important principle. It is not the responsibility of ha-Adam, nor individuals owned and godly through grace, but the purpose of God calling one out, and setting and centering blessing in him; and it is remarkable how blessing is dwelt on and repeated, cursing only coming in as a fence—a judgment on any who should wish it on him. But Abram was called to a land (country), and the races or families of the earth (ground) were to be blessed in him—he is taken from them to be a blessing to them. Making it a blessing means, I apprehend, the type of it—"the Lord make thee like Abram" being the best wish of blessing possible; but all that was an earthly habitation he was separated from.
This being the very type and model of divine blessing is most remarkable, and more so far in us, for indeed we are—being in Christ—beyond all comparison; this is grace and a sovereign, original purpose.
Note, too, not only was he the model and type in which divine blessing was expressed, but he was the depositary and so source of it to others; this, far more fully and actually the case, in its complete fulfillment in us, is a very divine place. We have so the divine blessing in God Himself in Christ, in conscious communicated possession, that we become the communicators of it to others. This is first of all Christ's place, but he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him, and so it is shown and flows forth. Compare John 1:1818No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:18) and 1 John 4:1212No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12), as showing how this is.
This principle is not only supreme on the part of God, and the accomplishment of His counsel, but it is clean contrary to, and out of the order His natural providence had established; the world was ordered by families, everything arranged by families settled in such and such terrestrial divisions, and kindred was the tie that bound the earth together.
Abram is called to loose all these, and leave them; corruption was come in, and they that were of God must be to God, but then the great principle of calling out by special grace—God interfering because of His grace, and in grace having one for Himself in the world—was manifested.
Yet Terah acts for himself, and takes Abram a certain road towards the place; Abram did not act on the call at once. The expression " the Lord had said " is correct, from Acts 7.
Although the call was from out of the world as settled by providence in families, yet, being called out, the blessing ran in that order, whatever might be contained under it, or however God might bring about its accomplishment.
NOTE.—This is "the Lord," as acting within the sphere of covenant, and dispensed relationship, not simply in supreme Godhead; the land he was to go to was of God the Lord's showing; "he went out not knowing whither he went"—it was dependence and confidence in the Lord—the ear opened to hear His will. Then the promise—a great nation—blessing, his name great—to be a blessing—kept, owned, so that blessing and curse should depend on treatment—and lastly besides, all the families of the earth blessed in him, I say besides, for making him a nation was one thing as called, and the families of the earth, left where they were, being blessed, is another; there we have, on Terah's death, his acting on the call—kept, perhaps, hitherto to himself, Terah had no part in it, and he dies in Haran, for Abram was to be out of his house and kindred; on this, Lot accompanies him, but he had neither after all—Sodom was his place of loss of all—on the contrary, in verse 5 we have the purpose of obedience, and its certain accomplishment in grace according to the calling. "They went forth to go, and they came"—the whole effect of the promise in a certain sense.
Abram passes through the land—the powers of evil, which are to be destroyed, are still in it.
By calling, the depositary of promise is brought into a place which is to be the rest, but he is there as a stranger—the powers of evil, afterward to be exterminated, being still there.
Here the Lord appears to Abram—reveals Himself—now for the first time spoken of; this is in the land, where he is brought by faith—there is the revelation of the Lord Himself to him; hence it is a promise of the land—this land—to his seed, for he was, though in hope, a stranger in the effect of the promise, as regards the part of it here taken up, therefore this land.
Here also is worship ordered before the Lord—"he builded an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him."
It was also a promise of the land to his seed, that is, in fact, it was the assurance of futurity—of perpetuity according to the nature of the thing.
This is the place of communion and worship—"in the heavenly places"—the Lord revealing Himself there, the seal of faith in communion, and so ground of worship, carrying with it the assurance of eternity in it, and the consciousness that we are in the place, with the Lord, to which he had called us; for He has called us to His own kingdom and glory. But in these heavenly places, the power of wickedness—the race on whom the curse ruled—still are; we are strangers, yet the Lord appears to faith, in secret as it were, and, though moving to and fro, the Lord's altar is ours, in spite of the Canaanite, in every place. These are the two subjects in verse 9. In the end of the chapter we have Abram, not in the title of the Lord, but acting on distress, on his own wisdom, enriched outwardly, but his wife in the hands of the prince of this world; the end is judgment on the prince of this world, for, if man be unfaithful, God vindicates His own titles.
We have in verse 16 a remarkable picture of the departure of the church from God—Abram, whose acts are in question, representing the persons in it who dealt with the Church in this way, and got rewards—rewards or gifts of a harlot specially, as they say such in character. All these things they got from Pharaoh (king of Egypt)—everything they could wish, and in favor, but in dishonor of God and of her too, through whom the seed of covenant was called—beautiful in the eyes of the world, Egypt had nothing to produce like it—but besides being beautiful, she was the espoused of Abraham, the spouse of promise in the purpose of God. It was distrust of God in Abraham, which led to it, and to deny his inseparable bondship with her, as separate (forever) from all others—this in spirit, but it has striking reference to the Jews when the bride of the Lord; he was not Abraham (father of nations) yet.