God blesses Abraham
God greatly blessed Abraham in every way. He was with him, protected him, gave him long life in good health, abundant prosperity, victory over his enemies, and made him great before men (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; and 17:1-27). These blessings were intended not to be given to Abraham alone, but to all of his descendants.
Genesis 12:3 “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 17:7 “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”
These blessings were transferred to his children Isaac (Genesis 26:1-5, 24) and Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15 and 35:9-12). There is no record of them ever having a sickness except for Jacob’s weakness in his old age and there are plenty of verses showing how great their wealth and abundance was (Genesis 13:2, 26:12-16, etc). Even when Abraham lied, he was greatly blessed (Genesis 20). These blessings were not given on the basis of their law keeping, but on the basis of God’s promise (Romans 4:13, Galatians 3:18, Hebrews 6:13).
Who are Abraham’s descendants?
Now the blessings given to Abraham belonged not to his physical descendants, but instead to the descendants of the promise. Ishmael was a physical descendant, and he represents the covenant of the law, but he was not the child of promise. Isaac was the child of the promise. The promise was meant to be given by God’s election through faith not by the effort or will of man. Ishmael could not receive the inheritance. He received a lesser blessing/curse, but it was not like the blessing of Isaac. Likewise, Jacob became the child of promise whereas Essau became the child of the flesh. Jacob received the inheritance whereas Essau received the lesser blessing/curse. Joseph’s children received the best of the blessing whereas the rest of Jacob’s sons received the lesser blessings/curse. Joseph’s second born received the greatest blessing and the first born was given the lesser. Up until the law was given, they walked under the blessings of Abraham through faith. In the day the law was given, Israel spiritually fell from the promises by faith because the law nullified their faith. In fact, those who rely on the law are under a curse. They became like Ishmael, who received the lesser blessing/curse, and Essau, who forfeited his inheritance and received the lesser blessing/curse. Likewise the law established a blessing and great curse for those who were under it. If they could have kept the law, then they would have been blessed, but everyone is under the control of sin, so the inheritance could not be earned through the law. Therefore Christ came to fulfill the law and took the curse upon himself so that we would no longer be in bondage to it. He redeemed us from the law so that we might not be children of the flesh, but children of the promise and heirs of the promises made to Abraham. So the Israelites, the first-born or natural descent, were not the ones who received the ultimate promise, but rather it is the second-born, those with faith in Christ. Therefore anyone who believes in Christ, whether jew or gentile becomes a child of the promise and inherits everything promised to Abraham’s heirs (Romans 9-11 and Galatians 2-4 and Deuteronomy 28 and Genesis 17:20).
Abraham had two sons
Galatians 4 “21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.
24 These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written:
“Be glad, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
shout for joy and cry aloud,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband.”
28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”[f]31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.”
Now it comes to reason, if we are blessed with Abraham, what does this blessing include? In Galatians, is he talking only of righteousness and justification by faith apart from any material blessings? Or are the material blessings promised to Abraham and his descendants included in this inheritance? Let’s look at some of these scriptures and see what impression we get.
Galatians 3 “7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 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.”9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”
Galatians 3 “13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”
Romans 4 “16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham.”
Hebrews 6 “13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself,14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
1 Corinthians 3 “21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas[a] or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours,23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”
Romans 4:13 “13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.”
Romans 9:8 “In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.”
Romans 9:30 “That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.”
Galatians 4:28 “Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise.”
Galatians 3:29 “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
1 Corinthians 3:23 “and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:20 “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.”
Hebrews 9:12,15 “12He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption … 15For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
2 Peter 1:4 “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”.
Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
1 Timothy 6:17 “but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
1 Peter 3:9 “not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”
Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
“In the heavenly realms” and “spiritual blessing” does not refer to the type of blessing it is, in the sense that one is intangible (spirit like) and the other is tangible (such as wealth or health) but it refers to “how” the blessing is given, not through works, but through the spirit.
So then what impression did you get? That God left out the material blessings and only transferred righteousness and justification by faith? And would there be fault in saying that even if the promises are summarized as justification by faith that it does not in some way include every other blessing? I mean if God justifies you by faith and calls you righteous, would he not also bless you materially as though you were righteous and justified in his sight? Did he not promise material blessings to the Israelites if they were righteous in his sight? If christians do not inherit Abraham’s material blessings, then Abraham’s covenant was better than Christ’s! Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law so that the blessing of Abraham might come to everyone. What is the opposite of the curse? Justification? The opposite of the curse is a blessing and justification is the means by which we inherit that blessing.
Now am I saying we need to live our lives to please our flesh? By no means. We don’t set our pride on the treasures of this world which are so unstable. But rather we trust in God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. I am not trying to make you materialistic, only hopeful and expectant of God’s blessings, removing this doubtful idea that God cannot bless you practically. And if we learn to expect blessings from God, we can be content in our circumstances, knowing that God is in control and has authority to provide in earthly ways. I want us to escape this idea that God does not care about your earthly life, and he won’t give you things that you ask him for because they are not spiritual enough or that God is waiting to bless you after you die. No, if God takes care of all the animals and they don’t worry, why would he not take care of you who are of more value? Eternal life doesn’t start till after we die, we have eternal life now. And I believe our inheritance doesn’t start till after we die, it begins now. We need to learn to have a confident expectation of good from God in this life, while at the same time being content and patient with what we have.
The expression “all spiritual blessings” is indeed intended to be tangible such as wealth, health, protection, etc… in fact all the the blessings of Abraham are included. But the key difference is that they are given by faith through the spirit and not by the works of man (http://jaysnell.org/ASGPDF/Book1.pdf). Of course, these blessings do also include “spiritual” blessings in the sense of peace, and wholeness, and life, and righteousness, and joy.
Consider Barnes’ Notes on the Bible.
“Are blessed with faithful Abraham – In the same manner they are interested in the promises made to him, and they will be treated as he was. They are justified in the same manner, and admitted to the same privileges on earth and in heaven” (http://barnes.biblecommenter.com/galatians/3.htm).
Wesley’s Notes – 3:14 “That the blessing of Abraham – The blessing promised to him. Might come on the gentiles – Also. That we – Who believe, whether Jews or gentiles. Might receive the promise of the Spirit – Which includes all the other promises. Through faith – Not by works; for faith looks wholly to the promise” (http://wes.biblecommenter.com/galatians/3.htm).
Galatians 3:15 “Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.”
Whatever promises God made to Abraham cannot be set aside. We who are in Christ are his seed so that the covenant to Abraham extends to us. This idea that the promise only refers to justification or righteousness by faith involves the separating of the covenant of Abraham. Justification and righteousness were a part of the promise, not the entirety. This covenant cannot be separated or set aside. When the scripture talks of the promise, it is referring to the whole of blessings and promises God made to Abraham.
2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
Galatians 3: “5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
When we are credited righteous through faith, God gives us his spirit and works miracles in our lives.
What was the purpose of the law?
Galatians 3 and 4 “15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,”[i] meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Children of God
23 Before the coming of this faith,[j] we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
4 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces[a] of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b]6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Notice that there is a parallel between Ishmael and the law. Now Abraham had received a promise that through Sarah (which represents grace / the new covenant) he would receive an heir. However, in his doubt with Sarah, he agreed to bear a child by Hagar so that God could fulfill his promises (Genesis 16). Now in the same way God had promised to bless all the earth through his “seed,” meaning Christ. However, in the meantime, Israel was subjected to law because of their own self-righteousness so that all men could see that their works could not deserve of God’s promises. Thus Israel bore children according to Hagar and received the lesser blessing/curse. However, Abraham’s ignorance did not stop the promise of God, just as Ishmael did not stop the blessing in Isaac.
The blessing of health
Health is included in this blessing. After all, disease was a one of the curses in Deuteronomy 28, implying that the blessing was the opposite of that. However, Christ bore our sicknesses too in order to redeem us from under its curse.
Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he has borne our sickness, and carried our suffering”
3 John 1:2 “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”
Why could he pray for good health? Because Jesus bore our sicknesses so that we may enjoy a good long life.
Genesis 15:15 “As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.”
This promise was made to Abraham. This implies that there was no sickness to take away his peace. That even until his old age, it would be “good.”
Every promise is yours
Deuteronomy 27:14 “The Levites shall recite to all the people of Israel in a loud voice:15 “Cursed is anyone who makes an idol—a thing detestable to the Lord, the work of skilled hands—and sets it up in secret.”
Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
16 “Cursed is anyone who dishonors their father or mother.”
Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
17 “Cursed is anyone who moves their neighbor’s boundary stone.”
Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
Understanding that under the old covenant the curses were spoken with an amen by the people, helps us to see the power of this verse in 2 Corinthians 1:20:
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
Under the old, we spoke amen to the curses. Now in the new covenant we speak amen to God’s promises. When the Israelites spoke amen to the curses, they were essentially saying, “yes we agree that these things should come on us if we do these bad things.” However, the new covenant believer is saying a different amen. An amen that says, “yes, we agree that these promises should come upon us through Christ.” This brings glory to God.
So what does this mean?
Isn’t it wonderful that we have inherited such great and precious promises? These promises were not merely to be inward, spiritual promises or only promises for after you die. They include those things, but they also mean well being in this present life. However that leaves us to question, what about people who seem not to have those blessings. Before we begin to question people’s experiences, let us designate what is our authority here. Do we make man’s experience the authority on truth? Or do we make God’s word the authority on truth? If you believe the bible teaches we are blessed with the blessings of Abraham, we must put that above any experiences we may have had. And if the bible does not teach that we are blessed that way, then we must attribute the blessings in our life to luck or chance.
I want us to look at a conversation I had with the Lord. Again, I’m not guaranteeing that everything I heard was God, so I ask for your grace and discernment.
Conversation with God
“Grace contains so much more than just forgiveness for your sins. It was meant to pull you out of poverty and into abundance. Loosing sin consciousness is just the first step. I want you to begin exploring the benefits and blessings of grace so your expectations will change. Then you will be able to handle disappointment without being wasted and discouraged at every ill event in your life. If your hope is solid, your emotions will be fixed. The reason you are sad, is because you are poor at handling disappointment. And you cannot recover when you get disappointed because you have no good expectation to look forward to. Jon Paul, my grace will teach you life skills and make you good at everything. If you want to have my peace, listen to what I teach. I know some are eager to pull you to their cause and make you slaves of disappointment, striving for what is not yours. But I have called you holy and separate, and a holy people must not mix with illegitimate children. The children of the law, must be separated from the children of grace, and there will be a distinguishing.”
Lord in the Old Testament, the children of the promise were separated from the children of the law just as you have described. Isaac was separated from Ishmael. Joseph was separated from his brothers. Jacob was separated from Esau.
“And they were reunited. But there had to be a separation so they could see who had the Lord’s favor.”
So then, who are the children of the law? Can christians be children of the law or of promise? Or are all christians children of the promise?
“All true children of abraham are children of promise, but some have forsaken their inheritance. It is possible Jon Paul, to take what is given to you and never use it because you are afraid or ashamed. And many Christians do not expect, seek, or ask of me for anything beyond what their deeds deserve because they are ashamed of the message you carry. They are fearful of what a message of blessing might do. Some have in fact turned the message upside down, preaching against the message of prosperity and using it as a weapon in instructing in righteousness. They take advantage of the weak, and cause many to become bitter and forfeit their inheritance. Know that I am not taking about your heavenly inheritance, but that of this life and the enjoyment of the riches of God in your day to day life. Experience is not always the way to test God’s will. In fact a renewed mind means you have to unlearn your experiences sometimes to find God’s will. This is what I will be talking to you about. God’s will to bless you. And to bless abundantly.”
But Lord, what do you say to people who do believe for the blessing and don’t see it? Did they not have enough faith, as I have heard? Are they not blessed?
“Even in promise there needs to be patience. Some like Esau have traded the wisdom of their temporary circumstances for the greater wisdom of God’s blessing. What I mean is like Esau, they have given up on believing their inheritance because their temporary circumstances are telling them otherwise. The believer is not without hardship, granted they are not by my hand. But neither is he without a blessing, and in this life the blessing is yours.”
Lord, I’ve been told by some that we may not see the blessing till heaven.
“What good are Abraham’s blessings in heaven? I know you don’t like that argument. But I gave those blessings to Abraham for his life and for his continued heirs. I was not speaking of heaven when I said, through you all nations shall be blessed. Though heaven is the true land of blessing, the land you walk on prospers as Abraham’s land did. I see that argument as nothing more than a cop out and a very unstable and disgraceful way to believe.”
So, do people need faith or else?
“Abraham who was declared to have faith had many areas where his doubt showed. Even Sarah laughed when I said they would have a son, yet they still received him. Yes, they had faith, but it was an imperfect faith. And how long did Isaac have to pray to get my promises?”
Lord, if I recall correctly he didn’t pray.
“This is because the blessing doesn’t come through the works of the law. It is given as an inheritance through faith to all of abraham’s children. What you think of as faith is nothing more than accepting the promise as yours and believing for it. What I ask in return is this. That you ask boldly for anything you want or need. That you come to me when trouble hits eagerly expecting a swift reply. I ask that you humble yourself as a taker and benefactor in the gift of salvation and glean from my abundance. Then I will make you rich by the power of myself and I will draw forth in your life and in everyone who follows me prosperity and wellbeing so that every need is well meet and every desire with a fulfillment. Why does this anger you?”
Because… again. That’s not fair to people who are poor. Aren’t they under Abraham’s blessing?! Why are they poor?
“Come with me. Do you see what I see?”
Yes Lord, I see the angels working to answer people’s prayers speedily. They are relentless and tireless.
“The poor shall inherit the earth. I have taken care of the poor, and I have not shamed the beggar. To answer your question, I hate poverty. I hate sickness and lack of wellbeing. I hate the shame of it. And some of my children have become those things in order to receive a greater reward in heaven. Like the early martyrs, they have forsaken their earthly treasures of temporary value for the treasures of lasting value. They prove that though the treasures of this world are a blessing, they are not the reward. This is not for all my children. But for those who have a heart for such glory.”
Why don’t you bless them?
“Come with me. What do you see?”
I see the saints who gave up their blessings in this life for a greater reward. And through their sacrifice, they inherited that reward. They wanted people to come to the Lord and be saved. And their martyr-ship and diligence caused many to persevere so that now they are reaping their reward by bringing hundreds in.
“And they receive the honor of it. I tell you the early apostles are still reaping honor for every christian that comes to the Lord, multiplied by every message bearer in-between. So did I bless them? Yes. But they of their free will gave away what was theirs and sought my greater reward. And they found it in full. Money is not evil, it is the love of money that is evil. Learn from their example. Those who repented of their inheritance did not fail to receive many times more than they gave.”
So your saying one might give up their riches for the sake of the gospel?
“What I am saying is that it was not what they desired. If I have given that to them, they would have been thankful, but they would not have received the reward of martyrdom.”
Couldn’t you give them both rewards?
“Come with me. Paul did not take to much money because he did not want his ministry to look like it was money driven. He was more concerned that people’s faith be genuine rather than become rich to impress a few. Paul never cared for money. But he did reap the other blessings. Protection, prosperity in preaching, favor. And these he reaped in much greater fold to supply for the lack of wealth that he suffered. Rome was blessed by these men, and when Constantine converted, all those blessing that had been delayed to my children were released in far greater measure. So be patient. With patience, even the early church can receive the blessings of Abraham.”
Wow! Thanks God!
“There is not a good reason out of what I said to teach that one cannot be blessed or have prosperity, or that some will never taste it. It is for all to grab hold of, but it is not the ultimate reward. Therefore be content with what you have and eagerly wait for the rest to come to you as God prepares. Be like Abraham who waited patiently and received the promise. Do not be like the Israelites who did not believe my promises and refused to enter the promise land.”
I want to make the point that Abraham was not without trouble. Lot was captured, his wife was taken from him, and later the Israelites were slaves in Egypt for 400 years. But nevertheless God used each of those situations to bless them. Lot was rescued with great plunder, Abraham’s wife was restored with the wealth of Egypt, and the Israelites were saved and brought with them all the plunder of Egypt. Like the early church, they endured for a while and then God turned the tables and greatly blessed them through their trouble. The early Jews used to have a mindset that if a man was poor or sick or troubled, then it was a sign of the Lord’s rejection. That’s why they would say things like, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” It is also why the author of Hebrews had to tell them of the Lord’s discipline. He was saying that hardships are not a sign of God’s rejection, they are a sign that assures you are truly God’s children, because God’s children will undergo persecution. God’s blessing does not make light of suffering. His blessing is victorious in the midst of trials and problems. For God’s power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). So when you have troubles, God’s blessing is there to rescue you and turn the situation around for your good. So when you find poverty, lack, persecution, trouble, or hardships in your life, do not feel ashamed, doubt God’s character, or worry about your lack of faith. Simply believe with patience and eagerly hope for God to turn the situation around for your blessing. God’s will to bless you is not thwarted in hardship, it is amplified. In fact, whenever you have a hard time, you can joyously expect God to show up because He is attracted to your problems. This is why Paul rejoices in his sufferings. For God’s power shows up and delivers him out of them all. Like this ship in the storm, they were subjected to hardship, yet the Lord rescued all of them in the end.