“Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot” (Gen 11:27, trans.).
What would keep the pagan kings from again threatening the very existence of God’s people? The godly line continued through Shem after the Flood (Gen 11:10ff), and God had scattered those who would set themselves up as gods at the Tower of Babel. But God did more to protect the line of the coming Redeemer. He made them into a nation, a kingdom people with one language, laws, and sacrifices which would prepare the context and knowledge for the Redeemer. As Paul writes,
“…what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Great in every respect. First, that they were entrusted with the actual words of God” (Rom 3:1-2).
They were protected and taught like children. Paul writes,
“Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave, although he is owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father” (Gal 4:1-2).
The nation started with Abraham. God called Abraham to leave his family and country to go,
“To the land which I will show you;
2 And I will make you into a great nation…” (Gen 12:1).
To look at the circumstances, one would have to ask how God would keep this promise. The circumstances were not encouraging. The Canaanites were in the land (Gen 12:6). They were not going to form a welcoming committee! There was severe famine in the land (Gen 12:10). How could a land that couldn’t feed Abraham feed a “great nation?” Abraham had to go to Egypt where the Pharaoh took Abraham’s wife, Sarai, into his harem! They may not even make it back to the promised land. Once they were back in the promised land, the land couldn’t support both Abraham and Lot with all their prosperity (Gen 13:1-12). So Lot left.
The difficulties would not stop God from giving the kingdom to Abraham. Again, after Lot left, God promised the land to Abraham. Moses writes,
“The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now raise your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward, and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I will give to you and to your descendants forever. 16 I will make your descendants as plentiful as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can count the dust of the earth, then your descendants could also be counted” (Gen 13:14-16).
Abraham’s concern for Lot did not end when Lot left. When Lot was taken captive, Abraham rescued Lot. Afterwards, God again promised the kingdom to Abraham. God said,
“Now look toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He credited it to him as righteousness. 7 And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it” (Gen 15:5-7).
Nothing would stop God from fulfilling His promise to Abraham.
Abraham believed God’s promise. His faith was evident when he believed God and left Ur (Gen 12:4). His faith was evident when he arrived in Canaan and built the altar at Shechem laying claim to the land God promised. He built an altar east of Bethel and west of Ai (Gen 12:6-8). Again, later he believed God’s promise and walked through the length and breadth of the lane and built an altar to the Lord in Hebron (Gen 13:17-18). Though he lied to Pharaoh about Sarai and endangered the promise with his wife being taken into the king’s harem, he believed as he saw God deal with Pharaoh and was prospered in the process (Gen 12:10-13:4)! His faith was evidenced as he offered the fertile land to his nephew Lot (Gen 13:8-9). He believed God when he refused the war booty after rescuing Lot. Abraham said,
“I have lifted my hand to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or anything that is yours, lest you say, ‘I have made Abram rich’” (Gen 14:22-23, trans).
God had covenanted the Kingdom to Abraham, and Abraham received it by faith.
Abraham receiving the Kingdom wouldn’t depend on Abraham’s faithfulness. God told Abraham to cut animals and lay them opposite each other. Then God alone passed through them. Moses writes,
“Now it came about, when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, a smoking oven and a flaming torch appeared which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord cut (karath) a covenant with Abram, saying,
‘To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:
19 the land of the Kenite, the Kenizzite, the Kadmonite, 20 the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Girgashite, and the Jebusite’” (Gen 15:17-21; trans).
God formally ratified the covenant. God would fulfill the covenant. In walking this path of death, God took a self-maledictory oath, saying “If I do not keep the covenant, I will take the curse.” The wonderful irony is that God took the curse in the cross in order to keep that covenant oath!
One with this promise of the Kingdom was God’s promise of Abraham’s heir who would receive the Kingdom. God told Abraham the heir would come from him and Sarai (Gen 15:4; 18:10). They would have descendants as numerous as the stars (Gen 15:5; 17:2). But they were childless and past child-bearing years. They tried to help God. Abraham suggested Eliezer (Gen 15:2). Sarai suggested Hagar (Gen 16:2). But God would keep His promise, and they would laugh with joy when Isaac (meaning “laughter”) was born.
Then God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Gen 22:1-2)!? Abraham believed God, even thinking that God was able to raise the dead (Heb 11:19). As He raised the knife to take Isaac’s life, the Angel of the Lord stayed Abraham’s hand and provided the sacrifice in Isaac’s place. He received Isaac back from the dead as a type of the sacrificial heir who would bring the kingdom (Heb 11:19). God would give Abraham the Kingdom through his Heir, his Seed. Paul would write,
“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as one would in referring to many, but rather as in referring to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ” (Gal 3:16).
Abraham’s Isaac would be the father of Jacob, who would be the father of the tribes of the nation of Israel. But the Kingdom would come in the Christ.
T. Jeff Taylor, More Than Heaven (Coming Soon)
Meredith G. Kline, Abram's Amen
Meredith G. Kline, Genesis: A New Commentary
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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from NASB. Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org
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