There are many who mistakenly think that the God of the Bible is different in the Old and New Testaments. There is a belief that God is angry in the Old Testament and loving and gracious in the New Testament. However, scripture plainly states that God does not change (Malachi 3:6). Therefore, as God's love, mercy, and grace are clearly evident in the New Testament through Jesus, God's love, mercy, and grace are evident through His promises. One must consider the magnitude of the promises that God made in the Old Testament to reveal His loving, gracious and merciful nature and then understand that Jesus is simply the fulfillment of God's loving, merciful and gracious promises.
For example, Genesis 12:1-3 contains one of the most critical portions of scripture, and some of the most powerful promises that God has ever made. Genesis 12:1-3 serves to be a landmark of sorts concerning God's plan and promise to deal with sin. Genesis 12:1-3 reveals God's plan that the rest of the Bible details. The Word of God is rich with information regarding God's plan for mankind, yet most of those details spring off of the promises that God made in Genesis 12:1-3.
In Genesis 12:1-3 the Bible describes God's selection of Abram, who would become Abraham. The scriptures do not provide much of any background on Abram other than the mention of him in the genealogy of Genesis chapter 11. There is no biography provided that details the life and accomplishments of Abram, and this is with purpose. When one observes the scriptures, Abram kind of pops up out of nowhere as the beneficiary of some of the most incredible promises known to mankind. This is a demonstration of God's grace. It is the absence of details that illustrates the details of God's character relating to His grace. The Bible does not describe Abram as a mighty man that had a great reputation in the community. The Bible does not describe Abram as an influential man that was resourcefully and successful. The Bible does not describe Abram as an intelligent man that was creative and possessed great ability as a leader and innovator. The Bible does not describe Abram as one that was capable in self-sufficiency and as one that thrived in independence. The Bible does not describe Abram as a magnetic fellow that attracted people to good causes in unity. The truth is that the Bible doesn't describe Abram at all. Nevertheless, God spoke to Abram by name, commanded Abram as He would command His own child, and promised Abram 3 of the greatest promises that God has ever made.
The scriptures reveal that God first told Abram to get out of his land, leave his familiar surroundings and his family, and venture into a place that God would later reveal to him. While it is true that God made 3 remarkable promises in His grace, Abram would have to demonstrate faith in order to receive the benefits of those promises. In order to receive the benefits of God's promises, Abram would have to trust in God. Abram would not be able to rely on familiarity or be comfortable in his circumstances. The Bible reveals that the good things that God gives come in the midst of uncertainty and inability. As God made the promises that would later become known as "the Abrahamic Covenant," God showed that His grace is available to those willing to trust in the value of His grace, rather than the value of our circumstances. In order to Abram to receive the benefits of God's gracious favor in the fulfillment of His promises, Abram would have to trust that God's promises were real, would be fulfilled, and were better than the things he already had. Abram had to trust that the land God would later reveal would be better than the land he was already in. Abram had to trust that God's promise to make Abram into "a great nation" would be better than the inheritance he might have received from his earthly father. More importantly, Abram had to trust in the faithfulness of God to do these things.
The first promise that God made was that Abram would receive a land inheritance from the Living God. Though Abram didn't know where this land was, the scriptures show that God promised to give Abram land that was better than the land he was living in in Haran. It is likely that Abram would have received a land inheritance from his father if he would have stayed with his father in Haran, but God required Abram to trust in a greater land inheritance. Eventually God would reveal that Abram's land inheritance would be the land of Canaan, yet God didn't tell Abram that in the beginning. In order to receive the inheritance of God, Abram would have to follow the direction of God. God said that He would give Abram a land inheritance that He "would show" Abram. God had not yet shown Abram the land of Canaan in Genesis 12:1-3. Thus, if Abram was to receive his portion from the Lord, he would have to be dependent on the direction of the Lord on a daily basis in order to ensure he ended up in the right place.
The second promise that God made to Abram was that He would make Abram into a great nation. This is a reference to Abram's family and the extent of it. God promised Abram many children. The scriptures later go on to explain that Abram was 75 years old at the time of Genesis 12:1-3. Even though people were living to be well over 100 years old at that time, the Bible explains that the normal age of child bearing was similar to today's circumstances. Thus, as God promised Abram many children, to the extent that Abram would be the father of an entire nation, God's promise was dependent on a miracle. In order for God's promise to be fulfilled, it would have to be the work of God Himself to fulfill that promise since Abram was physically unable to do this work on his own. If it were possible for Abram to be a great nation by his own efforts, he would have had his only family already, but scripture is clear to show that he did not.
The third promise that God made was the greatest of all the promises. God began to speak about blessings concerning Abram. God said that He would bless Abram. Again, there is no description of merits that Abram performed that would have served to inspire God to bless Abram in the manner that He did. Yet God blessed Abram anyway simply because He wanted to. The Bible equates "blessings" to salvation. Thus, the scriptures reveal that God desired to save Abram and also save others through Abram. God made Abram the focal point of blessings and curses. Genesis 12:1-3 reveals that God promised that those who blessed Abram would be blessed by God, but those who cursed Abram would be cursed by God.
Then God talked about Jesus. God said that through Abram, all of the families of the earth would be blessed. The Bible explains that a person that is "blessed" is one that is approved of God. However, the Bible also teaches that mankind is sinful in nature and by extension, not approved by God. How then could a person come from Abram and "bless" all of the families of the earth? How could a mere man allow every family of the earth to stand before God as "approved?" This is a reference to Messiah. Though Abram had performed no merit, God promised that the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, would come from Abram! God promised that a man would come from Abram; and this man would be able to deal with the issue of sin in order that all of the families of the earth could be "blessed." The genealogies explain that Jesus did indeed come from Abram so that His claims to be Messiah are confirmed in the genealogies.
The blessing is two-fold. The blessing refers to a spiritual blessing as well as a physical blessing according to the scriptures. Since Jesus Himself is the "blessing" as the Messiah (as the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15), He is able to make people approved before God by offering forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith. However, the Bible also describes that when Messiah comes back to rule and reign on the earth for 1,000 years, Jesus will administrate His righteousness and goodness from Jerusalem so that all of the families of the literal world will be blessed through His kingdom! In this way, the Bible describes that the promise of "the blessing" will be fulfilled in different ways.
As previously mentioned, God made these promises out of His grace. This is truly unmerited favor. There were no documented works that Abram performed to become the recipient of these promises. Instead, God saw Abram, desired to bless Him, and did so. Abram simply had to trust in God in order to receive the benefits of these promises. More specifically, Abram had to trust in the character and nature of God in His faithfulness. Abram had to trust that God was faithful to Himself. Abram had to trust that God does not lie. Abram had to trust that God does not change. Abram had to trust that God is able. Understanding these truths, one can learn why God made these promises. God would reveal His faithfulness, His impeccability, His immutability, and His power through the fulfillment of these promises. God's Word is true because one can observe God's historic work to fulfill these promises, thereby revealing that God is truly faithful, unchanging, without fault, and almighty! Today there is a nation called Israel that came from the loins of Abram and who's boarders, while being tampered with, are sturdy and observable. The Jewish people are in the land that God promised. While they may not be there in the manner that God desires, God has partially fulfilled His promise to Abram and continues still today to work towards more complete fulfillment. Today the Jewish people are a great nation. There are millions of Jews that came directly from the seed of Abram and are the recipients of God's miraculous and amazing provision. The nation of Israel is one of the most culturally and economically stable nations in all of the world. While many countries in that region of the world are in states of decay, Israel is flourishing in many areas just as God promised. If Israel were not a great nation as God promised, then the world would not consider Israel to be a "burdensome stone (Zechariah 12:3)" so that many nations would seek to destroy such a tiny country. The promises of God have been continually fulfilled concerning the blessing so that greater fulfillment will come in the 1,000 year reign of Christ. When one observes history, the countries that sought to destroy Israel have been destroyed. The countries that have supported Israel have been blessed. Even in the United Stated, American history shows that certain administrations that supported Israel caused this nation to flourish while others that rejected Israel caused this nation to suffer.
It is said that no nation in history has ever been conquered and exiled from its homeland, and been able to repopulate its homeland and flourish. Israel has done it 3 times. The enemies of Israel have fallen historically and will continue to do so because God's Word is true. God demonstrates His power, His grace, His sovereignty, and His faithfulness through this blessing. More importantly, the promise of Messiah did come from Abram. Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of Jacob, the Son of Isaac, the Son of Abram, the Son of the Living God, came into the world and died on behalf of all sinners in order that those who believe can stand approved before God through Jesus' own righteousness. Bible prophecy confirms that God is still working in order to complete the promises made to Abram so that the extended blessing in the Millennium Reign after Christ's return will further bless all of the families of the earth who remain at that time. If there is a portion of scripture that simply and powerfully confirms that identity of God and the character of God through observable, historical truths, it is certainly the foundation of the Abrahamic Covenant! Praise God!