Promises to Abraham
We believe in God's enduring righteousness. That righteousness is demonstrated by God's faithfulness in fulfilling all the promises He made to the father of the faithful, Abraham. As promised, God multiplied Abraham's lineal descendants so that Abraham literally became the "father" of many nations. We believe that God, as promised, materially prospered Abraham's lineal descendants Isaac and Jacob (whose name He later changed to Israel). We believe that God, through Abraham's Seed, Jesus Christ, is making salvation available to all humanity regardless of physical lineage. Salvation is not, therefore, a right of birth. It is freely open to all whom God calls, and those who are regarded as descendants of Abraham are those of the faith, heirs according to the promises. We believe that the knowledge that God has fulfilled and continues to fulfill the physical promises made to Abraham and his children, and that He is fulfilling the spiritual promise through Jesus Christ, is critical to understanding the message of the prophets and its application to the world (Psalm 111:1-10; Romans 4:16; 9:7-8; Galatians 3:16; Genesis 32:28).
God made physical and spiritual promises to Abraham. The physical promises involved physical greatness for his descendants: "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great" (Genesis 12:1-2). These physical promises contained assurances of land or territory and other blessings (Genesis 12:7; 13:14-17; 15:18).
These physical promises were formally passed on to Abraham's descendants. First they were passed on to Isaac (Genesis 26:1-4). Next they went to Jacob (Genesis 28:3-4, 13-14). Then they were passed on to Joseph and finally to Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:15-19). But, because of the enslavement of Israel, the fulfillment of these physical promises was delayed.
Before any of Abraham's early descendants inherited the land of promise, they became slaves in Egypt (Exodus 1:7-11). Israel groaned because of its bondage, and God heard. In His faithfulness, God determined to deliver Israel from bondage to keep His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that Abraham's descendants would be physically blessed by becoming a great people on the earth (Exodus 2:23-25; 6:7-8; 13:5; Deuteronomy 9:4-6).
Next we find promises of physical blessings being offered to Israel. Only if the Israelites would obey God and keep the covenant would they receive these blessings. If they would not obey the covenant's terms, the blessings would be withheld and curses come in their place (Exodus 19:5-6; Leviticus 26:3-39; Deuteronomy 28:1-68).
Because of Israel's and Judah's sins, the blessings were withheld. There were only brief periods of greatness under a few righteous kings. But, because of God's faithfulness, He eventually would bless Abraham's descendants with greatness. The descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh (Great Britain and the United States) have received the blessing of ascendance to national greatness. Ephraim has become a company of nations, and Manasseh has become a great nation. It is through these two that the prophecies of the Bible concerning Israel are being fulfilled (Genesis 48:16; 49:22-26).
Contained in the promises to Abraham was the promise of salvation to all men who would become Abraham's seed (his descendants). Through Abraham all families of the earth were to have access to God's blessings (Genesis 12:3). God confirmed the promises to Abraham because he obeyed God's commandments (Genesis 22:18).
These promises to Abraham were not limited to the physical, but included spiritual blessings extended to all mankind. Paul understood that salvation was not just for Jews or Israelites, but for all humanity. He was shown that the "Seed" being referred to was Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:8, 14-16).
Zacharias, at the birth of John the Baptist, prophesied that God would remember the oath that He had sworn to Abraham (Luke 1:69-72). Paul records that Jesus Christ came to confirm the promises made to the fathers (Romans 15:8). The promise of salvation comes from God through the Holy Spirit as a part of the New Covenant made available to us through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit is the key to the "better promises" that come under the "new" and "better" covenant that was established on those better promises (Hebrews 8:6).
The apostles were told to wait at Jerusalem for this better promise (Acts 1:4, 8). They waited to receive the seal of the Holy Spirit "of promise," which was the guarantee of their inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14). It is by God's Spirit that we can know that we are the children of God (Romans 8:9, 14-17) and thus Abraham's seed (spiritually) and heirs of salvation according to the promise (Galatians 3:28). This promise is not based on race, but on God's calling and individual repentance, regardless of race or national origin.
(For more details, request The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.)
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