In the first post of this series I introduced, in brief, Father Abraham – the exemplar of the man of faith and the father of all the faithful. To Abraham and his seed was made a tremendous promise –
I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Gen 12:2-3)
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. (Gen 13:14-16)
From Genesis 12 onward, the whole span of Scripture, God’s entire unfolding drama of redemption, is a fulfilling and unfolding of the promises made to Abraham.
If this indeed be the case, then to understand who the seed of Abraham is, is the very key to understanding God’s plan for the ages. Upon whom do these promises terminate? Abraham’s immediate children? The nation of Israel? The church?
The promises made to Abraham were made to him and his seed, but who is/are the seed of Abraham? All Abraham’s physical descendants? All Hebrew peoples? No. Abraham had several children, the eldest of whom was Ishmael, and yet the promise was only through Abraham’s son Isaac.
Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. (Genesis 17:18-19; see also Gen 21:10-12 and Gal 4:30-31)
So to all the descendants of Isaac were the promises were made? Well, no.
Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. (Mal 1:2-3; see Genesis 27 and Rom 9:13)
For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 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. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; ( For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. (Romans 9:6-12)
So, the promises then fell to all the sons of Jacob – the 12 tribes of Israel? In a physical and typological and temporal sense – YES. Jacob’s descendants became very numerous and were blessed by God, they were delivered from bondage, and lived in peace in the land. BUT, they did not all believe did they? They did not keep covenant with God did they? Rather than remain faithful to their covenant head, they apostatized and committed ‘spiritual’ adultery – over and over again. So, in an enternal, anti-typical, and Spiritual sense – No. All of Jacob’s physical seed will not inherit the blessings.
The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD. And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah. (Jeremiah 3:6-11)
Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved; (Romans 9)