Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV): The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
When God called Abram, he was a 75 year old man who had just about gotten as far as he believed he could go. He had a comfortable home with flocks, and herds, and servants. He had a wife, but no children, and no hope of children, because his wife had been sterile for all of the years that they had been married, and she was now 65 and nearing menopause. At that point, the best he could hope for was to enjoy whatever years were left of his life, be comfortable, and then die knowing that he was the end of his line.
But when God called Abram, He offered him six blessings if he would be obedient and go to the land to which God was calling him:
- God would make him into a great nation. This was a promise that Abram had to take purely on faith, because there seemed to be no earthly way for this to happen. He was a man who had hit a dead end as far as his future went. But Abram trusted God, and believed the promise anyway. And God was able to go even further than the promise: in the end God made him the father of MANY nations.
- God would bless Abram. This promise may seem nebulous, but at the root of it was the fact that God would be with him wherever he went, supplying all of his needs, and helping him to prosper in every way.
- God would make his name (reputation, character) great. Up to that time, Abram had lived a normal, middle-class kind of life. If he had just continued down that road, very few people would have known anything about him, and history would include no record of him. But when he yielded himself to God’s direction and control, that all changed. He became a man whose character was notable, and whom history has remembered as the patriarch of the Jewish people AND Christians. (Even Muslims claim Abram as their father.)
- Abram himself would be a blessing. And this was not just for future generations, but for his present. Because he lived in His presence, God worked through him. God helped him to rescue people, to mediate conflicts, and even to pray for the healing of others.
- God would bless those who blessed Abram, and curse those who cursed him. Because he was God’s man, God took his welfare personally, and was actively involved in his life, guiding, directing, and protecting him, as well as helping his influence grow exponentially.
- All peoples on earth would ultimately be blessed through Abram. Again, this was a promise that he had to take on faith during the whole rest of his life, because there was no human way that he could see this happening. And for a long, long time, none of his descendants could see it either. In fact, it was not until after Jesus’ death and resurrection that this promise began to come into clear focus.
All of these promises that God made to Abram were passed on to his succeeding generations. But they are all still promises that are valid to God’s people, the followers of Jesus, today. As legitimate children of Abram, children of the promise (cf. Galatians 4:28), all of the promises made to Abram find their ultimate fulfillment in us.
- God promises to make us into a great nation, a holy nation made up of people who belong specifically to God (1 Peter 2:9). He accomplishes this as we reach out and continually bring new believers into the kingdom of God.
- God promises to bless us with His presence and His power, supplying our needs and helping us to prosper in every dimension.
- God promises to make our name (reputation/character) great, as He transforms us into the likeness of Jesus, His Son.
- God promises to make us a blessing, because He is in us, working through us to bring light, life, and healing into every life we touch.
- God promises to bless those who bless us, and curse those who curse us. Because we are His people, the apple of His eye, He will have our back in every situation. He will be actively involved in our lives, guiding, directing, and protecting us.
- God promises to bless all peoples on earth through us. As we share the gospel, making disciples of all nations in accordance with Jesus’ commandment (Matthew 28:19-20), we will become the conduit through which all of God’s blessings impact the people of the whole world.
Father, what amazing promises! They were amazing when you made them to Abram, and they are just as amazing when we see that they are still present and actively working in us. Help us to live in these promises, so that we can live them out every day. Amen.