Bible Insights

God Tells Abraham He Will Make Him into a Great Nation

God Makes a Similar Promise to Moses

In the book of Genesis, we meet Abraham. God takes a special interest in Abraham and gives him a bold promise. He pledges to make Abraham “into a great nation” (Genesis 12:2, NIV).

What makes this promise even more incredible is that Abraham is seventy-five years old and has no heirs.

It would seem that this great nation God has in mind will end with Abraham’s death.

Of course, God has a different plan. Miraculously Abraham and his wife Sarah have a child, Isaac, twenty-five years later, when Abraham is 100 years old. Through Isaac, God’s great nation will emerge.

Isaac has Jacob, also called Israel. Jacob has twelve sons, from which the twelve tribes of Israel will emerge. A great nation is born.

But before this happens, Jacob and his family travel to Egypt. They stick around too long and over many generations their growing group becomes oppressed and enslaved.

Four hundred years later Moses leads them out of Egypt to return to the land God originally pledged for Abraham and his family, the Promised Land. There the great nation will live.

However, this great nation almost gets derailed. The trip from Egypt to their future home in Canaan should only take a few days, two weeks tops.

Instead, the journey lasts forty years, because they’re not ready to receive what God has planned for them and because of their disobedience.

Discover What Moses Did When God Offered to Make Him into a Great Nation

At one point, God becomes exasperated with them and tells Moses what he wants to do. Because of the people’s ongoing disobedience and lack of faith, God has had enough. He threatens to strike them down and destroy them.

Then he’ll start over with Moses. He tells Moses, “I will make you into a nation even greater and stronger than they.”

If I were Moses, I’d jump at the chance. After all, these people—God’s chosen people—have caused nothing but frustration and dissension, complaining the whole time.

I’d be happy to be done with them. I’d be honored for God to arrange a do over, starting with me and my children.

Of course, Moses, a humble man—more humble than any other—turns down God’s generous offer. He begs for a second chance for these people who don’t deserve it. And God grants it.

In fact, he’ll give them many more chances in the centuries to come.

But what if Moses didn’t fight for his people and accepted the offer God gave him? Then instead of us talking about the children of Abraham, we’d be talking about the children of Moses.

It wouldn’t be the nation of Israel; it would be the nation of Moses or one of his sons.

Moses, however, is a wise leader. He doesn’t seek to promote himself. Instead he wants what’s best for those who he’s charged to lead—even though they don’t deserve it.

So, it is with God. Everything he gives us is something we don’t deserve.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 13-15, and today’s post is on Numbers 14:12.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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