In Genesis 12:2-3, God gave five promises to Abraham:
1. God promised to make him a great nation.
2. God promised to make his name great.
3. God promised he would be a blessing to others.
4. God promised to bless those who blessed him and to curse those who cursed him.
5. God promised that in him all families of the earth would be blessed.
Examine the third blessing. According to the New King James Study Bible, the phrase, “You shall be a blessing,” in Hebrew, is a command. When Abraham pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai, God’s Word says he “called on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 12:8). The Study Bible says Abraham was evangelizing. If so, he was not the first one to teach others about God. Based on biblical accounts, I believe Enoch and Noah preached the Word as well.
On page 61 of the original Bible Story by Basil Wolverton, it says that if Abraham obeyed God he would become the father of the most famous nation on earth which would someday enjoy some very special blessings. Various biblical passages teach this concept. Do we still believe and teach this promise? If we do, what does it mean for our day and age?
The spiritual descendants of Abraham
God told Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth (Genesis 13:16). Even the most religious and historically astute people would probably agree that this promise was not fulfilled during the life of Abraham or even during the next few generations. If this promise was going to be fulfilled later, how much later would that be? How can we know?
God told Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5). There are between 3,000 and 6,000 stars visible to the naked eye, but we know that many billions exist. Did God intend this massive promise to be fulfilled? If so, then it still awaits a powerful fulfillment in the future. When would that fulfillment occur? How do we know? All these questions deserve to be answered.
Genesis 15:6 shows that Abraham believed God way back then, even before the birth of his first son. If the promises are to be fully enjoyed by God’s Church, perhaps this is what we are to do: like Abraham, we need to believe in advance! God’s Word says this was “accounted to him for righteousness.” What must we do in advance to have righteousness accounted to us? How long did Abraham have to wait for the fulfillment of the promises that God gave him?
Faith is the key component
When the Eternal first speaks to Abraham, He makes great promises. Abraham then waits 25 years before the physical fulfillment of those promises. Or does he? After the Eternal speaks, Abraham begins his journey from Haran and God is with him, blesses those who bless him, and curses those who curse him. God was even then fulfilling His promises.
Consider his interlude with the king of Egypt. When Abraham and Sarah went to Egypt, was God not intimately involved? How do we know? We actually know because it was recorded for us in Genesis 12. Are we not even now on a journey and is God not with each one of us every day? How do we know that God is with each one of us now? Well, ask yourself what has occurred and is occurring in your life. It should be clear to us all that God is working in our lives today. God makes things happen!
After Abraham goes from Canaan to Egypt and back, the Eternal, in Genesis 15:1, speaks to him again. He renews at least some of His promises. God says Abraham will inherit Canaan. Abraham asks, “How shall I know that I will inherit it?” (Genesis 15:8). God’s answer comes in the form of a vision after Abraham falls into a deep sleep in verse nine. He sees what will happen to his descendents after captivity in Egypt. The Hebrews would become slaves and be subjected to rigorous service; 400 years would pass before Moses came to help release them. In this vision, Abraham saw the future—before his son, Isaac, was even born.
Impatience can get us into trouble
Sarah then had an idea. Thinking that she was past her childbearing years, she decided to have a child through a surrogate! Was this Sarah’s idea or did the Eternal really plan something like it and simply allow her plan to go forward? Sometimes God allows our plans to transpire to teach us lessons.
How have your plans worked out in your life? Have you ever made some bad choices that are perhaps still affecting your life? Remember that the promises God made to Abraham are made to us also. But when we actively try to bring this or that about, sometimes we should and sometimes we shouldn’t. The results can be very confusing.
God remains faithful to His promises
Let’s return to Genesis 15:1. Putting this verse in context gives a vibrant picture to us of why we should have nothing to fear about our future. God spoke again with Abraham after Abraham defeated the “kings” of Elam, Goyim, Shinar, and Ellasar, who had beaten five other petty tyrants—the “kings” of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela. Even if they all were leaders of tiny areas, they were still capable of putting up a good fight. Abraham defended his property with all his combined might and THEN the Eternal told him, “Do not be afraid… I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
Perhaps Abraham remembered the Eternal’s earlier promises. Most likely Abraham prayed to Him daily. But in this particular instance, Abraham fought, succeeded, and THEN received an update on the promises. There could be a lesson here for us.
Both God the Father and God the Son not only care about everyone, but They keep track of billions of people. We, God’s firstfruits, are special—first in care and regard. We are individually chosen so that God can work with us now. God’s promises to Abraham are being fulfilled in part in God’s Church today.