In our last post, we hit an amazing crescendo, an intensity of God’s covenant to Abram and generations of faithful followers that involved a faith and a promise. In our final post in this series, we’re going to take a look at the implications of God’s promise, and how God’s call on Abraham can also be yours.
Let’s review Genesis 12:1-3 once again:
1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country] and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
As we’ve been highlighting throughout this series, this isn’t the first time God laid his promise to Abram. One way God established that promise was by a name change. Just five chapters later God changes his name from Abram to Abraham in Genesis 17:5.
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Abram’s original name means “exalted father,” and his new name, Abraham, means “father of a multitude.” Now that we understand the multitude as nations, we can begin to call him Abraham, the father of our faith.
But were all of God’s promises fulfilled through Abraham? We have to look at the entire covenant to determine that. God lays out the covenant firmly in Genesis 12:1-3, but He unfolds it more clearly as the book of Genesis continues through Abraham’s family. Here are some examples:
A Childless Couple – Abraham and Sarah were not able to have children in their youth, and this was a grievous thing for them as they watched friends and family alike enjoy child after child. So when God told Abraham he would be the father of a multitude, it was a difficult thing to believe, especially for Sarah. But God delivered, and when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 years old, Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). Although Ishmael was born to Abraham and Sarah’s maidservant Hagar, Isaac was born as the covenant heir promised to Abraham and Sarah.
Direct Descendants – The promise was also reiterated to Isaac (Genesis 22:17-18) and his son, Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15). It is then extended later to their ancestor David through the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam 7:12-16) that promises a seed who will one day rule the nations. This seed is later revealed as Jesus Christ as the covenant continues through the pages of Scripture and within the simplicity of humanity.
A Land to Acquire – In the first part of the promise, God tells Abraham he will “Go … to the land I will show you.” And he did just that. The “Hall of Faith” chapter in Hebrews 11 explains:
8 …And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Read verse 10 again. As the passage hints, the land of promise is still part of a final fulfillment that God is establishing among the generations of faith, and this is wholly aligned with the restoration of God’s people through Christ. Right now, the great nation of God’s people is in a stage of current fulfillment through Christ who is the Sacrificial Lamb for all who would be redeemed by faith in Him. The land of promise is being filled by generations of faithful followers of Christ.
We now understand why the Abrahamic covenant is important to our faith today and how it is directly connected to our faith in Christ. The promise to Abraham is our promise. As Genesis 12:3 demonstrates, we are blessed as agents to the nations. In the Perspectives Reader, Walter Kaiser writes, “None of God’s gifts were meant for our own consumption. They were not meant to be mere badges or titles. They were for the purpose of declaring His wonderful deeds and calling people into His marvelous light … [and] we are all intended by God to participate.”
Study Psalm 67 in light of all you have understood in this series. Underline God’s character, highlight the words of praise, and star the specific reason we are blessed by God’s graciousness. Meditate on this and worship God with these beautiful words. Finally, consider what this means for you personally and seek guidance from Christ. You are not called to a passive state in your faith, friend. Like Abraham, you are called, and you are called to something remarkable and full of promise.
Thank you for following this series. I hope it has been a blessing to you. To learn more, take time to study the book of Genesis with fresh eyes, noting all the ways in which God’s promises were given and revealed. You can also learn more about your call into God’s purposes by registering for a Perspectives course near you or online at http://perspectives.org