"For the promise that he should be heir of the world was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith" - (Romans 4:13).
He promised me the world! That is an expression that is used colloquially to express a promise of bouldless magnituted. It is generally used as an exaggeration; to epress bitter disappointment. "He promised me the world", we will say of somebody who has let us down, "but we've got nothing!"
Many promises are like that. Our fair-wearther friends claim that they will stand by us, but in time of need they fail to do so. Politicians promise "the world" before an election, but have a tendency to break their promises when elected. Statesment prmmise to make the world fit for heroes in time of war, but ignore their needs in time of peace. Modern science promises to free humanity from want, but a third of the world goes to bed hungry every night.
Even religion makes promises it fails to carry out. Many clergymen promise their congregations an abiding place in heaven, but fail to justify their promise by an appeal to the Bible. Moreover, it is a promise that nobody is in a hurry to redeem! There is a general reluctance to escape the problems of this life by death, in order to enjoy the so-called felicities of heaven. There is something so intangible and unreal about an abiding place in heaven, that few are anxious to hasten there! The prospect of one's "soul" (whatever that may denote) floating around in an intangible state is dull, monotonous, unexciting, unattractive. The zest of life, its joy and happiness would disappear, if bodies remain mouldering in the grave, and we exist in an unembodied state elsewhere.
Moreover, the Bible does not promise this. It knows nothing of an immortal soul. It describes life and death, and both can be related to things that are eternal: to everlasting life or everlasting death. But it teaches that this will be upon the earth, and in bodily condition. A physical resurrection to life eternal, and an everlasting inheritance upon the earth is the hope set forth before those who desire to attain unto it. Death and the grave will be swallowed up in victory when "this corruptible puts on incorruption, and this mortal puts on immortality" (I Corinthians 15:53-58). The Bible teaches that as death came by man (Adam) at the beginning, so the prospect of a bodily resurrection to eternal life has been opened up to those who desire to attain it through Christ (I Corinthians 15:22). His physical resurrection is set forth as the pattern of hope for all who desire to seek it:
"For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Romans 6:5).
"Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming" (I Corinthians 15:23).
"He shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Philippians 3:21).
What God promises every person who seeks it in faith, is what He promised Abraham.
And he was promised the world!
And what those conditions are, we desire to set before you.
Abraham: An Example of Faith
But who was Abraham?
So important to the purpose of God is this man of faith that hundreds of references are made to him throughout the Bible. In fact, it is no exaggeration to state that the Bible cannot be understood properly without some knowledge of him, and the promises that God made to him.
Concerning him, the Bible records:
"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead" (Romans 4:20-24).
Abraham believed, was strong in faith, gave glory to God, was fully persuaded!
His example provides a pattern of acceptable conduct for all who desire life eternal. As his biography is studied, it becomes increasingly evident, that it provides a wonderful type of what God requires of all who would be saved.
Called Out of Ur
The account of his life commences with the statement that Abraham received a message from God in his home-town of Ur, calling upon him to remove himself from its godless environment, and go into a land that God would show him (Genesis 12:1-3). Little was known of Ur of the Chaldees until the year 1922 when the archaeologist, Leanard Woodley, was commissioned by the British Museum to excavate the site of an ancient city on the banks of the Euphrates. Its ruins had been discovered, though not examined in detail, about 100 years earlier. Time and desert sands had hidden the city from the eyes of man, so that it appeared as a great mound of earth. But as the archaeologist cut through this crust and lay bare its ruins, there was revealed a city that had once known luxury and high civilisation. It became obvious that Abraham was no backward, ignorant nomad, as some had thought, but a member of a highly civilised, sophisticated community.
In its heyday, Ur was a centre of culture and learning. Libraries containing thousands of books were found there, covering a wide range of subjects. A history of the city was reconstructed from the ruins of the past, which sketched back before the Flood, evidences of which the archaeologist had claimed to have discovered as he dug deeper into the stratas of soil. Ur had its own royalty and aristocracy, and dominated other neighbouring cities. It was the capital of a theocracy, the headquarters of the worship of the Moon Goddess. Previously, the site of Ur had been a matter of conjecture and debate; but now its existence was beyond doubt.
The excavations gave substance to the life history of one of the most important men in Bible history.
Among other things, it confirmed that Abraham was brought up in an environment of idolatry. Apparently, he was, himself, originally a worshipper of false gods which he subsequently rejected for the worship of the one true God. The nation of Israel that came from Abraham was told:
"Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood (i.e. the river Euphrates) in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor; and they served other gods. And I took your father from the other side of the flood and led him throughout all the land of Canaan" (Joshua 24:2-3).
Why did God call Abraham from such an environment? Why select him for this honour in preference to any other man? Evidently God discerned qualities of character in him which he could mould to His purpose, much the same as many years later, He could see in Paul, the great persecutor of the Christians, a man of high principle, who once converted, would use the energy he previously expended in opposing the Truth, to advocating it. In any case, the call of God caused Abraham to repudiate the false, idolatrous worship and environment in which he lived, and to seek out the Truth.
In company with his father, Terah, his brother Nahor, his nephew Lot, and his wife Sarah, Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, and proceeding in a north-westerly direction, along the caravan route that followed the course of the River Euprhates for a distance of some 600 miles from the Persian Gulf to Asia Minor, eventually arrived at the town of Haran.
The Crossroads of Abraham's Life
The place names of Abraham's life are significant. They have a meaning that helps illustrate that story that unfolds, and which reveals, in the life of Abraham, a type of the life of every man or woman who would seek to acceptably serve God. For example, "Ur of the Chaldees" signfies the Light of the Chaldees, and as "light" and "knowledge" are synonymous terms in Scripture, the name signifies that Abraham turned his back on the "light" and "knowledge" of the Chaldees, much the same was as God requires believers to turn from the prevailing philosophies and false religious doctrines of today. The Chaldees were of high reputation in prevailing divinity (Daniel 2:2-5), but they proclaimed a false, idolatrous worship. If Abraham was to serve God acceptably, he had to turn from such. And that he did.
The word "Haran" is likewise significant. It signifies Roads or Enlightenment, related words, for a road enlightens one as to the way he must go. And, in fact, in those days, Haran was the terminus of several caravan routes, comprising the crossroads of divergent roads. It was suitably named as far as the biography of Abraham is concerned, for it proved to be the spiritual crossroads of his life. The family of Terah had heard the message of God calling them to leave Ur, and to go into a land that He would reveal (Genesis 15:7; Acts 7:2), and had paritally obeyed. They had reached a certain amount of enlightenment, and the question now was: Were they to continue?
Indecision thus marked thier progress at that stage. Faith and courage were required to go further. Haran was an outpost of Babylonia, and to move over the Euphrates, into the land of Canaan, as commanded by God, meant that they would have to leave a place where they felt safe, and with which they were familiar, for the uncertainties of the unknown, inhabited by those who repudiated the wroship of the true God.
For a while the family remained at Haran. Few details are recorded of what occurred in that place. Probably there was some resistance to moving further. Then Terah, the aged father of the group, died at Haran. And, now, once again, Abram (as Abraham was then called), heard the Voice of God:
"Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from they father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee" (Genesis 12:1).
Ordered to separate from his "father's house" and his "kindred" implies that others of the family were resisting the command of God to separate themselves from their contemporaries, and move over the Euphrates into the land indicated. In the original Hebrew of the Bible, the statement is expressed in the imperative mood, emphasising the urgency of the appeal. It should be rendered: "Go for thyself!" implying that it would be to the advantage of Abraham to do so, irrespective as to the intentions of the rest of his family.
And attached to the command were "great and precious promises" as they are later described in Scripture (II Peter 1:4):
"I will make of the a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing; and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3).
In (Galatians 3:8), Paul taught that in these promises, the Gospel was preached to Abraham. Let the reader ponder the words of Paul. They signify that if he fails to understand the promises made to Abraham, he fails to comprehend the saving truths of the Gospel! That fact shows the importance of this subject. The Bible teaches that Christ came to "confirm the promises" made unto such as Abraham (Romans 15:8-9), so that acceptance of the truth in them opens the way to eternal life by a resurrection from the dead (I Corinthians 15:1-2; II Peter 1:4).
And what is most exciting about them is that we can today test their validity and even watch them slowly coming to pass!
The promise made to Abraham can be divided into four parts:
- A NATIONAL PROMISE: "I will make of thee a great nation";
- A PERSONAL PROMISE: "I will bless thee, make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing";
- A COMMUNAL PROMISE: "I will bless them that bless thee";
- AN INTERNATIONAL PROMISE: "All families (i.e. nations) of the earth will be blessed."
Not one of those promises has been fulfilled yet. Abraham's descendants (Israel) are not a great nation; he, himself, is dead; those who bless him are very few in number and are plagued with mortality; the nations are in a state of antagonism and violence. All humanity is in a state of curse rather than blessing.
Space will not permit us to expound all aspects of these promises to your satisfaction at present. We urge upon you to make a study of them, and enjoy the rich and rewarding pleasure of using these promises as a key to unlock the rest of Scripture. On this web site you will find other booklets to help in this matter, and we urge you to view them - free of charge! You owe it to yourself to search these matters out, even as Abraham did when instructed by God.
But we do want to demonstrate that you can lace complete trust in these promises.
In fact, they are currently being partially fulfilled in world events.
The Promises Currently Being Vindicated
We draw your attention to the first part of the promise: the National Promise. The Jewish people, the people of Israel, are the descendants of Abraham. But in all their long and chequered history they have never really answered to the promise made to Abraham; they have never attained to the elevation of a really "great nation". For a few years, under David and Solomon, they attained a measure of glory, but it was shortlived and terminated in civil war and division. Then, because of constant wickedness, God repudiated the nation, and it was scattered into all parts of the earth as warned (Deuteronomy 28:49-52, 63-67).
And there the people of Israel remained. But an amazing phenomenon of history took place. Though broken up as a nation, and scattered into all nations, they wre never assimilated. They remained Jews whether dwelling in China, Europe, America or Australia: a people apart and generally disliked.
They became, as God wanred they would, "a proverb and a byword among all nations" (Deuteronomy 28:37). Bible prophecy was fulfilled in that very fact. As a people they were placed under great pressure, with powerful tyrants, like Hitler, endeavouring to annihilate them, but in vain. God's word had been given:
"Though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee; but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished" (Jeremiah 30:11).
In context with that statement, God declared that He would restore them to their land, and that "in the latter days ye shall consider it" (Jeremiah 30:24).
Today, Israel is a nation. In 1948 it was re-established as such by decree of the UN, and in accordance with Bible prophecy, and the promises to Abraham.
Consider the significance of the following words:
"Behold, I will take of the children of Israel from among the nations, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all . . ." (Ezekiel 37:21-22).
Notice the graduation: 1 - the poeple restored; 2 - the nation revived; 3 - a monarchy established.
History reveals the preservation of Israel in spite of bitter and brutal persecution, and today the world witnesses the revival of the nation. After World War I, it saw Jews return to their land; after World War II it witnessed the nation revived; and after World War III it will see the monarchy restored.
Who will be King? The one they crucified 1900 years ago; who was born and who died as KING OF THE JEWS (Matthew 2:2; 27:37). They repudiated his royal dignity in favour of Caesar; but he is to return to reign as king from Jerusalem. So the prophet predicts:
"They shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart" (Jeremiah 3:17).
Why does God do this for the Jews? Because of their obedience? Certainly not! Because of the worship of Him? No, for as Scripture declares: "Blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" (Romans 11:25).
Why then? Because of the promise made to the man Abraham, to whom God also promised the world!
It is basic to an understanding of the purpose of God that this is recognised. God, Himself, has set it down in unmistakable terms:
"Thus saith the Lord God, I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for Mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went . . . For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land" (Ezekiel 36:22,24).
God then reveals that Israel will be fully restored under Christ their king, to reach a greatness and a glory the nation has never yet experienced.
The promise to Abraham will be fulfilled: "I will make of thee a great nation."
And Abraham will live to see it, for in declaring that He would make his name great, God promised to raise him from the dead to life eternal and to an everlasting inheritance upon this earth.
The return of Christ, and the complete restoration of Israel, will pave the way for a new world order on earth that will bring the blessings of divine administration to all nations. So all four aspects of the promise made to Abraham will be fulfilled.
But the exciting, faith-stimulating, and glorious facts is that in events today taking place, particularly in the Middle East, there is witnessed a partial vindication, the merest shadow of fulfilment, of that promised Abraham. And this is the guarantee that all will be fulfilled. "When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory" (Psalm 102:16). The future is not in doubt if we follow God's ways; it will be unfolded in exact accord with what the Bible promises.
The Family Of Abraham As Types
Heeding the command of God, and motivated by the promise made to him, Abram hesitated no longer. Leaving those of his relations who would not act, he removed from Haran and passing over the Euphrates, entered the land of Canaan, as Israel was then called (Genesis 12:4-5).
Before following him there, consider the four men who had heard the message of God, and left Ur. They comprised types of all those who hear the Gospel message. Terah, whose name means To Tarry or Delay hesitated too long, and died in Babylonia. Nahor, whose name signifies A Snorer, acted accordingly and did not rouse himself sufficiently to head God's message and promise. Spiritually lethargic he was not moved by the urgent need of salvation. Lot, whose name means Veiled, followed the lead of his uncle Abraham, but because he lacked a sound vision of what God promised, was subsequently led astray into the wicked envirnonment of Sodom. He typed those who having accepted the divine invitation in the way appointed (by passing through the waters of baptism, as Abram croosed over the River Euphrates - (Mark 16:16)) ultimately succumb to worldly pressures. Abram, the man of faith, whose name signifies Exalted Father, crossed over the river in answer to the urging of God. He gave his life completely to God, and resolutely set himself to obey His commands (Genesis 18:19).
Every person on earth, who hears the call of God, can be fitted into one of those four types. They either delay like Terah until it is too late; are indifferent like Nahor the snorer; act like Lot the veiled and fail to keep the vision bright before them; or follow in the footsteps of Abram the faithful, whose name signifies Exalted Father.
Abraham: The Hebrew
Having answered the call of God by crossing over the River Euphrates and entering the Promised Land, the status of Abraham was changed. He became known as "Abraham the Hebrew" (Genesis 14:13). The word "Hebrew" signifies One who has crossed over, and it denotes a man apart. The Canaanites saw Abraham as a stranger in their midst. He was not of them. He was the Man From Beyond the River, The Crosser Over from a way that leads to death, to one that opens out to life. The people among whom he now dwelt had no reverence for God or His Word. They were religious, but it was a false religion. In their midst Abraham dwelt as "a stranger and pilgrim" (Hebrews 11:13). He was the former because he remained separate; he was the latter because he knew where he was going: he had objectivity in his life; something to live for, a great hope to stimulate him (Hebrews 11:14-16).
He is called "The father of the faithful" (Romans 4:11), by which is meant that he laid the foundation of the Ecclesia of God. "Ecclesia" is the N.T. word rendered Church. In the Bible it is never associated with a building, but defines the community of faithful, who walk in the steps of Abraham, endorsing his beliefs. The word is compounded of two Greek words: ek meaning out of, and klessis signifying a call or invitation. An Ecclesia, therefore, signifies a congregation that has been separated from the world, called out by invitation as was Abraham. The word denotes An assembly called forth by a herald.
The Church or Ecclesia of Apostolic times comprised members who had withdrawn from the religious, social and political environments of their times as Abraham had from Haran. Although they were Gentiles according to the flesh, they became "Hebrews" through belief (Ephesians 2:11-13). They defined the Gospel as "the hope of Israel" (Acts 26:6-7; 28:20). Having "crossed over" from the way of death in the world, for the way of life in Christ, they identified their faith and belief with that of Abraham (Romans 4:11; John 8:39; Galatians 3:8, 29). Their status is defined in Scripture in the following words: "God did visit the Gentiles to take out of them (Greek ek) a people for his name" (Acts 15:14). To all who hearken to God and the promise of life eternal, the divine invitation is extended, challengingly, commandingly:
"Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters saith the Lord Almighty" (II Corinthians 6:17).
This is the way to life eternal. It demands an element of sacrifice, but its rewards compensate a hundredfold both now and in the age to come (Matthew 19:28-30; Mark 10:30). We are not called upon to physically remove from the places of our sojourn, but socially, politically and religiously we must if we would please God. The act of crossing over from a way leading to death to one leading to life, is in accepting the Truth in Christ, and submitting to baptism:
"Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved" (Mark 16:15-16).
The example of Abraham constitues a challenge to all who will answer the call of God proclaimed in His word. The challenge is to stand aside from the world of the ungodly as did he, and consecrate their lives to God in the way appointed.
Into The Land of Promise
In answer to the call of God, Abram the Hebrew entered the Land of Promise (Genesis 12:5). The narrative states that "the Canaanite was then in the land" (Genesis 12:6; 13:7).
This apparently unimportant observation is of great significance.
The Canaanites were a frightly depraved, immoral people. Archaeology reveals that they had a form of religion, but not according to God's way. Politically, they dominated the Land of Promise, and socially they polluted it.
From them, Abraham had to keep completely separate.
True Christians are required to do the same in regard to the present social, political and religious trends of today. This is an age of great evil in which standards of restraint are ridiculed and abandoned, and God and His Word are not afforded the respect due. The thin veneer of respectability that once hid the innate wickedness of man from sight is today being set aside. As Christ warned (Luke 17:26-29), and the Bible predicts (II Timothy 3:1-5), man is becoming completely hardened in sin and wickedness. Crime, immorality and violence are reaching plague proportions, and humanity is on a collision course with Destiny. He is heading for a crisis of destruction, described in the Bible as Armaggedon.
The way of wisdom is to follow in the footsteps of Abraham. The stages in his development were as follows:
- He was first an idolator, worshipping a false god.
- He was attracted to the call of the true God, and recognised the folly of his previous way of life.
- He became educated in the Gospel, through the promises God made him.
- He separated himself from his previous way of life to live as a stranger and pilgrim in the land promised him.
- He became a man of faith motivated by the hope of eternal life and inheritance on earth.
These are the steps that we also must take to please God and attain unto the promised reward.
- Repudiate the social, political and religious trends that are antagonistic to God.
- Develop an understanding of the Word of God.
- Embrace with enthusiam the Gospel message.
- Maintain a separateness from the world about us whilst awaiting the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will grant to such immortality and an eternal inheritance on earth.
The Benefits Of A Life In Christ
There are great benefits in walking in Christ. Firstly, there is the present satisfaction of living a purposeful life in awareness of God. There is objectivity in it, quite different to the aimless, frustrating life of so many today. Abraham, we are told, was "a stranger and pilgrim in the land" (Hebrews 11:9). A stranger is one separated from his contemporaries, but a pilgrim is one who knows where he is going: who is making his way to appointed end; who has an object in view. Every step the pilgrim takes brings him nearer to the objective of his life.
In the case of Abraham, the objective set before him was "the hope of the promises" (Acts 26:6). He lived in faith, and in anticipation of a resurrection from the dead to an eternal inheritance on earth.
This was the hope of the Apostles, the foundation upon which Christianity was built. Paul declared:
"Of the hope and resurrection of the dead am I called in question (Acts 23:6).
"I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto the fathers", he told his accusers. "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:7-8).
"To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality (God will give) eternal life" (Romans 2:6).
Concerning those motivated by this hope the Bible declares:
"They died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the earth" (Hebrews 11:13).
They lived their lives in joyful anticipation of the coming of Christ, and a bodily resurrection from the dead. As Daniel declared:
"Many of them that sleep in the dust shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:3).
Daniel did not teach that all would rise but many would do so. Those only shall be resurrected who have come to a knowledge of God's purpose and therefore are amenable to judgment. They shall receive everlasting life or shall experience "the second death" (Revelation 20:14). Paul taught that "the Lord himself shall descend from heaven . . . and the dead in Christ shall rise" (I Thessalonians 4:16).
Among those resurrected to glory will be Abraham. God promised him: "I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing" (Genesis 12:2). The Lord Jesus explained how that will be fulfilled.
"Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God," he declared to the Jews of his day (Luke 13:28).
Abraham then will no longer be a "stranger and pilgrim in the land" but an honoured associate of the Lord Jesus Christ, inheriting the land promised him, and reigning with Christ over the kingdom then established throughout the earth. For "the Lord shall be king over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9). In anticipation of that glorious time, the Psalmist declared:
"The Lord is King for ever and ever; the heathen are perished out of His land. Lord, Thou has heard the desire of the humble; Thou wilt prepare their heart, Thou wilt cause Thine ear to hear; to judge the fatherless and the oppressed that the man of the earth may no more oppress" (Psalm 10:12-16).
Vast changes are therefore predicted. Christ will reign as King, a new administration will establish justice and judgment in the earth; the needs of mankind will be provided for, whilst their spiritual requirements will be satisfied.
And no longer shall "the man of the earth" oppress. The expression relates to those who are "of the earth earthy", that is who in their wickedness and violence, their ruthless oppression, serve only their own desires and wants, with no consideration for others.
Abraham: Heir Of The World
During the course of the wanderings of Abraham and Lot they covered the then-known world. They had left Ur of the Chaldees in Babylonia, moved up to Haran, travelled south through Syria and Palestine, down through Egypt and back again to a place between Bethel and Ai where they had worshipped God (Genesis 13:1-2). They had traversed the whole world of that day.
Here, unfortunately, dissension broke out between the herdmen of Abraham and Lot, and they separated. Lot selected the well-watered plains of Jordan including the site where stood the alluring cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. He left Abraham to the isolation of his pilgrimage, and made his way to the enjoyment of the company of sophisticated Sodom. His eyes were veiled to the vision of God, and therefore thought that Sodom offered an attractive alternative to his loneliness.
But it proved an illusion. Ultimately his family succumbed to the evil environment into which he led them, and Lot himself barely escaped with his life.
That will be the experience of many today who refuse the way of life in Christ. There is no future for this present evil world. The immoral conditions of Sodom are being repeated today, whilst the political world is slowly but inexorably moving towards an Armageddon that will leave a trail of ruin and death throughout the earth.
Mankind is foolish. Most men and women refuse to hearken to the counsel of God and persist in rejecting His ways. It was so in the days of Abraham; it is so today.
After Lot had left, a further message of promise and hope was given Abraham. He was told:
"Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, southward, eastward and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever . . . Arise, walk through the land, in the length of it, and in the breadth of it; for I WILL GIVE IT UNTO THEE" (Genesis 13:15).
No shadowy abode in heaven "beyond the realms of time and space" fits this description! The territory promised Abraham is THE EARTH; and the length of time: FOR EVER. Nor does the theory of an immortal soul (a term not found in Scripture) fit the bill. The obvious intent of the promise is that Abraham must inherit the land for ever; and that requires his resurrection unto immortal life.
Only by that means can he inherit the world.
All Scripture is based on this tangible promise. It was the foundation of the preaching of the Apostles, fundamental alike to the New Testament as the Old. In explaining his hope, Stephen, the first Christian martyr based his defence on it:
"The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham and said unto him, 'Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans . . . into this land (the land of Israel) wherein ye (Jews) now dwell. And he gave him NONE INHERITANCE in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on; YET HE PROMISED THAT HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HIM FOR A POSSESSION . . .'" (Acts 7:1-5).
In view of Stephen's statement, how will Abraham inherit the land? The answer is by a resurrection from the dead.
A few years after the murder of Stephen, Paul the Apostle stood on trial for his life. He, too, based his defence upon the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the fathers of the Jewish race. Boldy standing before his accusers and judges, Paul declared: "I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers". And then, emphasising what that promise involved, he added: "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:6-8).
It is by a resurrection from the dead unto life eternal (not heaven going at death) that Abraham will inherit the promise. This is the consistent hope set forth by the Bible. Isaiah taught: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise" (Isaiah 26:19). David prayed: "Thou which has shewed me great and sore troubles, shall quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side" (Psalm 71:20-21). Christ promised those who lived in accordance with his will: "Thou shalt be blessed . . . for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:14).
A True Christian
Abraham is to be resurrected to inherit the earth. That is what the Bible teaches; and the revival of Israel in modern times is God's guarantee of its fulfilment. Abraham is described as the heir of the world. Paul wrote:
"For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith" (Romans 4:13).
But Abraham will not inherit it on his own. He is described as "the father of the faithful" (Romans 4:11), and Paul adds that the things written concerning him were "not written for his sake alone . . . but for us also . . . if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead" (Romans 4:24).
A true Christian, therefore, is accounted a son of Abraham, and an heir with him of the same promise. The Bible declares:
"As many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ . . . and if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:26-29).
This statement clearly shows that if a person does not understand the significance of the promises made to Abraham, he is not really "in Christ" no matter whether he is a member of a Church or has been "baptised". On the other hand, it means that a true Christian, like Abraham, has been promised the world!
That is the point of Christ's teaching on the Mount. He declared: "Blessed are the meek: for they SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH!" (Matthew 5:5).
Consider the wonderful implications of that statement. It means that God has a purpose with the earth and mankind upon it, and will not then tolerate the conditions existing today. The earth will no longer be the arena of violence, war, immorality, ruthless evil and wickedness as at present. Search the Bible for the wonderful soul-satisfying statements of the glorious future in store for the world when Christ rules. Consider the following Scriptural facts:
"The heavens, even the heavens, are the Lord's, but the earth he hath given to the children of men" (Psalm 115:16).
"The righteous shall be recompensed in the earth" (Psalm 11:31).
"For such as be blessed of Him shall INHERIT THE EARTH, and dwell therein forever" (Psalm 37:9,11,22,29).
"A King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice IN THE EARTH. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6).
"He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment IN THE EARTH; and the isles shall wait for his law" (Isaiah 42:4).
"At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; neither shall they walk any more after imagination of their evil heart" (Jeremiah 3:17).
"Many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:3-4).
All the references above (and a further hundred could be supplied) emphasise that the earth is the arena for the future Kingdom of Christ, and the eternal inheritance of the faithful.
And that fact provies a practical solution for the problems that plague humanity today. The world will be delivered from the thraldom of fear that currently enshrouds it, and the problems that plague its present governments.
With rising inflation, and the erosion of real wealth, young people are finding it difficult to obtain the humblest dwellings; but through the Gospel they can, with Abraham and Christ, inherit the world! "If ye be (truly) Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29).
We live in a sick society, but thanks be to God, He has not completely abandoned it. To fulfill His promise made to Abraham and others, He will send Jesus Christ to establish His kingdom on earth.
"The God of heaven will set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44).
"The Lord God shall give unto him (Jesus) the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32).
Those deemed faithful at his coming, will be appointed co-rulers with Christ:
"Ye (Apostles) which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, juding the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28).
"He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations" (Revelation 2:26).
"Thou has redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and has made us unto our God, kings and priests, and we shall REIGN ON THE EARTH" (Revelation 5:9-10).
A Changed World
Abraham and his seed, therefore, are not only promised the world, but are promised it for ever, with honor and glory. They shall reign with Christ, comprising the aristocracy of a universal Kingdom to be set up on earth. Throughout the Bible, God's revelation to man, He has clearly set forth His purpose to establish His rule upon the ruins of man's government. Christ's Kingdom will comprise a divine, political Kingdom over which he will reign as king, with the redeemed as his associates. "We shall reign with him", was the keynote of Apostolic testimony (II Timothy 2:12). It is summed up in the statement that the resurrected, immortalised followers of the Lord Jesus, will "reign with Christ a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4). The prophet Daniel declared:
"The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom UNDER the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him" (Daniel 7:27).
Other statements are:
"In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth . . . His name shall endure for ever; and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed" (Psalm 72:7-8,17).
"He shall cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations" (Isaiah 61:11).
"For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea those nations shall be utterly wasted" (Isaiah 60:12).
Christ's reign will completely change the way of life on earth. Men will learn to live in amity and goodwill towards each other. There will be "glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and goodwill among men". Industrial and international antagonisms will cease under the one perfect government. Nations will be united under one king, dispensing with the need of expensive armaments that today suck prosperity fom the people with stupendous cost.
People will be bonded together in one religion that will unit them in a common worship of God. The wise, infallible government of Christ will relieve the world of its burden of poverty and problems, for "the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters do the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14).
Moveover, this glorious prospect for the future is not to be pushed into the far distant future. The current fulfilment of Bible prophecy, particularly the revival of Israel and other current events in the Middle East, testify that Christ's coming is near. There is no doubt about this, and we would appreciate the opportunity of advancing irrefutable evidence to that conclusion.
God's Sanctuary Or Ruin?
But God's way presents a challenge. It did so in the days of Abraham. The quarrel between the herdmen of Lot and Abraham which led to the parting of the ways of these two men, took place at a most significant site. It was "between Bethel and Ai" (Genesis 13:2-3). The word Bethel signifies House of God, whilst Ai denotes Ruin! Bethel was in the heights above; it needed determination and effort to reach it; but Ai was on the slopes beneath, and was comparatively easy to reach. Blinded for the moment by the attractions that materialistic Sodom seemed to offer, Lot made choice of the well-watered plains beneath, with their promise of ease and affluence. He left Bethel to Abraham, whilst he went downwards to Ai and Ruin!
It is a parable of destiny. Figuratively, all who are drawn by the Bible revelation of God must make their choice as did Abraham and Lot. The social world of today is powerfully attractive. It seems to offer the opportunity of affluence, ease and prosperity. But it only leads to frustration and ultimately death. It promises the world, but it only gives an abiding place in the grave (Psalm 49:14-20; Romans 6:23).
On the other hand, Bethel, the House of God, offers its appeal. It, too, promises the world, but it does so on the basis of sacrifice and service. It demands of men and women that they figuratively separate themselves from the philosophies and fallacies of today, and give themselves to God in the way appointed: an understanding of the Gospel, and baptism into the name of Christ Jesus. The world is then offered them, and the guarantee is given in the fulfilment of Bible prophecy. The same appeal and invitation that was made to Abraham, is made to all those who have hearing ears. It is summed up in the words of Scripture:
"Therefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (II Corinthians 6:17-18).
To those who are prepared to do that, God offers the world!