1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.
2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
The Fourth Dispensation: Promise. This dispensation extended from the call of Abram to the giving of the law at Sinai (Exodus 19:3ff.). Its stewardship was based upon God’s covenant with Abram, first cited here, and confirmed and enlarged in Genesis 13:14-17; 15:1-7; 17:1-8, 15-19; 22:16-18; 26:2-5, 24; 28:13-15; 31:13; 35:9-12. — Scofield, page 19.
These three verses constitute the first and foundational expression of God’s great promise to Abraham—what is otherwise known as the Abrahamic Covenant. As here expressed, this covenant consists of the following three essential provisions: (1) Land (v. 1b), at this point generally identified as “the land of Canaan” (11:31; 12:5), the content and borders of which are increasingly specified throughout the course of the Pentateuch, culminating in the detailed description of Numbers 34:1-12; (2) a great nation (v. 2a), in which, significantly, the word translated “nation” is the one typically applied to the Gentile nations and only rarely to Israel, thus hinting at God’s broader, human-centered purpose in bestowing this covenant—as is also implied by God’s reference to making a “name,” which was previously the undertaking not of just one family, but all of mankind (11:10-26); and (3) blessing (vs. 2b-3), which last provision is given the most space in God’s declaration, thereby bearing out its preeminence among the provisions as well as the various circumstances in which that blessing will be applied. These circumstances, specifically, are three-fold and increasingly expansive—to wit, Abraham, his descendants (cf. Psalm 105:8-10), and all the families of the land. It is significant that in this first expression of the covenant God employs the term “families,” which in the Hebrew Bible generally denotes extended families—i.e., a living patriarch and all the members of his household by blood or marriage. God’s love, we thus see, is seeking to “push” His blessing as far as His justice will allow. — Wechsler, pages 176-177.
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