As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. (Romans 4:17 ESV)
God told Abraham, “I have made you the father of many nations.” So, it was God who first called Abraham the father of many nations; when we say father Abraham, we are simply saying what God Himself said. But why did God call Abraham a father of many nations?
As a father, Abraham had children, and by virtue of their birthright, they were entitled to inherit whatever belonged to Abraham. To fully grasp the meaning of the title father Abraham, we must therefore comprehend the meaning of Abraham’s children and the inheritance they received.
Abraham had two types of children—biological (natural) and spiritual. His biological children are those born through the usual way people beget children. Since they are his natural offspring, they are entitled to his material possessions. God indeed gave the Jews, Abraham’s naturally promised biological children, the land of Israel. Therefore, a Jew can call Abraham their ancestor and lay claim to the promised land as theirs; a Gentile cannot call Abraham their great-grandpa this way. Neither can a Gentile lay claim to the land of Israel because they are not biological children of Abraham.
But Abraham also had spiritual children. While he begat his biological children by having babies the natural way, he begat his spiritual children by believing in God’s promise, foreshadowing the billions of believers who would become children of God by believing in Jesus. Abraham’s spiritual children come from the Jews and the Gentiles: there is no difference between them. Furthermore, since they are children, they inherit whatever belonged to Abraham: the promise, which came as the blessing of our blessed salvation by faith in Christ.
The Apostle Paul beautifully describes the two kinds of children Abraham had in this verse:
“That is why it depends on faith, so that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,” (Romans 4:16 ESV).
So as a spiritual child of Abraham, you inherit the blessing promised to Abraham, a blessing that far supersedes any natural blessing reserved for biological children.
Why did God call Abraham the father of many nations?
Apply the Word
For the Jewish brethren reading this devotional, Abraham is your biological and spiritual grandpa! If you are non-Jewish by birth, then Abraham is your spiritual father. Exercise your birthrights in Christ: enjoy everything in your inheritance. You were born by believing in God, and you will overcome by believing in God!
Thank the Father for making us Abraham’s spiritual children.