I Will Surely Bless You: By Myself I Have Sworn The Covenant Restated. Hopefully, you have picked up the repetition of God declaring his covenant promises to Abraham. Starting in verse 17 we read, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Here again, are the four promises of God. The first is that God will bless Abraham. God is reaffirming his covenant love toward Abraham. God has chosen to put his grace, his favor, on Abraham and the decades that have passed and the missteps have not changed that. Abraham is a blessed man. Second, Abraham is reminded that his offspring will be as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore. He will be a father of multitudes. His offspring will be innumerable. At this point in his life, Abraham is still having to take this by faith because since Ishmael is out of the picture, Isaac is all he has left. The third promise is in verse 17 where Abraham is told that his offspring shall possess the gates of their enemies. This is a restatement of what God has already promised to Abraham when he told him to look around the land of Caanan and said that it would all belong to his family. But the promise doesn’t just stop with the physical land of Israel. Paul explains to us in Romans 4:13 that God’s promise was the Abraham and his offspring would be the heir of the whole world. Paul points out that all those that have faith in Christ are Abraham’s offspring and according to Jesus, his followers, the meek, would inherit the earth. And their enemies, even the gates of Hell itself will not prevail against them according to Jesus in Matthew 16:18. Truly, the offspring of Abraham will possess the gates of the enemy. The fourth promise is the reminder that Abraham is being blessed so that he will be a blessing to the nations. And that promise has been in a state of being fulfilled since then. b. God Swears. Now notice that this is the third time in this passage that God speaks to Abraham. He first tells him to take Isaac and sacrifice. Then we are told that the angel of the Lord speaks to Abraham telling him not to harm Isaac and then the messenger of the Lord speaks again in the section we are looking at today. The promises we have heard from God before but we have not heard him say, “by myself, I have sworn.” To understand what is going on here all we have to do is turn to Hebrews 6 to read the commentary. First, God swears by himself to show the certainty of his promises. Hebrews uses words like, “final for confirmation,” “more convincingly,” “unchangeable character,” “guaranteed,” and “a sure and steadfast anchor.” I think we get the point. God swears by himself to build up Abraham’s faith. You had the faith enough to believe that Isaac could be raised from the dead, Abraham, no believe all the promises. Hebrews 6:15 says, “And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.” By all of these things, God worked faith into the heart of Abraham. The author of Hebrews explains that “when God made a promise to Abraham since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself.” Since no one or no thing is greater than God he could not swear by anything other than himself. This is contrasted by human oaths where people swear by something greater than them to prove their sincerity. Jesus mentions swearing by the altar and swearing by heaven in Matthew 23. Why do people swear oaths? Because they deceive and lie and they fail and have character flaws. An oath between people is meant to overcome those issues. But God’s character is perfect and he never lies, so why does he swear? “To show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose,” (Hebrews 6:17). The problem is our problem, Abraham’s problem, not God’s. Abraham and we need to be reassured not because of God’s flaws but ours. He didn’t need to swear but because we have sin and flaws, we needed the oath. We need the sure and steadfast anchor for our souls or we may drift into danger. John James says, “And what shall preserve us from drifting on the shore, and being stranded there? The anchor! Drop down your anchor, believer. You need it, I repeat, even more than in the storm raging on the broad ocean. Why are Christians so worldly? Why have the scenes and circumstances of earth, so powerful an influence over us? Why? Just because our desires and expectations of the eternal realities and infinite possessions of heaven are so little thought of—and so little cherished! Were the mind kept in contemplation of these realities, and the soul more frequently regaled with foretastes of the heavenly food and feast—it could not be content to feed on the ashes and husks of this world!”