Abraham’s Fulfillment Genesis 12:1-3; John 1:1-18

Introduction:  We’ve spent a significant amount of time looking at the promises God gave to Abraham, which has given us a framework for understanding how God works through promises to his people.  Today we’re gonna use that framework to look specifically at the how God works out these promises through the Bible’s history and even into the future.

One of our texts today is John 1, which doesn’t explicitly quote any of Abraham’s promises.  What I hope to show you by using John 1 is that the Bible’s story of God’s grace to his people is built on the promises of God.  And those promises are fulfilled in Jesus, beginning with his incarnation and one day, ultimately fulfilled in his return.  They aren’t quoted in John 1, but the NT is bigger than a series of quotations, it’s the story of God’s grace through Christ Jesus our covenant mediator, our savior.  What I’m saying is that Jesus’ incarnation was the beginning of the fulfillment of the New Covenant which extended the Abrahamic covenant through Christ’s completed work. 

A quick reminder of the covenants in the Bible:  there was the Adamic Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant.  Each of these covenants tells us something new about God’s grace.  God’s grace doesn’t change, but through these acts of self-revelation in the covenants, God explains his grace more deeply to his people.

What that means is that it’s important to read the Bible as a story that unfolds through those covenants.  Each one tells us something new about God’s grace.   So, before we run straight to Jesus from Genesis 12, we recognize that there’s a trajectory being worked out through Abrham’s promises in the OT.  That trajectory will show us that God’s plan was always being worked out in the daily life of his people.

Seeing that God does work that way—in the day in, day out, drudgery, the trials, the triumphs, the joys and suffering of his people, well that should resuscitate our faith if it’s weak.  It should confirm our faith in His strength, because it reminds us that God is strong and his plan won’t ever fail.  Because as his people lived their lives, God was always working. And he was always working to do what he said he would do—fulfill those promises.  He’s given us a roadmap in his promises, telling us where he’s headed, seeing him guide Abraham, Israel, Moses, David and the prophets to Jesus should be encouraging that he’s doing that now for us.

 His providence is always invisible to our physical eyes, and his providence sometimes runs counter to what we believe God’s plan dictates.  But God’s plan won’t fail.  Do you find yourself in a particularly difficult place or season of life that you question whether you should be in it, or doing this at all?  Well, rest assured Jeremiah had those thoughts too when he sunk knee-deep in the mud at the bottom of that well he was thrown into.  This is God’s plan for your life.  The eyes in your head might not see it, but the eyes of your heart should be willing to trust God in it.

Reading the story of God’s promised work should also remind us that where we’re going is so much better than where we are—the Promised Land was so much better than all the leeks and cucumbers of Egypt, those leeks and cucumbers that the Israelites groaned for so many times in the wilderness.  Yet, God brought the nation into the fulfilment of the Promised Land.  So too, the groaning of our lives, will one day give birth to the inexpressible joy of Christ’s presence—the fulness of the Promised Land!

If we can learn to read the Bible this way it will enable us to keep our Savior at the center of our devotions and therefore we’re more apt to keep him at the center our lives.  It equips us to live with one eye on heaven.

So, what I’m going to do is look at each of the four promises given to Abraham, people, place, presence, program, and first we’ll see how they began to be fulfilled in Israel before the Kingdom, before the Davidic covenant, and then we’ll see how they were first fulfilled in Solomon, David’s heir, the first Son of David (a clearly messianic title and type), then see their fulfilment in Christ, and, finally their fulfilment for us now, before Jesus’ return.  Those promises are the basis of our hope.  We’re only looking at the first two today, People and Place.  Presence and program will be for next week.

  1. People—this extends beyond number, it also means making Abraham a nation
    1. Moses’ time
      1. Number:  Exodus 1:7 tells us it’s because God caused Israel to swell in population they were oppressed in Egypt
      1. Nation:  Exodus 19:5,6 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
        1. Then what follows is the book of the covenant, containing the moral law in the Ten Commandments and the case law that shows how to apply the Moral law to all of life.
        1. First God called them a nation then he gave them the Laws of the land that transformed them from Abraham’s giant family into a true nation.
    1. Under David and Solomon the number of people grew and the nation had been given a king.
      1. Of course, Saul helped too, but ultimately, Saul was the people’s choice for being King—David was God’s choice.  David received the covenant and Solomon inherited it.
    1. Fast forward to Jesus:  the people aren’t a political nation anymore, we are only a people of faith, a nation without borders living like pilgrims on the way to a new world.  Or like freed slaves from Egypt on the way to Canaan.  But just like Isaac was born to Abraham according to God’s promise, God’s people have to born again according to his promise.
      1. I’m not saying Isaac was regenerate from birth, I’m just making the comparison that Isaac was born according to God’s promise, and believers are born again according to the promise.
      1. John 1:12  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
    1. And what is our current hope?  How does the people promise work out in the church?
      1. 1 Peter picks up Moses’ words to Israel at Mt. Sinai indicating that the church is Israel and we are precious in God’s sight.  Peter wrote this book at the beginning of one of the worst persecutions of the church in history, he wrote to comfort Jesus’ bride. 
      1. 1 Peter 2:9-10  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
      1. The comfort is this, God has a sinless selfishness for his possessions—no one can take what is his, and no one can hurt them unless it serves his greater purpose.  Take heart in this truth:  God’s providence tends to all creation, yes—it rains on the righteous and the wicked—but for God’s people his providence is specially focused on improving you into a reflection of Christ’s glory.  Making you into a holy person whose heart desires to know God’s heart, and a will that is inclined to God’s will.
  2. Place—for Abraham the place God gave him was just a wisp of a thought, really.  He lived as a nomad in that place for most of his 52 years as a believer.  But Abraham believed God, and left Ur of the Chaldees for Canaan, and everywhere he put down his tent stakes it seems that he built an altar to worship God. 
    1. Under Moses Israel left the land of Egypt and marched to Canaan.
      1. God had already Abraham that his nation, his children, would be enslaved and then freed before they could inherit the Promised Land.
      1. Genesis 15:13-14  Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.
      1. God planned for Israel to be enslaved in Egypt and then brought them out!  God is the nation’s redeemer—who  gave the captives liberty and opened the prison doors that kept his people bound in slavery.
      1. In fact, the sabbath command in Deuteronomy 5:15 cites their redemption as a reason for their weekly rest. “ You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
    1. After Moses, Joshua led the conquest of Canaan, giving the Israelites the beginning of the promised land.  Of course, the conquest stalled out under the judges, but by God’s grace the conquest was continued by Saul and David and fulfilled during Solomon’s reign.
      1. This is important.  God’s promise of place is first fulfilled through the Son of David, Solomon, a type of Christ.
      1. 1 Kings 4:22-24 reflects this.  Because the place isn’t just supposed to be a land with protected borders, it’s a land of rest, of sabbath, a land of peace.
      1. 1 kings 4:22-24 Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty cors of fine flour and sixty cors of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty pasture-fed cattle, a hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl. For he had dominion over all the region west of the Euphrates from Tiphsah to Gaza, over all the kings west of the Euphrates. And he had peace on all sides around him.
      1. Let me say something about this.  You probably know that Solomon wasn’t always the best Christian—he had 700 wives and 300 concubines, who brought idols into Israel and they drew his heart from God.  His reign wasn’t always peaceful.  He basically enslaved his own people to feed his desires as king. 
      1. But at the beginning of his reign, when his heart was true, God gave peace to Israel.   And the Bible records it this way to show us how God is fulfilling his promises to Abraham through Solomon the king and ultimately through the true son of David.
      1. Under Solomon The Promised Land became a place of rest, a place of peace!  It was the Sabbath land. Even in turbulent times, God gives peace to his people.
    1. In Jesus we have peace even though the world rages all around us, we don’t have a physical place, but a spiritual place.  We look forward to the day when our place is both, physical and spiritual, but for now Jesus’ work equips us, by the Holy Spirit in us, to transcend the earthly realm to be with him in a spiritual place where his peace reigns.
      1. John 14:1-2  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
      1. As Christ is preparing a place for us, His Spirit is preparing us for that place!
    1. For the Church—we are the place Abraham was promised.  All the promises of the OT were spiritual, but with physical components that point beyond themselves.  The Church, the nation of Israel, is God’s place, built for his glory and the peace of his people.
      1. 1 Peter 2:4-6 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”