Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him. After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord. – Genesis 12:7-8
Abraham is certainly not on record as a great evangelist. He was actually thrown out of Egypt in disgrace. Abraham neighbour’s frightened him into lying about his family. Abraham’s rationale for falsely presenting his wife does not show an evangelist’s confidence that lives might change – “This is a godless place.” But for all his failings, he did the most missionary thing he could have done when he first arrived in the new land – his first act was to set up ongoing public worship of God. His household may have been the only worshipers at that altar, but God was explicitly worshiped by name and in a public way.
At one point Abraham rescued some of his powerful neighbours from marauding nations. After the miraculous victory, Abraham refused to accept the windfall of reward from the king of Sodom.
With the nations watching, Abraham resolutely named God as the one who would reward and bless him. His bold words substantiated by the gift of goods Abraham offered God. Abraham offered to God the wealth of Sodom as well as that of other nations. He helped foreign nations present a tithe to God, a recognized formal act of worship. With Melchizedek as presiding priest, Abraham functioned as a priest by offering worship gifts for other nations.
Abraham, blessed as a blessing to the nations. But the purpose goes beyond the blessing of nations. The grand result was that God Himself would be blessed in praise – look at the response of Melchizedek.
The crucial, proving moment of Abraham’s life was a worship event. God told Abraham to bring His son Isaac to offer him in an act of worship. It was a test to prove what Abraham and his family would be. Would God find in Abraham an obedient, priestly passion for God? Would Abraham prove to be zealous to offer the worship God desired?
You know the story. At the very moment that Abraham obeyed in worship, God spoke from heaven with a solemn oath, declaring forcefully His global purpose to bless the people’s of the earth through Abraham’s family.