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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 7: Jesus, the Promised Offspring of Abraham

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” - Genesis 12:1-3, ESV

And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 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, because you have obeyed my voice.” - Genesis 22:15-18, ESV

"He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” - Mary, in Luke 1:54-55, ESV

Jesus is the Promised Offspring of Abraham,
Through Whom All Nations on Earth Are Blessed

Abram was 75 years old. Many men are well into their retirement years by 75, but Abram's life story was just beginning. God called him to leave his father's home and to take his 65-year-old wife and go to a land as-yet-unknown, as-yet-unseen. To this childless couple, God not only gave an impossible calling but an impossible promise: I will make of you a great nation.

The promise made to Abram, whose name meant "exalted father," was so impossible that Sarai thought she would help God out by giving her Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar, to Abram. That did not work out well. God does not need our help. When we try to give it to Him, it usually does not end well. 

God's plans were certain, but they did require patience and much faith. After many more years of waiting, God finally gave 100-year-old Abraham (God had changed his name to "Father of a multitude") and Sarah ("Princess") a baby boy of their own, Isaac ("laughter"). The very idea of a baby born to such an old couple was a joke, one that made both Abraham and Sarah laugh and which was forever reflected in the boy's name.

The Sacrifice of Isaac by Carvaggio
But God's testing of Abraham's faith was not yet complete. Leaving his father's home was just Phase One. Waiting until age 100 for a child was only Phase Two. The final test, Phase Three, would come on a mountain outside of what would become the City of Jerusalem. Here, on Mount Moriah, where Solomon would build His Temple and where Jesus would later hang on a cross. 

God had promised Abraham at the very beginning that all of the nations would be blessed through him. However, it was not until after Phase Three of the testing of Abraham and the promising of God was complete that God gave the final and wonderful promise: Abraham's offspring would possess the gates of his enemies and all of the earth would be blessed through this victorious offspring.

Jesus is that promised offspring of Abraham, as Galatians 3 makes clear. He has overthrown Satan's dominion and so He possesses the gates of His enemy. He builds His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). More poignantly, God secured this victory for His people by providing Himself the sacrifice that He spared Abraham from having to make. God provided the true Lamb, His one and only Son whom He loves, who has taken the place of Isaac and of all of God's people, standing in our stead, taking the death we deserve.

We are fickle creatures who make and break promises so quickly and easily. Thankfully, God's promises never fail. He keeps them at the severest cost to Himself. He promised a seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent. He promised an offspring of Abraham who would win a victory and bring God's blessing to the nations. He has kept His promises, and every Christmas we get to celebrate that reality!        

Heavenly Father, Your love and Your power come together in the fulfillment of Your promise. You love us more deeply than we can ever imagine and no one can keep You from keeping Your promise. You sent Your Son to win the victory, to redeem Your people, to bless the nations and to overthrow the gates of hell. We praise You for Jesus, Your Son and our Savior! Amen. 

Michael Card explores the powerful truth of God's promised lamb in "God Will Provide a Lamb":

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