Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 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." (Genesis 12:1-3)
These are some of the most strategic promises in the word of God. They are repeated to Abraham (Genesis 13:14-18; 15:5; 17:1-8; 22:17-18). They are confirmed to Isaac (Genesis 26:2-4, 24) and to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-14; 35:9-12). They are woven throughout the Old Testament (Nehemiah 9:7-8; Psalm 105:6-11; Isaiah 51:2). They are elaborated upon in prominent chapters of the New Testament (Romans 4; 9; Galatians 3; 4; Hebrews 6; 7; 11). Ultimately, we will see that these promises are at the root of the new covenant of grace.
These promises to Abraham flow forth one upon another. This is so typical of our God of promises. He does not merely sprinkle His word with a promise here and there. He pours them out like a cascading stream. Included within these divine commitments are some of the monumental purposes of God: namely, a Promised Land, the nation of Israel, the Messiah, and worldwide missions.
First, God's promises included a Promised Land. "Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you." This new land would be spacious, with bountiful provision: "a good and large land...a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:8). Then, in that land of blessing, God would develop the nation of Israel. "I will make you a great nation." Eventually, through that nation, Messiah would be birthed, fulfilling the promise to bring God's blessings to all who would believe. "In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." The Lord Jesus would be that specific, individual seed that would offer God's blessed salvation to all the world. "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" (Galatians 3:16). This promise contained the gospel. "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, 'In you all the nations shall be blessed'" (Galatians 3:8). The gospel is the good news of God's saving grace. This good news is for all the world to hear.