So why did God lavish and bless Abraham so much? What was so special about him? What did Abraham do that merited God's favor?
1. God chose Abraham in spite of Abraham’s sins.
Abraham (previously called Abram) was a pagan who lived in a nation of false worshippers in Ur in southern Mesopotamia. He later settled in Haran (Genesis 11:31).
Ur, during Abraham’s time, was a religious center that was dominated by a huge ziggurat and temple complex dedicated to the pagan god Nanna, the patron (moon-) god of Ur. Among the contemporary monuments is the stela of Ur-namma found in the ziggurat area and which depicts Ur-namma receiving the directive to construct the temple and the celebrations associated with its completion. (Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, “Ur”)
There is no reason to believe that Abraham was any different from the other people who lived in Ur. Therefor, God chose Abraham in spite of his sins.
Lacking faith in God, Abraham lied twice about his wife Sarah being his sister (Genesis 12:18-19; 20:2).
But Abraham trusted God when God commanded him to leave his home country to go to the land that God had promised him (Genesis 12:1-4).
2. God has the right to choose who He blesses.
God has the divine right and authority to choose who He grants grace and mercy. It is perfectly good and right for God to grant grace and mercy to some and not to others.
“And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” (Exodus 33:19)
God did not choose to bless Jacob over Esau because of anything Jacob had done. He chose to bless Jacob simply because that was God’s purposeful choice.
“Though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad — in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls — she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”” (Romans 9:11–13)
Application for Today
As Christians, we are similar to Abraham in two ways.
Like Abraham, we are saved from our sins by faith.
Abraham did nothing to earn God’s favor. Abraham was not made acceptable because of anything he had done. The only reason God looked at Abraham and declared Abraham righteous is because Abraham “believed God” and had faith.
“What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”” (Romans 4:1–3)
Likewise, we cannot gain God’s favor by works. We can only be forgiven of our sins and declared righteous by grace through faith.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9)
Like Abraham, we are chosen by God unconditionally.
God chose to bless Abraham not on the basis of anything Abraham had done. It was not because of his heritage. God chose Abraham based on his divine right to grant grace and mercy to whomever He chooses.
God grants blessing and salvation to all His people, including you and me, not on the basis of our works. It’s not on the basis of our heritage. It is purely on the basis of his sovereign choice. What makes God divine and sovereign is His right and prerogative to choose to whom He would grant grace and mercy.
“So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:18–21)