The Child Promised to Abraham – Genesis 17:19

We are into Advent, the second week of four when the church has historical focused on the incarnation of Christ.  This year we are going to explore a few of the promised children in the Scriptures.  We will begin with the promised child to Abraham, and then move to the promised child to Hannah.  Right before Christmas we will look at the promised child to Elizabeth and on Christmas day, we will recall the promised child to Eve and Mary – the Christ who crushes the head of the serpent.
In Genesis 12:1-3 God calls Abraham saying, “Leave…and go to the land I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  In this call of God the seeds of a promised child were sown.  How else will Abraham be a great nation unless he receives a child?  How could all the peoples of the earth be blessed through him unless Abraham has a child who can continue the line, continue the family line and interact with all the earth?  He must have a child, a promised child.
So Abraham’s heir will be of the line of greatness, of the line of blessing.  But in Gen 15:1 God also tells Abraham, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus? You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars — if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
Abraham’s child will be from his own loins, he will be of Abraham’s seed, of his stock.  His child will be of the line that is blessed by God.  And if that isn’t enough, the promised child of Abraham has even greater blessings to come, listen to Gen. 17:7 “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.  The promised child will have God as his God.  What exactly does that mean?  To have God be your God and the God of your child?  It is a promise death will not defeat you, but life will reign in your mortal body.  Listen to Jesus in Matt. 22:32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”  Jesus ties being someone’s God to eternal life, and this means that the descendants who have the living God as their God will also have the living Word of God to instruct them and guide them in life.
But are all Abraham’s children included in these outstanding gifts – to continue the line, to be blessed and bless, to be his own stock, to have eternal life, and guides guidance in their life?  Do all of Abraham’s children live under this promise?  No, not all of them do, Gen. 17:19  “Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”  Isaac, not Ishmael is the bearer of these promises.  And Isaac is born in Gen 21, the Son of the promise.
Now obviously there are thousands upon thousands of people who would love to trace themselves to Isaac’s lineage.  There are countless numbers of people who would give up everything in order to inherit the same things promised to Abraham’s heir.  So how does one Rom. 4:13 “receive the promise that he or she will be heir of the world?”  That he or she will be a beneficiary of all that God promised to Abraham? It comes “through the righteousness that comes by faith.”  It comes to someone when they trust that Christ is truly Abraham’s seed. Gal. 3:16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.  The promises weren’t for us as individuals, they were for Christ, but when we have faith in Christ we are baptized into Christ and consequently clothed in Christ and so we belong to Christ, Galatians 3:26-29 tells us.  And all this means that as Christ’s own possession, or using his words, as his body, we can gain access to every spiritual blessing, which God promised, to Abraham and his heir.  It comes by faith, that the Son of Man, Abraham’s descendant, Jesus Christ, which the gospels so painstakingly record in the “he begats”, that this Son alone is righteous and pleasing to God.  When we accept this, every believer in Christ is deemed a descendant of promise.  Gal 4:28 “Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.”  This is Paul’s entire argument in Galatians.
We are the promised Children of Abraham through faith in the righteousness of Christ. 
  • This faith makes us believers who have peace with God (Rom 5:1).
  • This faith makes us the heirs of God – Rom. 8:17 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” 
  • This faith causes our adoption as his sons and daughters, all because we belong to Christ. Gal. 3:29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  
  • All the beauty, all the benefits God proclaimed to Abraham’s promised child are ours, in Christ. 
We are the inheritors of the promises to continue the line. We are the inheritors of the promises to know God personally and be instructed by him, which as believers occurs through Word and Spirit.  We are to inherit the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:16ff).  We are the inheritors of life eternal.  We are God’s chosen people, Col. 3:12 “holy and dearly loved, clothe[d]…with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bearing with each other and forgiving whatever grievances you may have against one another.” 
We are God’s chosen people to “Forgive as the Lord forgave you…[to] put on love…to Let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly as we teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as we sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to God.”   We are God’s chosen people who as a result of all our blessing, who as a result of being the children of promise can (Col. 3:17) “whether in word or deed, do [everything] in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 
This is our inheritance in Christ; this is what it means to be the promised child of Abraham.  This is why we rejoice at the incarnation.

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About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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