God promised to give Abraham all that he longed for … and more
Genesis 22:18 “Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Human beings haven’t changed much in 4,000 years. The longing for children and the desire for land still surge up with surprising emotional power.
Consider the estimated six million American couples—one in seven would-be parents—who are unable to have children. For most of them, this brings deep anguish. Or think about the people who work double shifts, sacrificing their free time in order to own a home rather than rent.
Abraham would have understood. When God wanted his attention, he promised him land and more sons than he could count. To a Babylonian emigrant, 75 years old and childless, owning nothing but his tents and animals, the promises sounded wonderful. In fact, they sounded impossible. Yet, because God himself was making the promise, Abraham “believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).
For the God who had created the heavens and the earth, making good on the promises ought to have been a snap. But God did not make it easy for Abraham. Not until 25 years later, when Abraham was 100, did the promise of a son come true. Then, incredibly, God told Abraham to make a human sacrifice of his young son.
Astonishingly, Abraham followed God’s orders. And God gave him back his son.
Far From Fulfilled
When Abraham died, God’s promises were far from fully realized. Abraham had only that one son to cling to. His only land was a burial plot. He still lived in a tent, and his only permanent structures were altars erected to worship the God who had made all those promises.
God, having promised him everything a man of that time could want, apparently wanted Abraham to think even bigger thoughts. He had slipped some words in along with the promises of offspring and land: “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). God wanted to bless, not just Abraham, but the whole world. Thousands of years later, in the time of Jesus, the full meaning of those words would become clear (see Galatians 3:6–9,16–18).
What kind of promises does God make today? What longings does he fulfill?