This passage is one of my favorite passages in Genesis. Not only does this passage show God making a promise to a man who would later become a key figure in the storyline of the Bible, but we also see something else. We see that God is faithful to keep His promises. In this passage, God made seven promises to Abram (later Abraham). All Abram has to do is to be obedient to God and leave his father's house.
The first promise that God made was to make Abraham into a great nation. Up until this point, Abraham and his wife had no children. Abraham had no son to give an inheritance to. However, later in Genesis we see God's first step in delivering on His promise. Abraham had two sons. The first was Ishmael (Gen.16:15). Abraham's second son was Isaac (Gen. 21:3). Both of Abraham's children grew up and had many descendants. Many people in the middle east can trace their lineage back to Abraham, as can the Israelites.
The second promise that God made was to bless Abraham. The Bible makes clear that Abraham was prosperous. Abraham had so many livestock that, at one point, the land where he and his nephew were living could not support the both of them (Gen. 13:6). They had to part company just to have enough land to feed their livestock. This is a testimony to the wealth of Abraham! Even the king of Salem recognized that Abraham was blessed by God (Gen. 14:19).
The third promise that God made was to make Abraham's name great. God also made good on this promise. The Hittites had apparently acquired a respect for Abraham. After the death of Sarah, Abraham looked for someplace to bury her. Abraham asked the Hittites if he could buy a burial site from them. The Hittites responded by saying, "Listen to us, lord. You are God's chosen one among us. Bury your dead in our finest burial place. None of us will withhold from you his burial place for burying your dead." (Gen. 23:6). They recognized Abraham as God's chosen. Abraham insisted on paying for the burial site, and he did.
However, God fulfilled His promise in a second way. The Bible records Abraham's obedience to God. The author of Hebrews records one of Abraham's acts in what is known as the "hall of faith" (Hebrews 11:17). Abraham is one of the most well-known and most well-respected people in narrative of the Bible. His obedience has inspired obedience in many people throughout the years.
The fourth promise that God made was to make Abraham a blessing. Abraham rescued captives after a major battle (Gen. 14:16). However, perhaps the best example of this has already been stated. Abraham has provided a good model of obedience to God for many, many people. However, it is from Abraham's lineage that the greatest blessing of all time was born. For more on this, see the paragraph on the seventh promise.
The fifth promise that God made was to bless those who bless Abraham. The narrative of Genesis gives us several examples of God's faithfulness in this area. Perhaps one of the better examples, however is found in chapter 20. King Abimelech of Gerar brought Abraham's wife in to him. He thought that Sarah was Abraham's sister! However, God warned Abimilech in a dream that she was Abraham's wife. After learning of this, he returned Sarah to Abraham and gave Abraham many gifts (Gen. 20:14-16). After this, Abraham prayed for healing for those in Abimelech's household, and they were healed of their barrenness (Gen. 20:17-18).
The sixth promise that God made was to curse those who treated Abraham with contempt. We not only see this happening with Abraham in the Genesis narratives, but we also see this promise being fulfilled today, as those who treat Abraham's descendants seem to have their efforts end in failure.
The seventh and final promise that God made to Abraham in this narrative is that He would bless all people on earth through Abraham. This promise came true with the birth, life, passion, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is only through Him that we have salvation. It is only through Him that we are redeemed. It is through Jesus Christ that we have hope for an eternity to spend worshipping our Creator, Who loves us.
The point here is that, although Abraham was only a man and sinned like the rest of us, God remained faithful to His promises. Abraham was obedient to God, and God fulfilled His promises to Abraham. How can we be more obedient to God today? What changes are we going to make? Why? How? Will we trust God to be faithful? Or will we ignore the record of His faithfulness and not trust God? I hope that we will choose to be more obedient, and that we will choose to trust God. Is there any reason not to trust our faithful Creator?