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."
For the first eleven chapters of the Bible God has dealt with people in general. There has been no chosen nation, no special nation, no Jewish nation. God has simply dealt with people.
But with Genesis 12 everything changes. God chooses a man, a man living in Ur (in modern Iraq), a man by the name of Abram.
With this man God will found a nation, a special nation, the nation of Israel. God will use this nation to create a holy people, a people devoted to him, a people who receive the Scriptures, a people who one day would receive the Messiah. God's intent was to use Israel to show the world what it means to be the people of God.
After telling Abram to leave his land for a new land, God gives him grand and incredible promises:
"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" (12:2-3).
God's hand would be on this people. The Jews are not just another people and Israel is not just another nation. This is God's chosen nation, God's chosen people.
God has promised to bless those who bless Israel. So, bless Israel! They are not a perfect people but they are God's people.
God has promised to curse those who curse Israel. Those who oppose Israel and fight against Israel do not survive. This is true of anyone from Goliath in the ancient world to Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein in the modern world.
Genesis 12 is a major turning point in the biblical record. From this point on, throughout the rest of the Old Testament and the Gospels, God's plan focuses on one nation, Israel. Only in Acts 2 at Pentecost, when God births the church, does God's focus shift from the nation of Israel to the international body of Jews and Gentiles, the church.
It all begins with Abram in Genesis 12. Two points to clarify:
Moreover, when Jesus is about to ascend and he gives the Great Commission to his disciples, he charges them, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations."
Beginning with Genesis 12, God focused on one nation, but only so that Israel could be a light to all nations. Beginning with Acts 2, God now focuses on all the nations, so that people "from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9) can be reached with the gospel.
We are part of this call to reach the nations for Jesus.