During the centuries after Noahís flood, the number of people on earth increased much. The people became powerful and they established great cities. They built impressive buildings for their gods. But they did not know the real God.
That is why Godís promises to Abraham are so important. Among all the people on earth, God had chosen one man: Abraham. God would show his kindness to Abraham, and, by means of Abraham, to people from every nation (Genesis 12:3). God would establish a great nation Ė but he would begin with just this one man, Abraham (Genesis 12:2). The whole nation would come from Abrahamís family. And that does not just mean the Jews, who are from Abrahamís human family. It also means Christians, because they, like Abraham, believe God (Galatians 3:29).
God made these promises to Abraham on several occasions. The one that we read here is from Genesis 22:17. On that occasion, God emphasised his words very strongly. He even used an oath.
An oath is a very serious declaration that someone will carry out his promises. God always carries out his promises, even without an oath. But for some very important promises, God has used oaths.
When a person uses an oath, he often asks someone greater than him to act as witness of that oath. For example, that person may ask God to act as witness. Then that oath is a very serious matter. The person has declared that he is responsible to God for that oath.
But nobody is greater than God. That is why God had to be the witness of his own oath. He wanted to make it clear that his promise was certain. He would certainly establish a vast family for Abraham, who would be the people of God (both Jews and Christians).
And upon them, God would certainly show his kindness.
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© 2013, Keith Simons.