God's Promises to Abraham: The Nation Promise
Genesis 12 begins with the LORD speaking to Abram - "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. 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" (12:1-3). Later in the same chapter, after Abram came to the land of Canaan, God spoke to him again, saying - "To your descendants I will give this land" (12:7).

It is in this context that we get the first glimpse of the three wonderful promises that God made to the great patriarch Abram (who was later known--and more commonly referred to--as Abraham). The fulfillment of these promises is an important biblical theme. These divine assurances that were given to Abraham can be summarized as follows:

  1. A great and numerous NATION would arise from his descendants (12:2). This promise is also recorded in several other places in the book of Genesis (cf. 13:16; 15:5; 17:6; 18:18; 22:17).
  2. The LAND of Canaan would be possessed by his descendants (17:8). Other significant verses on this point include: 12:7, 13:12ff, 15:7,18, and 22:17.
  3. All nations would be blessed through his SEED (22:18). 12:3 and 18:18 should also be noted in this regard.

These promises, which were initially uttered approximately 4000 years ago, have all been completely fulfilled. In our daily lessons this week, we will endeavor to prove this point biblically and also reflect upon how these promises relate to God's children today.

Let us begin by proving that the nation promise was fulfilled in the people of Israel.

In Genesis 46:3, God spoke to Jacob - "I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there." When Joseph, his brothers, his father, and all their wives and children entered Egypt, they were fewer than 100 in number (cf. 46:27). Although this is a good size family, it certainly doesn't qualify as a nation. However, Exodus 1:6,7 records - "And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them." This rapid population explosion of the descendants of Abraham within the land of Egypt produced fear in the Egyptians. Consequently, they enslaved the emerging nation. But, God's will was accomplished in that Abraham's descendants "went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number; and there became a nation, great, mighty, and populous" (Deut. 26:5). It was Moses who would lead this great nation out of Egypt and eventually to the border of the Promised Land. Some estimate that the descendants of Abraham through Isaac, had grown to a couple million people by this time (cf. Num. 1:45-47).

Friends, God kept his promise to Abraham. He assured the patriarch that his descendants would become a mighty and numerous nation, and that is exactly what happened. God is faithful; He keeps His word (Heb. 6:13-18). May we trust Him fully (i.e., without wavering), knowing that He will keep the assurances He has made to His people.