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Bible verses about Promises to Patriarchs
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 12:1-3

God remembers the Gentiles when He calls Abraham, promising that every nation, "all the families of the earth," will be blessed in the blessings of Abraham. Paul, "the apostle to the Gentiles" (Romans 11:13), carries the thought to its conclusion when he asserts that the line demarcating Jew and Gentile disappears in Christ: "[T]here is neither Jew nor Greek; . . . for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:28-29).

Charles Whitaker
Peter's Trumpets Message—on Pentecost


 

Genesis 12:1-3

God appears to Abraham while he is in Haran, calling him to Canaan. Abram, as his name was at that time, was 75, and he "departed as the LORD had spoken to him" (verse 4), not knowing to what land he was going. The promise at his calling is very general. God particularizes it in a number of iterations. In these further rehearsals, God embellishes this first promise.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part One): The Promises to the Faithful


 

Genesis 13:14-15

God commits Himself to giving Abraham this land forever. The concept of eternity enters the picture early in God's relationship with Abraham.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part One): The Promises to the Faithful


 

Genesis 15:18-21

Genesis 15:18-21 provides a detailed delineation of the land God gave to Abraham. The territory extends from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part One): The Promises to the Faithful


 

Genesis 22:16-18

Genesis 22:16-18 records God's embellishment of the promise on the occasion of Abraham's "sacrifice" of his son Isaac. God promises to multiply Abraham and to give him control of strategic military and commercial positions, "gates," in his enemies' territories. As we will see, this promise speaks of the geopolitical advantage God later gave Abraham's descendents. God bases this promise on Abraham's obedience of the command to sacrifice his son, Isaac, a sacrifice God of course stopped just before the knife fell. Note, too, that this promise has the effect of an oath, in that God swears by Himself.

Since this is the last recorded promise to Abraham, it is fitting that God should refer to His first promise, recorded in Genesis 12:1-3. God reminds Abraham of His promise that his seed would be a blessing to all nations. In Galatians 3:16, Paul makes it plain that this "Seed" is Christ. Christ, who is in the lineage of Abraham, blazed a trail by which all peoples could ultimately develop a relationship with the Father. Christ's work makes it possible for God to be our God, according to the promise of Genesis 17:7-8. Christ is indeed a blessing to all nations.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part One): The Promises to the Faithful


 

Genesis 22:16-18

God does not condition His fulfilling this promise on any expected behavior on the part of Abraham. Its fulfillment is not dependent on Abraham's doing something in the future. This promise, unlike the promises in the later books of the Pentateuch, is an unconditional promise.

Consider, as a second example of an unconditional promise, Genesis 12:7: "Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, 'To your descendants I will give this land.'" That is all there is to the promise. God attaches no ifs, ands, or buts to it at all. God simply says, in effect, "I will do it. Period."

The same could be said of any of the promises to the patriarchs. An analysis of Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:15-16; 15:18-21; 17:6-8; and 35:11-12 will yield this conclusion: In every single instance, the fulfillment of the promise does not depend on any future action or behavior God expected on the part of Abraham, Isaac, or Israel (Jacob). All of these scriptures record unconditional promises.

In making these unconditional promises, God revealed His purpose to the patriarchs, at least in outline. It is a purpose to which God is absolutely committed. He will not allow anything—or anyone—to stand in the way of His executing it. A good example of His resolute determination to carry out His purposes, no matter what individuals may do or think, is an incident which took place as God was about to lead the children of Israel into Canaan.

Fearful of the indigenous population, the children of Israel refused to enter the land—refused, in effect, to believe that God meant what He said when He promised Canaan to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. In their rebellion, they even determined to "select a leader and return to Egypt" (Numbers 14:4). God's people, lacking faith, were actually trying to thwart His purposes. He was so angry with their lack of faith that He thought to "strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and . . . make [Moses] . . . a nation greater and mightier than they" (Numbers 14:12). To fulfill His unconditional promises to Abraham, God was willing to destroy an entire people and raise up another through Moses, through whom He could honor His promises to the patriarchs.

As Numbers 14:13-20 indicates, Moses dissuaded God from taking such drastic action. Nevertheless, the episode illustrates the zeal God displays in honoring His promises. He means business.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Three): The Old Covenant


 

Genesis 22:17

He adds to the dust mentioned in Genesis 13:16: sand and stars, which are considered to be countless. We see here strength, power, greatness in number. And not only that, those who come from Abraham are going to sit in strategic locations like doors and gates, letting people in and out.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 3)


 

Genesis 24:60

Some people "spiritualize away" the promises of God to the Patriarchs. It is certainly true that many of those promises have spiritual meaning and will have spiritual fulfillment. For example, the promise of the eternal possession of the land certainly has reference to spiritual Israel's inheriting the entire world. However, it is unfair to limit God's promises in this way. The promise that Israel would "possess the gates of those who hate them" (Genesis 24:60) is a good example of a physical blessing, one that cannot be "spiritualized away." In Genesis 22:17, the reference is to the "gate of their enemies." However, in God's Kingdom, all that offends will have passed away. All the spirit beings there will enjoy rich, eternal relationships with the children of God. There will be no "enemies"; no one will "hate" others. Clearly, the "gate" promise has its clearest fulfillment in this age; it is a physical blessing God bestowed on Israel after the completion of her 2,520 years of punishment.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Ten): Clues and Answers


 

Genesis 26:3

Notice that God refers to "the oath" (see Genesis 22:16-18) He swore to Isaac's father.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part One): The Promises to the Faithful


 

Genesis 35:11-12

Genesis 35:11-12 restates certain promises God had earlier made to Abraham. God here reiterates His promise to Abraham, as recorded in Genesis 17:5-6, that he would be a father of kings. God also tells Jacob that from him would descend not only a nation, but also a whole company of nations.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part One): The Promises to the Faithful


 

1 Kings 4:20-34

Some people have erroneously interpreted I Kings 4:20-34—a description of Israel's prosperity under Solomon—along with related scriptures, as a fulfillment of God's promises to the patriarchs. They argue that, since God fulfilled them, they have no further meaning today or in prophecy. Is that so?

Now, it is true that the children of Israel experienced God's blessing during Solomon's reign. Specifically, they enjoyed

» Population growth: "Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing" (I Kings 4:20).

» Peace: Solomon "had peace on every side all around him" (I Kings 4:24).

» Vast territories: "Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the [Euphrates] River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt" (I Kings 4:21).

» Wealth: Solomon "made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedars as abundant as the sycamores" (II Chronicles 1:15).

There can be no doubt about it: Israel's stature under Solomon certainly represents a typical fulfillment of God's promises to the patriarchs. However, these blessing were not the final fulfillment. Notice specifically what promises were not fulfilled during Solomon's time:

» Unfulfilled remained God's promise to Abraham that his descendants would possess the land between the Euphrates and Nile Rivers (Genesis 15:18-21). God specifically listed the inhabitants who would ultimately be dispossessed of their territory: the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites. Shortly before they entered Canaan, God instructed Israel, through Moses, concerning the conquering of these territories, as related in Deuteronomy 20:16-18:

. . . Of the cities of these peoples which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite . . . lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.

Following these instructions, Joshua totally destroyed certain peoples: "Joshua took and struck [the cities] with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded" (Joshua 11:12). These cities, as enumerated in Joshua chapters 11 and 12, do not include those of at least two peoples listed in Genesis 15:18-21 and Deuteronomy 20:16-18: the Canaanites and the Amorites.

Israel under Joshua and his immediate successors did not totally possess the land God had promised the patriarchs. Some peoples eluded destruction. Indeed, much outlying territory remained to be conquered after his death (Joshua 13:1-6). The unconquered territories, as listed in Judges 1:27-36, include those of the Amorites and the Canaanites. Joshua's conquests were as limited as they were thorough.

Early on, Israel had "put [the cities between the Euphrates and Nile Rivers] under tribute" (Judges 1:35). Solomon, after the military exploits of David, extended Israel's hegemony—its sphere of influence—to the point where he could exact tribute from all the nations situated between these rivers (I Kings 4:21). However, Israel never fully dispossessed the inhabitants of their land, never dislodged them from it. The indigenous folk still occupied the land in Solomon's time. God had not yet fulfilled His promise to Abraham that his descendants would possess the land between the rivers.

» Unfulfilled, as well, was the promise that Israel would be a "company of nations" (Genesis 35:11). Solomon's Israel was a great nation, but not a "company of nations." The individual twelve tribes that Solomon ruled were not sovereign nations in their own right, constituting a company of twelve nations. Not at all. The tribes were just that—tribes, not distinct nations—for at least two reasons:

a) Each tribe, separately, did not have its own king. Solomon appointed "twelve governors over all Israel" (I Kings 4:7). The tribes had little political autonomy.

b) Each tribe did not have its own unique body of law. Instead, the tribes shared a common heritage of law, that given by God through Moses at Mount Sinai (see Exodus 19:20ff).

Solomon did not have political or military hegemony over a company of nations. His "empire" was based more on its economic strength than on any military adventurism to which his "forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen" (I Kings 4:26) might have tempted him. In fact, his international liaisons found their roots in his romantic liaisons, of which he had not a few (I Kings 11:3). He dealt with surrounding nations on a give-and-take basis. For instance, he traded twenty Galilean cities for the gold and lumber provided by Tyre (I Kings 9:11). He was not in a position to take the gold and lumber.

Even though Israel certainly flourished during Solomon's reign, the promises to the patriarchs remained unfulfilled until a later time.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Five): Solomon and the Divided Kingdom


 

Malachi 3:6

If God had changed His purpose, the sons of Jacob would indeed have been consumed. However, because God has a purpose that He has been working out from the very beginning, He looked beyond what these people were doing to destroy and remove themselves from His purpose. God, in a sense, overlooked what they were doing—all the way to the future, to the conclusion of His purpose for them. God says, "I change not." He has never altered His purpose from the beginning.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 1)


 

Luke 16:22

God promised Abraham's descendants land on earth—the land of Canaan, and later it was all the land he could see (see Genesis 12:5-7; 13:15; 15:18; Romans 9:6-8). God even included the actual boundary line of the property in His agreement with Abraham. "Your seed" refers primarily to Christ, the chief of "Abraham's seed, and heir according to the promise." Since God's promise of the land of Canaan was forever, it is an eternal inheritance and includes eternal life (Hebrews 9:15). Because the angels carried Lazarus into Abraham's bosom, he became one of Abraham's children and thus an heir to the Promised Land on this earth—not in heaven—and eternal life.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part One)


 

Luke 16:22

A son who is heir to his father's property cannot inherit and possess it before his father inherits it. Lazarus could not inherit either eternal life or the land before his father Abraham received the promises. Abraham, however, died without actually inheriting these promises (Acts 7:2-5; Hebrews 11:8-13). He was still dead at the time of Christ's earthly ministry, and he still is in his grave today (John 8:52). He will inherit the promises at the time of the resurrection of the just. Human beings in Christ, living and dead, receive eternal life at Christ's second coming, Abraham among them (Luke 13:28).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part One)


 

Romans 4:13-16

God justifies us. He does it freely. One of His purposes for doing so is that the promises may be sure.

The Jews have a saying, "How can a man enter into a right relationship with God so that he, too, may inherit the promises?" They understood the promises were made to Abraham and to his seed. They wanted to be able to participate in it, so they posed this question. Their answer: "He must do so by acquiring merit in the sight of God through doing good works, which the law prescribes." That is to say, by one's own effort.

However, as Paul describes here, justification through works, if it were even possible, would destroy the promises of God because no man can keep the law fully! If nobody can keep the law, because the giving of the promises depends on keeping the law, then God cannot give the promises. No one would ever qualify.

So God, wanting to ensure that the promises are given, justifies a person of His own free will. He blesses us, so that we can qualify to receive the promises on the basis of His grace. We had better be glad He does it this way, or we could never be co-inheritors of what Abraham is promised.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


 

Romans 4:16

Paul states a major reason why justification absolutely must be by grace through faith: It is by means of grace that everybody receives a fair chance for salvation. Grace levels the playing field. What would happen to those who could not match the impressive body of works of an Abraham? They would fail to be justified. The truth is that even Abraham was not justified by his circumcision works. He, too, was justified through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and God's grace. It has been this way from the beginning; Genesis 6:8 testifies that Noah found grace in God's eyes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Four)


 

Romans 9:4

God chose Abraham, and his family after him, to receive promises, while reserving the prerogative to deny grace to others. This means, then, that individuals, at their will, cannot marshal faith toward God!

Charles Whitaker
Servant of God, Act II: God's Gift of Faith


 

Galatians 3:16

It is evident that a specific descendent was implied: that one of Abraham's "seed" had the same promise made. The promises entailed so much more than justification by faith. If that were the main or only promise, it had already been given to multiple characters throughout the Old Testament (Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, the prophets, etc.). Even Noah, living before Abraham, "became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith" (Hebrews 11:7)—yet none of these received the promises (Hebrews 11:13)! The promises made to Abraham cannot be limited to justification because all of these "men of faith" mentioned in Hebrews 11 did receive that. The promises entail eternal life, inheritance of the earth (Matthew 5:5, not heaven), and being born into the Family of God.

These promises were made to Abraham and Christ. Abraham died without receiving them (Hebrews 11:13), which means he must live again in order for the promises to be fulfilled. Christ came to earth to confirm that those promises were still in existence and to set in process a means by which true Christians could inherit them. This will be fulfilled at the first resurrection, when the firstfruits are changed into immortal beings, given a full measure of God's Spirit, and begin reigning on the earth with Christ (Revelation 5:10; 20:4-6).

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 3:16-17

Paul writes these verses to assure all that the Abrahamic Covenant, which contained the wonderful promises that Herbert Armstrong simply called "the race and grace promises," was in no way negated or cancelled out by the Old Covenant.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)


 

Galatians 3:26-29

True Christians exhibit the faith and righteousness of Abraham. God considers them to be the patriarch's spiritual descendants regardless of their race or sex. Consequently, they will inherit the same promises made to Abraham.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Reward of the Saved


 

Hebrews 1:1-4

Christ, by inheritance, has obtained the promises. Are we not co-heirs with Christ? Will we inherit the same things that He did? Verse 4 says, ". . . by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they [angels]." Is He greater than angels? There is no comparison between what He is now and an angel! He is their great Creator.

The writer of Hebrews is tracing the inheritance of the promises from the standpoint of Jesus, the Man, dying, being resurrected from the dead, and ascending to heaven. He is the inheritor of the promises that came to Him as the result of meeting the terms of the covenant given to Abraham. He became the heir, and what was His inheritance? This passage says that His inheritance was to become God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace and Law (Part 13)


 

Hebrews 4:1-2

God willed that they possess the land of Canaan as He had promised the patriarchs. However, many of the people chose to die in the wilderness through disobedience. They did not have to die there. They chose to sin with the Golden Calf, to complain bitterly, to rebel with Korah, to commit fornication with the daughters of Moab, and so on. The Bible never indicates that God predestined they do these things and die before reaching the Promised Land.

On the contrary, Numbers 14 shows that He wanted them to be in the Promised Land by the end of the second year. But because of their lack of faith and the resulting fear of the Canaanites, they chose not to enter it, so God switched to "Plan B." They condemned themselves to wander 40 years. An entire generation - those over 20 who left Egypt, the fearful and rebellious, those too deeply impressed with the nature of Egypt - left their bodies strewn across the wilderness.

If God permits something, we should not automatically assume that He predestined it from the foundation of the world. The Bible does not support such a view. At best, it only indicates He decides to use such a circumstance for His purpose, perhaps to see what we will do with it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Seven


 

Hebrews 11:36-39

Verses 36-38 list various trials God has required of some of the faithful. Especially notice verse 39: "And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise." Even though all looked lost from a human standpoint, they still believed God, knowing that the sovereign God could and would keep His promises even beyond the grave.

With all of God's promises, He does not promise when He will answer. The timing of those answers is in His hands. Based on what is best, God, who is love (I John 4:8,16), decides when (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The right time may be, not in this life, but in the next. In fact, believing God's promises, even to the end—death—could be the last piece of proof God requires to "know" He can entrust us with eternal life, an everlasting relationship with Him.

Pat Higgins
Faith—What Is It?


 

Revelation 7:3-8

Some contend that there are two groups of 144,000, one in Revelation 14, the other in chapter 7. Apparently, the idea is that the ones in chapter 7 are physical Israelites that are the seed of physical government for the Millennium, and the 144,000 in chapter 14 are the bride, the firstfruits, the elect of God.

First, we must ask why God would see a need for physical rulers when He has prepared 144,000 humans-turned-spirit beings to rule as kings and priests? Isaiah 30:21 shows that they will be visible and audible to humans.

We can ascertain the truth of the matter simply by defining the "sealing" of those in Revelation 7. We will see that sealing has to do with protecting and setting aside for special use.

In II Corinthians 1:22, Paul describes himself and the spiritual Israelites, the church, as being "sealed . . . and given . . . the spirit in our hearts as a deposit" (see also II Corinthians 5:5). In a real estate transaction, earnest or "sincerity and serious intent" money is put down ahead of time. If the buyer fails to finish the purchase, he loses the money. Spiritually, God gives us "earnest money" in the form of the Holy Spirit. He buys, redeems, or purchases us with Christ?s blood, which seals us or designates us as His. The Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ in us are the evidence of this, recognizable to Him and others. God completes the transaction when He returns and changes us into spirit as members of the God Family and co-heirs with Christ (John 3:6; I Corinthians 15:42-55).

Ephesians 1:13-14 combines sealing, as in Revelation 7, with redemption, a characteristic of the 144,000 of Revelation 14:

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the guarantee [earnest, KJV, NKJV margin] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Here, "sealed," "earnest," "redemption," and "purchase" are all included in one passage, showing they are inseparable! There is only one group of 144,000!

Ephesians 4:30 makes the same connection, showing we are "sealed [protected, set aside or apart] for the day of redemption" by the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 9:11-15 shows the redemption from our sins is of Christ so that we can "receive the promise of eternal inheritance," which occurs at the return of Christ (Luke 21:27-28).

The time element of Revelation 7 is the sixth seal and the day of Christ?s wrath (Revelation 6:12-17). The angels are instructed to hold back opening the seventh seal and seven last plagues until the sealing of the 144,000 is complete (Revelation 7:1-3). The last two to be sealed, set aside, given the final stamp of approval may be the Two Witnesses, who die only three-and-a-half days before Christ returns. God resurrects them to meet Christ in the air with the 143,998 others who form the bride and government of Christ, the mother for the rest of humanity, who will then have the opportunity for salvation in their order.

The sealing is not just physical protection of 144,000 physical Israelites. The Bible clearly defines sealing as being of the Holy Spirit of promise toward inheritance of the promises. This includes the patriarchs and all true Christians right until Christ returns. Notice they are called "the servants of our God" (Revelation 7:3). God does not use this term lightly in the Bible. Could we legitimately classify 144,000 people who had just endured the Tribulation because of sin, barely surviving and not yet converted, "servants of our God?"

Those who survive into the Millennium will be humbled and ready to become converted, not already converted and ready to rule. That opportunity is reserved for those who have already proved themselves worthy to rule, servants of God, the firstfruits.

Why are they numbered by tribe? Because the apostles rule over the twelve tribes (Matthew 19:28), and as we see in Revelation 21, twelve is the governmental number of the bride. Whether we are physically of Judah, Gad, Asher, or whatever tribe is not important. Very likely, God places us spiritually in those tribes as He organizes His government.

We know this because the twelve apostles were not all physically from the tribes they will rule! They were apparently mostly of Judah, Levi, or Benjamin. Since there were several sets of brothers among the Twelve, it is impossible that all twelve tribes could physically be represented, so Christ will place them over whichever tribe He chooses. He will do the same with us.

Staff
Who Are the 144,000?


 

 




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