Are Abraham’s Promises Yours to Claim?

In this age of many decrees and declarations—which have somewhat become commands given to God by his ‘anointed servants’—we must be faithful in seeking, patient in waiting, and passionate in defending the truths of the gospel as revealed in Scripture. These are days when God has mighty men whom he must serve at their beck and call; days when Gentiles (Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans) seem to have more claim to Israelite blessings than the Jews themselves; days when biblical study is a souvenir long lost. In these days, there is a need to return to biblical teaching so that we are not lost in deception and false hopes as the Church and falsely believe that all of Abraham’s blessings are ours.

Abraham’s Blessing

What are Abraham’s blessings and promises and how does it apply to us—if it ever does? First, we must understand who Abraham was in the biblical context. Abraham was the son of Terah (Genesis 11:27-32), whom God called from his former ways of worship to worship him, the living God (Genesis 12:1). He was married to Sarai (Sarah), with whom God would accomplish his will for the nations. 

When God called Abraham, he made a covenant with him (Genesis 15:1-12) that would affect the rest of humanity in many ways. These blessings have become a cause for erroneous teaching by some who do well at taking them out of context. So, what are these blessings and promises made to Abraham, and how do they apply to the Church today, and to what extent?

Abraham’s Blessings were Personal

  • I will bless you: God spoke to Abraham individually and gave him promises that were particularly for him. As a man, there was a way some of those promises were directed at him alone. For instance, the promise of a son was to him as an individual (Genesis 17:1-27). There is no way a random saint can claim that as a personal promise, even if they are in a similar situation of childlessness. It would be absurd to ‘name and claim’ this promise. 
  • I will make your name great: Abraham’s name would be great, and no other individual could claim the same for themselves. What did it mean that his name would be great? God would cause Abraham to be known across the region for his great wealth and power (remember his victory over the kings (Genesis 14:17-23)). His renown came because God identified himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15). 
  • You will be a blessing: Thirdly, the blessing of Abraham was to be extended to others–the nations. It is in several ways that Abraham became a blessing to his nephew Lot, such as by offering him better land (Genesis 13:1-13) when they needed to part ways. He also became a blessing to him when he rescued him from the kings who had come to fight against him. 
  • I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you: This was a direct word to Abraham and his offspring because of God’s plan. In Christ, all who trust in God are freed from the curse (Galatians 3:13) and are called to bless their enemies and not do them evil (Romans 12:14-16). 

In adhering to biblical hermeneutics, we cannot jump and claim everything as ours just because it is written in Scripture. We must understand the context so that we do not misuse the content. The blessings of Abraham were foremost personal to him.

They were National and Generational

God was planning to bring salvation to all humanity, and he chose to do that through a nation. From Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4) would come forth a nation through Isaac (Genesis 15:1-4, 21:1-7) and Jacob (Genesis 27:1-46). God had told Abraham, “I will make you a great nation.” He also mentioned that these people–his generation–would be held captive in a foreign land (Genesis 15:13-15), but they would be set free and live together as free people. All these Abraham promises took place as promised. Israel went to Egypt after the drought (Genesis 46:1-34) and stayed there for 430 years under oppression. The story of the Exodus is all about the next step in achieving the great promise made to Abraham. 

To think this can be applied directly to you would be nothing short of absurd. Unless, of course, you were Jewish. But we who are Gentiles have yet to be grafted into this promise because the plot is still unfolding. God’s promises to Israel would also be immediate before they were cross-cultural, i.e. to other nations. Nowadays, we hear people claim the promise of God to Israel concerning their possession of the land of milk and honey (Deuteronomy 11:24). In as much as that is Scripture, it, unfortunately, does not apply to us, the Gentiles. Before owning land, you must have a title deed as evidence of ownership. Otherwise, you are a land grabber ‘in Jesus’ name.’ 

Also, if we want to declare these literal promises made to Israel as ours, we must take heed of the conditions of the blessings and the curses as captured in Deuteronomy 27:9-26 and 28:1-68. When we consider our ways and our bouts of disobedience here and there, we ought to claim the consequences of disobedience as well if we are to fairly assume all the blessings of Israel as ours in a literal sense. But we do something else. It is similar to the most misquoted verse by many, Jeremiah 29:11. We want to claim God’s plans for good and not evil without claiming a 70-year captivity period. Again, we may not fully claim such because the promises to Israel come to them as a nation and a generation as part of a grand plan unfolding until Christ’s advent.   

They were International

Lastly, the Abraham promises and Israel promises were international. God told him that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 22:17-18). How could that be? Well, it all started with the birth of Isaac, who fathered Jacob, who fathered the 12 nations that walked out of Egypt in the great Exodus. After settling in Canaan (Joshua 1-24), Israel continued their worship of Yahweh, though with many walk-outs and rebellions that saw them go in and out of captivity in neighbouring nations. The book of Judges shows us Israel’s failures and God’s restoration through different judges. Afterwards, we have the Kings and the prophets whom God used to declare his fame among the nations, calling nations to behold Yahweh’s glories and become worshippers (Psalm 96:3). 

All the statutes and laws given to the nation of Israel were meant to cause them to stand out from the crowd so that they would be a force for drawing in other nations. Consider why the Queen of Sheba came to behold the temple worship (1 Kings 10:1-25). She had heard about this God being worshipped magnificently and came to confirm the claims. She did not have words to explain her experience. God chose Israel so that they would be a light to other nations (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6) and so that the nations could know the LORD.  

Fast forward to the post-Christ era, we who were once far off have been brought near (Ephesians 2:13) by Christ’s sacrifice. We are now members of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12-13) and have, by salvation, been adopted into this great family of God (John 1:12-14, Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:15). Ultimately, in Christ, all the Abraham promises and Israel promises of God have been fulfilled, including the one for other nations receiving the blessing. Now we know that not everyone will possess lands, camels, cattle and much silver and gold as Abraham did. And that is the whole point. The blessing of Abraham to us as saints does not come in the form of material blessing but eternal and spiritual reward. The blessing is that those who were outcasts have been brought near by the blood of Christ, becoming the circumcision and Israel of God (Philippians 3:3, Galatians 6:16). 

In summary, God called Abraham and chose to use him as the one through whom the promised Messiah would come with all his blessings. He accomplished this role partly through the nation of Israel, as a second step to the achievement of the promise, but ultimately and entirely through Christ and the birth of a new covenant with new recipients who were not initially part of the covenant of old. That, my dear friends, is how we share in the blessings of Abraham!




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