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Gospel Gazette Online
Vol.  11  No. 2 February 2009  Page 15                    powered by FreeFind

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God’s Purpose in Genesis 12:1-3

By Louis Rushmore, Editor

How does God’s promise to Abraham in Gen 12:1-3 reveal God’s purpose? ~ Lavina

Louis RushmoreGenesis 12:1-3 reads: “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’” (NKJV). God repeated this promise to Abraham again following Abraham’s willingness to obey God by offering Isaac as a burnt offering: “blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying 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” (Gen 22:17-18). This promise to Abraham was essentially repeated also to Isaac and Jacob, respectively, years later. To Isaac God said, “And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 26:4). To Jacob God said, “…the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 28:13-15).

From these passages one can discern that God made essentially three promises: (1) a land promise, (2) a many descendants promise, and (3) a spiritual blessing promise on all families. None of these three patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) personally realized the land promise in their lifetimes; their descendants, though, possessed Canaan after their exodus from Egypt and subsequently wandering for 40 years in the Sinai Peninsula (Joshua 23:14-16). That land promise was conditional according to the passage just cited, and when Israel broke the conditions, God expelled them from the land.

The second promise, the many descendants promise, was not fulfilled in the days of Abraham or Isaac either. The many descendants promise began to be fulfilled in the days of Jacob, but it was not fully fulfilled until the descendants of Abraham had become a mighty nation while in servitude to the Egyptians (Genesis 46:3; Exodus 1:7-10; Deuteronomy 1:10; 10:22). This promise, then, is past or fulfilled also.

The third promise, a spiritual blessing promise on all families, was a Messianic promise, fulfilled through Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter clearly makes this application in so many words in his second recorded Gospel sermon (Acts 3:25-26). Likewise, the apostle Paul linked that third promise to Abraham to the blessings afforded all people, Jewish and non-Jewish (Galatians 3:8, 14).

In conclusion, the first two promises to Abraham served as the vehicle through which the third promise, the Messianic promise, came to bless all of humanity. The first two promises were physical promises and physical in their fulfillment, whereas the third promise is spiritual and its fulfillment provides incomparable spiritual blessings. The purpose of God all along in making the three promises to Abraham was that spiritual blessings would be available to all of humanity—namely, the forgiveness of sins and the hopeful prospect of spending eternity in heaven with God. Jesus Christ, our Messiah and the means by which the spiritual blessing promise on all families, made the forgiveness of sins possible (John 1:29; Acts 2:38; 4:12; 13:38-39) and as well as making entrance back into the very presence of God possible (Hebrews 11:16; Philippians 3:20).


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