As a God of promise, God not only speaks his promises into existence, he speaks his promises into fulfillment. We see this throughout time and throughout his word. This Advent, as we await the coming of our Lord and Savior, we are happy to bring you a series of articles highlighting the multifaceted ways God has fulfilled his promises through the birth, life and resurrection of Christ.
“Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s all praise the Lord.”
Many of us probably remember singing the song, “Father Abraham,” as children in Sunday School, but have we ever really thought about the words? Father Abraham? How am I a son of Abraham? How can we New Testament Christians possibly say that we are sons of Abraham? Well, that’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.
“A wandering Aramean was your father.” That’s how Moses describes Abraham at the end of the book of Deuteronomy (Deut 26:5). He was a wanderer, all right. He traveled all the way from the land of Ur, to Haran, to Canaan, to Egypt, and then back to Canaan. Abraham’s life was full of twists and turns, setbacks and surprises. The biggest surprise of all came when he was nearly 100 years old when God told him that Sarah would bear him a son in her old age. His name would be Isaac, and he would be a child of the promise.
But Abraham also knew that this was a God who kept his promises.
Another surprise came a few years later when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Tim Keller makes the point in a message entitled, “The Story of the Lamb,” that Abraham may not have been as surprised as we think. He would have known that this child was God’s child and that as his firstborn son, God had the right to his life. But Abraham also knew that this was a God who kept his promises. Even if Isaac had to die, his God would have to raise him to life again.
“Yes, my son?”
“The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
“God himself will provide the lamb, my son” (Gen. 22:7-8).
That is exactly what happened. The angel of the Lord (the pre-incarnate Christ) intervened just in time, staying Abraham’s hand and providing a ram for the sacrifice. Abraham called that place Yahweh Yireh, the Lord Will Provide. We know it as Mt. Moriah - the mountain on which the temple of Jerusalem was built - where Jesus would come to die as the Lamb of God for the sins of the world. The Lord will provide, indeed.
“The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me” (Gen 22:15-18).
When he first called Abraham back in Genesis 12, God said that he would bless him to make him a blessing to all people. Now that Abraham passed the test of faith, God again promises to bless him and his descendants, declaring that through Abraham’s offspring, all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is also the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:32).
God spared Abraham’s son, but he did not spare his own Son. He sent his one and only Son down from heaven to earth on a rescue mission to save, deliver, and bless the whole world. This Son was born in Bethlehem, came up out of Egypt, and then grew up in Nazareth. He was baptized by John in the Jordan river and was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. During his three year ministry, he blessed the children, taught the crowds, healed the sick, and raised the dead.
Jesus himself is the sacrificial lamb who dies to take away the sins of all the world. In him, all the nations of the earth will be blessed. In him, as adopted sons of Abraham, we are blessed.
Finally, the time of testing came for him, and this Son of Abraham obediently picked up the wood and marched up the hill. But this time, there was no ram in the bramble bush to take his place of sacrifice. Instead, Jesus himself is the sacrificial lamb who dies to take away the sins of all the world. In him, all the nations of the earth will be blessed. In him, as adopted sons of Abraham, we are blessed.
As you read the Christmas story from Matthew this year, may I suggest that you begin at the beginning?
“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt 1:1).
Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s all praise the Lord!
Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas!