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7. The Promised Seed: The Source of Blessing in God's Perfect Plan


A friend of mine came away from a recent visit to the zoo impressed by the large number of animals in captivity listed among the endangered species. As time goes on and man continues to encroach upon the natural habitat of our wildlife, the list of endangered species grows.

To that list another endangered species must be added--Homo sapiens, man. Left to his own devices, man would quickly destroy himself. But for the grace of God, long ago man would have been removed from the face of the earth because of his sin. Yet mankind has been preserved, awaiting the salvation promised long ago in the Garden of Eden, when God said to the serpent,

I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15).

Satan successfully brought a curse upon Adam and Eve and all of their offspring. Nevertheless, God promised that from the seed of the woman would come One who would bring about man’s deliverance and Satan’s destruction. That “seed” was our Lord Jesus Christ. His death on Calvary defeated Satan and fully accomplished the salvation of all who would believe in the Savior.

As recorded in both the Old and New Testament, Israel’s history as a nation bears testimony to the outworking of God’s promise of salvation made first to Adam and Eve. With the passage of time, God reiterated His promise. At times, the covenant made with Abraham was simply reaffirmed with one of his descendants. More often, additional clarification and revelation was given.

Our previous lesson traced the theme of the place of God’s blessing. This lesson traces the theme of the seed of Abraham, especially as it relates to the coming of Messiah. The following lesson will endeavor to clarify the nature of the blessings which God promised Abraham and his seed.

The Promised Seed
in the Book of Genesis

Throughout Old Testament days, the hope of the Messiah’s coming rose and fell. One wonders what the angels must have thought as they observed God’s promises concerning the coming “seed,” yet witnessing the incredible ability of man to endanger the “seed.” Consider the way in which the theme of the “seed” is developed in the Book of Genesis.

At the time of their first son’s birth, Adam and Eve must have had a special measure of joy. With Abel came the hope that this “seed” might be the promised deliverer. When their first son, Cain, killed his younger brother, all hopes were dashed. Abel was no longer alive to deliver the death blow to the serpent, and Cain was no longer qualified to do so. With the arrival of their third son, Seth, hopes once again were raised. If this son was not the promised savior, at least he could be the forefather of the Messiah, and Eve knew it:

And Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring [literally, “seed”] in place of Abel; for Cain killed him” (Genesis 4:25).

With Seth came new hope, but in only two chapters away (Genesis 6) mankind is already in a mess. Things became so bad that God determined to wipe out both mankind and the animal kingdom with a flood:

Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. And the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:1-8).

Things looked very bleak. Had it not been for the ark, the promise of a “seed” who would destroy Satan would have been set aside. But the ark was God’s means of preserving the “seed”:

“You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring [literally, “seed”] alive on the face of all the earth” (Genesis 7:2-3).

The next major promise of the saving “seed” was given to Abraham in what is known as the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

These few words spoken to Abraham are reiterated frequently in the Bible. Concerning this covenant, several observations are crucial to our understanding of the promised “seed.”

(1) The “seed” of Abraham are both the recipients of God’s blessings and the instruments through whom God’s blessings are passed on to others. Abraham’s seed will “be blessed” and will “be a blessing” (verse 2). Israel overemphasized the blessings they would receive, and as a rule, ignored their responsibility to be a blessing to others.

(2) God’s covenant with Abraham promised blessings not for just Jews alone, but for both Jews and Gentiles. God’s promise to Abraham includes Abraham’s descendants (“you,” verse 2) and “all the families of the earth” (verse 3).

(3) Man’s response to Abraham’s “seed” would determine whether they were blessed or cursed by God. Whether they were Abraham’s physical descendants or those of other nations, the Abrahamic covenant promised blessings only to those who bless Abraham’s “seed.” Those who reject the “seed” will be cursed.

(4) The Abrahamic covenant does not yet make clear that the “seed” of Abraham, which is to be the source of blessing or cursing, is the Messiah, Jesus Christ. This will be made clear in the New Testament.

Abram’s blessings rested in his “seed.” His blessing was to become a great nation, to have a great name (or reputation), and to possess a land which God would give to him and his descendants. Abraham’s blessings required offspring. At the time Abraham left Haran, he was seventy-five years old, and his wife Sarai was sixty-five (see Genesis 12:4; 17:17). If there was to be a “seed,” he and Sarai must have a son.

A famine in Canaan prompted Abram to leave the promised land and go to live in Egypt. Even at her age, Sarai was a beautiful woman. Abram feared some Egyptian might want her for his wife, and in order to have her, he might first make her a widow. To save his own life, Abram asked Sarai to lie about her identity. Thus, during their sojourn in Egypt, Abram and Sarai represented themselves as brother and sister. When Pharaoh wanted to take Sarai for a wife, it seemed to be an offer Abram could hardly refuse, at least in his mind. Both Abram and Sarai must have spent many sleepless nights in their deception. God intervened and spared them, sending them back to Canaan even wealthier than when they came.

It is crucial that we recognize how Abram’s deception threatened the promised “seed.” How could Abram and Sarai have a “seed” when Sarai was about to become the wife of another man? Abram’s actions were completely inconsistent with the covenant God had just made with him. Rather than cooperating with the covenant, Abram actively undermined it. Surely if there was to be a “seed,” Abram or Sarai could take no credit. Preservation of the “seed” was completely God’s doing.

Abram began to be distressed as time passed and he still had no son of his own. He wrongly concluded that his heir would be a child born in his household, and not of he or Sarai (Genesis 15:1-2). God assured him the promised “seed” would come from his own body, that the son would be his son (15:4). Like the stars of the heavens (15:5), his “seed” would be numberless. Abraham believed God’s promise, and due to his faith in the promise of a “seed,” he was justified (15:6).

Time continued to pass with no son in sight. Sarai concluded the time for her to bear a child had passed. She realized that it was God who had closed her womb. Perhaps, Sarai suggested to Abram, God meant for him to have a son through some other woman. And so Hagar,79 Sarai’s maid, was given to Abram as his concubine; through her, Abram could have a son. This presumptuous act brought painful consequences, both for Sarai and Abram. Hagar did bear a son, Ishmael. The Arab people, who came from Ishmael, have been a thorn in Israel’s side throughout their history.80

Fifteen years after God’s covenant was first made with Abram, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham to signify that His promise was not forgotten. Abram means “exalted father;” Abraham means “father of a multitude.” Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah (“Princess,” see 17:15). At this time God introduced the rite of circumcision (17:9-14). Every descendant of Abraham was to be reminded of God’s promise for his “seed.” Whenever an Israelite man engaged in sexual union, the covenant would be brought to mind by his circumcision.

Ten years passed from the time of Abraham’s circumcision until the time when the promised “seed” was born. Nine years passed before God announced the time of the birth of the “seed.” As the angels paused at Abram’s tent for a meal on their way to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, they informed him that Sarai would bear a son at that same time the following year. Shortly after, Lot and his daughters fled from Sodom, barely escaping God’s wrath on that wicked city. Because Lot’s wife died in this ordeal, his daughters pragmatically arranged to become pregnant by their drunken father in order to preserve his “seed” (19:30-38). What tragic irony. The offspring of these unions were also a source of suffering and sorrow to Abraham and his seed.

Very near the time Sarai was to become pregnant with Abram’s “seed,” Abram went to Gerar with her (Genesis 21:1-18). Once again Abram passed Sarai off as his sister. This time Abimelech, the king of that land, took her as his wife. Again, God intervened, and the “seed” was protected--no thanks to Abraham or his wife.

With almost a sigh of relief, we finally read in Genesis 21 that at the appointed time the promised “seed” is born (21:1-7). Very soon, conflict flared between this “seed” and Abram’s other “seed,” Ishmael. God instructed Abraham to send Ishmael and his mother away (21:8-21). This left Isaac as Abraham’s only heir.

The greatest test of Abraham’s faith is described in Genesis 22. God instructed Abraham to take his son to Moriah and offer him up as a sacrifice. With great agony of soul, Abraham obeyed, trusting in God to raise his son from the dead (see Hebrews 11:17-19). In response to Abraham’s faith and obedience, God again reiterated his covenant with Abraham (22:15-18).

Later God confirmed with Isaac the covenant He had made with Abraham:

“Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws” (Genesis 26:3-5).81

In the very next verses, we find the account of Isaac going to live in Gerar with his wife Rebekah. There, not surprisingly, he represents her as his sister, just as his father Abraham had done before him (26:6-11). Isaac also jeopardized his “seed” in the process of trying to save his own life.

Isaac endangered the “seed” in yet another way. Like Sarah, his wife was barren (25:21). In answer to Isaac’s prayers, she became pregnant with twins. When Rebekah inquired of the Lord, He informed her,

“Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).

By divine election, God chose Jacob and rejected Esau as the “seed” through whom the blessings of God would pass.

In the light of God’s word to Rebekah, Jacob needlessly acquired his brother’s birthright. With Rebekah’s help, he also stole his brother’s blessing (see Genesis 27). We cannot in any way justify the actions of Jacob or his mother. But for now we must concentrate our attention on Isaac. He is eager to pronounce a blessing on his son Esau before his death. When he is wrongly convinced that Jacob is his son Esau, Isaac pronounces this blessing on him:

See the smell of my son Is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed; Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, And of the fatness of the earth, And an abundance of grain and new wine; May peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you; Be master of your brothers, And may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you” (Genesis 27:27b-29).

In his final days, Isaac sought to set aside God’s choice of Jacob as the one whose “seed” would be heirs of the Abrahamic covenant. If Jacob and his mother were wrong for their deception, Isaac was also wrong in trying to pass the blessings of the covenant on to Esau rather than to Jacob.

In the end, Isaac surrendered to the will of God and pronounced on Jacob the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant:

“May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you; that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.” Then Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Paddan-aram to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau (Genesis 28:4-5).

In a dramatic way, God affirmed His covenant with Jacob while he was on his way to Haran to seek a wife:

And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:13-15).

In Haran, Jacob found a wife, but things did not turn out as he had planned. He wanted Rachel, the younger daughter of Laban; instead, he was given Leah. Laban made him work seven more years for Rachel. Jacob loved Rachel, but he did not love Leah. Yet Leah bore him the first of his sons. Eventually, Rachel bore Jacob two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph was loved more than any of the other sons. Clearly, Jacob wanted Joseph to rule over his family. In God’s sovereignty, it was not Ruben (the oldest son of Jacob; see Genesis 35:22; 49:3-4) but Judah who was designated as the “seed” through whom the blessings would be brought upon all mankind:

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Genesis 49:8-10).

While Judah was chosen to be the son through whom the “seed” would come, he certainly was not the kind of person we would have selected for this position. Unlike Joseph, who refused to enter into an illicit sexual relationship with his master’s wife (Genesis 39), Judah married a Canaanite woman (Genesis 38:2). He took what appears to be a Canaanite wife for his son (38:6). When two of his sons died because of their wickedness, Judah would not give his last son to Tamar as her husband. In so doing, he jeopardized his own “seed.” Tamar outwitted Judah, by playing the part of a Canaanite cult prostitute, and became pregnant by her father-in-law (38:12-19). Had God not providentially protected the “seed,” Judah would have irreversibly corrupted it. From this union of Judah and Tamar, the messianic line was continued (38:27-30).

The “Seed” in the Old Testament

Beyond the Book of Genesis, the Old Testament reiterates the promise God made with Abraham and his descendants. The Old Testament reveals increasingly more detail about the “blessings” of God and the “seed” of Abraham. As more details are given about the “seed” through whom the blessings of God will come, the more the field of candidates narrows. By the end of the Old Testament period, the promised “seed” can only be one person--a very unique person--who could possibly fulfill all of the promises.

While the Old Testament does narrow the field to a single person, it remains difficult to comprehend how one person could possibly fulfill all of the prophecies about him. The promises even seem to require more than one person. Consider the following characteristics of God’s promised “seed,” the Messiah.

(1) The physical line through whom Messiah was to come included Gentiles. The blessings of the Abrahamic covenant extended to the Gentiles. Beyond this, a few Gentiles were even included in the messianic line, the line of the promised “seed.” The Old Testament account includes these Gentiles in the lineage of Messiah: Tamar,82 Rahab,83and Ruth.84 While Gentile women are included, never is a Gentile man included in the line. This gives one food for thought.

(2) The coming “seed” was spoken of as a prophet, a priest, and a king. Moses told the nation Israel that God would raise up a prophet like him (Deuteronomy 18:17-19). In Genesis 14:17-20, Melchizedek is introduced, whom the writer to the Hebrews later shows to be a prototype of the promised “seed,” the Lord Jesus Christ (see Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 7:1-28). Repeatedly, the “seed” is identified as Israel’s “king,” who will sit on the throne of His father, David (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 2). The “seed” was somehow to combine the three offices of prophet, priest, and king, something no earthly man was allowed to do in Old Testament times.85

(3) The coming “seed” was described as both human and divine. The promised seed had to be both God and man. He was to be man in order to be the “seed” of the woman (Genesis 3:15), of Abraham (Genesis 15:4; 22:15-18), and of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). He must also be divine in order to fulfill the prophecies concerning Him:

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).

In order for the “seed” to be both God and man, a very supernatural birth was required. The prophet Isaiah foretold of this supernatural birth:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

(4) The coming “seed” was to be a triumphant king and yet also a suffering servant. Jesus was to be both a “lion” of the tribe of Judah (see Genesis 49:9; Revelation 5:5) and the “lamb” who takes away the sins of the world (see Isaiah 53:5-7; John 1:29; Revelation 5:6, 8, 12). As the King, He will rule over all people and triumph over His enemies:

And he took up his discourse and said, “The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, and the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, the oracle of him who hears the words of God, and knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered. I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and tear down all the sons of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir, its enemies, also shall be a possession, while Israel performs valiantly. One from Jacob shall have dominion, and shall destroy the remnant from the city” (Numbers 24:15-19).

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.” The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Thine enemies.” Thy people will volunteer freely in the day of Thy power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Thy youth are to Thee as the dew. The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “Thou art a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord is at Thy right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country (Psalm 110:1-6).

Elsewhere, this same “seed” is described as the suffering Servant of God:

Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, so His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand. Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors (Isaiah 52:13--53:12).

(5) The promised “seed” was described as gentle and yet also fierce. The Messiah was to be harmless and humble:

“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:1-3).

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).

Yet He was also described as fierce in His dealings with His foes:

He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury: “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD He said to Me, ‘Thou art My Son, Today I have begotten Thee. ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware’” (Psalm 2:9).

The Lord is at Thy right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country (Psalm 110:5-6).

Israel’s Error Concerning the “Seed”

Even the most godly Israelite found it impossible to comprehend how God could possibly fulfill all of the promises pertaining to the “seed” in one person. As Peter writes:

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow (1 Peter 1:10-11).

From the New Testament Scriptures, several errors pertaining to the promised “seed” are evident in Judaism. These errors predisposed the Israelites of Jesus’ day to resist and reject Him, rather than submit to Him as the promised “seed.” The following errors are among those which prompted the Jews to react against Jesus rather than submit to Him.

(1) The fundamental error of the Israelites was to selectively accept the promises of God with regard to His blessings. The ungodly Israelites simply picked those promises which suited their sinful desires and ignored the rest. They embraced the promises of the “seed” as a blessing to Israel while ignoring the promises of His coming to judge sinners, whether Jew or Gentile.

(2) The Israelites of Jesus’ day placed too much emphasis on tradition, with too little regard for the authority of Scripture.86

(3) The Israelites thought the benefits of the Abrahamic covenant were primarily earthly and temporal, rather than spiritual and eternal.87

(4) The Israelites assumed God’s blessings automatically flowed to the physical seed of Abraham, apart from any other consideration.88

(5) The Israelites assumed that God’s blessings belonged solely to the seed of Abraham and not to others.89

(6) The Israelites forgot that the Abrahamic covenant involved obligations. The first obligation was that one must honor the promised “seed” of Abraham in order to be blessed. The second obligation was for Israel to be an instrument of God’s blessing for the whole world.

(7) The Israelites erred by taking credit for their blessings and becoming proud of their privileged position. They wrongly interpreted privilege to be the indicator of superiority and piety.

(8) The Israelites erred in thinking of the “seed” corporately and collectively, the nation Israel, rather than individually.

(9) Israel (including the Lord’s disciples) erred by rejecting the Scriptures regarding the suffering of the chosen seed.

(10) Wrongly, the Israelites thought the promised “seed” had come to sanctify the traditions of the Jews rather than to create something new. They felt the Messiah would come to bring back the good old days, to turn back the clock, rather than to bring about something completely new and better.90

(11) Jewish religious leaders erred in thinking God’s kingdom and blessings were administered and regulated by the Jewish religious leadership.91

(12) The Israelites failed to understand that the coming “seed” would be an occasion for the stumbling of many Jews.92

(13) The Israelites were wrong in thinking of the coming of the promised “seed” only in terms of blessing and not in terms of judgment.93 The Abrahamic covenant spoke of those who would be blessed and those who would be cursed. But the blessing or cursing of God is based upon the individual’s response to the “seed.”

(14) The Israelites were wrong in failing to understand that the promised “seed” was coming to save men from their sins, not to reward the self-righteous who believed they were saints.94

(15) Israel’s greatest error was in failing to recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as the promised “seed,” and rejecting and crucifying Him at Calvary.95

We may thus summarize Israel’s error: they became proud of their privileged position and failed to see their privilege as a manifestation of God’s grace to those who were undeserving.

Such pride was totally unfounded. God warned the Israelites against such pride, reminding them that they were slaves at the time God delivered them (Deuteronomy 5:15). They were not chosen because they were great in number or strength; they were chosen solely on the basis of God’s sovereign grace (Deuteronomy 7:7-11). When they worshipped, they were to acknowledge their ignoble origins (Deuteronomy 26:5).

Ezekiel 16 offers the most humbling indictment of Israel’s pride:

Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem, “Your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths. No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born. “When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall, and reached the age for fine ornaments; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare. Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord God. “Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I also clothed you with embroidered cloth, and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands, and a necklace around your neck.

I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey, and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,” declares the Lord God. “But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing” (Ezekiel 16:1-15).

Israel’s history consistently bears witness of Israel’s waywardness and God’s faithfulness (see Psalm 78). If the coming of the promised “seed” were dependent upon sinful men, He would surely never have come at all. But since the coming of the “seed” was dependent upon God Himself, He has come indeed!

The “Seed of Abraham” in the New Testament

The Abrahamic covenant, recorded in Genesis 12:1-3, spoke of Abraham’s “seed” as the recipients of God’s blessings, as well as the instrument through which the blessing would be accomplished. New Testament teaching on the “seed of Abraham” falls into two categories: (1) the “seed” which provides the blessing of God; and, (2) the “seed” who receive this blessing. Let us consider what the New Testament has to say on each of these subjects.

(1) The “seed” that provides the blessings of God. The nation Israel was chosen to display the glory of God. They have done so, not because of their faith and obedience but by their unbelief and disobedience. Since the glory of God is demonstrated in the context of sin and of grace, God’s glory has been displayed through Israel.

Israel was chosen not only to demonstrate the glory of God, but also to be the instrument by which God’s grace was proclaimed to men of every nation. Israel was to be a blessing to the nations. They were to be a light to the Gentiles (see Isaiah 42:6; 60:3). Israel took credit for God’s blessings, rather than receiving them humbly and with gratitude. Their pride produced prejudice, so that they felt superior to the Gentiles. They thought themselves to be worthy of God’s blessings and the Gentiles to be unworthy. Like Jonah, they refused to take the good news to the Gentiles.

In response to Israel’s persistent rebellion (and according to God’s purpose and promises--see Deuteronomy 4:25-31; 28-31), God sent His Son to take Israel’s place, to do individually what Israelites could not do on their own or as a nation. Though Israel was called to be “God’s son” (Exodus 4:23), the Messiah was sent to become the “Son of God” in her place. And so it is in Isaiah’s prophecies that the promised “seed,” Messiah, becomes God’s Servant in Israel’s place. This is why it is often so difficult to determine whether the “servant” is Israel or Messiah:

And He said to Me, “You are My Servant, Israel, in Whom I will show My glory.” But I said, “I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice due to Me is with the LORD, and My reward with My God.” And now says the LORD who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him (for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and My God is My strength), He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Thus says the LORD Redeemer of Israel, and its Holy One, to the despised One, to the One abhorred by the nation, to the Servant of rulers, “Kings shall see and arise, princes shall also bow down; because of the LORD who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You” (Isaiah 49:3-7).96

“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed, until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law” (Isaiah 42:1-4).

Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, My people,97 so His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand (Isaiah 52:13-15).

And so it is that God sent His Son to become not only a man but to be the “seed” of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David. God sent His Son to be the “son” Israel had never been and could never be. This is why Matthew applied Hosea 11:1 to our Lord when He was brought out of Egypt by His parents as a baby:

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” And he arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt; and was there until the death of Herod, that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Out of Egypt did I call My Son” (Matthew 2:13-15).

What Israel failed to do as God’s “servant,” Jesus did as Israel’s Messiah, the “suffering Servant.” Our Lord not only took the sinner’s place, but in a sense He took Israel’s place, achieving for this people what they could not do. Paul points out in Galatians that the “seed” of Abraham through whom the world was to be blessed was none other than Jesus Christ:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”-- in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ (Galatians 3:13-16).

As a nation, Israel did not bless the nations by her obedience. In the plan and purpose of God, Israel became a source of blessing to the nations by her disobedience. Israel’s rejection of Messiah brought about the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles. The gospel went to the Jew first, but Jewish rejection led to Gentile evangelism as the Book of Acts makes clear. As the apostle Paul said, we can be grateful for Israel’s failure, and we can also look forward to her restoration:

I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! (Romans 11:11-12).

In the plan and purpose of God, Israel has no basis for pride or prejudice. God’s blessings are the outworkings of His grace and not the result of Israel’s faith or obedience. God has fulfilled the Abrahamic covenant through His servant, the Lord Jesus Christ. The implications of this are profoundly significant for any who would be blessed “in Abraham,” according to the Abrahamic covenant.

(2) The “seed” which receives the blessings of God. Since the “seed” is Jesus Christ, then our blessing or cursing is the result of our response to Him. This is in accordance with the covenant God made with Abraham when He said,

And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

Contrary to Israel’s belief, one is not saved by being one of the physical seed of Abraham or of Jacob:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants (Romans 9:6-8).

Those who would be blessed in Abraham must trust in God’s provision of a “seed.” We must trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to bear our sins. He came to make us righteous in God’s sight. He came to bless us as His “seed,” His children:

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God (Romans 2:28-29).

For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist (Romans 4:14-17).

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:28-29).

Those who are blessed in Abraham are those blessed through His “seed,” Jesus Christ--those who become His children by faith:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).


From the first human beings God created and placed in the Garden of Eden, to the very last person born on this earth, our gracious God has offered salvation to sinners on the basis of faith in the promised “seed,” Jesus Christ. Before Messiah’s birth, Old Testament saints admitted their sin and trusted in the “seed” who was to come, and they were saved. Adam and Eve were given the promise of deliverance through their “seed” (Genesis 3:15), and they believed (see Genesis 4:25-26). So it was with Abraham as well:

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great.” And Abram said, “O Lord God, what wilt Thou give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Since Thou hast given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:1-6).

Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I shall be a liar like you, but I do know Him, and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” The Jews therefore said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:54-58).

For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, “ So shall your descendants be. “ And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore also it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Now not for his sake only was it written, that it was reckoned to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead (Romans 4:16-24).

For the Old Testament sinner, the good news of the gospel was this: “Salvation is available to sinners who trust in the “seed” whom God will provide:

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there, and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “ Abraham, Abraham! “And he said,” Here I am. “ And he said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided” (Genesis 22:6-14).

The good news of the gospel is this: God has provided the promised “seed,” Jesus Christ. By faith in Him, sinners are saved and become the children (the “seed”) of God. They thus enter into the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant:

There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:9-13).

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:26-29).

Jesus Christ is the “seed” of Abraham. Your response to Him is the most important decision you will ever make. To trust in Him for salvation is to enter into God’s blessings. To reject Him is to bring upon yourself the curse of God. May you trust in Him for salvation and blessing.

Our study has shown that men are sinful and that God is faithful, in spite of man’s sin. The Abrahamic covenant has been fulfilled in Christ, not because of man’s faithfulness, but in spite of his sin and rebellion. The blessings of that covenant flow to men because of God’s grace and His provision for sinners in Jesus Christ. In spite of our sins, the purposes and promises of God will be fulfilled. We find no basis for pride or presumption on our part, but only gratitude and praise to Him, through whom we are richly blessed. Let us boast in our salvation--not in ourselves--but in the God who has blessed us. Let us boast in the Lord.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD” (1 Corinthians 1:30,31).

For Further Study and Meditation

(1) Why is the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-3 so important to Christians living after the coming of Christ?

The Abrahamic covenant is not just the basis for the blessings of the Jews, it is the basis for God’s blessings for men of every nation. The blessings of the Abrahamic covenant are promised to the “seed” of Abraham, and every one who trusts in Jesus Christ is one of Abraham’s “seed” (see Romans 2:28-29; 4:1-17; Galatians 3:29). The Abrahamic Covenant tells us who will be blessed, who will be the blessing, and how the blessing will be received. It also warns of the curse which results from rejecting the promised “seed.” The Abrahamic covenant is the basis for the gospel.

(2) Trace the theme of the promised “seed” from Genesis 3:15 to Galatians 3:15-16.

The salvation of man and the destruction of Satan was promised in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). The “seed of the woman” was later revealed to be the “seed” of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), of Isaac (Genesis 21:12; 25:19-26), of Jacob (Genesis 25:23; 27:27-29), and of Judah (Genesis 49:8-10). He was still later indicated to be the “seed” of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Further revelation indicated that He would both suffer for the sins of His people (Isaiah 52:13--53:12) and reign triumphantly as Israel’s King (Psalm 2, 110). He was to be both human (Genesis 3:15) and divine (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2), born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in the village of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Jesus of Nazareth was the promised “seed,” fulfilling all of the prophecies related to his birth, suffering, death and resurrection (Galatians 3:13-16). He was rejected by the leaders of Israel and proclaimed among the Gentiles. This same Jesus is coming again, to triumph over His enemies and to rule over all creation (Acts 2:22-36; 7:2-53).

(3)In what ways was the “seed” endangered or threatened in the Old Testament? How was this danger overcome?

The promised “seed” was constantly endangered by sinful men. Cain, the first “seed” of Adam and Eve, killed Abel (Genesis 4). Man’s sin led to the universal judgment of the flood, which destroyed all the “seed” with the exception of Noah and his immediate family (Genesis 6-8). Abraham, and later his “seed” Isaac, jeopardized their “seed” by identifying their wives as their sisters (Genesis 12, 20, 26). Judah threatened the messianic line by marrying a Canaanite woman and then refusing to give his youngest son to Tamar as her husband (Genesis 38). Jacob’s sons were willing to put one of their brothers to death (Genesis 37). Israel’s sin invited divine judgment on the entire nation (Exodus 32; Numbers 25).

The preservation of the messianic line and the coming of the promised “seed” was in spite of man’s sin, and due solely to the providential protection and intervention of God.

(4) How has Israel been a blessing to the world?

The “seed” of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob should have been a blessing to the world by their faith and obedience to the God who chose them to be a blessing. Had they obeyed, they would have been a “light to the Gentiles” by sharing their faith with them. Instead, they thought the Gentiles were unworthy of God’s blessings and refused to proclaim salvation and blessing through faith in God’s promise and provision of a “seed.” Jonah provides a very good illustration of Israel’s attitude toward God and others (see the Book of Jonah). God used Israel’s disobedience as the means of blessing the Gentiles. When the nation Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah, the gospel was then proclaimed to the Gentiles.

The physical descendants have been a blessing to the world by being the instrument through which the Old Testament Scriptures and the Messiah came into being (see Romans 3:2; 9:4-5).

(5) How did the Jews misinterpret and misapply the Old Testament teaching on the “seed”?

Essentially, the Jews wrongly concluded that mere physical descent from Abraham and the patriarchs assured one of God’s blessings, as promised in the Abrahamic covenant. This disregarded the actual words of the covenant, which made God’s blessings (and cursing) the result of one’s response to the promised “seed.” This “seed” was Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:13-16).

Because Gentiles were not the physical descendants of Abraham, the Jews disdained them and thought them unworthy of God’s blessings. Judaism felt the only way any Gentile could enter into the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant was by embracing Judaism as a proselyte.

Three words sum up Judaism’s error regarding the Gentiles and the Abrahamic covenant: pride; prejudice; and presumption. The Jews were proud of their privileged position, as though they deserved it, and not humbly grateful for God’s grace bestowed on an unworthy, stiff-necked, and rebellious people. They were strongly prejudiced against the Gentiles, thinking them unworthy of God’s blessings and taking pleasure in the incorrect thought that Gentiles would be condemned to hell because they were not Jews. Israel’s presumption was to be seen in the assumption that God owed them blessings because of their superiority over all other peoples.

(6) Concerning the coming “seed,” what was it about the Old Testament prophecies which puzzled the prophets and others (see 1 Peter 1:10-12)? How did many (most) of the Jews resolve the problem? How did God resolve it?

The Old Testament prophecies concerning the “seed” seemed contradictory. The term “seed” sometimes applied to the nation Israel or certain faithful Israelites, while at other times it referred to God’s Servant, the Messiah. And so, in the Abrahamic covenant, the “seed” of Abraham referred to both the recipient of God’s blessings and the instrument of His blessings.

Even when the term “seed” was applied to the Messiah alone, the descriptions of Him seemed contradictory. He was the suffering Servant in some instances (Isaiah 52:13--53:12) and the triumphant King in others (Psalm 2, 110). He was man (Genesis 3:15) but also God (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2). As Peter tells us, the prophets were puzzled by their own writings, because they spoke of the “seed” both in terms of His suffering and His glory.

Men of faith had to believe all of the prophecies concerning Messiah, even though they seemed to be contradictory and inconsistent. The unbelieving Israelite tended to ignore the unpleasant prophecies (especially those pertaining to Messiah’s rejection and suffering) and to emphasize only the “positive” prophecies--those which spoke of Messiah’s triumph over Israel’s enemies.

The final solution is that the “seed” was prophesied to come to the earth twice. The first time He came as the suffering Servant. The next time He will come as the triumphant King. In this way all of the prophecies pertaining to Messiah will be fulfilled.

(7) How did the themes of difficult or impossible births (e.g., Sarah’s barrenness) and resurrection play a part in preparing for Messiah’s coming?

All through the Old Testament, seemingly impossible barriers to the coming of the promised “seed” were faced and overcome. The miraculous births of those in the line of the Messiah were a foretaste of the even greater miracle of the virgin birth of the God-man, Jesus Christ.

(8) In what sense is the Lord Jesus Christ Israel’s substitute?

Jesus took the place of Israel, accomplishing all that they, in their sin and rebellion, either would not or could not do. Jesus fulfilled the Law which they rebelled against. Jesus overcame Satan’s temptation and persisted in His submission to the will of the Father. Jesus suffered for sinners and defeated Satan on the cross of Calvary. Jesus was the light to the Gentiles which the Jews refused to be. Thus, Jesus was God’s “son” and “servant” in ways that Israel should have been, but failed to be.

(9) Why could no ordinary Israelite be the “seed”?

The host of qualifications and descriptions of Messiah laid out in the Old Testament Scriptures exclude all but one Person--the Lord Jesus Christ. No ordinary man could be the “seed” for which the expectant, godly, Israelite looked.

(10) How do you explain the Gentiles being in the genealogy of our Lord and thus a part of the “seed”? Why are the only Gentiles in the line women and not men?

Gentiles were in the line of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we see from the Old Testament and New Testament genealogical records (see Matthew 1:3-5). In no instance am I aware of any Gentile male in the line of Messiah, but only women. I believe God protected the male line, assuring that only those men in the promised line were to be fathers of the promised “seed.” The Gentile women who were included in the line were all women of faith, and thus, from a New Testament point of view, of the “seed” of Abraham (Galatians 3:29). It should also be noted that while all of the men who were listed in the line of the promised “seed” were not necessarily “saints,” they were physical descendants of Abraham, thus fulfilling Old Testament prophecy.

Scripture Texts

The promised “seed” in Genesis:

3:15; 4:1-8; 6:1-13; 12:1-3; 13:15-16; 14:17-24; 15:1-6; 16:1-6; 17:1-22; 18:1-15; 22:1-18; 24:1-9; 25:19-26; 26:1-11; 27:1-46; 28:3-4,13-15; 29:31-35; 38:1-30; 39:1-23; 48:1-22; 49:8-10

The “seed” specified in the Old Testament:

The seed of the woman (Eve) - Genesis 3:15; 4:25
The seed of Abraham - Genesis 12:2-3; 13:15-16; 15:1-6;17:1-21; 18:9-15; 21:8-12
The seed of Isaac - Genesis 21:12; 25:9-36; 26:1-4, 23-24
The seed of Jacob - Genesis 25:23; 27:27-29; 28:3-4,12-15
The seed of Judah - Genesis 49:8-10
Seed of David - 2 Samuel 7:12-16
Seed of a virgin - Isaiah 7:14
Seed is divine - Isaiah 9:6-7; Micah 5:2

The “seed” in the New Testament:

The “seed” is Christ - Galatians 3:13-16
Those in Christ by faith - Romans 2:28-29; 4:1-25
are Abraham’s seed - Galatians 3:26-29

Gentiles in the “seed”

Tamar: (Genesis 38:29-30; Ruth 4:18-22; Matthew 1:3)
Rahab: (Joshua 2; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31)
Ruth: (Ruth 4:13-17; Matthew 1:5)

Threats and obstacles to the promised “seed:”

(1) Barrenness

Sarai: (Genesis 11:30; 16:2; 18:11-13)
Rebekah: (Genesis 25:21)

(2) No descendants

Judah: (Genesis 38)
Naomi: (Ruth 1:1-5; 4:13-22)

(3) Immorality with Canaanites

Judah: (Genesis 38)
Israel: (Numbers 25; Ezra 9 and 10; Nehemiah 13:23-29)

(4) Death

The sacrifice of Isaac: (Genesis 22)
Murder (Cain and Abel): (Genesis 4)
Herod’s attempt on life of Jesus: (Matthew 2)

(5) Divine judgment

The flood: (Genesis 6-9)
Divine judgment: (Exodus 32)

(6) Virginity

Mary: (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:30-35)

Divine preservation of the “seed”--a righteous remnant preserved

Genesis 45:7; 2 Kings 19:29-31; Ezra 9:13-15; Isaiah 6:13; Romans 9:29; 11:1-5, 25-27

The Two Streams of Messianic Prophecy
(see 1 Peter 1:10-12):


The Suffering Savior

The Triumphant King

Genesis 3:15; 22:1-19

Numbers 24:15-19

Exodus 12 (Passover lamb)

2 Samuel 7:10-17

Leviticus 16

Psalm 2, 110

Psalm 16, 22

Isaiah 9:6-7; 11:1-5; 40-9-11; 42:10-13

Isaiah 42:1-4;

Jeremiah 23:5-6


Ezekiel 37:24-28; Daniel 7:13-14

Zechariah 12:10-12; 13:7

Micah 5:1-5;


Zechariah 9:8-10; 14:9; Joel 3:16

Other themes:

Messiah, the prophet: Deuteronomy 18:17-19
Messiah, the priest: Genesis 14:17-20; Psalm 110:4
Messiah, the king: 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 2, 110

Israel’s errors concerning the coming Messiah and His kingdom:

Matthew 3:5-12; 5-7; 7:13-27; 19:16-24; 21:33-46; 22:23-34; 23:1-39
Mark 10:35-45
Luke 4:21-30; 5:27-39; 5:33-6:11; 9:16-27; 12:37; 15:1-32; 16:14-31
John 1:46
Philippians 3:1-11

79 Hagar was an Egyptian (Genesis 16:3). I believe she was acquired by Abram while he and Sarai were in Egypt. Perhaps she was even a part of the dowry which Pharaoh gave Abram (see 12:14-16). Our sins do find us out.

80 Note, however, the blessing which God gave this nation because they were Abram’s offspring, even though not the chosen seed (see 16:10-12).

81 See also 26:23-24.

82 Compare Genesis 38:29-30 with Ruth 4:18-22 and Matthew 1:3.

83 Compare Joshua 2:1-3; 6:22-25 with Matthew 1:5.

84 Compare Ruth 4:13-17 with Matthew 1:5.

85 First Samuel 13 describes Saul’s sin of offering the sacrifice in Samuel’s place, for which Saul loses his kingdom (1 Samuel 13:8-14).

86 See Matthew 15:3, 6; 22:23-32; John 5:36-47.

87 See Matthew 22:23-33; John 18:36; Hebrews 11:13-16.

88 Matthew 3:7-12; John 8:37-47.

89 See Luke 4:21-30.

90 See Luke 5:33-39.

91 The frequent questions which challenged Jesus’ authority reflect this mindset (see Matthew 21:23; Mark 11:28; Luke 20:2, 8). So it was also with the authority the Jewish religious leaders held over the heads of men (see John 9:1-34).

92 See Romans 9:33; Isaiah 28:16.

93 See Joel, chapters 1 and 2; Matthew 3:1-12; John 3:16-21; 5:21-29; Acts 2:14-40.

94 See Isaiah 53:4-6; Mark 10:45; Luke 5:32.

95 See Isaiah 53:3-4; Zechariah 12:10-14; Acts 2:22-36.

96 See also Isaiah 44:1-3.

97 This expression, “my people,” has been supplied by the editors of the NASB, indicating their understanding that the “servant” includes Israel, though the following verses will indicate that the “suffering Servant” is most prominent here. The translation of this verse in the NASB shows how thin the line sometimes becomes between Israel, the servant of God, and Messiah, the Servant of God.

Related Topics: Dispensational / Covenantal Theology, Theology Proper (God)