When you think of God blessing Abraham, most of the time, you probably think of Genesis 12. That is, after all, the first time God makes these promises to Abraham, and for God, once is enough.
So why does God then turn around bless Abraham again in Genesis 22?
The promises are exactly the same: land (22:17), nation (22:17), and earth blessed by Abraham’’s lineage (22:18).
Furthermore, the first blessing came before Abraham had actually done anything (remember: Abraham didn’t leave for Canaan until Genesis 12:4; promises came in Genesis 12:1-3).
This set of promises comes while Abraham and Isaac are still on the mountain where Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac.
Not the First Set of Repeated Promises
Because the language follows almost the exact same pattern that is seen in Genesis 12, it’s easy to think that the promises in Genesis 22 are only the second time that God has mentioned them.
That’s not entirely accurate. In reality, God had repeated these same promises several times in the intervening chapters.
- Genesis 15:18 – “To your descendants I have given this land [the land of Canaan].”
- Genesis 17:4 – “You will be the father of a multitude of nations.”
- Genesis 18:9 – “At this time next year, your wife Sarah will have a son.”
As you can see, God reminded Abraham of these promises several times throughout his life. Why? Probably because Abraham, like us, have a hard time “remembering” these promises.
Sure, we pay lip service to them. We remind each other that Heaven is real, God will save those who are His, we just need to persevere, and so on. But do we really believe it?
God reminded Abraham of His promises because He never wanted Abraham to forget it. He didn’t want Abraham to think that He had somehow forgotten His own promises — and in that forgetting, not fulfilled them. Or that God was lazy in fulfilling them (2 Peter 3:9).
Are Our Promises Real To Us?
Just like Abraham needed to be reminded of God’s promises, so we need to be reminded as well. We need to study the Scriptures — not just because we want to learn about the promises, but so that we can be reminded of the promises.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul tackles a subject that is causing the church there to have serious issues. On the table is the question of life after death; what happens to those who die? Will we see them again?
Paul tells them that they will, in fact, see them again. And that they will be caught up together with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Then, he ends it by saying “therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Did they already know what Paul said? Maybe. Probably. But it’s also very likely they simply forgot it. And because of that fact, Paul wanted to remind them.
In Hebrews 6, the writer makes perhaps his boldest declaration of hope yet, stating that hope should be our “anchor for the soul.” We should root our faith deep in Christ, trusting God that salvation is possible and a certainty for those who follow God.
But how can we be so sure? Because God, in His wisdom, promises salvation twice:
“…In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope that is set before us.”Hebrews 6:17-18
Maybe you need to be reminded of that point today. I know I did.