As our Advent preparations move into the 21st day, we focus on a fundamental truth at the heart of God‚Äôs plan for Salvation history. God called Abram to leave his home and relocate his family in a new land. In Genesis 12, God makes three promises to Abram (later Abraham). God declares that He will give Abraham a new land (nation), a great name (dynasty) and that his family line will be a blessing to the whole earth (nations relating to God as one family). In Genesis 15, 17 and 22 these promises are updated to covenant status. As we will see in this evening‚Äôs study, these covenantal assurances would indeed come to pass ‚Äì partially under the leadership of men ‚Äì and perfectly and finally under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Read on and see God‚Äôs providential plan unfold just as He said. But, the fulfillment of God‚Äôs Word would not be completed through the Patriarch Abraham, or Moses the prophet. Not even King David could preside over the satisfaction of these obligations. Only through the Incarnation would God bring his covenantal commitments to pass.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‚ÄúI am God Almighty;walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.‚Äù 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 ‚ÄúBehold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.‚Äù
God‚Äôs covenantal promises to Abraham meant nothing less than having a new land (the Promised Land), having a great name (which meant having a royal dynasty), and having his family line be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. This meant that Abraham‚Äôs progeny would be a unifying force to undo the division of man which came as a result the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). And what‚Äôs more, Abraham‚Äôs offspring would be used to reverse the curse of Adam that divided God and man because of man‚Äôs sin. A land, a name and an evangelistic mission ‚Äì these were the covenantal promises of God to Abraham.
Within God‚Äôs sovereign plan, the new land promised to Abraham would come only after his family had been in Egypt for four centuries. Toward the end of that time, the Children of Israel (twelve tribes named for Abraham‚Äôs grandson ‚Äì Jacob/Israel) became slaves to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Moses was chosen by God to deliver the Israelites. After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Abraham‚Äôs offspring finally crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. But, this was not a permanent fulfillment of God‚Äôs promise, as we will see. Abraham‚Äôs descendants had received a ‚ÄúPromised Land,‚Äù but their unfaithfulness would cause their eviction in just a few centuries. What could be done to fulfill this promise after such a tragic ejection from the ‚Äúland flowing with milk and honey‚Äù?
Within God‚Äôs sovereign plan, the great name promised to Abraham would come as the Israelites clamored for a king ‚Äì so that they could be like every other nation. They were not satisfied with God as their Lord, they had to have a human ruler. God relented and gave them Saul. King Saul proved to be an unfaithful failure (1 Samuel 13:13-14). So, God brought forward a shepherd boy named David who reigned for 40 years (2 Samuel 5:4). It was to King David that God gave the promise, that one of his heirs would be on his throne forever (1 Kings 2:45, 9:5). Sadly, due to David‚Äôs personal failings (2 Samuel 12:10-11), his family was never far from calamity. Solomon, who followed David as King of Israel, exhibited poor judgment. He allowed and was involved in syncretism. Because of this blatant disregard for God‚Äôs instruction, in 930 BC, the unified Kingdom was separated into Israel in the north and Judah in the south. In 722 BC, the Assyrians defeated the northern kingdom of Israel. In 586 BC, the Babylonians brought down the Judeans in the South. With the fall of Zedekiah, the last Davidic King had sat on the throne (Jeremiah 52). Obviously, this could not be the end. But, what could be done to fulfill God‚Äôs promise?
Within God‚Äôs sovereign plan, God covenanted with Abraham that his seed would be blessed and be a blessing to the entire world. Israel, called ‚Äúfirst born son‚Äù by God, was meant to be a good oldest sibling to the brotherhood of nations. Through Israel, all of the nations were to be invited to Jerusalem to worship God. Sadly, God‚Äôs chosen people desired for their relationship with God to be exclusive. They reviled the Gentiles, not to mention the Samaritan half-breeds! Rather than reach out to other nations, they became isolationists, convinced of their own self-righteousness. Given this elitist snobbery, how would God ever fulfill His promise to Abraham?
Abraham did not see these promises come to pass. Moses did not preside over their fulfillment. David was unable to fulfill them perfectly. What would God do to prove His faithfulness and fulfill His Word?
Luke 9:28-31 (The Promised Land)
Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Jesus was making his approach to Jerusalem where he would complete his Passion. There on the mount of transfiguration, Jesus met with Moses and Elijah. And what did they discuss? The Greek word for departure, found in verse 31, is exodus. Jesus spoke with Moses about the exodus he was about to lead from Jerusalem. Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18 reveal that a New Moses would come. This new deliverer would lead a new exodus ‚Äì not to an earthly promised land ‚Äì but to the heavenly Promised Land! Jesus, was about to lead an Exodus, not from bondage to Egypt and Pharaoh, to Canaan, but from bondage to sin, death and hell, and to the Heavenly Promised Land!
Luke 1:31-33 (A Great Name)
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be greatand will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.‚Äù
God promised Abraham that his name would be great. In 2 Samuel 7, God promises David, ‚ÄúI will make your name great.‚Äù In Luke 1:32, Mary is told that Jesus‚Äô name ‚Äúwill be great.‚Äù In 2 Samuel 7:14, God says, ‚Äú I will be his father, and he shall be my son.‚Äù Luke 1:32 states that Jesus will be, ‚Äúcalled the Son of the most High.‚Äù2 Samuel 7:13 says that God will, ‚Äú‚Ä¶establish the throne of his kingdom forever.‚ÄùLuke 1:32 also says that, ‚ÄúThe Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David.‚Äù In 2 Samuel 7:16, God says to David, ‚Äú‚Ä¶your house and your kingdom will be made sure forever.‚Äù Luke 1:33 says, ‚ÄúAnd he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.‚Äù There can be no doubt that Jesus is the fulfillment of God‚Äôs promise to Abraham concerning a great name. This promise was extended to David. But, it was ultimately and finally fulfilled in Jesus!
Galatianis 3:13, 26-29 (All Nations Blessed)
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‚ÄúAnd to offsprings,‚Äù referring to many, but referring to one, ‚ÄúAnd to your offspring,‚Äù who is Christ.
‚Ä¶for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
Israel‚Äôs disposition toward foreigners was one of disdain and intolerance. Jesus, however, came to bring restoration for humanity. His was a mission to reunite man to God and to break down the walls of animosity that brings division between the people of the earth. Ephesians 2:11-14 gives further clarity.
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‚Äúthe uncircumcision‚Äù by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands‚Äî 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility‚Ä¶‚Äù
Abraham was promised that, through his offspring, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. In Galatians 3 we find that Jesus is the offspring of Abraham through which the blessing would come. Ephesians 3 reveals to us that in Jesus those of us who were alienated from the covenant promises of Israel are now offered these promises in Christ. We were once far off, but now we have been brought near! Jesus is our peace ‚Äì the One who has broken down the wall that divides and causes hostility. He brings peace with God and peace with men.
Is it possible that the covenant promises made to Abraham are fulfilled in the little baby born in a humble manger? Could this little babe be the One to bring it all to pass ‚Äì a Promised Land, a Great Name and through him to bless all nations?
Isaiah 9:6 says that, ‚ÄúFor to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.‚Äù Here, Isaiah prophesies that government will be on the shoulder of the child to be born. Governments operate in sovereign nations ‚Äì and require a land (check). Isaiah speaks about this child‚Äôs great name (check)! Isaiah calls this little one, ‚ÄúPrince of Peace.‚Äù Through Jesus, we have peace with God and with man. In Christ, we are reconciled to God and to our fellow humans ‚Äì there is no greater blessing (check)!!
As we celebrate the coming of Jesus, may we realize how astoundingly significant this historical reality truly is. Once again we can see that God‚Äôs Word is good!
May you revel in God‚Äôs grace and goodness on this 21st day of Advent.