Between Genesis 3 and the Fall of humanity described there, we see all sorts of chaos and wildness unfold over the next several chapters. Humanity becomes violent. A flood wipes out humanity as a sign of judgement for their corruption. Idolatry abounds. Everyone forsakes their desire to seek the truth and the true God.
At this point in the story, it appears as though everything has gone irredeemably wrong. If no one wants goodness or God, then what can possibly be done? How do you save a world that does not want saving? Is the coming of God’s Kingdom going to result in another brutal conquering? Or can justice somehow mingle with grace and make a way of salvation?
When the God of love spoke His creation into being, He foresaw its Fall, and if creation entailed total destruction, then He likely would not have created at all. He knew, however, that He could make a way of salvation for even a rebellious people.
His Kingdom was about to emerge.
Planting the Seeds of Redemption
In Genesis 12:1-3, we see the Lord issue a call to a man named Abram. He tells him:
Go out from your land,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation,
I will bless you,
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt,
and all the peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
God decides to bless the man Abram, but we need to realize something about this blessing; in the end, it was a blessing designed to permeate the whole earth.
If we read through some of the promises the Lord makes, we will realize that these are basically the dreams that any person would have in that day. If you don’t mind me paraphrasing, the Lord essentially says, “I will make you into a great nation. You’re really going to be something, and people will talk about you for centuries to come.”
Who wouldn’t want to receive such a promise?
There was, however, one caveat. Now, you might expect the Lord would say, “In order to receive this promise, you must become my slave and my servant.” But no, the Lord expects no return on His investment save that Abram should seek to pay it forward.
As a result of being blessed, Abram is told to be a blessing, and he is told that all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through him.
Over the next twenty-five years, the Lord continues to expand on this initial promise as He walks with Abram through his many trials and mistakes. God promises Abram that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. He changes Abram’s name to Abraham, promising to make him the father of many nations, a producer of kings, and to establish an eternal relationship between Abraham and his offspring (Gn. 17:1-8).
The Lord made these grand promises, not only to Abraham but to the whole world, while Abraham was a mere (albeit wealthy) wandering nomad surrounded by vast kingdoms. Corruption abounded on the earth once again, but the Lord was planting the seeds of redemption in Abraham.
The Kingdom Emerging
There is a lot of history that I’m going to skip over for the time being, but it’s important to notice that the promises made to Abraham would manifest in the nation of Israel. The nation would become an important, wealthy kingdom between the kingdoms of Egypt and the various dominions that would vie for power to their west.
Eventually, however, that Israelite kingdom would start to crumble, and it seemed to put God’s promise to Abraham in peril of being lost forever. Yet, a prophet would speak in the twilight of Israel’s life and proclaim the message of one, a Messiah, who would come bringing good news.
Twilight would turn to night, but the faithfulness of God would still remain. A remnant would return, and from the stump arose a shoot that would become the evergreen tree of Judah: Jesus Christ.
As He sought to initiate His ministry, He proclaimed those words from the prophet and declared Himself to be the One who was fulfilling the prophecy. He, like Abraham, was only one man, but the Lord’s Kingdom would emerge through His life.
And nothing would ever be the same once His ministry on earth was complete.