Now the LORD had said 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." (Gen.12:1-3)
This was God's Covenant with Abraham, which takes a ritual in chapter 15, and is composed of five promises: the promise of a land, the promise of a nation, the promise of making his name great, the promise of making him a blessing, and the promise that all the families of the earth shall be blessed in him. History has seen its fulfillment.
1. A Land
When Abraham went to Palestine, he sojourned there in tents all his life. His son Isaac, and grandson Jacob also lived in tents. That land was never theirs - they were strangers in it. The only possession that Abraham had was the tomb that he bought to bury his wife Sarah. But, God gave a prophetic word with a promise in Chapter 15:
Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." (Gen 15:13-16)
Accordingly, under Moses, the people returned to Canaan land and, later, under Joshua's leadership took the land. Historically, since the land belonged to the Israelites. God also prophesied that if the people rebel against God's Covenant (made through Moses), He would take them out of the land. That did happen when Assyria invaded Israel and Babylon took Judah into captivity.
The law of the Sabbath had a special relation to the land, and there were several laws related to the land that made sure that the Jews were not landless, but everyone had a share in the Promised Land. When the people broke the Sabbatical laws, God prophesied that He would uproot them out of the land so that the land would get its sabbatical rest (2Chr 36:21).
However, He also promised that He'll gather them back to their land. So, when Israel was formed again in 1948, the world knew that this prophecy was fulfilled for a people who wandered through the nations for several years; but, now had come home.
2. A Nation
This refers to the people's ethnicity. They were Abraham's offspring. That's one reason why genealogies were important among the Jews. Anyone not found in the family tree could not be considered to be a Jew.
In the New Testament, the Christians are called offspring of Abraham according to his faith. However, according to the flesh, it is the Jews who are the children of Abraham.
Interestingly, Esau was not considered into this line of the promise. It was because he chose to give up his birthright and name in the family. He excommunicated himself for a morsel of food, and that was taken seriously, because what he sold was the substance that bought his food. He had no more chance for repentance.
So, the children of Jacob or the children of Israel (as Jacob was also called after his experience at Peniel) became known as the Jews.
The New Testament records that God didn't forsake this nation. They have a place in God's plan which will unwind at the end of times. Of course, the Anti-Christ will make a covenant with them according to Daniel 9 and, perhaps, also assist in building the temple that he'll defile; but, the Messiah will return to destroy the demonic ruler and to establish the Kingdom of righteousness.
3. A Great Name
Though Abraham became great in his own time, it was through the nation that he gave birth to that his name was known to the entire world. The Jews call him "Father Abraham". The Hebrews or the Jews have had a significant name in the rolls of history.
4. A Reciprocal Blessing
God called Abraham to make him a blessing to the world. And, indeed, he became. The promise stated that those who bless him will be blessed and those that cursed him will be cursed. In the past, we've witnessed what evil anti-semitism had caused against this people. But, those who blessed Abraham, were blessed indeed.
5. A Messianic Blessing
This refers to the blessing of Abraham through the Messiah. This is the spiritual dimension of the promise and is not according to flesh (the believers are not circumcised Jews) but is according to faith. They are children of God, born by the Word of God. So, inheritors of the promises of God.
© Domenic Marbaniang, 2010