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#481 – Advent: A Promise Fulfilled (Genesis 15:1–5)

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After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
(Genesis 15:1–5)

This text is one of a few different times we see God giving this same promise to Abram. That through his line—his family line—his offspring would be a family that would be more numerous than the stars in the sky, if you were able to count them. The whole picture here is obviously much bigger than just one son that would come to Abram, but many sons and many daughters, offspring far beyond what he could ever imagine, which points obviously to a much larger family. And we know that this is the beginning of a promise that would lead not just to the coming of Jesus. So we can trace it.

And Matthew does a masterful job of this in his Gospel, tracing the lineage of Jesus all the way back to Abraham. But it’s not just Jesus who would come from the line of Abraham. It is all those who trust in Jesus. When you get to Romans and the Bible says he “is the father of us all, as it have written, ‘I have made you a father of many nations'” (Rom 4:16b–17a). So the whole picture is he is our father in the faith and all who have put their faith in Jesus. So this is not even just an ethnic line come the New Testament. It’s not just Israelite or Jewish people that Jesus obviously came from physically, but all who trust in Him are made sons and daughters of God—children of God whose father, in a sense, is Abraham, our father in the faith.

And so just to realize it’s pretty baffling to think in Genesis 15, generations upon generations upon generations ago, hundreds, thousands of years ago, that God was giving a promise to Abram that would become a reality in Christ and have an effect on your life and my life right now. That’s pretty awesome to realize where we stand on this landscape of human history.

And so we pray, God, we praise You for Your promises. We praise You for Your faithfulness to Your promises. We praise You for this promise to Abram, for Your promise especially amidst the barrenness and his family, that You would give him offspring this numerous. In a way that You alone would receive glory for. God, we praise You for Your promise, Your faithfulness to that promise, we praise You for the coming of Jesus—in many ways, the climax and culmination of this promise because through Jesus, many different nations, many different peoples will be brought to You, including those of us who have placed our faith in You right now as we’re praying as recipients in this sense of this promise. And God, we pray for the spread of this offspring, not just physically, but spiritually to more and more people. To more and more nations.

God, we pray for the Hazara in Afghanistan today. There’s close to 4 million of them. So few of them are followers of Jesus. So few of them know Jesus. God, please bring many Hazara in Afghanistan to know Jesus. To be grafted into Your family. And use our lives to bring about the salvation of the Hazara and other people groups, and people right around us today. God, graft more people, graft people that we work with and people we live around into Your family. We pray, God, increase the multitude of offspring in this family line that goes back to Abraham, our father in the faith. Increase it all the more, we pray, for the glory of Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and president of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, and Counter Culture.
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