TODAY’S READING: Genesis 10–12
God intentionally makes the different languages and cultures and races of the earth (10:31, 11:9), and God intentionally places these peoples in specific and spread out locations. In this period (Early Bronze Age, around 3000 B.C.), we have record of peoples settling as far away as Spain (Tarshish in 10:4). In Erech, or present-day Iraq (10:10), we have the first public architecture, cylinder seals, and the origin of both urbanization and writing. In Egypt, the 365-day calendar is adopted, the great pyramid built, copper pipes manufactured, government centralized, and both oars and sails employed. From Spain to Iraq to Egypt, the peoples of earth are both advancing and desiring to make a name for themselves (11:4).
God objects to the self-aggrandizement and declares that blessing will come His way through His vessel, and He chooses a Hebrew (the ancient term was “Habiru” and meant a person in flight or those in armed gangs, not exactly a sterling title) to be the instrument of blessing. The Great Commission of the Old Testament is found in Genesis 12:1–3. Because this text is so critical, let me quote several parts of Walter Kaiser’s thoughts on this passage.
In Genesis 12:1–3 [God] repeats five times his determination to ‘bless’ Abraham, his seed, and all the families of the earth… [Abraham] was not to be singled out as one of God’s favorites whom he would spoil rotten with gifts… Everything he was given was a gift to be shared for the enrichment of others.
The Hebrew phrase used for “all the people/families” is kol mispehot, a phrase that is rendered in the Greek translation of the Old Testament as pasai hai phulai, meaning “all the tribes” in most contexts … Therefore the blessing of God given to Abraham was intended to reach smaller people groups as well as the political groupings of nations… God’s gift of a blessing through the instrumentality of Abraham was to be experienced by nations, clans, tribes, people groups, and individuals. It would be for every size group, from the smallest people group to the greatest nation.
In fact, the word given in Genesis 12:3 that in Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed is equated with the sum and substance of the “gospel” in Galatians 3:8. Therefore, without a doubt we are at the center of what is at the core of the gospel and mission in both Testaments. The word to Abraham was meant to have a great impact on all the families on the face of the earth in all ages: a high and lofty missionary teaching, if there ever was one.
The whole purpose of God was to bless one people so that they might be the channel through which all the nations of the earth might receive a blessing. Israel was to be God’s missionaries to the world—and thereby so are all who believe in this same gospel
Mankind need not make a name for itself. Rather, we are invited to the blessing of taking up the Name above all names for our own.
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 21.
 Walter C. Kasier Jr. Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to Nations. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000. 18–20.
 See pages 177–184 in John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993.