“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1–3).
THIS TEXT RECORDS GOD’S FAMOUS CALL FOR ABRAHAM TO LEAVE HIS HOME IN UR. It also summarizes the remarkable promises that God made to Abraham concerning the future of his family.
First, God was going to lead Abraham to a land that would be given (over four hundred years later) to the family of Jacob, one of Abraham’s grandsons. Next, God said He would make Abraham’s descendants so numerous that they would constitute a great nation. And finally, God said the whole world would be blessed “in you,” i.e., “in your seed” (Genesis 22:18 NKJV). Since “seed” here is singular rather than plural, this refers to the Messiah, the Savior who descended from Abraham, as Paul points out in Galatians 3:16.
Of these three, only the Seed promise was universal and ultimate in its scope. The land that God gave to Abraham’s descendants has fulfilled its purpose in the history of salvation, and so has the physical nation of Israel. The Messiah having come and God’s plan now being complete, the preliminaries have been laid aside (Galatians 3:24–26). Consequently, the people of God are those from every tribe and tongue who have been justified by faith, the same kind of trust that Abraham was known for. Of course, not even Abraham could have been justified by his faith without the sacrifice of Christ, so Christ’s sacrifice works backward in time just as it works forward (Hebrews 9:15; 11:1–40). Every person who inhabits heaven will have gotten there on the same basis as Abraham: the obedience of faith, based on the sacrifice of Christ. Abraham, then, is the prime example of how salvation works; he is the forefather of all who trust in God’s promises enough to actually walk by faith. And when the whole host of Abraham’s spiritual family gets together in heaven, what a reunion that’s going to be!
“The physical aspects of God’s promise to Abraham were but a means to the far more important and eternal end of salvation from sins for all mankind. ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek . . . you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:26–29)” (Robert F. Turner).