is God’s plan for people on earth? Why is faith su?cient
for salvation? God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants
provide the key to understanding the Old and New Testaments;
they are vital for understanding God’s plan for his
Picture this scene: in the new fashionable resort town of
Caesarea, a court is in session. Paul of Tarsus is on
trial . . .
The Jewish leaders from Jerusalem want him killed. King Agrippa,
his wife Bernice, and the prominent men of the city wait for
Paul to give his defence.
Paul begins his speech by praising King Agrippa:
“I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today
make my defence against all the accusations of the Jews,
and especially so because you are well acquainted with all
the Jewish customs and controversies.” (Acts 26:2-3)
Paul’s life is at stake. Therefore, he needs to clearly
explain why the Jews want to kill him. Two sentences into
his defence, he states why he is on trial:
“it is because of my hope in what God has promised our
fathers that I am on trial today.” (Acts 26:6)
promises were so important that Paul was on trial because
of them. These promises are still important: our own lives
depend on them. To understand why the promises are so important,
we must turn to the book of Genesis to find out
what God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
God’s promises to Abraham
Approximately 4000 years ago, God revealed to Abraham through
a series of promises his plan of salvation for mankind. Even
though these blessings were given so long ago, they are fundamental
to all believers. We recommend that you highlight the sections
below in your Bible and commit them to memory.
Read each promise and think carefully about the questions
1. Genesis 12:1-4. Abram was promised that his descendants
would become a great nation and all people would be blessed
(a) What nationality was Abram?
(b) Why did he do what God asked him to do?
(c) What do you think the promise “all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you” means?
(d) Have these promises been Fulfilled?
2. Genesis 13:14-17. God promised a land to Abram and his
(a) When did Abram get the land?
(b) Who are the offspring of Abram? (Think carefully, there
are several groups).
3. Genesis 15:5-6. Abram was promised a great number of descendants.
(a) Why did God see Abram as righteous? (What does “righteous”
mean?) See Romans 4:1-5.
(b) Why is this important to you personally?
4. Genesis 15:17-21. The promised land is defined.
(a) Find this area on a map. Use a Bible atlas then compare
this area to modern Israel using a modern atlas.
(b) What does the word “covenant” mean (v18)?
5. Genesis 17:3-8,15-22. The son Isaac, promised to Abraham
and Sarah, would be the true heir of Abraham. God would establish
his promises through this son.
(a) What is the meaning of the following words?
A. Abram and Abraham
C. Isaac (note: Genesis 17:17)
(b) Why did God say that the promises were to go through Isaac,
(c) Should modern Israel give land back to the Arabs in the
name of peace?
summary, Abraham was promised (1) a large number of descendants,
(2) that all nations would be blessed through him and (3)
that he and his descendants would be given land forever.
was 100 years old when his promised son, Isaac, was
born to Sarah who was aged 90. Genesis
17:17; 21:5 Thirty seven years later Sarah
died and was buried at Hebron, on land that Abraham purchased from the Hittites (even though this land was promised
to him by the Lord). Genesis
23:1,19-20 Abraham died later (at the age of 175)
was buried by his sons in the cave with Sarah. Abraham and
Sarah did not get the land promised to them in their lifetime.
The promises to Abraham were passed on to Isaac, then Isaac’s
son Jacob (Israel), then Jacob’s twelve sons and eventually,
around 1000 years later, to King David.
God’s promises to David
David loved God deeply and wanted to build his God a house,
house better than his own cedar palace. God blessed David
his righteous thoughts by making promises to David. Although
David’s intentions were good, God said no-David had
man of war. Instead, God told David that he would build him
royal “house” that would last forever:
The LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your
Notice that some of the
days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise
promises applied to
up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your
Solomon, some to the
own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one
Christ and some to
who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish both.
Go through the
the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and
passage and mark
he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him which
with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But referring
my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it the
Christ or both.
away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your
house and your kingdom will endure forever before me;
your throne will be established forever.
(2 Samuel 7:11-16)
God was not speaking about a literal house, but a dynasty
that would come from David. This family would enable God’s
promises to Abraham to be Fulfilled by providing an heir. The
promises about David’s “offspring” were
partially Fulfilled in his son Solomon, but will be finally
Fulfilled by his descendant, Jesus.
Like Abraham, God also promised David:
1. his name would be great 2 Samuel 7:9
2. land for his people 2 Samuel 7:10
3. peace and rest in this land 2 Samuel 7:10
4. descendants from his own body 2 Samuel 7:12
was also promised a special heir, one who would have a kingdom
forever (2 Samuel 7:13). Solomon’s kingdom did not last
forever, so we know this is talking about Christ. see Luke
God’s promises to you!
At the start of this chapter, we spoke about Paul being on
trial because of the “hope of the fathers”. This
“hope” is summarized in Galatians 3.
Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited
to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that
those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture
foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and
announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations
will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith
blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. . . . If you
belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs
according to the promise. (Galatians 3:6-9,29)
understood that by faith, Jews and non-Jews, could become
“children of Abraham” and inherit the promises
and a part in the promised kingdom. If we follow Paul’s
example, believe the promises God has made, and have faith,
we too can look forward to the promise of eternal life in
Promises to Abraham:
|Genesis 12:1-4; 13:14-17; 15:5-6,17-21; 17:3-8,15-22; 18:18-19; 22:15-18.
Promises to Isaac and Jacob:
|Genesis 26:3-4; 28:13-15; 35:11-12.
Promises to David
|2 Samuel 7:4-29; 1 Chronicles 17:4-27; 2 Chronicles 6:1-10; Jeremiah 33:14-18.
Relevance to us:
|Luke 13:28; Acts 3:25-26; Acts 13:32-34; 26:6; Romans 4:16; 9:7-8; 15:8; Galatians 3:7-29; 4:28; Ephesians 2:12-13; 2 Peter 1:3-4.
Children of Abraham:
|Luke 3:8; 19:9; John 8:39; Romans 9:7-8; Galatians 3:7,27-29; 1 Peter 3:6.
• Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were promised a great nation,
many descendants and that all nations would be blessed through
• God repeated and expanded these promises to David
and made specific reference to Christ.
• All followers of Jesus are heirs of the promises.
They look forward to Christ’s return to set up the kingdom
on earth forever.
1. Abraham and David both sinned: we know Abraham lied and
David committed adultery and murder. So why does God consider
2. When will Abraham receive the land he was promised?
1. The Arab nations believe that Jerusalem was promised to
them, as they believe the promises to Abraham went through
Ishmael not Isaac. Prove from the Bible that they are wrong.
2. Read Luke 1:26-80. List the references to the promises
of Abraham and David.
• BB Study 3
• Thine is the kingdom by Peter Southgate (published
by the Dawn Book Supply, 2nd ed., 1997). Chapters 5-6, 33
• The Christadelphians: what they believe and preach
by Harry Tennant (published by The Christadelphian, 1986),
Chapter 5: “God’s covenant with Abraham”.
31. Jesus as Messiah
41. Israel: chosen or rejected?
45. The kingdom of God