Life Hope & Truth

Promises to Abraham

God gave incredible promises to Abraham and his descendants. But did choosing these people mean God didn’t love others or that He was a racist?

The promises God made to Abraham are quite astounding. Based upon Abraham’s faith and obedience, God said, “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” (Genesis 12:2-3).

From this foundational conversation between God and Abraham, the blessings poured out on this man’s descendants have been enormous. Ranging from land to countless descendants to natural resources to strategic gates of commerce to military strength, the recipients of these God-given blessings have enjoyed a standard of living and prominence far above many other nations (Genesis 12:7; 22:17; 49:24-26).

Even after Christ’s death, Paul understood that the promises to Abraham continued. In writing to gentiles (those not of Jewish or Israelite background), Paul spoke of “covenants of promise” that remained for those who were part of “the commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:12). As the descendants of the ancient Israelites, the peoples of northwest Europe and the United States continue to enjoy the blessings of their ancestor Abraham. (See the other articles in this section for more details about the modern descendants of Abraham.)

God is fair

Given these blessings that God has bestowed upon Abraham’s descendants, some have claimed that acknowledgment of this history is racist and disrespectful of other peoples and nations. But this does not make God a racist. God will have “mercy on whom He wills” (Romans 9:18). Furthermore, God loves all of His creation and is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s plan of salvation is for all people, regardless of their race (Acts 10:34-36). He simply began working with the nation of Israel first because He began working with their forefather, Abraham.

We should also note that the promises God made to Abraham were to extend to all nations. As God said to Abraham, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Through the birth of Jesus to Mary, a descendant of Abraham, this promise has been fulfilled, since Jesus Christ’s life and sacrifice made salvation available to all. And in the future, the nation of Israel is destined to become a model nation showing others how to live and enjoy God’s blessings.

People aren’t

People, on the other hand, can be racist. Sadly, some who are aware of God’s blessings upon Abraham’s descendants and who claim to be descendants of this patriarch have wrongly assumed that this makes them superior to others. The Bible teaches that salvation is open to all who heed God’s call to repent of their sins and be baptized for the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

Paul explains this quite clearly: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27-29).

The bottom line is that God is loving and fair to all peoples. In His plan to offer everyone the opportunity to be part of His eternal family, He simply began working with one man, Abraham, and his descendants. God’s promises to Abraham are a foretaste of the abundance all will enjoy in the future.