by David A. Reed COMPLETE BOOK ONLINE
"And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," God told Abraham. (Gen 22:18 KJV) Who would that promised seed prove to be? The answer is not immediately obvious, because God used the term "seed" differently at different times. First, he used the term very broadly to refer to the vast numbers of people who would be descended from Abraham, but later God revealed that the blessings would come to "all the nations" from a single individual at the end of a long line of descent.
The Apostle Paul explained, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." (Gal 3:16 KJV) Besides calling him the seed of Abraham, Paul also referred to Jesus as King David's seed: "Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh." (Romans 1:3 KJV)
What is the connection between Abraham and Christ? And between David and Christ? The Bible records these connections in the long chain of genealogies and histories that fill the Old Testament. But the Gospel writer Matthew sums it up for us this way:
On several occasions God indicated that Abraham's seed or offspring would grow to include vast numbers of people. "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 13:16 KJV) "And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be." (Gen 15:5 KJV) The number would be literally astronomical, as the latter verse indicates.
In a general sense Abraham's seed would include all of his offspring, of course. But God made a distinction and indicated that the promises he gave to Abraham would apply to a certain line of descent. When a conflict developed between Abraham's young son Isaac, whom his wife Sarah had borne, and his older son Ishmael, his child through Sarah's servant Hagar, God instructed him to send Hagar and Ishmael away, as Sarah had requested: "And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed." (Genesis 21:12-13 KJV)
God would cause a nation of people to descend from Ishmael, "because he is thy seed," but the promised blessings would come through Isaac, "for in Isaac shall thy seed be called." Or, as the New Living Translation puts it, "for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted." (Gen. 21:13) Or, "it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." (NIV) The promises of blessing were part of a covenant or formal agreement that God entered into with Abraham, and he indicated that he would continue his covenant with Isaac: "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." (Gen 17:19 KJV)
There is no biblical record of God making a personal covenant with Ishmael, but the Almighty spoke to Isaac very much in the same way that he had spoken to Abraham: "And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake." (Gen 26:24 KJV)
Likewise, when it came to Isaac's twin sons Jacob and Esau, the Father of all mankind chose one of them in connection with the promised seed. It was to Jacob that he said, "And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen 28:14 KJV)
These were not choices made on the spur of the moment, after Isaac was born and then, again, after Jacob was born. No, the One who sees the future and who knows the end from the beginning, knew ahead of time the line of descent that would produce the promised seed. He knew the destiny of the Israelites way back when he made his first promises to Abraham: "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years." (Gen 15:13 KJV) God knew the future, not just of the nation of Israel, but also of the specific line of descent that would lead to the Messiah or Christ ("Anointed One" in Hebrew and Greek, respectively).
As can be seen in Matthew's chronology, above, God selected a line of descent though King David. (Read the full story of David in the Bible books of First and Second Samuel.) "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations." (Psalm 89:3-4 KJV)
"Now then, tell my servant David, 'This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. ... When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. ... Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.' " (2 Samuel 7:8-16 NIV)
David's son Solomon succeeded him as king of Israel, and Solomon built the "house" or temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem, as promised. And a long succession of kings in David's line ruled for hundreds of years. But God's promise to David hinted at more than that; it hinted at a descendent who would be called God's son and who would rule as king forever.
After being given a vision outlining a succession of world powers that would encroach on the territory of Israel over a period of hundreds of years, the prophet Daniel was given another vision depicting this promised immortal ruler, the promised seed who would be born "like a son of man," yet who would have access to heaven and to the presence of God the Father:
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14 NIV)
The prophet Isaiah provided additional details about the promised seed who would be born of a virgin and who would preach in Galilee: "Galilee" would "see a great Light" because "a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son." "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-6 KJV)
The Messiah's birth would begin an era when many non-Jewish people of all the nations would turn for hope to "the root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign for the peoples. Unto him shall the nations seek." (Isaiah 11:10 Jewish Publication Society of America) Isaiah was referring here to Jesus' descent from David, son of Jesse. The Apostle Paul made clear that Isaiah was prophesying about Christ, when Paul quoted him: "And again, Isaiah says, 'The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.'" (Romans 15:12 NIV)
For more about prophecies identifying the Messiah and prophecies he has fulfilled, see the chapter of this book titled "Promised Messiah."
With millions of people of all nationalities putting faith in the Jewish Messiah and returning to the one living and true God, it is already true that, as God promised Abraham, "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Gen 22:18 KJV) Even greater blessings for all mankind lie ahead when, as promised elsewhere in the Bible, Christ returns to rule the world from Jerusalem, the Holy City.