Abraham (at this stage still known as Abram) was originally from Ur, but moved with his father, Terah, to Haran (11:31).
12:1 The call may have taken place in Ur ('had said' v1), making this a reminder of the original call and prompting Abraham to resume his journey. This call comes against the backdrop of God's judgement at Babel (11:1-9). Abraham's call is God's gracious response to that event.
12:2-3 God made a threefold promise to Abraham which included descendants, blessing and land. Notice the emphasis on the fact that it is God who will achieve this - four times God says: "I will..." Fulfilling these promises would certainly require an act of God since there were still many obstacles to be overcome:
- Abraham had no descendants and his wife was barren (11:30)
- Abraham was living in a fallen world still under the curse of Babel (11:9)
- The land was inhabited by Canaanites (12:6)
The Babel builders had tried to make a name for themselves but God is the one who would make a great name for Abraham. Abraham would also be the one through whom all people on earth are blessed.
12:4-5 Abraham responded in obedience to God's call. In our individualistic modern world it's hard to understand just how difficult this must have been. For a man to leave his country, his people and his father's household (12:1) was very significant in a traditional society. Hebrews 11:8-10 tells us that his obedience to God was the response of faith.
12:7 God reaffirmed his promise of land and descendants and Abraham responded in worship.
3:6-9 Paul makes the case from Old Testament scripture that God's plan has always been the same. Even Abraham was saved by faith, just as the gospel of Jesus proclaims. It is therefore not just Abraham's biological descendants who inherit God's promise of blessing, but all those who trust in Jesus. Paul goes so far as to specifically include Gentiles among those justified by faith so that his words cannot be misunderstood. This was God's intention from the very beginning.
3:10-14 Paul reaffirms this great truth by stating it in the negative. Righteousness and blessing are not obtained through the Law. Paul quotes from the OT three times to prove that faith in Jesus, rather than obedience to the Law, is the means by which all people may receive God's promise of life and blessing (Deuteronomy 27:26, Habakkuk 2:4, Leviticus 18:5).
It is wonderful to note from these two passages how inclusive and exclusive God's rescue plan is; it includes people from all nations, but only those who trust in Jesus. Anyone from any background, culture or nation can be rescued through faith in him.