All the Families of the Earth

Beginning with Father Abraham, God was creating a family in the Earth

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13 Jul 2016
All the Families of the Earth

“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).

When God called Abraham, He assigned to him the most daring task: To impact all the families of the earth; every tribe, ethnic group and community on our planet – everybody! This is as inclusive as it gets! Very few people would accept such a huge mission for their lives.

ABRAHAM’S WORLD

According to biblical accounts, Abraham was born around two thousand years after Adam, the first man, was created, and was in the tenth generation after the flood in the time of Noah. By this time, the families of the earth were in a state of crisis. The account of Genesis 10 describes that Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, together with their wives, were the only survivors of the flood. After coming out of the ark they reestablished their families on earth and with that, repopulated the new world (Genesis 10:32).

According to Scripture, Noah and Shem were both alive when Abraham was born. Noah died when Abraham was 58 years old (Genesis 9:28) and Shem even outlived him (Genesis 11:11). Abraham, as the oldest son of his father, was the main patriarch of the Shemite clan. He may have personally heard the accounts of his great, great, great… great grandfather Shem, maybe even from Noah; stories of mankind’s rebellion against God and the devastating flood less than 300 years before he was born.

PARADISE LOST

Both Noah and Shem were living witnesses of life in the pre-flood world. Before God’s judgment, people lived much longer (almost 1000 years). The very first humans, Adam and Eve, had personal and regular contact with their Creator – a privilege that was lost by the time Abraham was born. It was a perfect world: a crystal clear stream flowed from the paradise garden called Eden, and in the middle of it were two mysterious trees, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Man and woman were not allowed to eat from these particular trees, but from all the other trees and fruits they could eat as they pleased.

This perfect world changed when an evil force entered the garden. Satan deceived the woman and both she and her husband decided to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. As a consequence of their disobedience their direct contact with God was lost, and Adam and Eve were forever exiled from Eden. A dark shadow came over the earth. It impacted everything and the destructive influence of Satan was deeply felt by the first family of the earth.

Adam and Eve soon became the first dysfunctional family when their oldest son, Cain, murdered his younger brother, Abel. Not much later the ‘sons of God’ (fallen angels) left their heavenly abode and established perverted families with the ‘daughters of man,’ producing a new form of super humans, which the Bible called ‘giants’ of the ancient world (Genesis 6:4). Without a direct relationship with their Creator God, mankind was pulled deeper into destructive lifestyles. God regretted creating mankind and wanted to destroy it (Genesis 6:7). However, God saw Noah, a righteous man who ‘walked with God,’ and he and his family found grace in the eyes of God and were spared.

Nevertheless, Abraham knew that even the descendants of the three surviving clans did not learn from their own history, as they soon built the Tower of Babel. One Jewish tradition even states Abraham personally witnessed how his compatriots wanted to establish their independence from God and searched to gain a new Eden on earth. In their selfish ambition they tried building their own empire, so God scattered the families around the earth. Because of this breach in communication, some of Abraham’s ancestral families lost contact with their related clans. This divine interference formed the languages of the world.

HOPE FOR A HOPELESS WORLD

When Abraham’s story begins, the families of the earth lived without hope for the future. Abraham knew that he belonged to a lineage of sinful and broken families who had lost contact with God and lived in a state of rebellion against Him. The moment when God intervened in Abraham’s life everything changed. God decided to establish a new family clan with Abraham. He chose a land for them to live in and protected them in a special way. ‘If people around you bless you I will bless them too,’ God said. ‘And, if they attack you, they will have me as their enemy.’ Then came the great mission statement: ‘Abraham, in you and your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’

From every perspective this was a radical turning point in human history. The Apostle Paul considered it to be the first proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed’” (Galatians 3:8). When God called Abraham he established the eternal calling of the Jewish people. The main beneficiaries of this calling, however, were not the Jews themselves. On the contrary, this calling came at the cost of their enmity and persecution throughout their history. The main focus of the blessing was "all the families of the earth." Abraham and his descendants became God’s tool to bring back His light into a world that had become progressively darker.

From the beginning, Israel was a conduit of redemption for all mankind and a light to the nations. Instead of another flood that would cover the earth with judgment, God envisioned a flood of redemption to such a degree that the “knowledge of the glory of the Lord” would cover the earth as waters (Isaiah 6). Former ICEJ Executive Director, Rev. Malcolm Hedding put it beautifully in his book, The Great Covenants of the Bible: "The Abrahamic covenant is the covenant of God’s decision to save the world and as such it is the most fundamental of all covenants."

This covenant put a process into motion that lasts until today. Through the descendants of Abraham we received the Bible (Romans 3:1) as well as the greatest blessing of all: God’s only Son, the Redeemer, who was slain for the sins of the world. For this reason, Mathew starts his account of the Gospel with “the genealogy of Jesus Christ… the Son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). The land promised to Abraham, and Jerusalem in particular, has become the hub where all the blessings of Abraham’s covenant were unleashed. Here our Savior Jesus Christ was crucified, resurrected, and rose to heaven. Here He poured out His Holy Spirit. From Jerusalem He sent out His disciples to bless all the families of the earth. And, to Jerusalem, Christ will one day return.

The final outworking of this Abrahamic calling is to bring fallen mankind back into the presence of God, giving them access to paradise. Like Adam, one day we will live in a garden-city called Jerusalem. As in Eden, a stream will flow out of the city, with the Tree of Life at its very center. The fruit of the trees will heal the nations and the broken families of the earth, and God Himself, will be constantly present (Rev. 22). Interestingly enough, it was exactly this vision of the heavenly Jerusalem which kept Abraham going and served as his constant source of strength: “for [Abraham] waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

Abraham’s perspective of his calling was incredibly broad. Although keenly aware of how paradise was lost for the families of the earth, he saw a vision of those families being restored, just like John saw some 2000 years later: “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9–10)!

FORETASTE OF HEAVEN

This grand call to "all the families of the earth" affects everyone’s destiny. You and your family members are perfect candidates for the blessings of God, regardless of your past! The price to return back to God has been paid by the greatest Son of Abraham, Jesus Christ. Accept it in faith.

"All the families of the earth" is also an eternal reminder that it was the physical descendants of Abraham, the people of Israel, that ushered in this blessing for us. They were persecuted and hated for it like no other nation. Thus Paul calls us debtors to the Jews and instructs us to bless them in return.

The Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem serves as an incredible sign for our present and future redemption, and this year’s theme "All the Families of the Earth" is a timely reminder of Abraham’s blessings to us. The prophet Zechariah saw “the families of the earth coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zech. 14:16-16). I cannot count how many times pilgrims attending the Feast in Jerusalem told me afterward: “It feels like a foretaste of Heaven!” Coming to Jerusalem is like coming home. Jerusalem connects us like no other place on earth, both with our history and, more importantly, with our future.

May you be blessed with the blessing of Abraham and I look forward to welcoming you at the Feast of Tabernacles, when ‘"all the families of the earth" are invited to celebrate their Creator in Jerusalem.
   

 

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