The beginning of the “real history’ of the Jewish people is a set of promises that in many ways underlies the rest of the Old Testament and arguably the New Testament as well when we consider the fact that it is Jesus who actually fulfills these promises. As D.A.J. Clines suggests, the Old Testament is the story of the partial fulfillment and thus partial non-fulfillment of the promises God made to Abraham.

These three promises can be summarized as promises of Land, Blessing and Progeny – God promises Abraham these three things even though they must seem almost laughable to Abraham given the situation. Abraham is a wealthy man and needs none of these promises (except the one about children), which makes it all the more astounding that Abraham actually responds to God’s call. Unless he is obsessed about having a child, it makes no sense at all for him to leave everything he has on the dim hope of a promise from a God with whom he is barely acquainted.

Yet, we know that Abraham did respond and the rest, as they say, is history! Abraham’s response has paved the way for a multitude of other people to make their responses to God’s call. This is the nature of faithfulness in that it more often than not will provide opportunities for others to deepen their relationships with God, not just the individual primarily concerned. As Paul will tell us a couple of thousand years later, “faith builds upon faith.”

The Jews see the fulfillment of these promises in terms of the land of Israel given to them by God for their own; recognition that they are a great People by other nations; and the understanding that the Jewish people, in that they are men and women of faith are the sons and daughters of Abraham.

As Christians we believe that the Promised Land is in heaven, not on earth; the Blessings are those that come with the gift of Salvation; and we all become sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

How do I see myself in relation to the promises God made to Abraham? Have I ever considered them in terms of my own life?

Jesus, help me to open my heart and mind to the truth of the Scriptures so that I will be able to discern their true meaning and know how to apply them to my own life.