Material Prosperity or Salvation? What the Bible Says About “The Blessing of Abraham”

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I am the God who healeth thee

Oh that you only trust in Me

You are the seed, by faith receive

The blessing of Abraham

The blessing of Abraham

Wherever you are, where’er you go,

Whatever you touch, it’s anointed to grow

You are the seed, by faith receive

The blessing of Abraham

The blessing of Abraham

 

It’s your inheritance

Get your inheritance

You are the seed, by faith receive

The blessing of Abraham

The blessing of Abraham

 

Wherever you are, where’er you go,

Whatever you touch it’s anointed to grow

You are the seed, by faith receive

The blessing of Abraham

The blessing of Abraham

 

It’s your inheritance

Get your inheritance

You are the seed, by faith receive

The blessing of Abraham

The blessing of Abraham

 

It’s your inheritance

Get your inheritance

You are the seed, by faith receive

The blessing of Abraham

The blessing of Abraham

 

[“Let’s celebrate it, ‘cause we know we gettin’ ready to go get it! We gettin’ ready to start a business, a practice, yeah, write a book, score a film, somebody’s gonna walk out of here and go right into their inheritance…c’mon and tell them what it is, say ‘it’s yours’”]

 

It’s yours

It’s yours

It’s your inheritance

 

It’s yours

It’s yours

It’s your inheritance

 

It’s yours

It’s yours

It’s your inheritance

 

It’s yours

It’s yours

It’s your inheritance

 

The head, not the tail

Above, not beneath

A lender, not a borrower

 

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

 

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

 

The head, not the tail

Above, not beneath

A lender, not a borrower

 

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

 

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

 

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

Get your inheritance

 

You are the seed

By faith receive

The blessing of Abraham

The blessing of Abraham

 

You are the seed

By faith receive

The blessing of Abraham

The blessing of Abraham

 

Get your inheritance!

These lyrics from the song “The Blessing of Abraham,” performed by Donald Lawrence and The Tri-City Singers is one that I enjoy musically. As a musician for over 20 years now, I appreciate good music with excellent instrumentation, rhythm, and an upbeat positive message — and this song is it.

And yet, this is a song written within gospel music to bless those who believe in Jesus, those who are Christian, those who want music to edify them in the Lord; as such, the lyrics must be weighed against sound theology. It is in the context of sound theology that Donald Lawrence’s song “The Blessing of Abraham” is unbiblical.

Donald Lawrence is singing about material prosperity, financial health, that “the inheritance” is really about financial wealth; but is it? In this article, we’ll examine what the Scriptures say about “the blessing of Abraham.”

The Origin of the Blessing of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)

To examine the blessing of Abraham, we must first look back at Genesis 12, when God appears to Abraham for the first time. By examining the life of Abram (later Abraham), we’ll see whether the blessing of Abraham pertains to financial blessing/material prosperity or salvation.

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.

2 I will make you a great nation;

I will bless you

And make your name great;

And you shall be a blessing.

3 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)

The Lord tells Abram to leave his country and his kinfolk, that “I will make you a great nation.” We see here that the blessing God promises to Abram is to make a great nation of him, a large nation. Nowhere in the text do we see material prosperity. Sure, the Lord promises to make Abram’s name great (Genesis 12:2), but this could simply mean giving him fame. It doesn’t necessarily pertain to riches and material prosperity. In fact, when the Lord appears to Abram, he is already rich:

Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. 2 Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.3 And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

5 Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents. 6 Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land. (Genesis 13:1-7)

According to Genesis 13, “Abram was very rich” in both cattle and gold and silver, and Lot also had herds and tents. “Their possessions were so great they could not dwell together” (v.6), which is why Lot and Abraham had to split up. What we see here is that when the Lord calls Abraham to get up and out of his country (he was an Amorite, Sarai was a Hittite, we’re told), Abram was already a wealthy man. The one whose name “Abram” means “exalted father” already had lots of money and possessions, so God wasn’t promising to make Abram even richer than he was; rather, God promised to multiply his seed and give him numerous descendants. We’ll read more about this as we cover more on Abram.

Abram and Lot go their separate ways in the land, Abram to Canaan and Lot to Sodom and Gomorrah:

14 And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 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. 17 Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17)

Abram went through the land of Canaan that God had given him, and the Lord reveals to Abram alone what will be “the blessing of Abraham”: first, we see that the Lord will give Abram the land of Canaan: “For all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever” (v.15). Next, the blessing doesn’t just involve land, but also descendants: “And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth” (v.16). The dust of the earth can’t be counted, right? So, as the dust of the earth, so will Abram’s descendants be. In other words, Abram will have so many descendants that no one will be able to count them all. This means that Abram would have “descendants upon descendants upon descendants upon descendants.”

God would give Abraham land and descendants, progeny, offspring, “seed,” as the Scriptures tell us time and time again.

Genesis 15

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”

4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

7 Then He said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.”

8 And he said, “Lord God, how shall I know that I will inherit it?”

9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

17 And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. 18 On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying:

“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— 19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” (Genesis 15:1-21)

Here in Genesis 15, we see the Lord make the covenant with Abram, promising him the land: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates” (v.18). In verse 5, the Lord once again tells Abram that his descendants will be numerous:

5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” (Genesis 15:5)

Abram’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Remember, previously, the Lord told Abram that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust; now, the Lord compares his descendants to the stars in the sky. In other words, as the dust and the stars are numerous, so will be his future descendants.

Genesis 17

In Genesis 17, the Lord continues to confirm details regarding Abram’s blessing. This time, though, He changes Abram’s and Sarai’s names, and then tells them that they will give birth to a son, Isaac, in a year’s time from the time of Genesis 17:

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”

15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”

17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”

19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” 22 Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

23 So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very same day Abraham was circumcised, and his son Ishmael; 27 and all the men of his house, born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him. (Genesis 17:1-27)

Abraham is 99 years old when the Lord appears to him here in Genesis 17. In Genesis 17:4-8, the Lord gives Abram and his descendants after him the land of Canaan; additionally, He reaffirms Abram’s blessing of numerous descendants:

2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:2-7)

The Lord says that “I…will multiply you exceedingly…my covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations” (vv. 2-5). In verse 6, the Lord says “I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.” These words tell us the blessing of Abraham: not only would Abraham inherit the land of Canaan, but he would also receive numerous descendants, seed to follow after him, to carry on his lineage.

Kings would come from his loins, meaning that Abraham’s lineage would lead to governmental rulers. Notice that, at the time, there were no kings in Israel, and yet, the Lord tells Abraham that kings would descend from his line. Now, there were kings that became rulers in other nations because, remember, Abraham’s name means “father of many nations,” many being the key word. And in Genesis, we see that there are indeed, kings that rule in other nations:

15 These were the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz, the firstborn son of Esau, were Chief Teman, Chief Omar, Chief Zepho, Chief Kenaz, 16 Chief Korah, Chief Gatam, and Chief Amalek. These were the chiefs of Eliphaz in the land of Edom. They were the sons of Adah.

17 These were the sons of Reuel, Esau’s son: Chief Nahath, Chief Zerah, Chief Shammah, and Chief Mizzah. These were the chiefs of Reuel in the land of Edom. These were the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife.

18 And these were the sons of Aholibamah, Esau’s wife: Chief Jeush, Chief Jaalam, and Chief Korah. These were the chiefs who descended from Aholibamah, Esau’s wife, the daughter of Anah. 19 These were the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these were their chiefs.

31 Now these were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the children of Israel:32 Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, and the name of his city was Dinhabah. 33 And when Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. 34 When Jobab died, Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. 35 And when Husham died, Hadad the son of Bedad, who attacked Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his place. And the name of his city was Avith. 36 When Hadad died, Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. 37 And when Samlah died, Saul of Rehoboth-by-the-River reigned in his place. 38 When Saul died, Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place. 39 And when Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor died, Hadar reigned in his place; and the name of his city was Pau. His wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab.

40 And these were the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their families and their places, by their names: Chief Timnah, Chief Alvah, Chief Jetheth, 41 Chief Aholibamah, Chief Elah, Chief Pinon, 42 Chief Kenaz, Chief Teman, Chief Mibzar, 43 Chief Magdiel, and Chief Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their dwelling places in the land of their possession. Esau was the father of the Edomites. (Genesis 36:15-19, 31-43)

If you know your Bible history, you’ll know that Esau was the older brother of Jacob and the son of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau eventually becomes “Edom,” a nation separate from Israel (Jacob becomes “Israel,” according to the Angel of the Lord renaming him in Genesis 32:28). Thus, within Abraham’s lineage, we see two nations, two that were prophesied to Rebekah (Genesis 25:23). There were others, but these two are laid out in Genesis.

Back to Genesis 17. Notice that Abraham was circumcised at 99 years old, and Ishmael was circumcised that day as well. Yes, Ishmael, a son of Abraham’s, was also a recipient of the covenant promises. Jacob and Esau were descendants of Abraham, but Ishmael, as Abraham’s son, was no less a recipient. As the Lord told his mother, Hagar, who was Sarah’s maid and eventually, Abraham’s second wife:

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. 3 Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. 4 So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes.

5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.”

6 So Abram said to Sarai, “Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.” And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.

7 Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”

9 The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” 10 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.”11 And the Angel of the Lord said to her:

“Behold, you are with child,

And you shall bear a son.

You shall call his name Ishmael,

Because the Lord has heard your affliction.

12 He shall be a wild man;

His hand shall be against every man,

And every man’s hand against him.

And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”

13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram. (Genesis 16:1-16)

When Sarah couldn’t conceive a child for Abraham, she gave her handmaiden Hagar to Abraham to be his wife and to go in to him and have sexual relations with him. Hagar and Abraham have sexual relations as husband and wife and Hagar conceives and gets pregnant with Ishmael. In Genesis 16:10, the Angel of the Lord, another name for the Lord God Himself, tells Hagar, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” In other words, God would give Hagar so many descendants that they couldn’t be counted because their sheer number would be too massive to keep track of. This is the same promise the Lord gave Abraham when He tells Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand and the stars in the sky.

Hagar is told her descendants would be numerous, as Abraham’s would be, but in Genesis 17, we see Abraham’s desire that Ishmael would be his son. Apparently, when God promises a son from his own loins with Sarah, he seems to think the idea of it is impossible — or that Ishmael was already in existence and would be the ideal son to live before God:

17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”

19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” (Genesis 17:17-21)

Abraham found it hard to believe that a man his age, 99 years old, could help conceive a child, yet God told him that he and Sarah would have a son. In his struggle to understand how he, an old man whose body was as good as dead, could conceive a child, he wanted the Lord to smile on Ishmael: “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” (Genesis 17:18) And yet, Ishmael couldn’t live before God because he wasn’t the promised son; rather, Ishmael was a child of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar’s own making. Ishmael was the child of impatience, the child Sarah encouraged to be born when she felt as though God “was taking too long” to bring about the miracle child. Ishmael was not the child of faith, the child that Abraham and Sarah had to believe would be born, but rather, the child of works, the child created through the will of Abraham and Sarah. God wanted to do a miracle in the lives of Abraham and Sarah to such an extent that no human effort could claim credit for what belongs to God’s alone. God didn’t want or need human interaction in His miracle, so Ishmael, a product of human will and conception, couldn’t be attributed to God. In all honesty, Ishmael was conceived outside of the will of God — God never told Abraham and Sarah that they’d have a son and “name him Ishmael.”

The Lord wouldn’t let Ishmael be the child of promise, but that didn’t mean that the Lord wouldn’t bless Ishmael:

20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. (Genesis 17:20)

The Lord says “I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation” (Genesis 17:20). Ishmael’s lineage would be multiplied because he was the son of Abraham, and the Lord had promised Abraham that He would multiply Abraham’s lineage and give him descendants too numerous to count. Ishmael, as a son of Abraham, would also receive the blessings of the covenant, even though he wasn’t the child of promise. Remember, Ishmael was circumcised along with Abraham:

23 So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very same day Abraham was circumcised, and his son Ishmael;27 and all the men of his house, born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him. (Genesis 17:23-27)

Ishmael was circumcised along with Abraham (99 at the time), which meant that he would be the recipient of covenant blessings, though he wouldn’t be the one through whom the Messiah would come. For Ishmael, the blessing of Abraham would be comprised of descendants and kings, but little else.

Abraham receives the heir from his loins, as the Lord blesses Sarah to conceive Isaac one year from the Angels’ appearance to Abraham:

Then the Lord appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, 3 and said, “My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. 4 Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5 And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.”

They said, “Do as you have said.”

6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.” 7 And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it. 8 So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.

9 Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”

So he said, “Here, in the tent.”

10 And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.”

(Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”

13 And the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid.

And He said, “No, but you did laugh!” (Genesis 18:1-15)

And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3 And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—Isaac.4 Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.” 7 She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.”

8 So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.

9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. 10 Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.” 11 And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son.

12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. 13 Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.” (Genesis 21:1-13)

After Isaac is born, Sarah despises Hagar and tells Abraham to toss out Hagar his second wife and her son, Ishmael. Abraham is upset about this, but the Lord tells Abraham to listen to Sarah. “Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed,” the Lord says to Abraham in Genesis 21:13. In other words, Ishmael, as Abraham’s son, would also receive covenant blessings and have numerous descendants.

Lot’s descendants extend Abraham’s line

30 Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave. 31 Now the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.” 33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

34 It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, “Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.” 35 Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

36 Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. 37 The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38 And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day. (Genesis 19:30-38)

God has told Abraham that he would be “the father of many nations,” changing his name from “Abram” (meaning “exalted father”) to “Abraham” (meaning “father of many nations/many peoples”). Here in Genesis 19, however, Abraham’s nephew Lot, and his daughters escape Sodom and Gomorrah because God sends angels to tell them that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed.

The daughters, finding themselves outside of the city with no men with which to conceive children (their husbands were destroyed along with their mother in the destruction), decide to have children by their father, Lot. They both get Lot drunk, then go in to him and conceive children. One daughter has a child and names him Moab, while the other daughter names her son Ammon. From these two men, Moab and Ammon, come the Moabites and Ammonites. Remember, Jacob becomes “Israel,” Esau becomes “Edom,” then Ishmael becomes the “Muslim” people, while Moab and Ammon come as Abraham’s incestuous great-nephews. There are at least four nations counted here from Abraham’s lineage.

Isaac blesses Jacob, declares him the recipient of the Blessing of Abraham (Genesis 28:1-5)

Here in Genesis 28, we see that Isaac, Abraham’s son, now has sons of his own (Esau the oldest, Jacob the youngest) with his wife Rebekah. After Jacob steals his brother’s blessing (first tricking Esau out of his birthright), Isaac sends his son to his brother-in-law, Laban, Jacob’s uncle and Rebekah’s brother, to keep him safe:

Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. 2 Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.

3 “May God Almighty bless you,

And make you fruitful and multiply you,

That you may be an assembly of peoples;

4 And give you the blessing of Abraham,

To you and your descendants with you,

That you may inherit the land

In which you are a stranger,

Which God gave to Abraham.”

5 So Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Padan Aram, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau. (Genesis 28:1-5)

As can be seen here in Genesis 28, the “blessing of Abraham” is not material or financial prosperity, or “writing a book, starting a business, scoring a film,” things gospel songwriter Donald Lawrence has said in his song, but rather, to “inherit the land in which you are a stranger,” Isaac tells his son in Genesis 28:4. It is the land God gave to Abraham back in Genesis, and it is the land that God gave to Abraham’s descendants as well. Jacob was the grandson of Abraham, so the land of Canaan would be his inheritance from his grandfather. The land is the inheritance, not financial or material prosperity. From all that we’ve discussed so far, Lawrence’s claims in his song wreak of erroneous theology.

Future kings for Israel

There would be kings to come from Israel, though, specifically after Samuel’s rise and later on, his death. Having had judges, and then Samuel’s sons, who didn’t do as God commanded, the nation of Israel demanded a king. Despite God’s insistence that He didn’t desire a king for them, Israel wanted a king “like all the other nations” (1 Samuel 8:1-21). God gave the people the kings they wanted, starting with Saul, then David, then Solomon, Rehoboam, and beyond. It was through the lineage of King David, however, that Jesus Christ is born of the virgin Mary, conceived in her by the Holy Spirit:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. 7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. 8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 9 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. 11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. (Matthew 1:1-16)

As can be seen from the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1, Jesus descended from a line of kings, and He descended from the lineage of King David, who was a son (a relative) of Abraham, the one to whom God promised He would make him the father of many nations. Jesus is given His name because of His purpose:

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:18-23)

Jesus, then, is Savior. The blessing of Abraham to multiply and to have descendants too numerous to count leads us to Jesus. Thus, Jesus proves to be the one through whom “all the families of the earth will be blessed,” as the Lord says to Abraham back in Genesis 12:3.

The Blessing of Abraham in Galatians

We’ve seen in the Old Testament that “the blessing of Abraham” in the Abrahamic Covenant pertains to descendants and the land of Canaan the Lord promised to give to Abraham and his descendants. In the New Testament, the Lord gives additional revelation with regard to what exactly the blessing of Abraham is. Not only do we read that Jesus comes through the line of Abraham and King David, but we find that Jesus is the one that the Lord was promising Abraham back in Genesis 12 when He makes the covenant with Abraham for the first time:

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:10-14)

Here in Galatians, “the blessing of Abraham” is referred to as “the promise of the Spirit” (v.14), that being the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the blessing of Abraham is Jesus, salvation, that we would be saved by faith in Jesus. We see more evidence of this in Paul’s exposition of Genesis 12:

5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 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.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. (Galatians 3:5-9)

So what is the blessing of Abraham? It is the promise of the Spirit, salvation (for only salvation brings the benefit and blessing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit). Paul says that the Scripture “foresaw” the future justification of the Gentiles, foresaw the future salvation of the Gentiles, and that the Scripture “preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand” (Galatians 3:8). When the Lord visits Abraham and tells him to leave his country, He tells Abraham to do this because He appointed Abraham to inherit the blessing: that is, salvation and the Spirit. “Those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” The blessing of Abraham is salvation, and those who, like Abraham, believe, inherit eternal life (the goal of salvation).

Paul speaks of Abraham’s faith and Abraham being the father of those who believe in Romans as well:

13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. (Romans 4:13-25)

Abraham was told by God, was promised, that he would have an heir to come from his own loins. The text says that Abraham had faith without wavering that God could do what He promised. “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us” (vv.23-24) is Paul’s way of saying that, “Abraham is not the only beneficiary of the promise, but we are, too.” In other words, the promise of God to Abraham wasn’t just about Isaac, his seed, but about the Seed of all seeds, that is, Jesus Christ. This is why Abraham’s story is valid for us: because those of us who believe will receive eternal life, as Abraham believed and is counted a recipient of eternal life. We who believe in God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead, are the ones who inherit the promised land, eternal life, the kingdom of Christ and God. And our next section on inheritance will help us put the definitive “exclamation mark” on what the inheritance is.

The Blessing of Abraham and the Inheritance in the New Testament

Donald Lawrence says in his song to “go get your inheritance,” encouraging listeners to get whatever it is God has for them, but he assumes, once again, that inheritance is material prosperity. Let’s reconsider the idea of inheritance. Scripture has much to say about the inheritance, so it’s time to let Scripture be our guide as to the nature of the inheritance.

The Blessing of Abraham and the Inheritance in the Gospels

28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Matthew 19:28-30)

Here, Jesus talks to the original twelve disciples, who have just seen the rich young ruler walk away from Jesus and refuse eternal life because he has to give up his riches and possessions. Jesus tells the disciples that they will sit on thrones and judge their tribes in the coming Kingdom, that they will receive “a hundredfold,” which doesn’t tell us exactly what they will receive, alongside of “eternal life,” which they will “inherit.” See? The inheritance here is eternal life, though they will have some prosperity (though we don’t know exactly what). What we do know is that they will receive eternal life because they are sons of God by faith. At the very least, the “hundredfold” they will receive is a future event, not a present one; this tells us that this abundance is not material, nor is it earthly. The blessing of Abraham isn’t earthly in nature, but heavenly, not ephemeral or fleeting but eternal.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ (Matthew 25:31-36)

The Lord Jesus says to the sheep, “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). The kingdom of God is the inheritance for those who have blessed those who were hungry, thirsty, naked, and needed human visitation. The kingdom of God is for the righteous, those who have lived their lives faithfully for Jesus. Notice that building a business, scoring a film, and writing a book are nowhere mentioned in the context. This tells us that the blessing of Abraham, the inheritance, is not material prosperity or the desires and wishes that we may have; rather, it is eternal life, the Kingdom of God, new Heaven and new earth.

17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17)

“Inherit eternal life” tells us that the inheritance, that which we receive as sons of Abraham and sons of God, is eternal life, not material possessions.

25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25)

The rich young ruler asked about inheriting eternal life, but here, a lawyer asks the same question. This tells us that Jesus’ teaching on earth was about eternal life, that eternal life is the inheritance we receive by faith — not films, businesses, and books.

The Blessing of Abraham and the Inheritance in Acts

12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ (Acts 26:12-18)

“That they may receive forgiveness of sins” indicates that one of the goals of Paul being sent to the Gentiles is to give them salvation, to win them to Christ. The “inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” shows that the inheritance is tied to those who are sanctified. Donald Lawrence wouldn’t disagree that the inheritance is for those who are saved, but he and I disagree on the exact nature of the inheritance: he thinks it could be material blessings, but notice in every passage of Scripture that there is one inheritance (singular), not inheritances (plural). A singular inheritance is for all, meaning that all the sons of Abraham receive the same inheritance. The idea that the inheritance is “books, businesses, and films” would make the inheritance to be disparate and different according to individual. Again, these are material successes, and God does have these in store for some believers, but not every believer will write a book, build a business, or score a film. These things can’t be the inheritance of the Scriptures.

The Blessing of Abraham and the Inheritance in the Pauline Epistles

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Twice in these two verses in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul uses the phrase “inherit the kingdom of God.” The inheritance, then, is the Kingdom of God, eternal life, eternal life with Jesus, not material possessions.

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. (1 Corinthians 15:50)

“Flesh and blood,” meaning that our human flesh with all its corruptions and lusts, cannot “inherit the kingdom of God.” The inheritance is eternal life, the coming kingdom. In our current fallen and sinful bodies, we cannot receive it. This is why we must all be changed and put on immortality. We cannot enter heaven in imperfection; we must have an immortal nature in order to enter into it because Heaven is a place where holiness and righteousness dwells. There can be no iniquity there, and in our current bodies, we would enter Heaven prone to all sorts of immorality and sin.

Galatians 5:21, like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, connects the inheritance to the kingdom of God:

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

When Paul talks about those who are doing the works of the flesh here in Galatians 5, he’s talking to Christians, believers, those of the churches in Galatia. Only believers stand to inherit the kingdom of God, but Paul is also saying that Christians who say they’re saved, who say they’re sons of God, and still do the works of the flesh, will not inherit the kingdom of God. Inheritance is tied to eternal life, eternity with Christ, not with material possessions and an abundance of wealth.

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:7-13)

Here we see the Holy Spirit is the one who seals us, the one who is the “down payment” of our inheritance in glory, of eternal life. The New King James translators translate the Greek phrase ἀρραβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν as “the guarantee of our inheritance.” The word arrabon is translated “guarantee,” but the meaning is really “down payment.” Abraham’s blessing was given a down payment: Isaac. The son of his own loins was a gift from God but also a powerful sign of the promise God made to bless all the families of the earth through him. The land was a promise that wasn’t fulfilled in Abraham’s day. To assume it was guaranteed was to assume that only God was responsible in the covenant. A covenant is defined as “an agreement between God and man,” with man having covenantal responsibilities as well as God. This is why we read in Genesis that God required Abraham and his house to be circumcised (all the males, anyway):

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.

9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” (Genesis 17:1, 9-14)

For Abraham and his family to stay in the covenant, every male child had to be circumcised, whether native-born or a the child of a slave born into the line. This was a condition by which the covenant would remain between Abraham’s lineage and God Himself. And circumcision was an ongoing requirement, not a one-time deal. In the presence of an ongoing condition, not to mention walking blamelessly (not sinlessly) before the Lord, I don’t see how the NKJV translators could translate the word as “guarantee.” If there are conditions, then there can’t be a guarantee; to argue that conditions and guarantees are compatible is to argue something that is philosophically impossible.

The Holy Spirit is the “down payment” of our inheritance. What we see in these words from Ephesians 1:14 is that the Holy Spirit is part of the inheritance, because He is the inheritance’s down payment, the initial installment, of the inheritance that we will receive in the future as sons of God. Next, what this verse tells us is that, while the Holy Spirit is part of the inheritance, or the initial installment, He is not all of the inheritance: there is something else in the inheritance in addition to the Holy Spirit. What is that additional piece? The kingdom of God that the sons of God will inherit is another portion; then, there’s Jesus, who is also one of the portions of the inheritance that we will receive. The kingdom of God is Heaven itself, the “Promised Land” that we will receive as sons of Abraham (it is our “Canaan,” not the geographical territory but the heavenly). As the Lord God said to Abraham when He appeared to him to enter into the Abrahamic Covenant, “I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Genesis 15:1). The Lord is the reward; that is not just a rhyme, but also truth.

3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:3-5)

The “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5) refers to eternal life, so Paul is saying that those who fornicate (have sex outside marriage), those who are covetous (long for the things of others), those who are idolaters (who worships things or gods other than the one true living God) are those who will not inherit eternal life. Again, eternal life, Jesus, the “Promised Land” of Heaven — these together comprise the inheritance of which the Scriptures speak.

13 But to which of the angels has He ever said:

“Sit at My right hand,

Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?

14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:13-14)

Hebrews 1:14 says that one will “inherit salvation.” Salvation, then, eternal life, is the inheritance.

14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness,without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (Hebrews 12:14-17)

In Hebrews 12, Paul writes to the Jewish Christians to “pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” In other words, the goal of the Christian life is to spend eternity with Christ. Those who do not pursue holiness and who do not live as Jesus lived won’t make it there. The goal is eternal life. So when Paul writes to warn the Jewish Christians about “fall[ing] short of the grace of God,” he’s warning them about missing eternal life. What this tells us is that one can start out believing and be labeled a Christian in the earthly church for a period of time but still miss eternal life in the end when God judges the heart of every man. And then, starting in verse 16, Paul uses Esau as an example and tells the believers, “lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau.” These words are Paul’s way of saying, “Don’t Be An Esau, don’t live like Esau lived.”

How did Esau lived, exactly?

who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (Hebrews 12:16-17)

Esau “sold his birthright.” This tells us that he had the birthright (he was the oldest and owned it by virtue of his life), but “he sold his birthright” for food. He thought his birthright meant nothing and had no importance, but he discovered otherwise when Jacob took not only his birthright but also his Father’s blessing. The blessing, the Father’s blessing, is what Jacob and Esau fought over. And Paul is using an analogy to demonstrate a greater spiritual lesson here: “Don’t be an Esau. Don’t do what Esau did. Don’t be like Esau: don’t take your spiritual birthright that God has given you to “become the sons of God,” to be “born again” because you “believe on His name,” as John 1:12-13 says, and throw it away for food, for earthly things, for physical gratification and satisfaction, for the things of the world and the lusts of the flesh. For, if you throw away your spiritual birthright, that is the key to your spiritual inheritance (to eternal life, to Jesus, to the “Promised Land” of glory), you will not receive the “Father’s blessing” of “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” though you seek repentance and long to hear your Father say “Well done.”

The reality is that Esau had the birthright; that is not in dispute. What is in dispute for a number of Christians, though, is that Esau gave up his birthright. Some Christians today believe they can’t give up their birthright, their place as a son of God, but they can. If Paul is comparing the danger of apostasy in the Christian life to Esau, then it’s possible to give up one’s inheritance and forfeit one’s birthright. You can forfeit your salvation, it is possible.

The Blessing of Abraham and the Inheritance in Peter’s Letters

In the New Testament, we read much of Paul and his instructions to believers, but Paul isn’t the only one who writes letters; Peter does as well. In his first epistle, Peter writes about the eternal inheritance awaiting the children of God:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Peter seals the deal here when it comes to discovering the nature of the inheritance. First, he says that the inheritance is “incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away.” The inheritance is “incorruptible,” meaning that it doesn’t corrupt. This is at odds with what Donald Lawrence says the inheritance is: he says the inheritance is “writing a book,” “building a business,” and “scoring a film,” but these things are corruptible and fade away; eternal life, on the other hand, does not. And it is eternal life that is incorruptible because it is heaven and it cannot be defiled, nor stolen by thieves, as Jesus says:

19Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

The Lord says in his opening line of Matthew 6:19, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,” which disqualifies material possessions as the nature of the inheritance. The reason? “Moth and rust destroys” earthly possessions. The word for “destroys” here is the Greek “perishes,” and the “rust” mentioned is the Greek word βρῶσις which means “food” or “meat.” So, the Lord is saying not to store treasure on earth because “moth and food” perishes. That is, everything on earth perishes, is fleeting, ephemeral, temporary, can be stolen by thieves, will fade away. Rather, the one who does what is best stores up treasure in heaven where “neither moth nor rust destroys” (Matthew 6:20). Only in Heaven does one have incorruptible or everlasting treasure. This matches Peter’s words in 1 Peter 1:4.

Next, the treasure is “reserved in heaven for you,” which clearly indicates that the inheritance is not something on earth (businesses, books, and films are disqualified here, too). In 1 Peter 1:5, Peter says that “you,” the believers to which he writes, “are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation.” These words tell us that faith is God’s power in our lives, designed to “keep” us “for salvation” that “will be revealed” (indicating future revelation, not present or past revelation). The goal of faith is salvation. Salvation, then, is the inheritance that is “incorruptible” and “does not fade away,” that future prize for which God is keeping believers through faith.

Conclusion

Let’s revisit Donald Lawrence’s song “The Blessing of Abraham.” The lyrics say that “you are the seed,” and this is true: we are the seed of Abraham, Abraham’s seed, because we believe (Galatians 3:29). And yes, it’s also true that “by faith [we] receive the blessing of Abraham,” because the blessing of Abraham is the “Promised Land” of glory, our “Canaan,” salvation, and we receive salvation by faith in Jesus. Our inheritance consists of the Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, alongside of Heaven (Canaan), eternal life (the completion of faith in Jesus), and Jesus, having Him as our Lord and Savior with which to spend eternity.

And yet, there are some puzzling claims made in Lawrence’s song. First, the words “Wherever you are, where’er you go, Whatever you touch, it’s anointed to grow” are words that suggest material prosperity. Sure, the godly man who meditates on the Word of God is one that, “whatever he does, prospers” (Psalm 1:3), but what does this mean? Does this mean that everything the godly man does prospers, that he experiences no failure in anything? It reads good in Psalm 1, but how do we then explain Job who saw the loss of his children, finances and fortune, and even his health? How do we explain Job in light of Psalm 1:3? The Psalms, and even the Book of Job, are all labeled “Wisdom Literature” for a reason: because they show us that misfortune in life, or rather, lack of prosperity, comes to even the righteous. As Job says, we can’t just accept good from God and not adversity (Job 2:10).

So, what does it mean that “whatever you touch, it’s anointed to grow”? Is this tangible for every believer, every son and daughter of Abraham? Does this mean that we won’t face unemployment, or a decline in our business? Will we avoid closing down our business altogether because of Psalm 1:3?

And this goes into my next point. The issue with Donald Lawrence’s song pertains to the fact that it encourages and assumes financial prosperity for all Christians when, in fact, the Bible says the exact opposite. The use of biblical phrases such as “I’m the lender, not the borrower,” also pose a problem. These words were said to the Jews, not to Christians. Though we are spiritual Jews and are part of spiritual Israel, God said these words to political Israel, the nation and lineage He created. Though we are sons and daughters of Abraham, we can’t take every promise made to geographical Israel and claim it for spiritual Israel.

Here’s the passage that includes the language Donald Lawrence uses in his song:

9 “The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. 10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. 11 And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them. (Deuteronomy 28:9-14)

When it says here that Israel would be the “lender” and not the “borrower,” The Lord was referring to the nation as a whole — not individuals (Deuteronomy 28:12). As for being “the head and not the tail, above and not beneath,” these words are to God’s people, Israel, that God would make them great above all other nations if they would obey Him. The Scriptures say that the wealth of the wicked is “laid up in store for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22), but what does this mean? Does this mean that the righteous person will experience material prosperity here on earth?

The lyric behind the song “The Blessing of Abraham” pertains to material prosperity, financial wealth, that Christians were designed to have material fortune, but this doesn’t square with what Scripture says to us as a whole. There are those who won’t have material prosperity, who’ll look at the wicked and presume they have it better here on earth. Take a look at Asaph, who wrote Psalm 73 out of his despair — a Psalm that says the wicked often have more material prosperity than the righteous.

I have no qualms with songs that encourage Christians to pursue all God has for them, but mixing financial prosperity in with a song that should have been about salvation, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and encouraging endurance in the Christian life was a theological and lyrical mistake. The reality is that the “blessing of Abraham” has nothing to do with financial prosperity and everything to do with spiritual prosperity, “being rich toward God,” as Scripture says, storing up treasure in heaven where moth and food do not perish and thieves do not break through and steal it. Our inheritance is incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven for all who believe, not something tangible on earth like writing a book, scoring a film, or building a business.

Donald Lawrence says at the song’s end that he gives credit to Dr. Bill Winston for the teaching behind the song. And that is another problem because I’ve also heard Dr. Bill Winston’s prosperity gospel and deem his teaching unbiblical, too. The Lord Jesus told the rich young ruler to give up all his possessions and come and follow Christ, and the Lord that says we can’t serve God and wealth is the same God that says the same thing today.

Unfortunately, the song “The Blessing of Abraham” teaches a prosperity gospel that seems to ignore the wealth of Scripture on the subject. This is what happens when you have a song that’s musical and inspirational but not scriptural.

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