With chapter 12 Genesis reaches a major pivot point. Primeval history is left behind. From this point forward the focus will be on the progress of redemption. The narrative will demonstrate God’s faithful preserving of the righteous line against attacks from without and failures from within. The dominant figures are the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with Joseph being the focus of the final section.
“The call of God to Abraham is the sneak preview for the rest of the Bible. It is a story of God bringing salvation to all tribes and nations through this holy nation, administered at first by the Mosaic covenant and then by the Lord Jesus Christ through the new covenant” (Waltke, 209). The Bible tells how the promise of 12:1-3 progresses from Abraham, to Israel, to the nations. This world-wide movement of God’s blessing of redemption is the very flow of Scripture. Abraham as blessing bearer for the nations is a shadow whose substance is Jesus Christ. This is Abraham’s chief function.
Abraham also serves as the great example of faith (Hebrews 11:9-16). Derek Kidner observes, “Abram must exchange the known for the unknown and find his reward in what he could not live to see (a great nation), in what was intangible (a great name) and in what he would impart (blessing)” (p. 114). The life of faith is one of obedience to God. It requires the abandonment of the idols of security and comfort. The faith-filled Christian will learn to live like a pilgrim in this world knowing that their citizenship belongs to a better city, a lasting kingdom.