This promise was made to Abraham around 1900 BC- about 4000 years ago. At the time, he was the only Jew. He had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Muslims claim spiritual descent from Ishmael, Jews and Christians from Isaac.
Paul's repetition of the promise, in Romans and elsewhere, was written 2000 years later, in the first century AD. At the time, Jews and the new Christian sect were tiny groups in the sprawling Roman empire.
Today, the descendants of Abraham number over half the human population. The prophecy given to Abraham 4000 years ago has been amply fulfilled.
Major Religions of the World
Ranked by Number of Adherents
(Sizes shown are approximate estimates, and are here mainly for the purpose of ordering the groups, not providing a definitive number. This list is sociological/statistical in perspective.)
Christianity: 2.1 billion
Islam: 1.3 billion
Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
Hinduism: 900 million
Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
Buddhism: 376 million
primal-indigenous: 300 million
African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
Sikhism: 23 million
Juche: 19 million
Spiritism: 15 million
Judaism: 14 million
What does this fulfillment of prophecy tell us? First off, we should take scripture seriously. It has its own logic, and prophecy is a key element, coming through certain humans in the form of dreams and visions which come true. The fulfillment, for instance of the prophecy to Abraham, is considered proof of its accuracy, and of the existence of the One who made the promise, the God of the Bible. Many other sacred writings in other traditions likewise rely on prophecy and its fulfillment. This is an ancient, valid form of human experience.
This particular prophecy affects over half the people currently on the globe, who consider Abraham their spiritual ancestor, and the God who spoke to him as their God. What sort of being is this?
This God values life, and the continuation of life. His gift to Abraham was a gift of life in the future, which has been fulfilled 4000 years later, as Abraham's seed and Abraham's beliefs have been perpetuated. The rapture cultists today would have us believe that Yahweh, to use His Hebrew name, intends to kill off humanity in a final battle of Armageddon. This is contrary to the teaching of the Bible:
Deut 30: 19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.
Given the sorry state of the planet today- global warming, spread of radiation, epidemics, disasters, plagues- it is tempting to believe that God will sweep all this away, and replace it miraculously with something better. But as the passage above shows, God gives the choice to us.
Another characteristic of God is that He/She is One. The most sacred Jewish prayer says: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. This means one God for Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and all the other sacred paths. If there is one God, then we should all be His/Her children, brothers and sisters.
Religions have been perverted and become "separation theologies", basing their belief system on being special, chosen people, better than those of other traditions, at odds with those of other traditions. More wars have been fought over religion than anything else.
Now, in the endtime, we must find our unity, through our mutual belief in the God who tells us to choose life. To choose life in 2005, we must overcome the theologies of separation and find our commonality, love our neighbors, and work together to make sure that our seed and future generations can endure.
(With thanks to Robert Mendelson "The Way of Holiness" www.armageddooftheego.org )
In the name of the Prince of Peace,