If the theological message of Gen 12–50 is God’s faithfulness to his promises, then the social message might be the importance of family and community. Family relationships are central in these narratives—parents and children in Gen 12–25, brothers in Gen 25–36, and the complexities of a large family in Gen 37–50. This emphasis on community does not provide a universal model for family relationships, however, because patriarchal family dynamics are filled with conflict and tension. The descendants of Abraham have been called to be God’s chosen people and the conduit of blessing to the world (Gen 12:3), but their internal conflicts consistently limit their effectiveness.
Our family units, like everything, are meant to glorify God. They are a vehicle for us to praise him. In Genesis, we see examples of true love and terrible family dynamics. Ultimately, we see that Yahweh is the only truly good one in this story—he is the one all of us should follow.
John D. Barry et al., eds., DIY Bible Study (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).