Chapter 1. God's Great Redemptive Plan

Read 1 Genesis 12:1-3

American culture is reeling from the impact of deviant sexual behavior. The AIDS epidemic is at an all-time high and threatens to become even more destructive. However, the current great moral debate in American culture focuses on two major issues: music videos and hard-core pornography on the Internet. Rap music features violence against women and openly, unashamedly describes sex in terms that affront average human beings. Additionally, the great Internet "explosion" features sexual explicitness that brings every form of deviation into the home and can be accessed easily by children. A recent report indicated that the more violent and deviant sex may be portrayed, including bestiality, the greater the demand for it. Some have estimated that 85 percent of the graphics that are swapped and downloaded are pornographic.

A Familiar Story

What's happening in our high-tech society is far removed in many respects from the culture of Abraham's day. But one thing remains the same: we "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Furthermore, we all have a natural tendency to deteriorate morally and ethically and to chose to follow our sinful ways. Our technology only helps to speed up and multiply the process worldwide. But, in essence, mankind has been the same ever since Adam and Eve introduced sin into the world. This is why God put into motion His great redemptive plan by calling Abraham out of his own sinful environment to be a blessing to "all peoples on the earth" (Gen. 12:3).

A Friend of God

Abraham's place in God's redemptive plan is evident from the titles used to describe him, the amount of space used to record the events of his life, and the way he is mentioned in the New Testament. He is identified as the friend of God 2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8; James 2:23), and the authors of Scripture often refer to the "God of Abraham." More than twelve chapters in the Book of Genesis are devoted to describing Abraham's life, and in the New Testament Abraham is referred to in four prominent letters: Romans, Galatians, Hebrews, and James. In most of these first-century references, the biblical writers used Abraham's life to illustrate how we can be saved—the great theme of Scripture.

Beginning at the Beginning

The story of Abraham begins in Genesis 12, which in many respects is where the main story of the Bible begins. What precedes in the opening chapters of Genesis represents compressed history. The Holy Spirit tells us about the creation of the universe, including Adam and Eve. But we also see the origin of sin, which resulted from the way in which Adam and Eve disobeyed God. We're also exposed to the first murder, when Cain killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4).

From that point forward, we see the rapid multiplication and spread of violence and wickedness, which culminated in the flood that was God's judgment on a sin-sick society. But because "Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time" and because "he walked with God," Noah "found favor in the eyes of the Lord" and was preserved along with his family (Gen. 6:8-9).

After the flood, men and women again multiplied on the earth. But as we might predict, God's highest creation soon turned away from Him. The deterioration was even greater than before the flood.