The Promises to Abraham

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Genesis 12:1-3


I.         Once in while I run across people who ask when God is going to fulfill the promises he made to Abraham.

            A.        Here is a typical quote, “So if we are to believe God and his word, then all his promises, and all the prophecies must be fulfilled, every single last one, without exception. When does the land of Canaan become the land of milk and honey, and the Jews become too numerous to count (like the sand of the seas and the stars of the heavens), and when do they become a nation and a company of nations, and when do they possess the gates of those that hate them, and a light unto the world and all the nations? ...”

            B.        There are many people who believe that the promises are still to be fulfilled. This is why people believe it is our duty support the modern nation of Israel.

II.        Over the years I have learned that people make several common mistakes when it comes to prophecies.

            A.        First, they have belief that if a prophecy is fulfilled, then it is permanently fulfilled.

                        1.         It never changes.

                        2.         If does come to an end, then it must be temporary and God will reestablish His promise in the future.

                        3.         I have about decided that it is a form of “I won’t believe until I see it for myself.”

                                    a.         If they don’t see it, then it must be something still needing to be fulfilled in the future.

                        4.         It is this same error that causes people to believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit must still be given today because Jesus promised the Spirit in Acts 1:5

                                    a.         You can point out that the prophecy was fulfilled in Acts 2.

                                    b.         You can point out that a second fulfillment occurred in Acts 10.

                                    c.         Yet, they will still insist that it must continue today because Jesus promised, even though there is nothing in the promise of continual fulfillment.

            B.        Second, many people misquote prophecy. Often it is unintentional, probably due to a poor memory.

                        1.         It is the mistake that got Eve in trouble - Genesis 3:1-3

                                    a.         But that is not what God said - Genesis 2:16-17

                                    b.         The difference (touch) was enough of an opening for Satan to instill doubt in the mind of Eve.

                        2.         If we want to see the fulfillment of prophecy, we must see what God actually stated.

                                    a.         Often, when we go back to the original we will find the problem immediately.

III.       We will use the promises of Abraham to illustrate these principles

            A.        Often we talk about the three promises to Abraham – nation, land, and seed – but, actually, there were many promises to Abraham given on several occasions.

            B.        Genesis 12:1-3

                        1.         God promised to make Abraham a great nation

                                    a.         This was fulfilled when Israel left captivity - Deuteronomy 26:5

                                    b.         Moses asked what great nation had a law like the one given to them by God - Deuteronomy 4:5-8

                        2.         God promised to bless Abraham

                                    a.         This was fulfilled in Abraham’s lifetime - Genesis 24:1, 34-35

                                    b.         He was also blessed in the children he was given - Isaiah 51:2

                        3.         God promised to make Abraham’s name great

                                    a.         Abraham is such a notable man, that even those unfamiliar with the Bible have heard of him.

                                    b.         Abraham holds a special place for Christians - Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:7

                        4.         God promised that Abraham would be a blessing to others

                                    a.         Believers today join with Abraham in receiving God’s blessings - Galatians 3:6-9

                                    b.         The ultimate blessing is Jesus - Galatians 3:14

                                    c.         Blessings that come upon all - Romans 4:7-13

                        5.         God promised to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him.

                                    a.         This was fulfilled in God’s protection of Abraham

                                    b.         Shown when Abraham with 318 men went to save Lot from the armies of five kings who had just ravished the region - Genesis 14:18-20

                                    c.         Later it was shown in God’s protection of Israel - Numbers 24:2-10

                        6.         God promised that in him all nations of the earth would be blessed.

                                    a.         More specific in Genesis 22:18. The fulfillment would be through a specific descendant.

                                    b.         Peter said that it applied to the Messiah - Acts 3:25-26

                                    c.         Paul shows it was specifically talking of Jesus - Galatians 3:8, 16

                                    d.         In Jesus are all blessings - Ephesians 1:3

            C.        Genesis 13:14-17

                        1.         I will give it [the land] to you and your descendants forever.

                                    a.         Numbers 34:2,12 - The borders of the land given to Israel

                                    b.         Deuteronomy 34:1-4 - God showed Moses the land he promised to Israel.

                                    c.         God’s promise was fulfilled - Joshua 23:9, 12-16

                                                (1)       But he also promised to drive them off the land when the failed to keep His covenant

                                                (2)       It had been given forever - II Chronicles 20:7

                                                (3)       Forever doesn’t mean infinity, but a long, indefinite period of time, as in “Mom, I don’t want to go to some dumb old wedding. It will take forever!”

                                                (4)       The promise was fulfilled - Nehemiah 9:7-8

                        2.         I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered.

                                    a.         While in Egypt, the population of Israel increased greatly - Exodus 1:7

                                    b.         When they left they were a great nation - Deuteronomy 26:5

                                    c.         By King Solomon’s time, he said the population could not be numbered - I Kings 3:8

                                    d.         But recall that Christians are also called sons of Abraham

                                                (1)       Galatians 3:7, 29 - Sons of Abraham by faith

                                                (2)       People of every nation - Romans 4:17-18

                                                (3)       If it was hard to count before, what is it like today?

            D.        Genesis 22:17-18

                        1.         Most of these we already covered, but there is one that is unique

                        2.         Your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies

                                    a.         Many translations alter the singular endings to plural.

                                    b.         It could refer to the fact that Solomon built fleets of ships - I Kings 9 :26

                                    c.         But as we already noted, the singular seed refers to the Christ. This prophecy was quoted by Zachariah - Luke 1:67-79

                                    d.         It makes particular significance in Matthew 16:18

IV.      God has kept his promises to Abraham. It is evidence that He will keep His promises to us. - Hebrews 6:11-20

            A.        Will you trust God to fulfill His promises? Will you have faith like Abraham?

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