God made a covenant (binding promise) with Abraham that Abraham would be great and the father of a great nation, a nation so large it would outnumber the grains of dust on the earth. God promised that He would be with them and give them land. And through Abraham’s descendants, the whole world would be blessed!
Abraham is one of the most important characters of the Old Testament. Almost every kid who’s been to Sunday School can sing the “Father Abraham has many sons” song (not forgetting the fun actions that go with it!). But what does it all mean? Let’s take a closer look at Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish nation, the unique promises God made to him, and what it means for believers today.
7 Promises God Makes to Abraham
Some of the promises God made to Abraham were explicitly meant for him, but others were relevant to the nation that would descend from Abraham’s line and one particular promise went even further! Let’s take a look at these promises and how the faithful God fulfilled them.
Genesis 12:2-3 (ESV) And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
1. God Promised Many Descendants to Abraham
Born in Ur, Abraham got to know God over time – potentially with guidance from his father. God promised Abraham a family and countless descendants. And each time God spoke to Abraham he elaborated on His promises—they got more and more impressive!
From a great nation (Gen 12:2) to descendants who would outnumber dust particles (Gen 13:16). And then it got even better. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a multitude of nations (Gen 17:5) and kings would come from his line (Gen 17:6)! And on top of all this, God made this promise to Abraham in his old age before he died.
This promise was fulfilled (Heb 11:12), despite Abraham and Sarah’s old age.
2. God Promised Honor
God promised Abraham that his name would be great (Gen 12:2). And it is! Abraham is famous, respected, and remembered as a man of faith in both the Jewish and Christian circles. He is commended in the New Testament for his obedience and faith in God’s promises—many of which weren’t even fulfilled in his lifetime.
This promise was fulfilled (Heb 11:8-10).
3. God Promised Himself
God promised Abraham that He would be with Him and be His God (Gen 17:8). He wasn’t removed from Abraham’s life and He wasn’t removed from the nation of Israel that would come from him. God was involved, active, desired a relationship with His people, and He loved them. And that hasn’t changed. God doesn’t change.
This promise was fulfilled (Lev 26:12).
4. God Promised Land
Aware of the physical needs of the future nation of Israel, God promises Abraham that He will give his descendants (Israel) land—land as far as their eyes could see; the land of Canaan also called the Promised Land (modern-day Israel) (Gen 15:18-21).
This land would mean independence and sustenance for the offspring of Abraham. But the sovereign God was promising more than just land, He was also promising victory over the various peoples who dwelled in that land.
This promise was fulfilled (Ex 23:31).
5. God Promised Bondage and Freedom
God had already spoken to Abraham about His covenant when He gave Abraham more information about the promised nation, Israel. This time, in addition to blessings and success, God explained that they would experience bondage and suffering in a foreign land for 400 hundred years. But He also promised that He would bring about their freedom and they would leave with wealth. We know that God was referring to Israel’s time in Egypt.
Genesis 15:13-16 (ESV) Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.
This promise was fulfilled (Acts 7:6-7))
6. God Promised Long Life
Genesis 15:15 (ESV) As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.
Life is a blessing and a gift from God. In God’s kindness to Abraham, who obeyed and trusted God, He promised Him the blessing of a long life and a peaceful death.
This promise was fulfilled (Gen 25:8).
7. God Promised the Savior
While most of the promises God made to Abraham were relevant to him as an individual or his descendants (Israel), there was one that applies to everyone—Jew and Gentile. God promised that through Abraham, the whole world would be blessed (Gen 12:3)!
It is here that there is a burst of hope that through the line of Abraham, a Savior would come—the Savior who would crush the head of Satan (Gen 3:15), the One who would undo the curse of sin. Jesus, God’s son, was a descendant of King David who was a descendant of Abraham!
This promise was fulfilled (Matt 1:1).
Galatians 3:8-9 (ESV) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Do You Share in God’s Promises to Abraham?
While a large portion of the Abrahamic covenant was only meant for Abraham and the nation of Israel, the promise of the Savior applies to you! If you’ve trusted Jesus Christ for salvation and you are united with Him, then you are considered blessed with the hope of eternal life and God’s promise to Abraham has been fulfilled for you too!
John 3:16 (ESV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.