Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
The word of Jehovah, by which Abram was called, contained a command and a promise. Abram was to leave all – his country, his kindred (see Gen 43:7), and his father’s house – and to follow the Lord into the land which He would show him. Thus he was to trust entirely to the guidance of God, and to follow wherever He might lead him. But as he went in consequence of this divine summons into the land of Canaan (Gen 12:5), we must assume that God gave him at the very first a distinct intimation, if not of the land itself, at least of the direction he was to take.
For thus renouncing and denying all natural ties, the Lord gave him the inconceivably great promise, “I will make of thee a great nation; and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” …The four distinct elements are –
- increase into a numerous people;
- a blessing, that is to say, material and spiritual prosperity;
- the exaltation of his name, i.e., the elevation of Abram to honour and glory;
- his appointment to be the possessor and dispenser of the blessing.
Abram was not only to receive blessing, but to be a blessing; not only to be blessed by God, but to become a blessing, or the medium of blessing, to others. The blessing, as the more minute definition of the expression “be a blessing” in Gen 12:3 clearly shows, was …(1) the blessing and cursing of men were to depend entirely upon their attitude towards him, and (2) all the families of the earth were to be blessed in him.
All the Families of the Earth (lit. ground)
Abram was not merely to become a mediator, but the source of blessing for all. The expression “all the families of the ground” points to the division of the one family into many (Gen 10:5, Gen 10:20, Gen 10:31). The blessing of Abraham was once more to unite the divided families, and change the curse, pronounced upon the ground on account of sin, into a blessing for the whole human race. All further promises, therefore, not only to the patriarchs, but also to Israel, were merely expansions and closer definitions of the salvation held out to the whole human race in the first promise.
The commentary then goes on to enumerate other occasions where this marvelous promise is re-iterated and passed on to succeeding generations of Abraham’s Seed:
Blessing repeated to Abraham upon testing of his faith
Genesis 22:16-18 – “And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;d And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
Blessing repeated to Isaac
Genesis 26:2-4 – “And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
Blessing repeated to Jacob
Genesis 28:13-14 – “I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”