by L. R. Shelton Jr.

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The Creation Concept

Abraham's Spiritual Seed

Christ and the New Covenant

Jesus Christ Rules on David's Eternal Throne

The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of Christ

The Character of the True Israel, Old and New

The Promises of God to Abraham

How God Brings Us into the True Israel

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7. The Promises of God to Abraham

We have given Scriptural proof that the true Israel of God consists not in Abraham's seed after the flesh: "For these are not the children of God" (Rom 9:8), but consists in the children of the promise given to Abraham through the true Seed who is Christ. "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen [Gentiles] through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham...Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed which is Christ...therefore there is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus, and if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:7-9, 16, 28, 29).

Now the question is asked: When did God give Abraham these promises that the nations of the earth would be blessed through him, that his spiritual seed would be Christ and that those who by faith in Him would be heirs with Him of the same promises?

To answer this: let us go back to Genesis, the book of beginnings and listen as God speaks to Abraham. When we read the Scriptural account of the life of Abraham we find that there were four promises made to him by God Himself. They were: (1) the promise to make the descendants of Abraham into a great nation, (2) the promise of a great posterity, (3) the promise that Abraham's descendants would inherit the land of Canaan and (4) above all, the promise of the Messiah.

Let us look at each one of these and see how they were fulfilled, especially that last one concerning the promise of the Messiah and how we by faith in Him have the fulfillment of this promise as the spiritual seed of Abraham.

A. The Promise of a Great Nation

First: the promise to make the descendants of Abraham into a great nation. "Now the LORD said unto Abram, Get thee out of...thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing" (Gen 12:1, 2). Was God faithful to perform that which He had spoken? Yes, some 400 years after His covenant with Abraham this promise was fulfilled. God had shown Abraham in Genesis 15:13 and 14 that there would be a 400 year delay, but the time came when it was fulfilled. Also, the Lord confirmed the

promise to Jacob, Abraham's grandson: He said, "I am God, the God of thy father; fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation" (Gen 46:3).

This great promise was fulfilled under the leadership of Moses as the Israelites came forth out of bondage in Egypt, and under Joshua as they achieved their mighty victories in the land of Canaan. In Deuteronomy 2:25, we read that Moses testified that God caused the other nations to respect the greatness of Israel.

In exhorting the Israelites to obedience to the God of Abraham, Moses said: "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for" (Deut 4:6, 7). If you would read chapters 8-12 of Joshua, you would find that they testify to the unmistakable greatness of the nation of Israel as it marched triumphantly through the land of Canaan; and King David, looking back on those victories many years later, was moved to cry out to the Lord: "What one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his own people, to make thee a name of greatness and terribleness, by driving out nations from before thy people?" (1Ch 17:21)

We see then that this first promise to Abraham was fulfilled, for God had made of Abraham's physical seed a great nation which reached its zenith of power, strength, and glory, under the reigns of David and Solomon.

B. The Promise of a Great Posterity

The second promise made to Abraham was the promise of a great posterity, that his descendants would be too numerous to count: God said,"And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered" (Gen 13:16). "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, so shall thy seed be" (15:5). "As the sand which is upon the sea shore so shall thy seed be" (22:17).

We know that without the shadow of a doubt God fulfilled this promise as His Word confirms. Listen to king Solomon praying: "O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude" (2Ch 1:9) Moses said to Israel: "The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude" (Deut 1:10). And the writer of Hebrews agreed that the promise had been fulfilled: "Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude" (Heb 11:12).

And then finally we read that during the reign of Solomon: "Judah and Israel were as many as the sand which is by the sea in multitude" (1Ki 4:20); and Hebrews affirms there sprang from Abraham descendants as innumerable "as the sand which is by the sea shore" (11:12).

So we see then that this promise was also fulfilled, for God surely made the physical seed of Abraham as the dust of the earth, as the sand of the sea, and as the stars of heaven for multitude.

C. The Promise of Inheritance

Now the third thing promised to Abraham was that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan. God repeated this promise many times: "Unto thy seed will I give this land" (Gen 12:7); "Lift up thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever" (Gen 13:14, 15); "I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" (Gen 15:7, 18); "I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession" (Gen 17:8). Was God faithful to perform that which He had spoken? Yes, hundreds of years later the descendants of Abraham went on to possess in peace all the land which the Lord had promised to them: "And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein, and the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass" (Jos 21:43-45).

Did the land they ruled really reach all the way from Egypt to the river Euphrates as promised by God in Genesis 15:18? "Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt" (1Ki 4:21). Was that river the Euphrates? Solomon "had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah" (1Ki 4:24). Tiphsah was located on the Euphrates in Mesopotamia.

Why are we raising these questions? Because it is proclaimed by some today that God did not keep His promise to Israel at that time, and they did not rule over all the land; and therefore He must give Christ an earthly reign so these promises may be fulfilled. But these have already been fulfilled and God has kept His Word.

D. The Promise of the Messiah

Now the fourth promise made to Abraham was the promise of the Messiah. This greatest of all the promises was not expressed to Abraham, or to Isaac or Israel, in those terms, but the true meaning of God's Word has long ago been shown to us. God said to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob or Israel: "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). And the apostle Paul was shown by divine revelation the identity of the Seed in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ" (Gal 3:16). This is the greatest of all the promises, that Abraham would bless the nations through his seed, Christ.

Has that promise been fulfilled? "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal 4:4); "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Yes, Christ came to redeem His people from their sins. He came as "the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom 1:3), and in Him "all the promises of God are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God" (2Co 1:20).

These promises are all spiritual promises made to Abraham's seed, Christ, and to us; and we are therefore heirs of these promises, and rightly called: "the true Israel of God."

"And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen [Gentile] through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham" (Gal 3:8, 9). We find here then that the only way of blessing is to be a spiritual seed of Abraham and not a physical seed, for the blessing came through Christ only by the gospel; and this is the promise which God has given to us.

The only way in which we can be partakers of the promises is by the new birth: or as one puts it, "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2Pe 1:4).

We must be born into the spiritual kingdom of God. This work is accomplished only by the Holy Spirit who plants in our hearts the incorruptible seed of the Word of God and makes us new creatures in Christ. This He does by calling us from the grave of sin (Eph 2:1-3), convicting us of the awful sin of unbelief (John 16:7-11), bringing us by the law to shut our mouths and to stand guilty before God (Rom 3:19, 20), to cry: "God be merciful to me, the sinner" (Luke 18:13), to work in our hearts that godly sorrow which worketh repentance to salvation (2Co 7:10), to shut us up to the faith-way of salvation in Christ (Gal 3:24) and to reveal Christ in us (Gal 1:16) so that we may say: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

Having brought us to Christ, shown us our guilty, lost condition before God, and caused us to look away to Christ forever from every false hope, and this by faith, the Holy Spirit brings us by His Word into the realization that we are now heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17) and have been made to "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:6). Therefore we rule and reign with Him upon the earth as a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that we should show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1Pe 2:9).

Halleluia! Praise His holy and righteous name for His marvellous grace that "has made us kings and priests unto God" (Rev 1:6; 20:6) and therefore called "Blessed" by God Himself.