"And the Lord shall be King over all the earth ..."
Web hosting by:
Course #12 - God's Promises to Abraham
Print entire course
About 2000 years before Jesus was born, there lived
a man named Abram, who is spoken of in the Bible as the friend of God (Isaiah
41:8). He lived in the town of Ur, which was in the land we now call Iraq,
about 800 miles to the east of the land of Israel.
The people of Ur knew nothing of the true God. They worshipped many false
gods, chief of which was the moon. The ruins of a temple built to the moon-god
have been found there.
A message from God
One day Abram received a message from Almighty
God. We can read this message in Genesis 12:
"Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country,
and from thy kindred. and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will
shew thee." (Genesis 12:1)
He was told to leave his own land, and his own people, and travel to a country
that God would show him. I wonder how we should feel if we received such
a message? (And of course travelling was far more difficult and far more
dangerous in those days.)
When He told Abram to do this, God also told him:
"And I will make of thee 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).
Abram believed the promises that God had made, and he obeyed Him. The writer
to the Hebrews tells us that Abraham "went out not knowing whither
he went" (Hebrews 11:8).
At length he reached the land of Israel with his wife, Sarah, and his nephew.
Lot. Now read Genesis 13 again. You will see how Lot chose the best of the
land and Abram was left to find pastures for his flocks and herds in the
more barren parts of the country. But God was with Abram, and enlarged upon
the promises He had made to him in Ur:
"All the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy
seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth" (Genesis
A wonderful promise
Did you notice that this time God promised Abram,
later called Abraham. the land for ever? To possess the land for ever, Abraham
would have to live for ever, so God was really promising him everlasting
life. The land he was promised was the land he saw - the land we now call
Israel. Besides this, God promised it to Abraham's seed, or son. At that
time Abraham and Sarah had no children. God promised him a 'seed', or son,
who should share the land with him. He also promised that Abraham's descendants
should become a great nation.
God makes a covenant with Abraham
Turn to Genesis chapter 15, and here you will find
that God again repeats and adds to His promises to Abraham.
Time had gone by and Abraham was getting old. The promised son had not been
given. But once more God assured him that he should have a son, and that
his descendants should be as great in number as the stars in the sky.
In verse 6 we read:
"He (Abraham) believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for
righteousness." (Genesis 15:6)
Abraham, like us, was not free from sin; but he trusted in God and, because
of this, God was pleased with him. This time we are told that God made a
covenant with Abraham - that is a very solemn promise that can never be
altered. You will read how this covenant was made in Genesis 15:8-18.
In the time of Abraham, a covenant was made by slaying an animal. Then the
dead animal was divided, and the two people who were making the covenant
walked between the pieces. In this case, the glory of God passed between
the pieces, so that Abraham would know that the covenant was sure.
The promised child
Abraham was 100 years old, and his wife 90, when
at last God fulfilled one of His promises and gave them a son, whom they
In Genesis 22 you will find a wonderful example of Abraham's trust in God.
Read the first 14 verses. God told Abraham to offer up his only son, Isaac,
as a sacrifice. And yet God had promised that through Isaac Abraham's descendants
should become a great nation.
What did Abraham do? He knew that God would keep His promises, and so the
writer tells us in Hebrews 11:
"By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that
had received the promises (Abraham) offered up his only begotten son, of
whom it was said 'That in Isaac shall thy seed be called': accounting that
God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received
him in a figure." (Hebrews 11:17-19)
Abraham was prepared even to offer up his beloved son, knowing that God
would restore him to life. No wonder God was pleased with his trust and
obedience. Read in Genesis 22:15-18 the promises which God again made to
A greater seed than Isaac
These things happened nearly 4,000 years ago, and
at first they do not seem to matter very much to us. But Abraham had a son
who was greater than Isaac. The first verse of the New Testament (Matthew
1:1) speaks of: "Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham."
Jesus, too, was the promised son of Abraham. Paul tells us this in Galatians
3: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith
not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is
Christ" (Galatians 3:16). So the promises made to Abraham - that he would live for ever
in the land of Israel and be a blessing to all nations, were also promises
made to the Lord Jesus Christ.
When he comes again to rule from Jerusalem, we shall see these promises
We, too, may share the promises
If we believe in Jesus, and do what he asks us,
we too may share these promises. For if we belong to Christ, we too are
Abraham's seed. We read in the last verse of Galatians 3:
"And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according
to the promise."
Then we, too, may share the promises. We may have eternal life, and help
Jesus Christ in the great work of bringing happiness to the earth. We can
become "Abraham's seed" (children) by believing and being baptized
into Jesus Christ. This is exactly what Paul says in Galatians 3:
"For as many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on
Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free,
there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And
if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
promise." (Galatians 3:27-29)
You will remember that one of the promises was,
"And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed"
(Genesis 22: 18).
This promise will be fulfilled when Jesus returns to set up the Kingdom
What of Abraham?
But, you may be thinking, "What of Abraham?
He never received the promises, and he is dead".
That is true. But God's promises cannot fail. When Jesus comes again, he
will raise Abraham and Isaac from the dead - and many others besides - and
they will live for ever upon this earth, enjoying those blessings which
God promised them so long ago.
Notice that God did not promise Abraham a place in a Kingdom up in heaven,
but he was promised the land he saw and lived in.
was called by God to leave Ur and go to an unknown country.
Back to top
2. This country was the land of Israel, and God promised that Abraham
should possess it for ever.
3. He also promised that Abraham should have a son; that his descendants
should become a great nation, and that his son would be a blessing to all
4. Abraham had a son, Isaac, born miraculously when his parents were
very old. Jesus Christ is also a son, or descendant, of Abraham (and he,
too, was born miraculously - of a virgin).
5. If we belong to Christ (through belief and baptism), we are counted
as children of Abraham, and may share the promises made to him.
6. These promises will be fulfilled when Jesus comes back, and sets
up the Kingdom of God.
All this about the seed of Abraham is somewhat difficult to understand the
first time. But it is very important. Why not read this section through
once again - now!
Chapters to read: (Hebrews 11) (notice particularly verses 39-40)
Learn by heart: (Galatians 3:27-29)
See also: (Genesis 15:18; 17:6-8: 22:16-18)
If you have questions or comments about this lesson, please feel free to
e-mail us with them.