Abraham, My Friend
The Making of a Praying Man_32
The Seed Part 2
For me Bible study often begins with an idea, or hunch, or revelation. (Choose whichever you think most appropriate.) I then destruction test the idea by thinking through parallel passages or passages which have the same idea or words. I will then consult the commentaries or the systematic theology textbooks. I check the original texts, as I am able. If I find a fatal flaw I abandon the revelation. If I find no fatal flaws I put it on a back-burner and return to it from time to time. If it still seems to hold up I regard it as a working hypothesis and at some time it will creep into the preaching. It is important not to treat the idea as a terrier treats a bone. I must not shake it until I get something out of it and I must be prepared to drop it if necessary; there is a fine line between passion and obsession. I sometimes bounce the ideas off my friends, so this is where you come in
I tried to make the point in the last devotional that Abraham was not the prime beneficiary of the events that took place in Genesis 15. In the cutting of the covenant he took no active part; in our language, his signature was not on the document, but the scripture records And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold, a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch that passed between these pieces. In that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (Gen 15:17-18 ASV) The covenant was with Abraham but the beneficiary was Abrahams Seed; this can be both singular and plural so it could equally be applicable to the Christ-Seed or the Abrahams progeny.
Here is the idea, and it comes from Hebrews; Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. (Heb 2:14-17 KJV) This passage speaks of the incarnation and its necessity in providing the human qualification for Christs priesthood. As the NASB has it: Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Heb 2:17 NASB)
The writer to the Hebrews has already stated that Christ is greater than the angels, and that He is identified with man and for a little while made lower than the angels. (Heb 2:7) In the later verses he states that For truly He did not take the nature of angels, but He took hold of the seed of Abraham. (Heb 2:16 MKJV). This was the verse that caught my attention. In following the line of the argument I would have expected it to say he took hold of the seed of Adam in contrast to he did not take hold of angels, but he didnt; he suddenly introduces Abraham. Adams seed (or Eves) would have meant the whole human race, but Abrahams Seed is a well established idea in the New Testament. It could refer to Gods apprehending of the descendants, physical and spiritual, of Abraham, but the next verse shows we are still talking about the incarnation. So why speak of Abrahams Seed rather than Adams?
Lets return to our source;And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. (Gen 15:12 KJV) I cannot read this without thinking about Adams great sleep;And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; (Gen 2:21 KJV) Without Adams aid or consent, God took one of his ribs and built it into a woman. The rib was Adams; God took it, held it, transformed it, and gave it back to Adam as his wife.
Was it during Abrahams deep sleep that God took hold of Abrahams Seed? I am not thinking of the mechanics of reproduction here, but of a mystery captured in the event of a moment. As he slept God put his indelible mark upon Abrahams Seed. In an eternal moment He took hold of the essence of Abraham which would have to pass down the generations before becoming manifest in Christ. In his sleep-vision Abraham saw two phenomena; the smoking furnace and the flaming torch. Did Abraham recognise what he saw? Did he know he was watching God, the Consuming Fire and the Eternal Flame who would become his own Seed? Did he understand the horror of darkness that eclipsed his senses as the Two walked alone in the avenue of death? Did he know that heavens covenant was being restated on earth in Abrahams presence? Did he know that heaven touched earth, and eternity had broken into time? I have no answer, except to say that Abraham saw Christs day and rejoiced in it. According to Matthew, this is the starting point; The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Mat 1:1 KJV)
Both Adams sleep and Abrahams are parables of the cross. As Christ entered His deep sleep of death His side was pierced, in fulfilment of Adams living prophecy. From this death-sleep there came a bride for the Second Man. And the language is the same; Adams rib is built into a woman; husbands love your wives even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Eph 5:25 KJV) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (Eph 5:30-31 KJV) His promise is to build this church that came from His opened side.
In Abraham too, we have our parables of the cross. It is in the place of valley of death that the Seed is made sure. Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. (Isa 53:10 ASV). On the cross, he saw his seed. The covenant of Calvary guaranteed it. The precision of this Isaiah verse is wonderful; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, When the Father made his soul an offering for sin, the Son saw his seed. Does that sound too fanciful? The story is found in Psalm 22.
The first half of Psalm 22 is the horror of darkness. The mood is dark and brooding; relentless in its pain and abandonment. But half way through verse 21 the mood changes dramatically; Save me from the lion's mouth; Yea, from the horns of the wild-oxen thou hast answered me. I will declare thy name unto my brethren: In the midst of the assembly (church) will I praise thee. (Psa 22:21-22 ASV) and the focus now is not the pain but the seed; Ye that fear Jehovah, praise him; All ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; And stand in awe of him, all ye the seed of Israel. (Psa 22:23 ASV)
This was the purpose of it all;
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame
. (Heb 12:2 KJV). As Isaiah expresses the same wonderful truth; He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (Isa 53:11 KJV) He travailed and brought forth sons. He saw and He was satisfied. All the strands are flowing together here; substitution, atonement, justification just as they all flowed together on the day that Abraham believed and was reckoned righteous, slept and witnessed the ratifying of an eternal covenant; And to Abraham and to his Seed the promises were spoken. It does not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, "And to your Seed," which is Christ. (Gal 3:16 MKJV)
This was the Seed; the single seed. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (Joh 12:23-24 KJV). So the Seed must step into the avenue of death, or abide alone. But if it passes through death and burial it will bring forth much fruit. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:27-29 KJV)