The Line of the Seed
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.
Sometimes as Christians, because we do not know our Bibles well enough, we tend to isolate lives like Abraham’s from the rest of the story that Scripture tells. Yes, our Bibles come to us in the form of 66 book in the Old and New Testaments. Yes, each account has its particular historical context and has to be understood within those parameters. However, sometimes we tend to take the events of the life of people like Abraham as nothing more than stories of God’s marvelous providence and power in the life of His people. The life of Abraham does indeed have that element to it. Time would fail to tell of God’s majesty displayed through Abraham as he rescues Lot from the wicked kings in Genesis 14, or God’s power as He gives a promised child to him and his barren wife Sarah in Genesis 21. However, when we understand God’s dealings with Abraham within the context of all 66 books of the Bible and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom all the promises of God are “yes and amen,” (2 Corinthians 1.20) then the entire storyline of Scripture begins to tell us the story of our incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ the Messiah. These are not just “feel good” stories of God’s power, providence, and care, they play a role in the telling of the Ultimate Story.
These accounts, and our text above, tap us into the unfolding of the Genesis 3.15 promise, that the Seed of the woman would crush the head of the Serpent. Before anything else in Abram’s life, we read of God’s sovereign promise to him. The first elements of this promise-passage are identification and separation. How can we identify the Ultimate Seed of the woman when He finally comes to have victory? Through whom will He come? God identified Abram as the man whose physical line would produce this Messiah and separated Him from the rest of the peoples to preserve this line of promise.
How can we know that this passage is a continuation of God’s promise in Genesis 3.15? Take note of the blessing of God upon this seed-line that comes from Abram, and the curse of God upon Abram’s enemies. This is language remarkably similar to the Lord’s curse of the Serpent in Genesis 3.15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.” The two passages connect to tell the same story at this point, the story of conflict between the people of God and those who belong to Satan. Now the story is further advanced as Abram’s line is identified as the line of the “seed of the woman.” The enemies of this people are the seed of the Serpent.
The Lord’s blessing is what enables Abram to produce a people as numerous as the sands of the sea and the stars of heaven. The Lord’s sovereign blessing and His determination to keep covenant with Abram is what marks Abram out as the beginning of this people, it is what gifts Abram and his barren wife with a child (Isaac) in fulfillment of the promise, it is what gives Abram’s future people the promised land of Canaan, and it is what turns Israel into a mighty nation that subdues the nations around them. Ultimately, it is this same sovereign covenant-blessing that enables Abram’s lineage to be the channel through which the whole world is blessed: “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” This is the Gospel-promise!
The point of this overarching story is that there is a physical lineage of the Messiah, in accordance with God’s determination to make all things new that had been broken through the fall. The One to bring victory over death, hell, and Satan, must be a man. This is the reason to read these accounts within the broader narrative of Scripture around the time of Advent. These texts lay the foundation of the ultimate reality that God came in the flesh: the flesh of the woman, the flesh of Abraham. We shouldn’t bypass these essential elements of redemptive history and skip right to the Lord’s birth, because when we do, we lose some of the majesty of the way that God has revealed His plan of redemption. We must meditate on the fact that centuries of God’s covenant-keeping faithfulness preceded, foretold, and built up to the day when God the Son’s glory “tabernacled among us.” (John 1.14) As we behold the incarnate Son, we behold the glory of God, and we also behold centuries of God’s unwavering faithfulness to His promises, to His people. This faithfulness will last to the day of eternity.