Abraham – Knowing the End before the Beginning
He walked out what God had already shown him.
And God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions. And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.”
– Genesis 15: 13-15
God promised to bless Abraham, and through Him to bless all the nations of the earth. God made the same kind of promise to Abraham’s son, Isaac, and to Isaac’s son, Jacob.
– The HOPE, Chapter 6
Observe & Consider
In Lessons 26–30 we studied Abraham and some of the events surrounding his life. As you recall, God called Abraham and promised to bless him that he might be a blessing to all the nations. Before moving forward, consider these things about God’s promised blessing:
- Though the blessing came through Abraham, it is for everyone who is willing, by faith, to receive it.
- The Bible calls this promise of blessing a covenant.1 When God makes such a covenant,2 it is an irrevocable promise to do what He has said. God will do what must be done to bring it to pass.
- God, who is eternal, all knowing, and all powerful,3 isn’t trying to figure out how to bring it to pass. He already has every detail planned. This will become increasingly more evident over the next few lessons.
As we continue on in The HOPE, we see that God made the same “kind” of promise to Abraham’s son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob. By the word “kind,” The HOPE is allowing for the fact that while God may have worded it differently, it was basically the same promise being passed down through Abraham’s descendants. They are, in a sense, entering into God’s promise to Abraham.
Now as we have noted, the fulfillment of this promise has been planned in detail by God. To understand this better, let’s go back to Genesis 15. Here we read that God declared Abraham righteous (Lesson 27). Also in this chapter, we read that God, after causing a deep sleep to come over Abraham, gave him a detailed vision of what was to come – not just in his lifetime, but for the next several hundred years!
This vision is recorded in the scripture written above. Notice how specific it is.
- Abraham’s descendants would be strangers in a land that is not their own.
- They would be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.
- Ultimately God would judge the nation in which they are enslaved.
- After God’s judgment, Abraham’s descendants would leave that nation with wealth.
- Abraham’s own life would end in peace at an old age.
Keep in mind that this vision came to Abraham before the birth of Ishmael, before the birth of Isaac, and before God provided a sacrifice in place of Isaac.
God’s plan is bigger than any one person. Perhaps reading this helps you to understand how Abraham could be so confident when he said to Isaac, “God will provide for Himself the lamb.” Abraham had seen the end at the beginning. He knew that the preservation of Isaac was essential to the fulfillment of God’s promise. In a sense, the rest of his life was simply a matter of realizing what God had already revealed.
In the remainder of this chapter, we will see how God filled in Abraham’s vision. You may have heard the saying, “God is in the details.” Hopefully by the end of this chapter, as we look at the details, we will see great evidence of God’s presence and power!
Ask & Reflect
- Should it make a difference to know that God has a detailed plan for this world and all the people in it?
- Recall that when God gave Abraham a vision of the future, Abraham saw the end at the beginning. Through the promises in the Bible, God shows every person who trusts in Him the end of his life story. We know that a life of faith in God ends with Him in heaven. How should this knowledge affect us?
- Despite God’s promises, do you ever worry about the future? Why?
Decide & Do
When God makes a promise, He will do whatever needs to be done to bring it to pass. He will move individuals and even nations if need be. In light of this truth, determine to discover the hundreds of promises in God’s Word that are written for those who trust in Him, and learn to trust and rest in His promises, knowing that He is always faithful to His Word.
For Further Study
- Dr. Charles Stanley, God’s Promises. InTouch Ministries. (http://ww2.intouch.org/site/c.7nKFISNvEqG/b.1034467/k.9C8E/Gods_Promises.htm). Retrieved October 11, 2006.
1Matthew Slick, Covenant, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. (http://www.carm.org/doctrine/covenant.htm). Retrieved on October 11, 2006.
2GotQuestions.org, What are the Different Covenants in the Bible? (http://www.compellingtruth.org/covenants-in-the-Bible.html). Retrieved June 17, 2014.
3Review Lesson 6 of this study guide.