Finding Yourself in the Bible
J. Dan Gill
Not being a descendant of Abraham, I never anticipated that promises God long ago made to him and his offspring would be of consequence to me. But it is here that all of us who are not children of Abraham find ourselves in God’s plans. Notice that YHWH tells him:
And through your offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice (Gen. 22:18).
It is the matter of extended blessings that makes God’s covenant with this man of special interest to us. The blessings of the covenant with Abraham ultimately extend to people of all nations. Through his descendants many will be blessed.¹
We who are not descendants of Abraham might ask, “How then shall these blessings come to us?” In the New Testament, centuries after Abraham and Sarah had died, the Apostle Peter sees the ultimate fulfillment of the blessings to the nations as coming through a particular one of Abraham’s descendants: the one Peter calls “Christ” (Acts 2:38). The apostle speaks to his fellow Jews regarding him:
You are the children of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, “Through your offspring will all peoples of the earth be blessed.” When God raised up his servant, he sent him to you first, to bless you by turning each of you from your sinful ways (Acts 3:25, 26).
It is their connection to Abraham by which his descendants are blessed. As Jews they are heirs of the covenant God made with him. From Peter we further learn that it is by relationship to the Messiah, the Christ, that all nations will be blessed. Such is the nature of God’s extended blessings: By the faith and obedience of one, many are benefited.
I still remember reading the Scriptures when for the first time I realized that the story of God’s covenant with Abraham is not just a matter of early human history. Rather, it is something that affects me. As I read, I began to feel a sense of connection to Abraham — an ancient person of faith. And for the first time I found myself realizing that God’s blessings to me are through him and a particular one of his descendants, the one that Peter described as the Christ — Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 3:20).
What does God seek? He desires relationship with human beings. And he wants that, not only with the descendants of Abraham, but people in all of the nations. That includes me! The God who created us wants to bless us. And through his promises to Abraham and his descendant the Messiah, he has made a way for that to happen. If I will connect with the Messiah, I will be blessed by God. I too can be an heir of God’s covenant with Abraham. I too can be a friend of God. I can call him “Father.”
Waiting for God’s Messiah
The birth of the Messiah and the ultimate fulfillment of the promise of blessings to all nations were centuries into the future from Abraham. The nations would have to wait. What happened with Abraham’s offspring while the nations were waiting? Much in every regard. Through those centuries, Abraham’s descendants were a blessing to the nations. It was those descendants who held forth the knowledge of the one true God of heaven and earth. It is they who knew his name is YHWH. It is from them that true prophets came who spoke God’s word. It is Abraham’s descendants who preserved that word in the Scriptures.² That included the words of the prophets regarding the Messiah; his birth and the ultimate fulfilling of the promises that God made to Abraham.³
(1) The promise of blessings to all nations/peoples is not to be understood as indicating universal salvation. There are those in Israel and among the nations who refuse to believe and thus are not partakers in the covenant or the blessings (Rom. 11:20, 21).
(2) Romans 3:1, 2.
(3) Acts 3:24–26.