Introductory note: There is a simple correlation between the word ‘seed’ (KJV) and the promises (aka – covenants) of God. The first promise of Messiah was in Genesis 3:15 (seed of woman (virgin)); promise of Godly line preserved through Seth (Gen. 4:25); covenant to Noah prohibiting floods and signed with a rainbow (Gen. 9:9).
Promise #1 – In Genesis 12, God promises a blessing and a great nation to Abram (v1-3) as well as the land of Canaan to Abram’s seed.
#2 – In Genesis 13:15, God again affirms the promise of land (all his eye could see in every direction) to Abram’s seed. He affirms that his descendants will be innumerable (like particles of dust).
#3 – But in Genesis 15:2-3, after the battle with four kings, Abram reminds God he has no seed. He speculates whether Eliezer (his servant) is the one the LORD speaks of. No (v4), he’s not the one. God renews His covenant (for Abram’s sake) with a symbolic ritual of walking between the flames (ch15:9-18)
Abram has now been waiting over a decade on this promise with no visible evidence that God is even close to coming through… so he yields to Sarai’s bad advice and conceives a child with her handmaid, Hagar. *Two things of interest: Quite possible, when Abram realized that God had restored his youthful strength in the manner of conception, he might have mistaken this for God’s blessing (Hebrews 11:12 implies that Abram’s time had passed: “good as dead”). Also, even though this child wasn’t God’s intent – Ishmael still received the promises of a multiplied seed (Genesis 16:10). Indeed, God has blessed the descendants of Ishmael with great numbers (Arabs / Muslims) – as of 2010, they are now the most dominant / populated religion of the world.
#4 – Thirteen years later, God reminds Abram that He’s not done. The promise is not yet fulfilled – and this news surprises Abram (v18). Jehovah God reviews the promises of many nations, of kings, of the land… This is a significant encounter – God will change his name (v5) from Abram (father) to Abraham (father of great multitudes). Nothing Abraham has ever done or would ever do could change what God intended for him (v7). This covenant is unconditional and everlasting. The LORD told Abraham that He planned to use Sarah (princess) – no longer Sarai (contentious) – to bring about this seed. The thought of a 90-year-old pregnant Sarah brought laughter (v17)! But God wasn’t joking: his name will be Isaac and My Covenant will stand with him and with his seed (v19).
A year later, Isaac was born – the promise began to be fulfilled (Gen. 21:1-5).
#5 – About two decades have passed and Isaac is now a young man. God wants to know if Abraham still trusts him – a test (Gen. 22:1-2). Abraham passes the test. He trusts the LORD so much that he believes God will resurrect the promised one up off the altar then and there – so much so Abraham raises the knife to kill his son. So God gives the 5th pronouncement of promise (five is the number of grace). See Genesis 22:16-18.
>>FLASH FORWARD to the New Testament… this is where it gets really good…
In Galatians 3:16, the Apostle lets us in on a little truth: the Promises were made to Abraham and to his seed – but not to many seeds (descendants, nations, kings, peoples) – but to one and only one. Think about it:
– Abraham thought it was Ishmael, then he was settled that it was Issac.
– Isaac thought it was Esau, but was tricked into giving the inheritance to Jacob.
– Jacob thought it was Joseph, then Benjamin, then Joseph again.
– So which one was it…? None of the above. It was Christ Jesus (v16).
One step further… In Galatians 3:29, Paul includes us in the family (if we have trusted Christ by faith into salvation – v26). We are Abraham’s seed; but remember, the Bible speaks of a seed (singular). Isaac. Christ. You. Me. Individually, God’ made these promises to you, for you. You are an heir according the promise…
an H.E.I.R. of
H – a Heritage of the Jews (I can now enjoy the promises of the Old Testament and know I’m included – Rom. 11:17)!
E – Eternity with Christ and the saints of old (Abraham was looking for another country – Heb. 11:13-14)!
I – an Inheritance of incomprehensible worth and tremendous value (1 Peter 1:4)!
R – Righteousness (the curse is reversed and glory is revealed – Rev. 22:3-5)!