Book: America & Britain

A custom during Abraham’s time was the passing down of birthright blessings. A birthright is a native right or privilege—it is something to which one has a right, by birth. In Bible times, the birthright—which typically included a “double portion” or some other special blessing—was passed down from the father to the eldest son. Thus, the birthright blessings legally belonged to the oldest son, unless he became disqualified or the process was altered by divine intervention.

The physical, material blessings promised by God to Abraham were subsequently passed down to his son, Isaac—and from him to his son, Jacob—through the birthright custom. This “right of the firstborn” custom will figure prominently as we continue.

As we have seen, the covenant promises God made to Abraham included—in addition to the spiritual promise of the “one seed,” Jesus the Messiah—the following physical, national blessings to be bestowed on Israel: 1) a great nation, later expanded to 2) a multitude of nations, which would include numerous kings; 3) descendants so populous they—like the sands of the seashore and the stars of heaven—would be innumerable; and, 4) the possession of strategic sea gates. Additional details were added as the promises were passed on to Abraham’s firstborn son, Isaac.

Promises Renewed to Isaac

As the “son of promise,” the Abrahamic promises were to be perpetuated through Isaac. As noted earlier, Rebekah’s family—obviously aware of the covenant between God and Isaac—blessed her, saying, “Our sister, may you become the mother of countless thousands, and may your children possess the gates of those who hate them” (Gen. 24:60; author’s paraphrase). Earlier, God had said He would bless Abraham’s descendants “exceedingly” (Gen. 17:6). Indeed, according to this pronouncement to Rebekah, Israel would, in time, number in the multiple millions (actually, the Hebrew indicates an unlimited number).

In Genesis 26, God reaffirmed the Abrahamic promises to Isaac. Note here that the promises are still predicated on Abraham’s obedience:

“[Sojourn] in this land, and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your seed, I will give all these lands; and I will establish the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and will give to your seed all these lands. And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (verses 3-5).

Later, in verse 24, God strengthened Isaac with the following affirmation: “And the LORD appeared to [Isaac] the same night, and said, ‘I am the God of Abraham your father. Do not fear, for I am with you, and will bless you and multiply your seed for My servant Abraham’s sake.’ ” As Isaac approached old age, he would need to pass the Abrahamic promises on to his seed—through his firstborn son, Esau. However, Esau would forfeit his rightful claim to the promises—resulting in the birthright going to his younger brother, Jacob.

Jacob Receives the Birthright Promise

As Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, was near giving birth, she inquired of God concerning the twins she was carrying. God’s response shows that divine intervention would alter how the birthright promises would be passed along to Isaac’s sons. Esau, the firstborn, naturally possessed the birthright. But, according to God’s intervention, he would end up serving his younger brother, Jacob, who would be greater (Gen. 25:22-26).

Jacob obtained Esau’s birthright by taking advantage of his brother (Gen. 25:29-34). Later, Rebekah helped Jacob to deceive Isaac into passing the birthright blessings on to Jacob (Gen. 27). Once he realized he had been deceived, Isaac told Esau, “Your brother [Jacob] came with deceit, and has taken away your blessing” (verse 35). But it was too late—“Yea, he shall be blessed!” (verse 33).

When we examine the details of the blessings passed on to Jacob, we see the Abrahamic covenant amplified yet again—to include national promises of great material wealth and prosperity. Notice:

“And may God give you of the dew of heaven [abundant rainfall] and of the fatness [rich places] of the earth, and plenty [an abundance] of grain and wine. Let people serve you, and let nations bow down to you. Be lord [rule] over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone that curses you, and blessed be he that blesses you” (Gen. 27:28-29).

The “dew of heaven” and “fatness of the earth” point to rich, fertile lands producing an abundance of agricultural resources. The phrase “let nations bow down to you” clearly speaks of geopolitical dominance and prestige—on at least a regional level, if not worldwide. As history would prove, Jacob was to rule over the descendants of his brother, Esau, which today are the Turkish peoples. 1

Isaac continued blessing Jacob in Genesis 28:

“And may God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, so that you may be a multitude of people. And may He give you the [covenant] blessing of Abraham, to you and to your seed with you, so that you may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham” (verses 3-4).

Later, God confirmed the promises to Jacob in a dream:

“I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your seed. And your seed shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south. And in you and in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed [this is the third mention of the promise of the Messiah]. And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in every place where you go, and will bring you again into this land, for I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken of to you” (verses 13-15).

In the Hebrew, to “spread abroad” means literally to break forth—in all directions, to the north, south, east, and west—around the world. This passage suggests colonization, placing no limits on how much land God would ultimately give to Abraham’s descendants.

In the end, how much land would be included in the Abrahamic promises? In Romans 4:13, Paul writes that Abraham is to one day become “heir of the world.” How can this be? In the messianic age to come, the covenant promises to Abraham will reach their zenith. At that time, a restored and united Kingdom of Israel will be God’s model nation—to which all nations will seek. On a physical and national level, Israel will form the foundation of the Kingdom of God, which will grow to fill the entire earth (Matt. 13:33; etc.). In time, all of mankind will be included as Abraham’s spiritual children. Ultimately, then, the Abrahamic promises are to include the entire world!

A Vital Identifying Key

Upon examination of these passages, it becomes obvious that the ancient nation of Israel—which possessed only the land of Canaan—has never fulfilled these prophetic promises. Nor have they been realized by the Jews today with their tiny Mideast nation, which covers even less than the land of Canaan. Indeed, neither Israel of old nor the Jews have ever been more than one nation—never many nations; they have never possessed their enemies’ sea gates; they have never possessed vast farmlands or forests yielding an abundance of agricultural products; they have never spread to the north, south, east, and west through colonization.

Some have suggested that these covenant promises are to be fulfilled only in the age to come. As noted above, the Abrahamic promises will, in fact, reach their zenith at that time, as the promised blessings ultimately spread to the whole world. However, the promises must be primarily fulfilled in this age—in fact, largely at the end of the age. Notice again that Abraham’s descendants are to possess the strategic sea and land gates of their enemies. In the millennial age to come, Israel will have no enemies— all the world will be at peace (see Isa. 2:2-4; etc.). Rather, the entire world will seek after Israel, to learn of her way of life based on God’s Word (Zech. 8:23). The prophecies of Israel possessing her enemies’ gates can only apply to this present evil age, when Israel—whoever she may be today—has enemies.

Continuing with God’s promises to Jacob, we see a vital key stated in Genesis 35—“a nation and a company of nations.”

“And God appeared to Jacob again after he came out of Padan Aram and blessed him. And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob [i.e., one who supplants]. Your name shall not be called Jacob any more, but Israel shall be your name.’ And He called his name Israel [i.e., one who prevails with God]. And God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall be from you, and kings shall come out of your loins. And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give to you, and to your seed after you I will give the land” (Gen. 35:9-12).

From this point the Abrahamic promises take on a more specific character: the promised “multitude of nations” would eventually take the shape of a single nation and a company of nations. Thus, in our search for the modern descendants of the “lost” tribes of Israel, we must look for a single great nation, one with tremendous power, wealth, prestige, and global influence—as well as a great company or commonwealth of nations, also having a strong worldwide presence and impact. Both must be related, as they are both of Jacob—and a royal line of kings must be included. Together they must possess and control key strategic land and sea gates, impacting international affairs—even if such gates belong to their enemies. Both must possess rich farm lands and abundant natural resources; both must number in the hundreds of millions.

These amazing promises must be fulfilled or we cannot rely on the Word of God as infallible. But scholars, Bible critics, and theologians are seemingly blind to the fulfillment of these promises. Why? Has God failed to make good on His word to Abraham?


1. Esau as well received a prophetic “blessing” from his father, Isaac: “Behold, your dwelling shall be far from the fatness of the earth and far from the dew of heaven from above. And you shall live by your sword and shall serve your brother. But it shall come to pass that when you shall have the dominion, you shall break his yoke from off your neck.” Thus, “Esau hated Jacob” (Gen. 27:39-41).

Historical records indicate that the descendants of Esau became the Turks of today. Thus, end-time prophecies referring to Esau (or Edom) generally point to the Turkish nation.

Isaac’s prophecy foretold of a time when Esau’s descendants would have “dominion” and throw Jacob’s “yoke” off their necks. This has actually occurred. Because of sin, Israel was ultimately driven from the Promised Land. Subsequently, the Turks came to power and possessed Palestine for 400 years before relinquishing it to Britain in 1917. Even today, Esau’s descendants lust for that land—central to the birthright they lost.