Abraham’s Seed & The True Meaning of Christmas
The Birth of God’s Son is the Fulfillment of God’s Promise to Abraham
Readings from Luke’s Gospel (Larger Context 1:1-75): I want you to pay close attention to verses 54-55 and 70-75
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he (Gabriel) came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
32 He will be great and 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.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 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.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
Q. What’s the purpose of Christmas or more properly the Incarnation God’s Son?
Let’s give serious consideration to the words of Mary, Zechariah and Elizabeth when it was revealed to them that God had chosen them for his most peculiar work, a work that would forever affect the history of man.
It was God fulfilling a very important promise to the patriarchs of Israel through these very ordinary people. It is the foundation of the gospel message and any understanding of God’s purpose with the earth, mankind and Jesus Christ, must operate upon the axis of the promise to Abraham. See 1:72-75.
…to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
Now look at Mary’s words in verses 54-55 and then jump to Zechariah’s summary of God’s promise is found in verses 71-75. (Mary speaking)
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
And from Luke 1: 71-75. (Zack speaking)
…that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
Note how all three mentioned their ancestor, Abraham. Who was this man Abraham?
God’s word teaches in his word that Abraham lived and grew up in an ungodly land called Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 11:29-28 ESV) near the ancient city of Babylon (see Genesis 11:27-32, Joshua 24:2). God appeared to him and made him a promise.
Genesis 12:1 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.”
Abram needed faith in God’s word because God promised that he would lead him (I will show you) and he was to follow. Hebrews 11:8-10 clues us in on what was really happening.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Much more is said of Abraham. We encourage you to read about him in the first book of the Bible, Genesis.
Q. Why is the promise to Abraham relevant??
The importance of the promise to Abraham is massively relevant to all believers in the Bible. Consider these points:
1. This promise to Abraham is described by Paul as THE GOSPEL. See Galatians 3:8.
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
2. The apostle Paul, when imprisoned for preaching the gospel claimed that it was because of his hope in the promises to the fathers of Israel (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) that he was being condemned. See Acts 26:6
And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day.
3. When a person is without Christ, they are strangers to the covenants of promise, but to be in Christ is to be a recipient of the promises. See Ephesians 2:12-13.
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.
4. One of the reasons for Jesus Christ’s incarnation and work was to fulfill and confirm the promise to Abraham. See Romans 15:8-13.
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles* might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”
10 And again it is said,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”
12 And again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Gentiles: The original words goy and ethnos refer to “peoples” or “nations” and is applied to both Israelites and non-Israelites in the Bible. However, in most biblical uses, it denotes nations that are politically distinct from Israel. Since most of the nations at the time of the Bible were “heathens” , goy or gentile became synonymous with heathen although their literal translation is distinct. The term gentile thus became identical to the later term “Ummot ha-olam” (nations of the world). Latin and later English translators selectively used the term “gentiles” when the context for the base term “peoples” or “nations” referred to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible. [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentile]
Q. To Whom Specifically were the Promises Given?
They were made to Abraham and his offspring. So who is the offspring? The apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 3:16.
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
Q. What Does the Abrahamic Promise to his Seed say?
Galatians 3:26-29 deepens our understanding of our relationship to Abraham and his Seed, Jesus.
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.
So a belief, or a faith in Jesus Christ, and an understanding of these promises enable us to be heirs of the promise to Abraham! As Peter puts it in 2 Peter 1:2-4:
(2) May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
God’s word teaches us that through faith in Jesus Christ, a person is considered as being IN CHRIST who in turn is Abraham’s Seed.
The promise from God is that “IN THY SEED shall all nations be blessed.” Abraham’s seed then was firstly a singular aspect (Christ) but it also has a much larger aspect. All who put their faith in Jesus are as the sand and stars. See Galatians 3:29.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
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 (The non Jews) 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. Galatians 3:7-9
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Matthew 3:9
Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children.. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. Romans 9:5-8
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. Romans 3:27-31
These verses clearly show that to be a natural descendant of Abraham is not enough, a belief in the promises and that they have and will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ enables anybody to be associated with them. This is the gospel.
Q. What Does the Abrahamic Promise to his Seed mean to those who believe?
It means to those who believe in faith that they receive at the very least the following amazing blessings:
Justification through faith and from sins. See Acts 3:25-26 and again Galatians 3:8.
You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. ’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness. (Acts 3:25-26 ESV)
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:8)
Eternal Life. See John 3:36.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
God in them. See Galatians 3:13-14 and Colossians 1:24-28.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
As we close let us read Luke 1:68-75 together.
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus let us not forget God’s promise to Abraham and our fathers in the faith.
For believers we must learn more of the importance of the promise God made to Abraham and the Fathers. It’s vital for a fuller understanding of the Gospel.
For those who are seeking Peace with God: Believe on our Lord Jesus Christ and be Saved!
Question: How do you think Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah responded? Do you think they were excited? Fill with joy? Thankful? Blown away? Laughing? Scared? Wondering why me? Wondering why us?
For them this is what they were looking forward to as believers and lovers of God. This birth of the promised One was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. As we look forward to the second coming of Christ they looked forward to the first coming of Christ.
Credits: All scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version of the Bible. (Crossway)