When God called Abram, He promised to make him into a great nation, to make his name great. Does that sound familiar at all? Two weeks prior to “God’s Covenant with Abraham” in The Gospel Project for Kids, the kids studied the story “The Tower of Babel.” The people who built the tower said, “Let us make a name for ourselves” (Gen. 11:4). They wanted their name to be great. They didn’t want to be scattered all over the earth as God had commanded; they wanted to be a great nation. But their motivation was their own pride.
In the next chapter, Genesis 12, God calls Abram and says, “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” (Gen. 12:2, emphasis added). God was going to do for Abram what He had refused to let the people at Babel do for themselves. And it wasn’t for Abram’s pride that He would do it. God would bless Abram so that he would be a blessing.
When God called Abram, he didn’t lay out His whole plan before Abram. He simply said, “Go.” God didn’t tell Abram exactly where he was going. God promised to give Abram’s offspring the land of Canaan. (Gen. 12:5-7) He promised to make Abram’s offspring as numerous as the dust on the earth and the stars in the sky. (Gen. 13:16; 15:5)
Abram must have felt God’s promises were far off. He was promised a land, but he was still a nomad. God promised him numerous descendants, but his wife was still barren. God spoke to Abram:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”
Genesis 15:1 (NIV)
Although God had again spoken to Abram, were not the divine words only words, when the reality was so different? God promised not merely to give Abram a reward, but to be Abram’s Reward. There was no greater blessing possible. God would Himself be the inheritance and portion of Abram and his seed.
Edmund P. Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament
In Galatians 3:16, the apostle Paul says, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.”
God’s promise to Abraham was this: Jesus is coming! God’s plan to redeem the world from sin and bring people back to Himself was going to happen through Abraham. And God kept His promise.
Matthew 1:1 says that Jesus is a descendant of Abraham. And what was that phrase Jesus repeated throughout His public ministry? “Follow Me.” It was the same message God gave to Abraham. Take My hand and follow Me.
Jesus preached that He was the promised Messiah. He came to deal with the sin problem. When the Jews asked Him, “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?” (John 8:53), Jesus said yes. Then He said, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
Understanding God’s promise to Abraham is essential for understanding the rest of the Old Testament. God was working out all things to bring into the world His Son, Jesus Christ—Abraham’s offspring, blessing, and great reward. Through Jesus, all the nations of the earth are blessed. (Gen. 22:18)