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Standing on the Promises

Standing on the Promises

Do you see Bible prophecy fulfilled? In this survey of endtime prophecies in the book of Genesis, Gerald Weston explains how the blessings of Abraham—and the friction between Jacob and Esau—are evident in the last days.

[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]

Abraham: The Father of Many Nations

The well-known hymn, Standing on the Promises, by Russell Carter is familiar to most church-goers. But what are those promises? Do you know? If you guess, “Salvation through Jesus Christ,” that is certainly one of the promises. But do you know to whom that promise was given, and what other promise accompanied it? And do you realize that this other promise explains what is happening geopolitically in our world today?

We read in Genesis 12, and verses 2–3, that a man named Abram was told to leave his country and go to a place that God had chosen for him, and he would be blessed mightily if he did so. Notice these promises:

I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12:2–3).

It’s generally understood that, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed,” is a reference to the Messiah—Jesus Christ.

But what about the blessing of national greatness? Is this fulfilled by the tiny state we now call Israel? Or was it the kingdom of Israel under Kings David or Solomon? Or does it mean far more than that?

The promise of a Savior is general knowledge, but we’ll see on today’s program, one of the most remarkable truths of scripture. It is a truth so plain a child can understand, but one that theologians fail to explain. That truth is the promise of national greatness to Abraham, and it explains what we see in our world today. Stay with me now, as we’ll look at the promises of God to Abraham—promises that God cannot, and has not, broken.

Abraham’s Place in World History

A warm welcome to all of you from all of us here at Tomorrow’s World, where we fearlessly explain, from the pages of the Bible, promises and prophecies others don’t understand, or simply ignore. Do you realize, dear friends, that God gave two major promises to the patriarch Abraham, passed those along to his descendants, and has brought them to pass thousands of years later?

Most church-goers are familiar with one of them, but they are woefully ignorant of the other. Why? And why should this be important to you? When people sing “Standing on the Promises,” do they know what those promises are? The promises of God are found in the book of Genesis, so let’s begin with chapter 12, verses 1–3, where we are introduced to a man named Abram.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1–3).

Then in verse 7 we read the following:

Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7).

How is it that a promise made nearly 4,000 years ago could affect us in the 21st century? Today we see a struggle in the Middle East over the land promised to Abram and his descendants. But there is far more significance to the promises made to Abraham. Notice in chapter 13 of Genesis that God promised this man, who was childless at the time, that he would be a father of millions, and that his descendants would spread out in all directions.

And the Lord said to Abram… “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered” (Genesis 13:14–16).

People often think of the promised land as only that area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, as we hear angry chants today, “From the river to the sea.” But the promise included much more, as we see from the fifteenth chapter, verse 18, where God told Abram:

“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18).

The River Euphrates starts in Turkey, flows through Syria and modern Iraq and empties into the Persian Gulf. This may not mean that all territory south and west of the Euphrates was given to Israel. But clearly much more than most people realize. And even anciently, Israel possessed land on the east side of the Jordan. When Abram was 99 years old and before the birth of Isaac, in chapter 17, beginning in verse 4, God told him the following:

“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you” (Genesis 17:4–6).

Notice that the very name Abraham means “father of many nations.” And his wife Sarah was prophesied to be [notice verse 16]:

… a mother of nations; [and that] kings of peoples shall be from her (Genesis 17:16).

As we go through the book of Genesis, we find that God expanded the promises far beyond a tiny land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.

However, Sarah was barren, and in the course of time, Abraham and Sarah became impatient. Sarah suggested that Abraham could produce a child by a surrogate. The result was the birth of Ishmael.

God’s Promises Revealed

Dear friends, you cannot understand our world today without understanding the promises of national greatness made to Abraham and his descendants. Yes, the promises made to him include the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, but that’s not the whole story. These promises include kings (plural!), nations (plural!), and as we will see, great agricultural and mineral wealth, and great military power.

We read that God tested Abraham to know who he would put first—God, or his son? He passed that test and God responded by making the promises unconditional and giving greater detail. Notice it in Genesis 22:16–18:

“By Myself I have sworn,” says the Lord, “because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:16–18).

So far, we have seen that God promised the following:

  1. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.
  1. God would give great national blessings to Abraham and his descendants.
  1. His descendants would be in number as the sands of the seashore.


  1. They would possess the gate of their enemies.

The Apostle Paul explains that point number 1—“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”—refers to the Messiah.

Notice it in Galatians 3:16:

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “AND TO YOUR SEED,” who is Christ (Galatians 3:16).

That single seed that would bring a blessing to the whole world is the promise of Jesus Christ, who gave His life for the sins of the world and offered salvation and eternal life to mankind. This promise is generally understood, but what about other aspects of the promise made to Abraham? What about:

  • Kings?
  • Territory?
  • Descendants in the millions?
  • Possessing gates of their enemies?

Genesis 24:60 shows how these promises were conferred upon Abraham’s daughter-in-law:

And they blessed Rebekah and said to her: “Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands [that’s tens of millions]; and may your descendants possess the gates [plural] of those who hate them” (Genesis 24:60).

My friends, these are remarkable promises, if they are true! And we are going to see that they ARE true, that they HAVE been, and ARE being fulfilled right before our very eyes! Furthermore, these promises affect your life!

Now we come to a part of the story that affects what is happening in the Middle East even as I speak. We find that Abraham’s daughter-in-law, Rebekah was pregnant with twin boys who struggled in her womb. When she inquired of God as to why there was such a struggle within her, He answered [Genesis 25:23]:

Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger (Genesis 25:23).

The two sons were named Jacob and Esau. Do you realize that what is happening in that part of the world all began with what we are reading here in the book of Genesis? The struggles that began between Jacob and Esau were foretold nearly 4,000 years in advance, but what remains of this story is even more remarkable.

Esau was the older of the two and was in line to receive a double portion of the inheritance as a right of birth. But Jacob was a crafty man and induced Esau to sell him his birthright—Genesis 25, beginning in verse 29:

Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary” … But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:29–32).

Now it’s evident by what followed that he was not really ready to die:

Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright (Genesis 25:33–34).

Ephraim and Manasseh—Who Are They?

In the course of time, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, and the promises became his. And as we will see, those promises, given thousands of years ago, are coming alive before our very eyes. Let’s pick up the story in Genesis 35 where God appeared to Abraham’s grandson, Jacob [we’ll begin in verse 10]:

And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name”…. Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land” (Genesis 35:10–12).

Notice this additional detail given here. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham, meaning a father of many, or a multitude, of nations. But here we see that the promise to his grandson explains the promise included a single nation and a company of nations. So what are we to think of this? And should this matter to you? Absolutely it should! Let’s go to the end of Genesis and read some remarkable prophecies. Bible students know the story of Jacob’s [that is, Israel’s] twelve sons and how they all ended up in Egypt. One of Jacob’s [or Israel’s] sons was Judah—the father of the Jews. Another was Joseph. As Israel came to the end of his life, he adopted Joseph’s two sons—Manasseh and Ephraim. We read of this in chapter 48 of Genesis. After confirming what God had promised him, Israel then said something almost no one understands, yet there’s nothing difficult here. Let’s notice this in Genesis 48:

“And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. Your offspring whom you beget after them shall be yours; they will be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance” (Genesis 48:5–6).

This adoption by Israel of Joseph’s sons was confirmed in verse 16:

“Let my name [that is, the name Israel] be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Genesis 48:16).

This is vitally important. The name of Israel was placed, not on the sons of Judah, the Jews, but on the sons of his brother, Joseph. Let that sink in. I repeat, the name of Israel was placed, not on the sons of Judah—not on the Jews—but on the sons of his brother Joseph. And as the verses that follow demonstrate, the birthright blessings, of a single nation, and a multitude of nations, go to Joseph’s sons—Manasseh and Ephraim. The verses that follow prove that! Jacob, that is Israel, commanded Joseph to bring his sons forward to him, that the birthright blessing could be passed to them. Joseph then placed the oldest, that is Manasseh, before his father so that Israel’s right hand would be on his head; and the younger Ephraim in front of Israel’s left hand. However, Israel crossed his hands and conferred the greater blessing on the younger brother. Joseph protested here in Genesis 48:18:

“Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:18–19).

Notice it! The older son would become a great nation, but his younger brother would become a multitude or company of nations. This should be proof enough that these birthright blessings never went to the Jews. But if you have your Bible, turn now to 1 Chronicles 5, or write this down and look it up later. Here we see a clear statement that the birthright went to neither the firstborn [Reuben] of Israel, nor to the Jews. Begin in verse 1:

Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel—he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled [by sexual misconduct] his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph [Ephraim and Manasseh], the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright; yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler [that is, the Messiah—Christ Jesus], although the birthright [the national blessings] was Joseph’s (1 Chronicles 5:1–2).

Understand. Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, had twelve sons. Among the twelve are Judah, the father of the Jews, but also Joseph, whose descendants, through Ephraim and Manasseh, were destined to become a single great nation and a company of nations. From the Jews would come the Messiah, but the promise of national greatness was given to his brother Joseph and his sons. Not only is this what Scripture tells us, so does history! When have the Jews ever been a great nation and a company of nations possessing the bounties of the earth? Some think the split between the house of Judah and the house of Israel fulfilled this, but that cannot be, because the house of Israel was not made up of Jews. The Jews were only a single nation—never a multitude of nations.

American and Great Britain…In Prophecy?

Prior to his death, Jacob [that is, Israel] called all twelve of his sons and foretold what would come of them at the time of the end. Here it is in Genesis 49:1:

And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days” (Genesis 49:1).

To Judah [that is the Jews] we read of the promise of a line of kings culminating in the returning Messiah in verse 10:

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people (Genesis 49:10).

We also see from verses 8 and 9 that the Jews will be a powerful military force at the time of the end, and is that not exactly what we see in our news?

Judah… Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies…. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? (Genesis 49:8–9).

This is confirmed in a prophecy about the Jews and Jerusalem, found in Zechariah 12:6:

In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left… (Zechariah 12:6).

But what about the birthright descendants of Joseph during the time of the end—these very days that we’re living in today? Back in Genesis 49:22:

Joseph is a fruitful bough… His branches run over the wall. The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob… by the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers (Genesis 49:22–26).

Dear friends, there is so much more to this story that involves the British-descended and American peoples. Only when you understand the prophecies of the Bible can you understand what we see in today’s news, and what the outcome will be.

I hope you profited from this video.

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