“I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3, NRSV)
Although connected contextually, Genesis 12:1–3 has a stark presence in the biblical text. With the growing problems of humanity after the flood, God intervenes by making promises to a man named Abraham. Specifically, three promises are stated: 1) A people, 2) A land, and 3) A blessing.
First, God promised Abraham a people. As the story unfolds, God blesses the barren Abraham and Sarai by giving them a son of promise named Isaac. Through Isaac, Jacob, and his twelve sons, the “children” of Abraham become numerous. There is a people. Check.
Second, God promised Abraham’s people a land. That promise unfolds in the book of Joshua. After suffering the consequences of unbelief in the desert, the “people” go into the land of promise. This land is the home of the descendants of Abraham. They have a land. Check.
But don’t forget promise number three. God said there would come a worldwide blessing (Gen. 12:3). The NRSV phrases it well by stating “and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God is saying that through the line of Abraham will come one who will bless all people. One will come through the “people,” in the “land,” that will bless the world.
Matthew doesn’t want us to miss the fact that Jesus provides that worldwide blessing promised to Abraham. In introducing Jesus, Matthew states, “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1). Nor does Luke want us to overlook the connection. In recording Mary’s song, an emphasis resides on the fact that Jesus is the blessing from and to the descendants of Abraham (Luke 1:55). God has blessed the world through Christ. The third promise is a person—Jesus.
This Christmas blessing has changed us forever. “You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Worldwide blessing. Double Check!