The children’s chorus goes, ‘Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham’. And it is true. After all, the first two letters of his name, ‘Ab’, join to provide the first word in Strong’s Hebrew Concordance. It means, ‘father’. Expanding ‘Ab’ into ‘Abram’ also expands the meaning to, ‘exalted father’. When God changed his name to Abraham, the added syllable increased its meaning to, ‘father of a multitude’. But if we were to count all the sons born to Abraham, the most we come up with is only eight. These are Ishmael by Hagar, Isaac by Sarah, and six sons born to him by Keturah. However, for our theme, we are interested in the One who bears the title, ‘the son of Abraham’, Matt. 1. 1.
‘The son of Abraham’ is unique in that it appears in the first verse of the New Testament, in the genealogy recorded in Matthew’s Gospel. It is used about the Lord Jesus Christ, only one other time in the Bible, in the genealogy recorded by Luke.
How is it that Abraham’s claim to fame as the father of a multitude, culminates in the One who is called ‘the son of Abraham’? It all started when the God of glory appeared to him in Mesopotamia. He brought him into Canaan and there made a promise that He would make of Abraham ‘a great nation’, and that through him ‘all families of the earth’ would be blessed, Gen. 12. 1-3. We can follow the record through the birth of Isaac, Jacob, the twelve patriarchs, the family of seventy who went down into Egypt for four hundred years, and the great nation that emerged out of bondage. God’s promise to Abraham was partially fulfilled.
The fullness of the promise would be realized centuries later. Although Abraham was well advanced in years, God reassured His servant that He would make his descendants like ‘the dust of the earth’, like ‘the stars of heaven’, and like the sand on the seashore, Gen 13. 16; 22. 17. These poetic expressions must have amazed him, causing him to ponder the greatness of God’s plan, but there came a point at which God tested Abraham and took him past the dust, and stars, and sand, and brought before him his son, Isaac, Gen. 22.
And God said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you’, 22. 2 NKJV. The Mount Moriah experience was the test that proved Abraham’s faith, and gave a preview of what God would do to fulfil His promise.
Isaac prefigured the Lord Jesus carrying the cross, as he carried the wood for the sacrifice and submitted himself unto death. ‘He said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together’, vv. 7, 8. When Abraham lifted his knife to slay his son, the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, ‘Abraham, Abraham … Do not lay your hand on the lad’, vv. 11, 12 NKJV. And we read that Abraham called the name of that place, ‘Jehovah-jireh’ meaning, ‘In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen’, v. 14.
What was seen in the mount of the Lord? In John chapter 8 verse 56, the Lord Jesus explained, ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad’. Of course, the Jews were perplexed at this statement, and tried to reason out how He could have seen Abraham and was not yet fifty years old. They could not understand how the Son of Abraham could be older than father Abraham. The answer was simple, yet profound. Jesus said, ‘Before Abraham was, I am’, v. 58.
Going back to that scene on Mount Moriah, God swore an oath by Himself to Abraham saying, ‘in blessing I will bless thee, and … in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed’, Gen. 22. 17, 18. This was the final promise God made to Abraham, and Abraham was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform, Rom. 4. 21.
How is it that Abraham could become the father of many nations? Galatians chapter 3 verse 16 explains that the key is the Seed, the Son. It states, ‘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’.
It is through this One, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Abraham, that those who believe become part of the many nations who through Abraham-like faith, receive the promise. Romans chapter 4 verse 16 says it best, ‘it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed’. From one Seed, Christ, to all the seed, all those who believe, this promise is given and is still being fulfilled to this day.
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