Chapter 3: The Blessing Machine

Chapter 3 opens in the year 2000 BC, in a land that is now modern day Iraq, near the border of Kuwait, and we see the craggy face of a single man: Abram. His name means "Exalted Father," which is ironic, since he has no kids. And God singles out this man — who comes from a long line of idol worshippers — and extends to him the calling and promise of a lifetime:

"Leave all of this," God says. "Leave your homeland, everything you've ever known. Leave your father's house and his idols. Leave the place where you've made a name and a business for yourself. Come away with me. And I will bless you, and I will make you a great nation, and give you a great name, and through you and your family I will bless every other family on earth. Abram, you will become a blessing machine."

And Abram does! He leaves. He follows God into the wild unknown. (When Abram asks God where this land is He's taking Him to, God answers: "I'll tell you when we get there.") And so Abram enters into a journey of faith — learning how to trust God implicitly, regardless of the risk. And God seems at times as interested in shaping Abram's life (who's name he changes to "Abraham" — Father of Many) as he does in rescuing His fallen Creation. As Abraham learns to trust, God blesses. A son ("Isaac" means "He laughs" — Abraham and Sarah highlighting God's sense of humor?), then wealth, strength, influence, joy, honor … And Abraham blesses others in turn.

But as Chapter 3 comes to a close, Abraham's grandson and great-grandchildren and their families move to Egypt to escape a terrible famine. And though they seem hopeful and relieved, we know better. Egypt is the land where they will become slaves. Is this right? Is this what God has in mind for His Blessing Machine?