2.5 The Promises and Race
This is a remarkable set of endowments and promises to Abram, lavish in their generosity, especially considering that the recipient was no warrior, hero, king or chieftain, but a herdsman. He had no claim to worthiness except that he accepted the favor extended to him. The blessing rested totally on the election of God.
The racial teachings in these passages are striking. We have abruptly left behind the global viewpoint of the early chapters of Genesis. God has limited His attention and His blessing to one man out of all mankind. The rest of humanity is not evil, just irrelevant. In reading Genesis, we have left our own world of mandated universality, where no cross-cultural value judgments are permissible, and have entered a place where there is only one standard, one path, one people set apart from and elevated above all the rest. And this is our fundamental problem -- not the question of what relevance Scripture has to the modern world, but rather the fact that the Bible cannot be comprehended at all by the secular mindset. The more acculturated we are to our own age, the more incomprehensible the Biblical account becomes.
Has God abandoned the rest of mankind? No. There is a hint in Genesis of a universal blessing, but it is vague and far off. The paradox is that this hope for all humanity is the final culmination of God's concern for the destiny of one man and his descendants. But we cannot skip ahead to that blessing without entering into the history of that one man and his family. To reject Abram and the promises given to him is to be excluded from the final blessing.