Abraham

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In Australia, where I’m from, it’s not uncommon to give people joke names.  So a giant of a man might be nicknamed “Shorty” or a red-head will be called “Blue.”

The LORD seems to have a similar sense of humour.  In Genesis 17:5, childless Abram is re-named “Abraham” which means “father of a multitude.”  But the Word of the LORD doesn’t only name things.  When He bestows a name, He brings the thing into being.  Abraham would indeed become father of a multitude.  Great “seed” was promised to Abraham – “seed” to bless the whole world.

But before we discuss that let’s rewind a little bit.

In Genesis 11 we saw humanity trying to make a name for itself.  The tower of Babel was built to ascend to heaven.  But the LORD opposed this self-salvation project.  Instead the focus switches to a man called Shem, the firstborn of Noah.  Shem’s genealogy is listed from Genesis 11:10-32.  And Shem means “Name”.

Here is how the LORD will make a name for Himself.  Not the Babel kind of “name” – a lifting up of self with human effort.  The “name” the LORD would make would be about coming down in divine blessing.

Ever since Genesis 3:15, a blessed seed was promised – the seed of the woman.  And with that word “seed” you can hear a double meaning.  There is a singular Child promised – Christ.  But there is also a promise here of offspring in general.

This is the case whenever the promise of seed is repeated.  So to Shem’s seed is given great promises (Genesis 9:26-27).  Divine blessing showers on the head of Shem’s seed.  All those who would be blessed must come under his shelter.

The seed of Shem continues to be listed until we come to childless Abram and his wife Sarai.  Surely the line of divine promise ends here.

But no.  In Genesis 12:7 the LORD appears to Abram and says: “unto thy seed I give this land.”  The promise of seed is repeated.  And this explains why all the other incredible promises are given to Abraham:

I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.  (Genesis 12:2-3)

Abraham will be a conduit for all of heaven’s blessings.  From God to the world, all divine promises and benefits will come through Abraham’s seed.

No wonder so many people around the world call Abraham “father.”  Jews and Muslims as well as Christians look back to Abraham as a forefather in the faith.  Billions seek to justify a connection to Abraham – we want to be Abraham’s children.  And no wonder – because these verses speak of Abraham’s seed as mediating all of God’s grace to humankind.

So who is the seed of Abraham?

Well, such exalted terms can only refer to the Divine Mediator Himself.  Only Christ can live up to the title Seed of Abraham.  Only He can bless the world.

That’s what the Apostle Paul concludes in Galatians 3:16

To Abraham and his seed were the promises made. [God] saith not, “And to seeds,” as of many; but as of one, “And to thy seed,” which is Christ.

Christ is the true Seed of Abraham.  He is the only One who can make good all the promises entrusted to Abraham’s offspring.

But there’s good news for us.  Any who trust Christ can come in on the blessings.  The promises are poured onto His Head, but they flow down to the body.

Paul continues:

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (Galatians 3:29)
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