Promise made to the”seed” of Abraham and his children?
It has been a traditional teaching in Judaism & Christianity that they were promised a visible and tangible place on earth to live forever. This is generally accepted as true but to what extent does this promise cover? And, how, when and who can this be initiated and reach fruition?
Who is the “seed” of Abraham?
To begin with, this promise in the gospel was preached to humans, and not to any other created living entity, whether plants or animals. Although “the angels desire to look into” or prophets of old “searched diligently”, this was not understood because it was “not for themselves” (I Peter 1:12), at that time. This was first promised to a human Abraham (Genesis 15:18), then confirmed or re-promised to his son Isaac (Genesis 26:3), and thereafter to Isaac’s son Jacob (Genesis 28:13), Abraham’s grandson. Does it strike you as odd that it was again promised and re-promised? Notice these verses:
Gen. 15:18 “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: “
Gen. 22:17 “I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.”
Gen. 26:3 “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; “
Gen. 26:4”I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”
Gen. 28:13 “And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; “
Clearly, the promises were made to Abraham and extended or re-promised to his descendants. Whether only along the line of Isaac and excluded the line of Ishmael, may not matter at all. Because, according to the understanding given to Paul, while these promises were spoken by the Lord YHVH to humans, first to Abraham and to his descendants, the “seed” (not seeds) specifically referred to was man-Jesus, the incarnated YHVH Elohim. And, this was “based on promises yet future” at that time, as in, Gal. 3:16
“The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.”(New International Version)
Interestingly, while the promise was clearly and undeniably spoken to Abraham and his descendants, Paul emphasized the promise was to a specific human seed, Christ. One seed and, following the principle in Isaiah 28:10, this does not necessarily ignore or marginalize other descendants of Abraham nor contradict other verses but gives context to whom the promise was specifically addressed for the start of implementation.
Rather, Paul’s understanding of these written words, in light of what he knew at that time, was intimating and signifying the one person to whom these promises would begin and to reach fulfillment. In other words, Paul’s focus about the promise was to explain about the implementation of the promise which did not commence nor fulfilled with Abraham, or with his other descendants, but a specific one. The promise was to all but will commence in Jesus. History of Israel proved that Abraham and his offsprings did not attain nor start the fulfillment of the promise until man-Jesus came into being. That was why it was promised again and again for continuity until Christ, the “seed“. The timing of when this promise would start unraveling was with man-Jesus, the one seed of Abraham, to whom the promise would begin the process of fulfillment. And this is a miracle that would happen in the future.
This divine parallel and look into the future, were alluded to previously in the narrative of the conception of Isaac in the womb of Sarah.
Genesis 18:10-14 “And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.
Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. “
In Genesis 17:17,
“Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”
Gen. 18:12 “So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
Gen. 21:5-6 “Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”
What happened to Abraham and Sarah was a miraculous demonstration of the power of God, i.e, there is nothing “…too hard for the LORD” and will commence “at the time appointed”. They did not have Isaac until the “time of life”, i.e., the appointed time. Similarly, the Lord YHVH incarnated to man-Jesus at the “time appointed“. Jesus was the “pioneer”, the “beginner “ of this process. The appearance, identity and anointing of this Jesus/Messiah was prophesied in Daniel 9:24-27; Matt. 3:17, 17:5; Luke 3:22.
Who are the children of Abraham?
While genealogy defines who the children of Abraham are, God specifically defined it differently (through Paul), not from flesh, but as “children of faith” in Gal. 3:7-9, as in:
“Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, “In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”
Foresight of God was to justify also the heathen, i.e., outside of Abraham’s stock. Moreover, while Abraham’s physical children were Isaac from Sarah and Ishmael from Hagar, the key defining attribute of being a descendant is one of “child of promise”,as in:
Galatians 4:22-31 “For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar(aka Hagar). For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”
Currently, Israel and others of whatever religion, are of the “bond woman of Sinai” unless begotten of promise and faith to be qualified in the true definition of “children of Abraham ”
Promises made in the Old Testament were spoken first to Abraham who did not see the fulfillment of that promise for himself because it was for the future. So, it was promised again to Isaac & Jacob, who likewise did not see fruition. Paul subsequently explained that the promise had to wait for an appropriate time until LORD YHVH was incarnated to man-Jesus, the “seed” of Abraham, the “pioneer and finisher/perfecter of our faith”(Heb. 12:2). Jesus initiated and is the first human to which the promises would be fulfilled to the fullest extent, before others. He was a man of “faith” and a “child of promise”. He came through the genealogy of Abraham although he was not of “earth but heavenly”; came from above as incarnated Lord God/YHVH ELOHIM. He believed in the Father’s promises and was baptized (as the Father promised) as in “the Holy Spirit fully dwell in him” at river Jordan(Matt. 3:16; Luke 4:1-13). For anyone, including Jesus, to receive the Holy Spirit, what is required is to believe (John 7:39; Gal. 3:2). He was resurrected, as promised, to receive the Holy Spirit to be “baptized” into us (Matt. 3:11); no one will have the Holy Spirit until The Father gives it to Jesus first. He changed from mortal man-Jesus to an immortal Son of God. The same immortality will “clothe” (I Cor.15:53) those believers who overcame(Rev. 2:26;3:21) and persevered/endured (Matt. 24:13) through the end. Towards the end, he will rule in Jerusalem, here on earth, with the “firstfruits”, fellow children of promise/faith, for a Millenium (Rev. 20). Then, after all come under his subjection, he will then subject the same, (I Cor. 15:24) including him before the Father (I Cor. 15:28). So, at the end, the Father will be over all in a “new heaven and new earth” (2Peter 3:13; Rev. 21).
The children of God are “children of promise”, “children by faith”, no matter what race, genealogy, sex etc, even those created human beings before Adam, all heirs according to the promise. God by his Holy Spirit, and his appointed time, has written his laws in the mind and heart of those he “called” and opened their eyes to “believe “. In contrast to Israel and others of “Sinai”, those with the Holy Spirit have “circumcision of the heart” as the sign of the New Covenant to receive immortality and to live forever on earth and the universe. This is the extent of what the promise covers. They are brothers and sisters who are not children of the bondwoman, tethered to be “under the Law” given in Sinai in “tables of stone”, but of the free. Having been freed from eternal death(exacted by the Law of Sinai attributed to one man-Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden),through the death also of one man-Jesus, the “pioneer and perfecter”, we are now free to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit to bring “ fruits of the Spirit”, against such, there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23). So, follow the example of Jesus, our pioneer. Unlike Adam in the garden of Eden, Jesus correctly decided to follow the Father’s will, not his, in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). Let us all endeavor to have “fruits of the Holy Spirit“.
Original post: April 28, 2018
Hyperlink version posted 3/13/19