Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Promise Propagated...

In this blog, I would simply like to take a Biblical look at the promise as given to Abram and passed down to his son and grandson.

In chapter 12 of Genesis (as we have seen), God gave a call to Abram and said...

"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

Abram received this call and blessing when he was 75 years old. At 86 years of age, he had a son through and Egytian maidservant named Hagar (Genesis 16). While the son (Ishmael) was his flesh and blood (and obvious joy), Ishmael was not to be the son of the promise. God brought about his promise through Sarai, Abram's wife, and when Abram was 100 years old, God gave he and Sarai their promised son, Isaac (Genesis 21:1-7). During the giving of the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17), God gave Abram a new name, Abraham, and declared that Sarai would now become Sarah. Also, during this giving of this covenant, Abraham asked God if Ishmael could be the son of promise and live under God's blessings. To which God replied, "As for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year." (Genesis 17:20-22)

So, Isaac was to be the son of the promise. This is confirmed a few years later when God asks Abraham to take Isaac his beloved son to the region of Moriah and offer him up as a sacrifice, a burnt offering. Abraham obeys but Isaac doesn't die. God provides another sacrifice, Isaac is spared and Abraham is rewarded by God for his faithfulness with a reiteration of the promise he received some 40 plus years previously...

"I swear by myself, declares the Lord that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me" (Genesis 21:16-18)

Later, after the death of Abraham, when Isaac is facing a famine in the land and goes to Gerar in the land of the Philistines, God appears to him. He says, "Stay in the land where I tell you...I will be with you and bless you. For to you and all your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,..." (Genesis 26:2-5).

Then, the promise is passed on to Jacob as he is fleeing for his life from his angry brother, Esau. Isaac is still alive when the blessing passes on to Jacob. Jacob has deceived his brother Esau out of his birthright and out of his father's blessing (Genesis 25-27). Esau has vowed to kill his brother Jacob for the shame he has endured (Genesis 27:41). Jacob is sent away by his mother Rebekah to preserve his life and to find a wife from amongst her relatives in Paddan Aram. As he is fleeing, he stops and overnights at a place called Luz. There, he takes a stone for his head rest and has a dream where the Lord says to him, "I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring...I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." (Genesis 29:13-15)

It is amazing to me that the promise which came through Abram/Abraham has come full circle to his grandson Jacob. What God has purposed, He will bring about. Also, God chooses whom He desires to accomplish His purposes. And it is not the strongest, the bravest, or the wisest. In most cases, it is the small, weak and insignificant He calls and uses to do a might work. His criteria are not the same as our criteria. He looks for those who will have faith and faithfulness to follow Him and His plans.

Those whom He calls and those who follow Him are by no means perfect...just faithful.

For some strange reason, that is comforting to me...

Next...The promise sealed...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for laying this out, Jeff. This is truly awesome stuff. Great promises given to great men of God (ok, not perfect, but great) - all the way back to the promise to Noah that 'never again will I destroy all living creatures'. Gen 8:21.
    In the midst of these monentous times, some of the greatest promises ever made - God reminds us that His Kingdom is a matter of daily concern. In Gen 8:22 He reminds us that life events happen regularly daily and seasonally. They must be tended to. In Gen 15, right in the middle of truly Kingdom promise, the Bible records Abraham giving the sacrifice as God had asked. He cuts the heier up and lays it on the alter. Then the Bible tells us, "Then the birds of prey came down...but Abraham drove them away.' 15:11.
    The recipient of this great, awesome, Kingdom-sized promise had to do the grunt work - scare the birds away. It is natural that if you cut up an animal and lay it out in the sun the birds of prey come. We have to deal with the natural occurrences in life, even though we, as members of the Kingdom, enjoy the priveleges of the Kingdom.
    Dallas Willard defines God's Kingdom as "where what God wants done is done." We still have to do the grunt work, daily tasks or doing what God wants done.