The unprompted extravagance of God (Genesis 12:2-3)

“And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And 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 will be blessed.” Genesis 12:2-3

In these two verses in Genesis 12, the LORD pours out a landslide of seven unconditional promises of blessing on this man, this Abram the son of Terah from Ur of the Chaldeans. Take a moment with me and consider the unprompted extravagance of the LORD.

WHAT ABRAM DESERVED OR MERITED?

We begin by considering Abram and see why he received such an outpouring of blessings from the LORD. As we read of Abram ancestors in Genesis 11:10-31, we search in vain for any indication of anyone in his family tree having a knowledge of the LORD. Where are his forefathers who called on the name of the LORD? They are absent. Instead, we read through nine generations without a single mention of the LORD. Indeed, Terah, Abram’s father, was a pagan who worshiped the moon god. As we study Abram’s lineage, there is no evidence of any acquaintance with the LORD or with any exercise of faith. It is hard to imagine that Abram had any concept of the LORD before He called him.

THE EXTRAVAGANCE OF THE LORD’S CALL

Then at the time appointed by the LORD, He calls Abram to go forth from his country to an unseen, unknown land that the LORD will show him. There had been no relationship between Abram and the LORD and then suddenly the LORD bursts upon Abram’s consciousness, calls him to trust Him with his entire future, and pours out astonishing, unconditional promises on him. And all of this is completely unprompted and unrequested. There is nothing that motivated or prompted the LORD to choose Abram other than His own divine will. Abram was unaware of the LORD’s existence and could have died that way. Abram could have continued his father’s legacy of bowing down to the moon god and never have known the joy of walking with the living God. Abram could happily have continued in his ignorance, but the LORD chose to speak to this man. Why Abram? We do not know, but the LORD chose him to be the father of a multitude and to walk with Him.

ALL THE GRACIOUS PROMISES

And then, as if that were not amazing enough, the LORD immediately makes seven astonishing promises to Abram. This is the unprompted extravagance of the LORD, to call Abram to Himself and then to make these glorious promises of blessing, and all of this as an act of His grace, just because He chose to do this.

“And I will make you a great nation.” At the time of this promise, Abram had no children and a barren wife, yet the LORD gives him an unconditional promise that he will become a great and populous nation.

“And I will bless you.” Abram gets the LORD’s unconditional promise that He will bless him. This probably refers to material blessings of flocks and herds.

“And I will make your name great.” Abram will be known far and wide as a great man. He will be famous and respected. Another unconditional promise.

“And so you shall be a blessing.” Not only will Abram be blessed, but he will also be a blessing to others. He will be blessed to be a blessing. Another unconditional promise.

“And I will bless those who bless you.” Those who are allies with Abram and those who help and bless Abram will be blessed by the LORD. Another unconditional promise.

“And the one who curses you I will curse.” Likewise, those who oppose or threaten Abram, or who seek to curse him will themselves be cursed, for the LORD will protect him. Another unconditional promise.

“And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” This is, of course, the grandest extravagance of all, as the LORD gives Abram the veiled promise that he will be the forefather of the Messiah. Another unconditional promise.

EXTRAVAGANT GRACE TO ALL WHO CALL ON THE LORD

            God’s extravagance to Abram was clearly displayed as the Lord of the universe called a pagan shepherd from a far country to be a father of a multitude and to become a friend of God. But we also understand that this is not a unique situation, nor is it even an uncommon one. The Lord who sought out and found Abram in Ur of the Chaldeans and called him to a life of faith walking with the living God is also the same Lord who seeks out and finds all His elect wherever they are and calls them to faith in the Lord Jesus.

            My own story is a display of the Lord’s unprompted extravagance, since before I became a Christian, I was far from Him, had little knowledge of Him, and had less interest in knowing Him. I was content in my ignorance, happily careening toward judgment. Then one day on a cliff in California, in an act of unprompted grace, the Lord awakened me to my own mortality and called me to Himself and called me to change. In a short time, He had led me to a good church and made sure that I had a Bible. He brought me to repentance of my many sins and to faith in the crucified and risen Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He brought me from death to life and promised to never leave me or forsake me. In His Word, he gave me many precious and magnificent promises (2 Peter 1:4) that are all “yes” and “Amen” in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20).

            And, although there are as many variations as there are salvation testimonies, this display of His unprompted extravagance is what the Lord does all the time. This is who He is. He is a God who gives and loves extravagantly, and His blessings on His people are unprompted by anything in us and are only the expression of His mercy and glory and generosity and grace.

            Abram and you and I have this in common: we have been the recipient of God’s unprompted extravagance and His promises of blessing.

SDG                 rmb                 1/3/2021

God demonstrates His own love (Romans 5:8)

Today, of course, is Christmas Day. It is the day of the year set aside for giving gifts to one another so that we remember God’s most valuable of all gifts when He sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to be our Savior.

Early this morning, as I waited for the rest of the family to rise and get ready for our gift-opening ritual, I considered the extravagance of God. Our God pours out His gifts on His creatures in so many ways. In His providence, God feeds all His creatures and supplies them with water and shelter. He is extravagant with the beauty He pours out onto His favored planet with sunsets and mountains and valleys and flowers and birds of every color in the rainbow. He gives us tastes and sights and sounds, and then He graces us with the senses of hearing and seeing and smelling so that we can enjoy what He has made. God is generous and patient with humans and “sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).” God is patient with those who have rebelled against Him and who have broken His laws and commandments and withholds His judgment during their years of wandering and their years of rejecting Him and gives them time to repent (Romans 9:22-23; 2 Peter 3:8-9). Such extravagant patience toward those who deserve His wrath!

And then, as if that were not enough, “God demonstrates His own love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ dies for us (Romans 5:8).” God’s love toward His people is not reluctantly given or disguised in obscurity, but it is vividly and boldly demonstrated in the giving of His Son to be sacrificed on a cross to atone for the sins of His people. The sacrifice of the Son of God is the central act of the entire Bible when God extravagantly demonstrated His love through Jesus Christ. This is the God we serve, the God who demonstrates His love for His people in the most extravagant way possible.

RESOLUTIONS

As I considered how God gives gifts, and thought about how He is extravagant beyond comparison, I realized that the way I give gifts is very different from the way God gives gifts. I made several resolutions as I repented of my giving habits.

Resolved: Show people you love them in tangible ways, and do this often, not just at Christmas and on their birthday. This is a LIFE LESSON. God demonstrates His love in tangible ways. Shouldn’t I do the same?

Resolved: The best use of money is in extravagant expressions of love. This is a LIFE LESSON. Make sure you don’t die with a bunch of money you could have used to demonstrate love to others.

Resolved: Seek opportunities to tangibly demonstrate my love for people in time, gifts, hugs, smiles, money, etc. Christmas is one time built into the calendar to be extravagant. Don’t miss these opportunities.

Resolved: Because I never know when my life or any other life will end, express my love TODAY. Do not wait till tomorrow to demonstrate your love. Tomorrow may be too late, and once you are gone or the loved one is gone, the opportunities to demonstrate love are also gone.

Resolved: To regularly pray to the Lord to change me and make me into a conduit for demonstrating love. PLAN WAYS to demonstrate my love. SPONTANEOUSLY demonstrate my love.

Let’s make 2021 the year that we demonstrate our love to others. Don’t let your love be a secret. Boldly let others know you love them. Let the love of Jesus Christ flow through you in extravagantly giving yourself away.

SDG                 rmb                 12/25/2020