Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Blessing of Abraham

And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
(Genesis 12:3)



Genesis 3:15 contains the first proclamation of the gospel. Starting in Genesis 12 we have the second. Both are from God himself. If you are a Gentile - that is, if you are of non-Jewish lineage - then your ability to participate in the New Covenant blessing is built off Jesus' fulfillment of this promise from God to Abraham.

The Apostle Paul builds his theology of the church and the New Covenant blessing upon Abraham. You are encouraged to read Galatians 3 and Romans 4 in particular. The Apostle Peter likewise builds from Genesis 12:3 in his second sermon of the church age recorded in Acts 3.

To get the full context you should read the account of Abraham's life in Genesis 11:26-25:11. The most important texts for our purposes are found in chapters 12 and 15. The outline Christ presented to his earliest followers to testify to included that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in the name of the Christ to all nations.

Testifying that repentance should be proclaimed in the name of Jesus to all nations is in fulfillment of these scriptural promises to Abraham starting in Genesis 12. It defines the blessing of the New Covenant.

Genesis 12:1-3

After the fall of humanity in Genesis 3, we see corruption of God's creation, judgment through the flood, and the establishment of many nations through the descendants of Noah and his sons. Out of all these people groups God chooses Abram. God promises to make of Abram a great nation.

The purpose of God's choice is not simply to bless Abram and the nation that will result. God explicitly says that his purpose is so that all the families of the earth will be blessed through him.

The Apostle Peter makes it clear that this blessing is particularly related to the repentance of all nations in his sermon recorded in Acts 3.

"It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, 'AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.' For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways." (Acts 3:25-26)

Peter makes four things clear in his full proclamation (Acts 3:12-26).
  1. The Scriptures have uniformly testified that the Christ would come to fulfill the promise of God to redeem a people to himself from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people (Acts 3:18-24);
  2. This New Covenant blessing flows from the original covenant promise God made to Abraham (Acts 3:25);
  3. This blessing is first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Acts 3:26); and
  4. The blessing is to offer them salvation in Christ if they will repent of their wicked ways and trust in the Messiah.

Conclusion

It is important to understand that the New Covenant is built on promises that predate the Mosaic covenant. The New Covenant is not "new" in the sense that it is recent. It is "new" in the sense that it is the fullness and substance of God's plan of redemption from the very beginning. It is the fulfillment, not the abolishment, of the Old.

God chose Abram to build a nation for himself, the nation of Israel. God never intended to stop at a nation of his own. Instead, it was through this nation that God would bring the Messiah. It would be in the Messiah that all nations would find salvation. The Messiah would bring them freedom from the curse and offer reconciliation to God.

God has demonstrated in history that Jesus of Nazareth is the appointed Christ. The process of this blessing spreading to all nations is the current mission and ministry of the church. It is carried out in the name and authority of the One who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18-20).

The Great Commission is carried out in obedience to Christ. It is also carried out in fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham about 2000 years before the birth, crucifixion, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus.

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