God called Abram and told him to settle in the land of Canaan. God gave Abram specific promises:
- He will become a great nation.1
- All peoples on earth will be blessed through him (that referred to the Messiah).2
- The land Canaan (Israel) would be the property of his descendants. 3
# God is very specific about who He is.
He is not just any deity. God’s promises are closely tied to who He is. He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (the Jewish people who now live in Israel). 4 This specific God made the specific three above promises to the three descendants in that family.
# Did they receive it?
No! Hebrews 11:13 is clear, ‘All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.’
# Does that verse mean that God failed?
- No. It means that their faith was a ‘guarantee’ of things to come ( things that we can also hope in). When the apostle Paul defended himself before king Agrippa, he said, ‘…it is because of my hope in what God promised our fathers that I am on trial today.’ 5
- Paul understood that there will be a resurrection and that some of God’s promises will only be fulfilled then. He said, ‘Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?’ 6
# God did not promise Himself into a corner.
- God could make those promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because His whole plan was worked out before He began to create this present universe. His magnificent goal and project is a New, Eternal Kingdom.
- As the all-powerful God He had the resurrection of Jesus in view from the beginning. It would lead to the resurrection of all people.
- Through the resurrection, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will live in God’s new country and they will see their offspring through the Messiah – all the people who were saved and prepared for eternal life.
We can have full confidence that what God promised will happen. ‘God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfil? 7 O course not. If it is in the Bible it will happen. We can trust God and His promise of the future Kingdom and all its blessings
- Genesis 12:2; 22:15-18
- Galatians 3:16
- Exodus 3:15
- Genesis 15:18
- Acts 26:6
- Acts 26:8
- Numbers 23:19
Why do we follow Jesus? Jesus said, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ 1 It is a privilege to follow Jesus, pray, study the Word, et cetera, but it does cost. As humans, we naturally ask, ‘What’s in it for me?’ (See ‘What’s in it for me?’) Our generous, perfect Father God promised us eternal life as a reward. Yet, what will convince us that the exciting glorious future will become true?
# What does Scripture guarantee us?
‘No eye has seen, no ear had heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him….’ 2 The next verse tells us, ‘…but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.’ 3
# Did the Old Testament promises come true?
- God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendants will inherit the land of Canaan. 4 Abraham received the promise around 2,000 BC. Today, 2018, many of Abraham’s descendants, the Jews, live in the land God promised them. It is a unique event in history. Never before has a nation suffered so much and yet come back to the land God promised to their ancestors thousands of years ago. That unlikely promise of God to a man married to a barren woman became true.
- God also promised Abraham, ‘I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.’ 5 He repeated it to Jacob, ‘Your descendants will be like the dust of he earth….’ 6 It sounds like fiction. The number of Jews today in Israel and scattered over the world cannot be like the sand on the seashore. Could this promise become a reality?
# God’s answer in the New Testament
- ‘Understand then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.’ 7 That means all followers of Jesus are Abraham’s descendants, his children.
- Jesus explains it in the parable in Luke 16:19-23. The beggar, Lazarus, who laid at the gate of the rich man’s house, died. The rich man also died and was shocked by what he saw, ‘In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.’
- That means Abraham welcomes to his side (in his bosom, or in his arms) every believer who dies. The rich man correctly addressed Abraham as ‘Father Abraham.’
Please note: There must be billions of believers at Abraham’s side already. The numbers grow daily as believers die and translate into Abraham’s presence. That means God’s second improbable promise to Abraham became true.
Four thousand years ago God promised to Abraham a country and numerous descendants. Both became true. It testifies to the truth of God’s Word. Are there more examples of ‘strange’ promises of God that became true – fulfilled promises that boost our faith in our future destination?
- Mark 8:34
- 1 Corinthians 2:9
- 1 Corinthians 2:10
- Genesis 15:18-21; 17:8; 26:4; 28:13
- Genesis 22:17
- Genesis 28:14a
- Galatians 3:7