I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.
We now are introduced to two promises God made about Abraham’s descendants:
- A promise of national greatness.
- A promise of grace through the Messiah.
Today we will focus on the first promise. Abraham is told that if he follows God, he will become the progenitor of “a great nation.” This is the promise that an important physical nation would descend from Abraham.
Notice the characteristics of this “great nation”:
- It would be blessed.
- It would have a great name.
- It would be a blessing to other nations.
These characteristics describe a powerful nation. As the book of Genesis progresses, God adds more details to this promise of a great nation. Some of the further details include:
- A population that is “as the dust of the earth” (Genesis 13:16).
- Many nations (not just one) and kings would descend from Abraham (Genesis 17:5-6).
- The national promises would be fulfilled through Abraham’s future son Isaac (Genesis 21:12). Isaac would then pass these blessings on to his son Jacob (Genesis 27:27-29). Jacob would then pass them along to his sons.
- The national promises would include strategic possessions that would allow Abraham’s descendants to control “the gate of their enemies” (Genesis 22:17).
- The primary physical blessings would be split between two nations—the descendants of Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:14-20; 49:22-26).
- There would be many other nations (the descendants of Jacob’s 11 other sons) who would also receive blessings through Abraham (Genesis 49).
The key to these promises being fulfilled was Abraham’s continuing faith moving forward from this moment in Genesis 12. The historical event that assured these promises would be fulfilled was Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:9-18). This test of Abraham’s faith assured God that Abraham was faithful and would obey God in all circumstances (verses 16-18).
Though these promises were partially fulfilled by ancient Israel, a careful study of prophecy and history shows that the promises of national greatness were fulfilled in the rise of the United States and Great Britain.
To learn more about these great promises and their fulfillment, read our article the “Blessings of Abraham.”
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “All Blessed Through Abraham.”