“I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen 12:3). God made this important promise to Abraham as an integral part of His scheme of redemption for all mankind. The “seed” in the promise refers to Jesus Christ, whose appearance many centuries later brought the blessing of hope to all nations (Gal. 3:16). Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is the focal point of God’s scheme of redemption, and through Christ man has access to all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). Consider the ramifications of this vital passage:
The Promise Remembered — Throughout her history, the nation of Israel was referred to as the “chosen people” of God. God’s special dealings with Israel were directly related to what He promised Abraham (the father of the Hebrew people) in Genesis 12:3. God established a covenant, called the Law of Moses, with Israel at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19ff). Further, God sent angels and prophets to Israel over the years in order to warn His people about the consequences of unfaithfulness to His will. It says something utterly astounding about God’s character that through 2000 years of recorded history, He always remembered His promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. When Jesus arrived, His credentials as the Seed of Abraham could be well established through 42 generations (Matt. 1:1-17).
The Promise Fulfilled — The fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham came many centuries after Abraham died. Paul speaks about the foresight of God in Galatians 3:8, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham.” The Jews had difficulty accepting the fact that God had meant exactly what He said when He told Abraham that, “all nations,” would be blessed through his seed. Many Jews proudly assumed that they were a special people because they were more righteous than their pagan neighbors. On the contrary, the children of Israel were primarily chosen for the purpose of keeping Abraham’s lineage pure until Jesus should come. When the promise to Abraham was fulfilled, national Israel ceased to be the focus of God’s plan for redemption (cf. John 8:31-59). Paul told the Ephesians, who were having difficulties along this line, “[Christ] reconciled both [Jew and Gentile] unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby (Eph 2:16).” When the promise to Abraham was fulfilled, all nations of the earth were indeed blessed by the appearance of God’s only Son.
The Promise Is For All — When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Covenant that God had made with Abraham’s physical descendants (Rom. 7:1-6; Col. 2:11-14). Not only that, but He simultaneously established a New Covenant based on His sacrifice for the sins of the world (Heb. 8-10). Now, both Jews and Gentiles are blessed to have a part in the promise that God made to Abraham nearly 4000 years ago. Instead of being a physical descendant of Abraham, those who are Christians are the spiritual descendants of Abraham (Gal. 3:26-29). Christians have participated in the “new birth” of baptism (John 3:5) and have therefore identified themselves with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Himself (Rom. 6:1-6).
God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2), and much of the story of redemption in Scripture hinges on His promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. The promise to bless all nations through Abraham’s Seed is one for which every Christian should be eternally thankful. What a great God we serve — He makes gracious promises and keeps them! — JB