One of the great threads that runs through the Bible relates to the promises that GOD made to Abraham. We find these promises in Genesis chapters 12, 15, & 22. Three promises are made to Abraham; his descendants will become a great nation, they will inherit the land of Canaan, and in his seed all families of the earth will be blessed. The first promise was realized during their bondage in Egypt. The second promise began to be fulfilled at the end of the exodus and was finally fully realized under David and Solomon. The historical content of the Old Testament further describes this nation of Abraham’s descendants and how they handled their inheritance in the land. Those blessing were conditional relative to their faithfulness to GOD. Their failure to be faithful is why their status as a nation and their possession of the land changed from time to time.
These two threads were explored fully in the Old Testament. As a nation, they had their own law given by GOD through Moses. They had their own boundaries defended by their own armies. They had their own kings. Their identity was separate from the nations around them. These characteristics show the limited scope of the physical nation of Israel.
However, the third promise, the third thread, is only tangentially a part of the history of the nation of Israel, but it is richly represented in the prophecies given to them. This third promise is the blessing of Abraham. It would only be fully consummated after the coming of Christ in the New Testament. GOD’s promises to Abraham for the physical nation of Israel were primarily material in nature. As such they were temporary and limited to that one nation. But this third promise would be spiritual and eternal and be for people of all nations.
That third thread actually began before Abraham all the way back in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned there were grave consequences, but there was also a great promise. Consider the words of GOD to the serpent in Genesis 3:15. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; HE shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Here we are told about a descendant of Eve who will oppose the serpent. Although Satan will bruise his heel (a minor wound), He, Jesus, will bruise the head of the serpent (a death blow). Scholars almost unanimously understand this to be the first promise in the Bible of the coming of Christ. This is consistent with the promises and prophecies below.
The third promise of GOD to Abraham goes far beyond the nation of Israel to encompass a blessing on all Families of the earth. Genesis 12:3 “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.” When GOD repeats this promise in Genesis 22:18 HE makes it clear this refers to Abraham’s seed. His descendant will be the instrument of this blessing. “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Paul makes it absolutely clear that this seed is Jesus Christ in Galatians 3:16. “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.” Peter also referenced this promise in Acts 3:25 to persuade the Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. To have the blessedness of Abraham, we all must accept Jesus.
So, what is the blessedness of Abraham. It is nothing short of salvation from sin. It is being in a covenant relationship with GOD. In that relationship, our sins are not counted against us, just like Abraham. Paul describes this blessing in Romans 4:5-8. “… his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.” This is accomplished by faith! That means we don’t have to be perfect to be saved.
This also means that all people of true faith in Jesus can be saved. Salvation is not reserved just for the nation of Israel. It is not limited to any one people, color, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc. It is a choice. When we choose to believe, we can enter into a state of forgiveness, because GOD will cover our sins with the blood of Jesus.
Christ died so “That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14). Anyone can choose this.
This is a total change of life. It begins with faith and obedience in baptism. Paul describes how this totally changes us in Romans 6:2-7. “… How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7For he who has died has been freed from sin.” This is how faith acts to free us from sin.
Having died to sin in baptism, we now have the blessedness of Abraham, the forgiveness of sins.
Dr. J. L. Edwards