By KD Manes
Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” – Genesis 13:14-17
This is the second part from last week’s post, Abram and Lot Separate.
The idea of walking through the land (vs. 17) appears to be symbolic. Armies in the ancient Near East declared their victory by marching through a defeated territory.
Layman’s Bible Commentary makes three observations about God’s third revelation to Abram:
- God will give the land to Abram and his descendants forever.
- Abram’s heir will be his own child.
- Abram’s descendants will be innumerable.
These promises were great news for Abram, especially as Lot parted east toward the more fertile plain of Jordan and Abram headed back into the hill country of Canaan. The reality of God’s promises, however, would not come into fruition for a long time.
For neither Abram, nor his descendants (especially the promised seed Isaac) owned the land for most of history. And although Israel regained possession as a nation in 1948, they currently possess only a fraction of the land God has promised.
The Land of Canaan
Of the promise of the land, Henry Morris in The Genesis Record notes: “This promise must either be taken in the spiritual sense (applying it to a spiritual land of promise, as so interpreted by many expositors) or else ascribed to a time yet future. Since God promised the land to Abram and his seed forever, this can ultimately, if taken literally be fulfilled only in the new earth of Revelation 21. It will quite probably be fulfilled precursively, however, during the coming millennial age.”
Along with the Jews, Abram’s descendants include the Arabs. Although these two groups add up to a large number, the literal promise of Abram’s seed numbering “as the dust of the earth” and Abram becoming a great nation still awaits fulfillment.
Morris observes: “The New Testament makes it clear that ‘Abram’s seed’ was Christ Himself (Gal. 3:16), and that Abram is ‘father of all them that believe’ (Rom. 4:11), so that he also has a spiritual seed. It is evidently not a case of either this or that, but of both! The Jewish nation is to be eternally blessed as a nation, chosen of God in Abram. Likewise, the Christian Church, genuine believers in Christ from all nations, is itself a ‘holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9), ‘Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:29). Abram indeed was to be the ‘father of many nations’ (Gen. 17:5).”
Chapter 13 ends with Abram building another altar where he makes his home base in Hebron (18:1), which means “communion.” This is also where he is later buried (25:9).