The writing of Genesis is beautiful. It's not not like our current writing. When I write I want my voice and passion to come through. I give my thoughts and make comments. Sometimes I think there might be a glimpse of something special. Maybe some way I understand something differently than someone else or my quirky random observations. But it's not epic. That word gets tossed around flippantly in our culture, but the writing of Genesis has something of grandeur. It reminds me of the beginning of Lord of the Rings when you get a recap of things when the ring was formed. Only here, we start with something more significant, the creation of the world and everything in it. And the Creator who is personally responsible and near. Genesis comes at you in waves, 30,000 foot view, then zoom in on one person of the story. Up to this point, the narrative has been on all humanity, Noah and his family being the one exception. But now we are going to begin following one man.
Of all the people in the world God chose Abram. God came to him and told him to go. He didn't tell him where, only that he would be blessed and through him all nations would be blessed. This sets up something really special, we begin seeing a pattern develop. We see what a far reaching impact can be made through one man. One man, Adam, sinned in the garden casting the death sentence on all mankind. One man, Noah, was chosen to preserve mankind and animals during the flood. Now, one man, Abram, will be a blessing to all nations. God uses one man. One man can make a difference. And we will see this pattern continue.
I think that is why I like the thought of this verse being the beginning of missionary sending, one man makes an eternal difference. For me, Abram is the first missionary. He is called to leave his home, family and comfort to go and bless all nations. Do we see that happen during his lifetime? Not really, if Abram, as a missionary were to write an update letter to his supporters, it wouldn't be filled with stories of dozens of people turning to God from idolatry. He might not have much to report at all, but the ground work is laid by him for blessing to follow, because he is obedient to go.
I also think it is important to note that abram didn't have it all together, he is afraid of pharaoh and dishonors his wife. (And again later!) God didn't choose abram because he was perfect. That means there is hope for us!
Random observation of the day: Shem was not born before God told Noah about the flood. According to my calculations, there were about 100 years that passed from god telling Noah about the flood and it happening, then it says 2 years after the flood where Shem was 100 he had a son. Shem was born 2 years after God told Noah to build an ark.