Abraham is one of the most fascinating figures in the Bible. He’s called “the father of the faithful” (see Romans 4:11) because he left his comfortable city life to travel the wilderness with his flocks and herds without a permanent home.
Probably the most remarkable part of Abraham’s story is recorded in Genesis 12:1-3, where God gives him a series of astounding promises: “Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’” (emphasis added throughout).
As Abraham proved his faithful obedience, God expanded those promises. In Genesis 17:16, God assured him regarding his then-childless 90-year-old wife Sarah, “She shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”
In Genesis 22:17-18 God further promised Abraham: “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
So we see that God’s promises to Abraham included, among other things:
• “All the nations of the earth” would be blessed through him.
• God would make a great nation of his descendants.
• “Nations” and “kings of peoples” would come from him through his wife Sarah.
• His descendants would number “as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore.”
What staggering promises! And more specific promises and prophecies were given to Abraham’s son Isaac, his grandson Jacob (renamed Israel) and his great-grandson Joseph.
But, as Hebrews 11:13 tells us of Abraham and other faithful men and women of God, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises . . .” Which brings us to the title above: “Can We Believe God’s Promises?”
The short answer is absolutely yes! But we need to understand that God operates on a completely different plane from ours as human beings (Isaiah 55:8-9). For Him, “one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). This “High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity” is not bound by time as we are (Isaiah 57:15). Human possessions and territorial claims are infinitesimal next to a God who says, “All the earth is Mine” (Exodus 19:5) and “Everything under heaven is Mine” (Job 41:11).
God does keep His promises, but in ways and over time frames that our finite minds have difficulty comprehending. This brings us to the theme of this issue, which is the history and biblical importance of the British royal throne and empire—and the major English-speaking nations that emerged from that empire, notably the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Less than a century ago the British Empire was the world’s preeminent power. It was truthfully said that it was the empire on which the sun never set—meaning the empire spanned the globe from Europe to Africa to North and South America to Asia to Australia and to many islands in between. For two centuries it was the dominant global power, with a navy that ruled the seas.
But how did a small island nation roughly the size of the U.S. state of Michigan (or Wyoming or Oregon) grow into a world superpower? It seems impossible, but Britain and its colonies dominated the globe for two centuries and ushered in the modern world!
With Britain’s slide from preeminence in the aftermath of World War II, one of its former colonies—the United States—became the new world superpower, a position it has now held for three quarters of a century.
Is there any link between the rise and world dominance of these two powers with the astounding promises made to Abraham almost 4,000 years ago? Those promises were not fulfilled in Abraham’s time, or in the time of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah that were descended from him. But they have been fulfilled—and in ways that are truly amazing and bear testimony to God’s faithfulness and the amazing accuracy of Bible prophecy.
We hope you’ll carefully read this issue—and that you’ll be astounded at how we can indeed believe all of God’s promises!