Confronting the Curse
Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Bereshit / Genesis 12:1-3; ESV)
The first several chapters of the Torah set the stage for the entire Bible. Here we learn that God, the sole originator of the whole universe created everything "very good" (Bereshit / Genesis 1:31). Humans were purposely made by God to take care of Planet Earth (see Bereshit / Genesis 1:26-27), but due to Adam and Eve's disobedience, the creation was cursed (see Bereshit / Genesis 3:17-19); compare Romans 8:20). The curse didn't revoke our original mandate, but greatly frustrated it through the introduction of death, pain, and relational strife. Thankfully this condition was not to be permanent, since one day evil would be destroyed (see Bereshit / Genesis 3:15).
The way God brought this about begins to unfold in this week's Torah portion with the call of Abram, whose name would be later changed to Abraham. This elderly childless man was called by God to leave his ancestral home to journey to a foreign land where he would become a great nation that would bring blessing to the whole world. A couple of weeks ago (http://www.torahbytes.org/74-01.htm), we saw how blessing is the impartation of life originating from God in the same way as creation itself. Blessing enables living things to reproduce. It brings life, resulting in more life. Without it there is no life. With it there is. Blessing confronts the curse by bringing life where there was only death.
Abraham illustrates this perfectly. He and his wife, Sarah could not have children. Yet the Word of God comes to Abraham promising blessing. Not only will they themselves have children, but they would also become a great nation - a nation that would bring blessing to the rest of the world. Choosing this couple demonstrates how God's blessing confronts death, since they could not reproduce. Their bodies, being dead as it were, would eventually overflow with life, life resulting in more life.
The New Covenant Writings call the promise of blessing to the nations "the good news" (see Galatians 3:8). While the good news or gospel is often defined as the proclamation of the death and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah, it is more than that! It has to do with what Yeshua's death and resurrection accomplishes: the confrontation of the curse. The Abrahamic blessing is poured out upon the nations through what Yeshua has done on our behalf. But that's just the beginning! Yeshua gave his followers a mandate, not entirely different from the original one given to all people at creation. Just as Adam and Eve were commissioned by God to take care of this planet, so Yeshua's followers are to go throughout the world teaching the ways of God in light of his coming (see Matthew 28:18-20). As people are taught God's truth in this way, they encounter the blessing promised to Abraham: the curse is confronted, death is replaced by life, and they themselves become instruments of this same blessing to others.
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