Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #2 of Genesis, chapter 12 and we are going to begin by reading Genesis 12:1-3:
Now JEHOVAH had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
I will stop reading there. We were discussing a few things, including the “one third” and “two thirds” relationship between Terah and his three sons. Abram was the “one third” that identifies with the elect. Also, Terah had Abram at age 130. We were also discussing God’s command to Abram to leave the land of his nativity and to leave that side of the river and cross over into the land of Canaan. We saw how that pictures God’s salvation program – “one third” of Terah’s sons crosses the flood and enters into Canaan, the kingdom of heaven. The other two sons, the “two thirds,” desire to enter the kingdom of heaven but they never did. And that is how it is with unsaved mankind. Yes, they would like to get right with God as they understand Him, but it never works out. It does not work with the religions of the world and the altered, perverted gospels that insert works into grace and it never manages to bring the followers of those kinds of gospels across the flood. There is only “one way” to cross that river, which represents the wrath of God, and that is in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ as He took upon Himself the sins of His people and died for them; and in so doing, He experienced the depths of the sea and His death at the foundation of the world was payment that the Law demanded. That enabled the sea or the river Jordan, which typified the same thing, to become “dry” for those that Christ saved and they can now cross over. They still see the sea as the Israelites did as wall on either side and, yet, they cross over on dry ground and not a drop of water touches them because there is no sin remaining upon them.
So, Abram, by faith, obeyed God and went into a land that he had no knowledge of, but he simply was obedient to the command or Word of God.
It goes on to say in Genesis 12:2:
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
The Hebrew word “nation” is “gó-ee” and it is sometimes plural. It is translated as “nation” or “heathen” or “Gentile.” So, God is really saying, “And I will make of thee a great Gentile,” but it does not fit with that translation, so the translators translated it as “nation.” When we see this word, we know that this promise to Abram is parabolic and full of spiritual meaning. God is using Abram to represent the father of believers. Of course, the Father of believers is God Himself and Abraham is used as a figure of God the Father in the parable given by Christ of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man was having a discussion with father Abraham, as Abraham was a figure of God the Father.
From Abram, God will make a great nation. The seed of Abram will receive the blessing of God. The seed will receive the inheritance of the kingdom of God. The seed will receive the inheritance of the land of Canaan, but it is not the earthly land of Canaan. No – we will see that God promised an eternal inheritance and this land of Canaan was to be given eternally to the seed. However, that is not possible in this world because this world is all going to be burned up. There is nothing lasting or eternal concerning this corrupt creation. It is only the new heaven and new earth.
The Lord’s people understand this because God has opened our eyes, by His grace, to see how He speaks in the Bible and to understand spiritual things. We have been granted understanding of the language of the kingdom of heaven, the language of God. God is Spirit and His Word is spiritual. You must look for the spiritual meaning or you are not understanding the Word of God. You are understanding an earthly aspect of it, perhaps. You may understand the moral implication. You may be very good at understanding the historical situation, but even then you might go astray if you do not have the deeper, spiritual meaning. However, you are not understanding the Bible at all, in fact, if you do not understand the language of the author of the Bible. And that is God – all Scripture is God-breathed and God-infused with spiritual life. That is why the Word of God is “quick.” It is alive. It is not alive physically. Physically, it is just ink on paper in a bound book, but, spiritually, it is alive. Any understanding or reckoning of the things the Bible says without connecting with the deep, spiritual meaning means you are missing the “life” or the “quickening” of the Word of God – it is quick and powerful. You are also emptying it of its power and it becomes a dead, wooden thing and that is exactly what has happened in the churches. They have the Bible setting in the pulpit and the pastor gets up and preaches to the congregation, but there is no Holy Spirit in the midst of the churches any longer to bless the things being spoken to the ears of the people. It is a spiritual language that God the Spirit is speaking and the Holy Spirit must make this language understandable as He guides you into truth. Without the Holy Spirit involved in that activity, you may as well be studying any philosophical book (or any book man has written) and it would have the same spiritual impact – none. So, when we come to the Bible, we always look for the deeper meaning. That is found when we search out the words God uses in a verse, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, and the Holy Ghost teacheth and instructs the people of God.
When we look at this word “nation,” we can see what I was referring to earlier concerning the promise of the land of Canaan, in Genesis 17:2-8:
And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
Here, again, is a reiteration of what God is saying to Abram in Genesis 12, verse 2, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee,” but now time has continued and Abraham is now 99 years. In Genesis 12 when he left Haran, he was 75 years old, so twenty-four years have passed. He has been dwelling in the land of Canaan, but we will get into those details as we progress in our Bible study in the Book of Genesis. But, for now, we see that God has not forgotten His promise and an additional step has been taken as God tells him that he will be a father of many nations and changes his name to reflect that, from Abram to Abraham, and then God speaks of the seed.
So, as we look at the promise to Abram (who would later become Abraham) concerning being a father of many nations and we must note that to natural-minded theologians…and there are a whole host of them. I am not putting them down, but it is a fact. Throughout the church age God had His saved people in the midst of the congregations and the elect were there during the 1,955 years of the church age, but the elect were the minority, as always. That is the case wherever we look. If we look back at Old Testament Israel, they may have numbered two or three million people and, yet, the elect were only a handful, like the seven thousand that had not bowed the knee to Baal. The elect are always the minority because that is God’s program: “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Many were called as the Gospel call went out to the nations of the world during the church age. The churches filled up with those responding to that call, but of the many called, few were chosen, the elect. Of the few elect, there would be just a few elect deacons, elders, pastors and theologians. You could find a few true and faithful men that were God’s elect who were theologians and wrote commentaries, but you would find many more that were “called,” but were only professed Christians and they also wrote commentaries. Of the latter group, they were all natural-minded because they never had spiritual life. They were never born again, leaving them in the flesh and leaving them with only their carnal side – there was just no other option. So, these pastors and theologians wrote their books. They had a pulpit. They had publishers that wanted to publish their works and they had a wide audience, but when they came to the Bible, they would look at the Bible history and they would see the word “nation” or the “father of many nations,” and what would they think of? They would think of physical nations, like Israel, Edom, Moab, Ammon and other nations of the world and they would trace Abraham’s children and they would note that he was also the father of Ishmael and they would follow the nations that developed. They would conclude, “You see, Abraham was the father of many nations.” Then they would proceed to tell you the nations and they would completely miss what God is directing our attention to by His statement: “Thou shalt be a father of many nations.” It says at the end of Genesis 17:5:
… for a father of many nations have I made thee.
And at the end of Genesis 17:6:
…and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
And how does a natural-minded theologian think of kings? He thinks of earthly kings. Nations have kings and he could provide a list of various nations that developed later in history that came from the loins of Abraham. Again, he would miss it. But what does the Bible say about true believers? It says we are “prophets, priests and kings,” and the nations in view here are not the physical nations of the world.
It says in Genesis 18:18:
Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
Do you see how God is highlighting this point?
Again, the Bible is a mystery. The whole Bible is a parable – Christ spoke in parables. Every verse in the Bible is a parable because we have learned a better definition of a parable that covers the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. Before we had this definition, we had a partially correct definition as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” But, that definition was a little difficult to explain verses like John 3:16 or to explain other (seemingly) plain statements in the Bible that were not obviously written in parabolic form, so the definition needed some improvement and modification. We have finally found the Biblical definition of a parable as “that which hides truth.” A parable spoken hides truth. The Proverbs hide truth. The historical parables of the Old Testament hide truth. The statement in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” hides truth. We have just learned what God meant by “Son,” as Jesus was declared to be the Son of God via the resurrection from the dead. It hid truth. It was not spoken as an obvious parable or an historical parable, but it was just a statement that hid truth. With our improved definition, we can now answer anyone that goes to any verse and says, “How is this a parable?” Our response is that it is a parable because it “hides truth.”
God is hiding truth in this historical parabolic language concerning “nations” and Abraham being the father of many nations. Remember what was said of Jesus in John 11:49-52:
And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
I know I keep saying this, but theologians also miss what this is teaching. They think, “Christ died for all the Jews.” No – if Christ died for all Jews, then all Jews would become saved and that is far from truth. He died for the “nation” of the elect that were within the nation of Israel. And He died not for that “nation” only, but for all the other elect children of God scattered abroad among all the other nations of the world. That is who Christ died for and He did not die for a political nation, like Israel or America or China or Russia. He died for (certain) individuals within all the nations of the world. God speaks of them in Isaiah 26:2:
Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.
If that referred to a physical nation, I would really like to be introduced to that nation that “keepeth the truth.” I do not see it and I do not think any nation is so deceived to think it refers to them. When we look at the nations of the world, we see underhanded dealings by politicians. We see corruption. We see (unrighteous) laws enacted all over the earth and there are no exceptions. There is no righteous political nation now and there never has been. Who is the “righteous nation”? Again, it says, “Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.” The Truth is Jesus, the Word of God. That means that somewhere there is a righteous nation of people that keep the Word of God: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” When we search the Bible, there is only one people that keep the commandments of God and that people is the people that God saved and predestinated to salvation. They come together in salvation to form one people. Just as God speaks of these people as “new Jerusalem,” He also refers to them as the “righteous nation.” It says in Psalm 33:12:
Blessed is the nation whose God is JEHOVAH; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
Here is another example of Hebrew parallelism, where the first part of the verse is synonymous with the second part of the verse, although different words are used. The “nation whose God is JEHOVAH” is blessed. And who is that nation? It is “the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance” and those people are synonymous with the elect. God had determined to save them and had worked out their salvation – they are the “righteous nation.” They are the blessed nation because God is JEHOVAH to them. God is their Saviour.
So, we can see how the Bible is using this language and once we check out this word “nation” or “nations,” it makes perfect sense when we read of that heavenly city, new Jerusalem, made up of everyone the Lord Jesus had saved, in Revelation 21:23-24:
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
It is just as we saw in Genesis 17:6:
And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
Here they are – the kings. It is the end and the time when God will bring His people out of this world and into the new heaven and new earth and there are the “nation of them which are saved.” You are not going to find Venezuela or Columbia or Bolivia or Canada – not literal nations. It is similar mistake that theologians and people make when they hear the word “church,” as God speaks of Christ loving the “church” in Ephesians, chapter 5. With their natural and unregenerate minds, they think of the local church – the Presbyterian or Baptist or Lutheran – but the fact is that God is speaking of the “eternal church,” comprised of the whole company of the elect. They make the identical mistake by thinking that “nations” always means “nations.” In this study, it is referring to those that God has saved and when God says to Abram, “I have made thee a father of many nations,” the figure is that he is the father of the true believers and it is always referring to those truly saved people that are a remnant out of the whole, the few out of the many that are called – God’s elect people.
There are a couple of other Scriptures related to this that we do not have time for, but it is important and, Lord willing, in our next Bible study we will continue to look at these “nations” before we move on.