Do these words apply to the New Testament church?
Genesis 35:9-11 Now that Jacob had returned from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again at Bethel. God blessed him, 10 saying, "Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel." So God renamed him Israel. 11 Then God said, "I am El-Shaddai--'God Almighty.' Be fruitful and multiply. You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants!
Way back in the book of Genesis God made a promise to both Abraham and to his grandson Jacob. God told Abraham that his descendants would be huge, they would become a great nation of people that would be a blessing to the other nations.
Most of us have heard the story and probably understand only part of the meaning of the phrase "be fruitful and multiply." To the casual observer it may look like God is saying, "go have a lot of children" or you may think that it is a nice story for the Jews but none of this has a direct application to me.
At first it may seem like a stretch to apply this phrase to the New Testament church or to evangelism but check this out:
Similarities in the covenant with both menGenesis 17:4-6 "This is My covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! 5 What's more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. 6 I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!
Jacob's promise is a reaffirmation of the promise made to Abraham.
The promises to both men contain:
- a name change (Abram to Abraham, and Jacob to Israel),
- a promise that kings will come from them,
- a reference to being fruitful, and
- a promise that a "multitude of nations" will come from Abram and Jacob.
Gentile believers are a part of the promiseJohn 8:39-41 "Our father is Abraham!" they declared. "No," Jesus replied, "for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. 40 Instead, you are trying to kill Me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. 41 No, you are imitating your real father." They replied, "We aren't illegitimate children! God Himself is our true Father."
Romans 4:16-17 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham's. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, "I have made you the father of many nations." This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.
Jesus told the Jews that they were not a part of the promise that was made to Abraham just because of their genealogy. Jesus made it clear that some of the Jews had a different father and they were living to please him instead of God. (John 8:44)
Jesus opened the door to the idea that the spiritual family rather than the physical family is what really matters. The promise that Abraham would be fruitful and be the father of many nations is fulfilled with the inclusion of the Gentiles. You don't have to be a Jew to become a part of God's chosen people. (Ephesians 2:19, 1 Peter 2:9)
I am a part of the blessingGalatians 3:6-8 In the same way, "Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith." 7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. 8 What's more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when He said, "All nations will be blessed through you."
Abraham was made righteous because of his faith in God's promise and my faith does the same for me. Jesus said that the Jews had no advantage when it comes to having a relationship with him. (Matthew 3:9) Since Christ is from the seed of Abraham then everyone that is born again into the family of God is a true offspring of Abraham and they are heirs of the promises
The key is belonging to Christ, who is the offspring of Abraham, as Paul said, "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:16, 29)
I need to obey the commandJohn 15:8,16 When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father. 16 You didn't choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name.
If I am a part of the family of God's blessed people then I must also be a part of the command to be fruitful and multiply. This command belongs to every Christian and every time that we participate in leading someone to Jesus we are fulfilling that command.
We can't bring anybody to Jesus in our own power but when God gave the command to Abraham and Jacob he also told them about the source of strength to do what he told them to do. God said, "I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply." Jesus said something very similar just before he left earth when he told the disciples:
Matthew 28:18-19 he told his disciples: "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations."
I need to realize the power that is found in Jesus that enables me to tell the world about the gospel. If I remain quiet then I am not obeying the command to be fruitful and multiply. I need to participate in missions and be willing to Go, Pray and Give.