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.
The above is one of the most remarkable promises in the Bible. Made to Abram while he was still childless, this promise was fulfilled through multiple horizons over centuries. God’s twofold promise was that then childless Abram would be the father of a great nation that would bless the nations of the earth. The other part of the twofold promise was God’s promise to give Abram’s offspring the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:7).
Firstly, the promise of descendants and a great nation begins to be fulfilled with the miraculous birth of Isaac. Secondly, the promise gathers momentum with Jacob and his twelve sons. Centuries later, a new epoch dawns with Moses and the covenant of Sinai. And there the nation of Israel, the offspring of Abraham, is constituted by God, not simply as Abraham’s family, but as a nation holy to God.
Fourthly, under Joshua, the fulfilment of God’s promise concerning the land takes place. Then the promise of land and the promise to be a blessing to other nations finds yet further and greater fulfilment under King Solomon. Here the nations are blessed by his wisdom, and the entire Promised Land is under Israel’s control, with rest on every side.
Fifthly, as Paul makes clear in Galatians and Romans, the true promised offspring wasn’t Isaac or Jacob or David or Solomon. It was Jesus, the Seed of the woman. And through faith in Jesus, men and women from every nation are blessed, as they become children of Abraham.
This spiritual family-nation (1 Pet. 2:9) spreads to the very ends of the earth. And yet, like Abraham, this nation is once again homeless, living as aliens and strangers in the world (Hebrews 11:9-10). However, the promises of a great nation in the land under God’s blessing and rule are ultimately fulfilled in a new heaven and new earth, in which all the people of God from both Testaments, form one new humanity in God’s perfect new creation (see Hebrews 4, Revelation 21-22).
You and I are beneficiaries of the fulfilment of that Abrahamic promise and blessing, fulfilled in several horizons across the ages. We are part and parcel of God’s exceedingly great and precious promises and Redemption Story. Hallelujah!