Monday, February 28, 2011

March 2011 Newsletter

News From Dave and Debbie
March 2011

Dear Friends

Itineration Time has been flying since we returned to itineration last October.  We have been in Michigan most of the time, with other services in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, California, and Washington state.  Aside from services, we’ve been doing lunches and coffee with pastors and attending sectional and district meetings as the opportunities arise. 

One such opportunity was the annual minister’s conference in Michigan which, as usual, took place at the lovely Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, MI, near Traverse City.  The Holy Spirit blessed us with his presence in each of the services and fellowshipping with friends over food was wonderful.  The fitness center even had weight lifting equipment, so Dave was thrilled to have the opportunity to keep up his strength-building routine!   

In March we will focus on Michigan and northern Ohio.  We will join the sectional council tour in Michigan and expect to connect with many of you during that time. Thankfully, the Michigan district has condensed twelve sections into six meetings so we don’t have quite so many places to go as in the past, but it will still be a full schedule!  Our dear friend and former pastor, Wayne Benson, will be our speaker, and we are really looking forward to seeing him again.

On this itineration we have enjoyed quite a variety of formats, more than what we remember from the past. For example, in October, we participated in a sectional, round robin missions convention in northern Michigan. In addition to the preaching services, we spoke in a number of home groups.  In other places we have done preaching (Dave’s first love in ministry), Q and A, and missionary windows.  All have been fruitful, and we deeply appreciate these opportunities to share our passion for Jesus and Filipinos.

We still have a few openings for services and tons of personal appointment times available.  If you would like to schedule us for either a service or appointment, please call Dave right away at (616) 558-1889.  We hope to return to the field in June or July.
Budget Mountain We still need to raise thousands of dollars in cash for evangelistic outreaches and church planting, as well as about $2,000.00 in monthly pledges.  If you can help us, visit for a pledge form or to give online (one will be attached in the online edition of this newsletter).   You can also send your offerings to AGWM
1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield MO 65802
, designated for Dave and Debbie Johnson, account 225600.  If you are a member of an Assemblies of God church, please support us through giving to your church’s missions program.  We cannot leave for the field until these funds are raised.

Vision For The Next Term Over the last term, we were involved in evangelism, church planting, and Bible school and mission field leadership.  For the next four years, we intend to focus on evangelism and church planting—especially house churches.  We have received word that the house church planting movement that Debbie helped to start in Bicol is continuing to grow and needs our attention. We estimate that 50-100 house churches have been planted, and we expect the numbers to dramatically increase as the potential for growth is nearly unlimited!  We have been told that the movement has grown to the point that it may either explode or implode, and that we need to hurry back.  Obviously, we are praying for an explosion!  To God be the glory!

Writing God has laid it on Dave’s heart to do more writing in the areas of theology, missions, and spirituality.  His articles are available online at  When you visit his blogspot, you can receive automatic notifications of new posts by simply signing up to be a follower.  If you would like to be placed on mailing list and receive them directly, please contact Dave directly at 
Internet Connections We are pleased to offer more ways to connect.  You can now also reach us at:

Prayer Requests (Our urgent prayer requests are posted on Facebook)
1.  More of Jesus!
2.  Continued personal renewal.
3.  That God will minister to the needs of the members of Dave’s evangelistic team as they carry on the work.
4.  That God would raise up more prayer and financial partners in our work.

In His Grip,

Dave and Debbie Johnson

Thursday, February 24, 2011

At the Burning Bush: Moses and the Gods of Egypt Part I

At the Burning Bush: Moses and the Gods of Egypt Part I
By Dr. Dave Johnson

This is the first in a series of blogs that deal with Moses and his confrontation with the gods of Egypt.  Again, comprehending the polytheistic and animistic religious context is critical to the background and understanding of our story.  As we did in the story of Abraham, we shall again see that God spoke powerfully and clearly to Moses, Pharaoh, and the peoples they served within their cultural context. But in order to better understand the impact of Moses’ confrontation with the gods of Egypt through the ten plagues we need to look first at Moses’ own encounter with God on Mount Horeb in the Sinai desert.

A brief sketch of Moses’ early years is given in Exodus 1-2.  Born a son of Abraham, a Levite by lineage, at a time when Pharaoh had ordered the practice of infanticide, a forerunner of the current abortion practices, Moses was set adrift by his mother in a basket in the Nile river where he was picked up and adopted by an Egyptian princess.  He was reared in the palace and given the best education in his day (Acts 7:22)—an education steeped in the idolatry and witchcraft that is part of polytheism.  After killing an Egyptian, he fled into the wilderness, where he married Zipporah and tended his father in law’s sheep for forty years.  Where and how Moses became aware of the God of his ancestors is a tale we are not told.  At the burning bush, God introduced himself.

A closer look at the burning bush episode reveals some interesting insights.  In Exodus 3:4, God calls Moses by name, and Moses answers, giving no hint of surprise that a voice was coming from the burning bush.  Messages from the otherworld were fairly common as the ancient Near Eastern religions were steeped in divination, and Moses may have assumed that something like that was happening to him.

 In 3:5, God tells Moses to take off his sandals.  To Moses, the ground surrounding the bush was nothing more than desert dirt and the unconsumed bush a heretofore unseen phenomenon that had aroused his curiosity.  God’s command to remove his sandals focused Moses’ attention immediately on this supernatural situation.  Removing one’s sandals when entering a holy place was a Near Eastern practice that preceded Moses and continues today in Islam, again demonstrating God’s willingness to communicate with man within familiar cultural norms.

In verse 6, the Lord introduces himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses’ forebears.  It is not difficult to understand Moses’ fear.  Standing in the presence of the Holy One of Israel must have filled him with dread.  In every other case in the Bible were God revealed himself to someone, the reaction was much the same.  But did Moses really know who God was at the time?  In verse 13, he asks for God’s name.  One writer suggested that this may mean that Moses thought he was one of the gods of the Egyptians, and he wanted to know which one (Gailyn Van Rheenen, Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies: Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996, 13).  While this is by no means certain, the possibility cannot be easily dismissed given Moses upbringing in the palace—Pharaoh himself being regarded as descended from the sun-god.

God’s response in verses 14-15 is telling and is one case where the English language, nay, probably any human tongue, fails to carry the impact the impact of word meanings. Here, God reveals his personal name, spelled YHWH in the original Hebrew, and known in theology as the Tetragrammaton.  In time, orthodox Jews came to see the name as so holy that they would not say it, fearing that any usage of the name would violate the third commandment and bring God’s condemnation.  YHWH is normally spelled Yahweh, but the correct spelling is not exactly certain because vowels were not written in the original Hebrew.  Older English versions such as the KJV render it Jehovah, following the Latin tradition.  Modern translations such as the NKJV and NASB usually render it as LORD, placing it in all capital letters to separate it from other names for God that also call for the use of the English word lord.

In Moses’ day, names were given that described one’s character, and the names of God are no exception.  In short, YHWH means the one who is eternal, self-existent, all-powerful, and one who keeps his covenants. The idea of God keeping his covenant, as we shall see in a moment, is the focal point of God revealing it to Moses at this point in time.  The other attributes of God described in his name here also relate to his covenant keeping ability.  In order to keep his covenants, God has to be eternal.  If he were not, how could he keep a covenant made with Abraham more than four hundred years earlier?  The idea of being self-existent means that God needs nothing outside of himself to maintain his own existence.  If this were not so, how could he be eternal?  And if he were not all-powerful, how could he guarantee that he could keep his covenants?  That he did deliver Israel from Egypt is evidence that he is who he claimed to be.

Moses’ response is recorded in 4:1. He asked for evidence that YHWH had spoken to and was guiding him.  God’s reply in 4:2-9 again reveals his ability and willingness to communicate within the worldview of humans.  While the animistic worldview of the Egyptians and, to some extent, the Israelites, will be explained more fully in the next blog, the role of supernatural power must be noted here.  Gaining and maintaining supernatural power was and is the name of the game to the animist.  This is quite foreign to the rationalistic thinking that predominates Western cultures.  To demonstrate proof of his existence and concern for his people, God did not use rational arguments and evidence because these were not valued by the people.  Evidence of his power, however, would certainly get their attention and give Moses a hearing with them.             

In the first sign, God displayed his power over nature by turning Moses’ rod into a snake.  Much of the animistic religion of the Egyptians revolved around the worship of animals, and God was teaching Moses who the master of the universe really was.  In the second, turning Moses temporarily into a leper, God revealed his power to curse and restore human beings, a slightly different type of miracle.  God would do a similar thing in the ten plagues by smiting the Egyptians with boils and killing the firstborn of every household.

Verse 10 suggests that Moses got the point and had no more questions about God’s power.  He moved on to another in his litany of excuses but eventually went to Egypt. The Israelites believed Moses, at least initially, but Pharaoh was a bit harder to convince, and the stage was set for the greatest power confrontation recorded in the Old Testament.

What lessons might be learned from Moses’ encounter with God?  First, God revealed himself.  It’s the only way that he can be known.  Second, he is both willing to and capable of keeping his promises.  If he could keep his promise to Abraham by brining his descendents back to the promised land, he can keep his promises to us.  Third, he is all powerful and perfectly capable of setting his people free. Fourth, his motivation was his love for his people.  But in order to accomplish his goal, God had to deal with Pharaoh.  And to that story, we turn next.

PLEASE NOTE: Permission is hereby given to forward, print, and post this blog as long as it is done as a complete blog and its authorship is acknowledged. Thank you for your cooperation.  For automatic notification of future blogs please visit, and click on “follow.”

Copyright 2011 Dr. Dave Johnson 

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Seed--God and Abraham Part IV

The Seed: God and Abraham Part IV

This is the fourth and final blog in the series of God and Abraham.  In the first blog, I attempted to describe how Abraham would have understood God in the polytheistic context in which he lived.  In the following blogs, I described how Abraham likely understood and responded to the promises of God in Genesis 12:1-3 that relate to the land that God would give him and the progeny that God would send through Sarah.  In every case, we have examined how Abraham would have understood God’s promises within his cultural context—which is the only way any of us can understand God’s word.  In this blog, we examine the meaning of the phrase found in Genesis 12:3 that in Abraham “all the families of the earth will be blessed” (NKJV).  We will try to learn, if possible, how Abraham would have understood this phrase but, in this case, because the Messiahship of Christ is rooted in the idea that he was a son of Abraham, we will also go beyond Abraham and look at how Paul understood God’s blessing through Abraham’s seed, particularly in his exposition of the Abrahamic Covenant in Galatians 3:6-16.

Abraham’s understanding of this phrase would have been deeply rooted in the overlapping concepts of family, lineage, and inheritance.  Abraham’s concept of family, like the other clans and nations of his time as well as much of the world today, meant his extended family or clan.  All cultures have what anthropologists call kinship systems that explain how the families in any given culture relate to one another as well.  Most kinship systems are either patrilineal—meaning that the family bloodline runs through the males and the family relates primarily to the man’s family, matrilineal—meaning that the bloodline flows through the mother’s side of the family, or bi-lateral, where the bloodline flows through both sides—American culture being a good example.

A quick look at Abraham’s family tree in Genesis 11:10-29 reveals that it was patriarchal.  Few women are even mentioned.  Abraham, like Terah, his father, and his other male ancestors, was the head of his clan.  In our day, it is common to look on the genealogies in the Bible, such as the one recorded in Genesis 11:10-19, and wonder why it was necessary to include them in the Scriptures.  We must remember that the Bible was written for people of all ages, not just us.  Abraham would have grasped its importance immediately.  Being listed in the genealogy meant one was part of a family and, therefore, had a place in history.

That Abraham valued his family tree is clear from the fact that he did not separate from his family until he was 75 years old, and then only because God directly ordered him to do so (Genesis 12:1-5).  He even kept his nephew, Lot, with him as long as possible, even though by this time, Lot was a grown man.  Had Terah and Nahor, Abraham’s brother, expressed a desire to accompany him, as they had originally planned to migrate to Canaan, it is inconceivable to think that Abraham would have refused them.  When it came time for Isaac to marry, Abraham sent a trusted servant to his family in Haran to find a wife for him (Genesis 24).

Because Abraham’s culture, no doubt stemming from Ur, was patrilineal, the rights of inheritance, birthright, and blessings, normally flowed through the first born son, although there were some notable exceptions such as Jacob and Esau (Genesis 24:33), Reuben and Levi and Judah (Genesis 49:1; Numbers 3:12, 13: 8:18; 1 Chronicles 5:1), and Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:8-20).  The eldest son became the priest of the family, was allotted a double portion of the father’s inheritance, and, at least in the case of the kings, was granted judicial authority (2 Chronicles 21:3) ( The eldest son also had considerable authority within the family.  In Genesis 24, Abraham’s servant negotiates for Rebekah’s with her eldest brother, Laban, who was apparently responsible for her in the absence of their father, Bethuel. 

However, whether the privileges of the first born applied to Ishmael is not clear since Hagar was a concubine, not a wife.  Genesis 21:10 implies that Ishmael had at least some of the rights of the firstborn, and Sarah wanted to make sure that he had no opportunity to exercise them.  While God make clear to Abraham that Ishmael was not the one through whom his promises would be fulfilled, he did promise to bless him and make a nation from his progeny (Genesis 21:13) because his was also the son of Abraham.  In this sense, Ishmael also participated in the fulfillment of Genesis 12:2. 

With all of this in mind, we move on to Paul’s comment in Galatians 3:16 that the promise of God to Abraham referred to one seed—Jesus Christ.  Abraham most likely never understood this part of the promise.  There is no hint in the Genesis record that Abraham ever knew that one of his seed would be the Messiah.  In no way, however, does this invalidate Paul’s statement. 

For Christ to be the seed of Abraham meant that he had have an established lineage as one of Abraham’s descendents.  The genealogical lists of Matthew 1:1-18 and Luke 3:23-38 are critical to Paul’s argument.  The Matthew list traces the lineage of Mary, Jesus’ biological mother.  The second gives that of Joseph who, though not Jesus’ literal father, was his legal one.

Paul’s statement that Christ was the seed of Abraham must be seen in the context of his argument of justification by faith rather than through the law (the Ten Commandments) in Galatians 3:1-4:7.  His point is that the covenant that God had made with Abraham could not be nullified under any circumstances. The purpose of the Ten Commandments was to reveal our sin.  God’s purpose in Christ, according to Paul, was to reveal God’s mercy and forgiveness.  Throughout the ages, multiplied millions of people, representing many ethnic backgrounds from all over the world, have believed in Christ—the Seed of Abraham and received God’s blessing.  God’s promises to Abraham have been fulfilled.

PLEASE NOTE: Permission is hereby given to forward, print, and post this blog as long as it is done as a complete blog, and its authorship is acknowledged. Thank you for your cooperation.  For automatic notification of future blogs please visit, and click on “follow.”

Copyright 2011 Dr. Dave Johnson 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Promise of a Progeny: God and Abraham Part III

The Promise of a Progeny: God and Abraham
Part III
By Dr. Dave Johnson

This is the third in a series of blogs regarding the relationship between God and Abraham.  We have already covered the stark contrast between Abraham’s monotheism and the polytheism prevalent in the tribes that surrounded him, and from which he, himself, came.  We have also covered God’s promise to Abraham that his descendents would inherit the land of Canaan. 

In this blog, we will examine Abraham’s understanding of the promise that God would give him descendents that would outnumber the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.  When God first promised his descendents, he was already seventy-five years old, and Sarah was sixty-five.  Given the life-span of the people of his time, having children at this age was quite normal.  But the promise was not fulfilled until after another twenty-five years, when they were both no longer fertile.  The Genesis record does show that on a few occasions the Lord reminded Abraham of the promise, but a quarter of a century is a long time to wait, and we may not assume that God continually repeated his promises, which is one of the reasons that the Bible accords great faith to Abraham. 

While the biblical text records only five occasions in this time period when God reminded Abraham of his promise (Genesis 12:7; 13:13-18; 15:1-6; 17:1-27, and 18:1-19), each one of them is significant.  In Genesis 12:7, God repeated the promise when Abraham first arrived in Canaan.  This is the first time that the promise of a progeny is directly tied to the land that Abraham would inherit.  In 13:13-18, the promise is repeated after Abraham divided the land with Lot.  The significance of repeating the promise here is to give Abraham the assurance that his future descendants, not Lot’s, would inherit the land.

The third occasion, recorded in Genesis 15, came after Abraham’s coalition had rescued Lot and others from the Chedorloaomer, the king of Elam, and his friends, who had raided south eastern Canaan and taken plunder and hostages, including his nephew, Lot.   In this raid, it became obvious to Abraham that the promised land was vulnerable to outsiders.  The loose federations of clans, tribal groups, which included Abraham’s household of 318 persons, and city-states that populated Canaan was not strong enough to withstand attack from the outside.  God’s reassurance here must have bolstered Abraham’s faith. 

The dialogue between God and Abraham in Genesis 15 is quite revealing.  First, God tells Abraham not to fear for God himself would be Abraham’s protector and rewarder.  Abraham responded essentially that there wasn’t much worth protecting since God had not given him an heir.  But God patiently repeated the promise, and Abraham believed. 

But believing does not mean that there are no questions.  In v. 8, Abraham simply asks “how?” God responds in a manner that seems odd to Westerners but was quite natural to Abraham.  What transpires in the following verses takes the form of a Hittite suzerainty treaty, a common type of treaty between two parties, undoubtedly quite familiar to Abraham—again reflecting God’s willingness to communicate with mankind through human cultures.

A suzerainty treaty, however, was not a treaty among equals, but one between a superior lord and a vassal.  Abraham clearly understood who played what role.  What is different from a normal suzerainty treaty here is that God not only laid out the terms of the treaty, he alone would be the one to execute it.  In the normal treaty procedure, both parties would walk between the slain animals.  But in this case, God, symbolized by the smoking pot and burning torch, walked alone, signifying that he was both the originator and the guarantor of the covenant.  Only he would be bound by it.  Abraham would do nothing to fulfill the covenant beyond having sexual relations with Sarah and rearing the child.  He could either accept or reject the terms but could not change them.  There were no negotiations. Abraham accepted.

How did Abraham and Sarah deal with this promise?  In Genesis 16:1-2, Sarah, who by now was probably nearing the end of childbearing age, reminded Abraham that she was barren.  This account must clearly be seen in conjunction with the events of chapter 15.  Sarah’s offered her maid in an honest effort to see the promise of God fulfilled.  But there may be more in view here than doing the will of God.  Cultural mandates and peer pressure cannot be ignored.  Barrenness was a major social disgrace because continuing the family tree was considered very important.  Sarah may have been desperate and was surely at least partially motivated by a desire to remove this social stigma.  Having an heir would assure Abraham’s place in history and establish his legacy. 

There were at least two ways that ancient Near Eastern cultures dealt with infertility.  One was by appealing to the gods for help by performing religious rituals, including prostitution.  (  The other was by using a servant as a surrogate mother.  While the first would have been reprehensible to Abraham, the second did not present any issues of conscience for him.  We must remember here that Abraham had no knowledge of the Ten Commandments as they had not yet been given.  Consequently, while God did not condone his action, he also never rebukes Abraham for having a sexual relationship with Hagar or holds him responsible for what has happened between the descendents of Ishmael and Isaac.

For thirteen years Abraham and Sarah thought that God’s covenant would be fulfilled through Ishmael.  In Genesis 17, God again appeared to Abraham and revealed that, in her old age, Sarah herself would indeed bear a child.  At this point, God did two things.  First, he changes their names from Abram and Sarai to the plural forms Abraham and Sarah, conveying the promise that they would be the progenitors of a multitude—even though, as yet, they had no child between them.  Why God did this now and not before is not explained, but it may have been to give Abraham and Sarah confidence that he would enact his will and fulfill his promise through Sarah, not Hagar.  Since names were given to describe a person’s character, the neighbors likely mocked them, reminding them that the “father of a multitude” had only one son, and that by a concubine.

The second thing that God did here was to institute the sign of the covenant, circumcision, as the seal of his agreement that the descendents of Abraham’s coming child would be God’s forever.  Circumcision was commonly practiced among the nations of Canaan, although the Philistines were an exception.  While the exact purpose of circumcision among other groups cannot be established for certain, it was most likely religious since marking one’s body was common in Canaanite religious practices.  It should be noted that while Ishmael was required to be circumcised and God would bless him because of Abraham, Ishmael was not considered a son of the covenant (17:19-20) and would not participate in the covenant blessings. What set Abraham apart from his neighbors was the intent of the circumcision as a sign of his special relationship with God.  By becoming circumcised, Abraham signified his ratification of the covenant.

Genesis 21:1-21 records both a blessing and a tragedy.  The blessing was that God finally kept his promise and gave Isaac to Abraham and Sarah.  What a joy his birth must have been to their old hearts.  In his birth, they saw the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises.  But the arrival of Isaac also drove the final nail in the coffin of Sarah’s relationship with Hagar and Ishmael, and she demanded that Abraham throw them out.  Reluctantly, he did so, with a promise from God that he would also bless Ishmael.

Blessings from God also come with tests, and the blessing of a son from a covenant keeping God was no exception (Genesis 22:1-19).  One day God called Abraham to take his son to Mount Moriah.  While some scholars hold that the land Moriah was the same as Mt. Gerizim, in northern Israel, most hold that it was within the area of Mt. Zion, which was in Jerusalem, the site where David later pitched his tabernacle and placed the Ark of the Covenant, and the place where Solomon’s temple was later built.  At the time, Abraham was living in Beersheba on the southern border of modern Israel, so the necessity of a three day journey is not surprising.       

We are not told why God chose the land of Moriah.  Its, choice, moreover, does not appear to have surprised Abraham.  From time immemorial and the world over, mankind has seen mountains as viable places of worship.  While Abraham was surely appalled at the idea of sacrificing his son, human sacrifice in general, though rare, was known in Mesopotamia and possibly Egypt at the time.  In most cases it appears to have had religious connotations or some connection to the afterlife.  That God would ask Abraham to sacrifice any human, and especially the son through whom the covenant would be fulfilled, is revolting.  While the Bible is filled with God executing his justice through war and destruction, there is no other record in Scripture of God ever calling anyone to sacrifice a human life, save for giving his own Son on the cross.  Whatever Abraham may have felt, the point is that he responded in obedience, apparently without hesitation.

Why God would test Abraham is not clear from the text, but why God would test him in this manner can be easily discerned.  Isaac was not just any child, he was the one through whom God’s promises to Abraham would be fulfilled.  Abraham and Sarah had waited all of their married lives for this boy.  If he honored God’s command to kill the promised son, how would God fulfill his promise?  Was Abraham strong enough in his faith in God to withstand the test?  Was his allegiance to the one, true God whole and complete? The writer to the Hebrews answers the first question by stating that Abraham believed that Isaac would be resurrected (Hebrews 11:19).  Abraham’s confidence that he would not have to go through with the dastardly deed is hinted at in Genesis 22:9-10, although he may simply have answered Isaac in this manner in order to avoid telling him the truth as long as possible.  Thank God that Abraham passed the test and, after he had done so, God again reiterated the covenant (vv.15-19).   

There are several lessons that we might learn from Abraham’s life as he awaited the fulfillment of God’s promise.  First, God honors his promise on his timetable, not ours, and he does so for his own glory.  Had Sarah given birth to Isaac during her childbearing years, it would have seemed less than a miracle.  As it was, God’s hand giving her a child at the age of ninety was unmistakable.  Second, we should see Abraham as a great example of a godly man who waited patiently for God to fulfill his word.

Third, God keeps his promises in his own manner.  Again, it is tempting to say that Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands when Abraham had sex with Hagar, but the text gives no hint of this.  God never condemned them for what they did because they did not have the Ten Commandments.  At the same time, however, God made it clear that Isaac, not Ishmael (Genesis 17:17-21) was the son of the promise, even though Ishmael was required to be circumcised since he was a male member of Abraham’s household.  The achievement of God’s purposes was neither derailed nor delayed by what Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar did.

Fourth, living out God’s promises may not be understood by those around us, as when God changed the names of Abraham and Sarah prior to Isaac’s birth, and may lead to ridicule and even persecution.   In such cases, we are called to choose whether we prefer the honor of God or that of men.

Fifth, our faith in God will be tested. While this is not a new idea to anyone in Christ, we tend to ascribe the blame for our trials and temptations on the Devil.  Scripture, however, does not allow for such a narrow view.  In this passage, the trial is clearly from God.  When the trials from God come our way, the proper response is to seek to understand what message he is trying to give us or what he is trying to do in our lives.  Debbie and I recently passed through a major time of testing from the Lord that caused us much private pain but has led to much inner healing and liberation from a number of things that were holding back our spiritual growth.  These times can be richly rewarding if we will go through them trusting in God for the outcome.  Again, Abraham is a great example.  He may not have known what the outcome of his trip to the land of Moriah would bring, but he acted in obedience, trusting in God that all would be well in the end.       

Sixth, the fruit of Abraham’s life continues to this day.  Indeed, the number of his descendents, both literally and spiritually, cannot be counted.  Three major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam honor his name.  If we will be faithful to walk out the will of God for our lives, both being the people he has called us to be and doing what he has called us to do, he will bless us and we will leave a great legacy to those who follow in our footsteps. 

In looking at every text where God restated his promise to Abraham regarding a progeny, we can now see his hand at work because we are seeing it in hindsight.  Abraham had no such vantage point, making his faith truly admirable.  But while Abraham did not live to see the number of his descendents become a multitude, he did live to see Jacob and Esau, who were fifteen years old when he died.   He may have also seen Ishmael’s descendents as they apparently lived nearby and became traders with merchants of Egypt, which required passing through Canaan.  He had a number of children with his second wife, Keturah, and may have seen their offspring.  One of his descendents, whose parentage came from the line of Isaac, was the seed who would bless the nations.  How Abraham would have understood that part of the promise and its fulfillment is the subject of the next blog. 

PLEASE NOTE: Permission is hereby given to forward, print, and post this blog as long as it is done as a complete blog and its authorship is acknowledged. Thank you for your cooperation.  For automatic notification of future blogs please visit, and click on “follow.”

Copyright 2011 Dr. Dave Johnson