Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

TTE Advent Calendar Day Five – December 5th


TTE Advent Calendar Day Five – December 5th

Thank you for reading our fifth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Today we look at another prophetic claim of the messiah, that he would be a descendent of Isaac. As usual we will be looking at the Old Testament scriptures that predict this as well as the New Testament fulfillment of this prophecy. The first scripture I wish to look at is in the book of Genesis chapter 17…

Genesis 17:15 (ESV) And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

As we read yesterday Abraham was 100 years old when he got the confirmation from God that he would have a son and he would be called Isaac. This is where we lose our Muslim friends who believe that Ishmael is the true successor.

Here we read God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah as a rememberence of the covenant that the God had promised to deliver. The key here is that God had promised and God delivered. He said the child would come from Sarah. (verse 16) This rules out Ishmael as his mother is Hagar. Abraham tried to verify if Ishmael was the successor, however God tells us who the child is and what his name is, it will be Isaac.

The great thing I have found about studying the Bible is that God will date and confirm things to the letter. In the seventh chapter of the book of Acts this is dated as before he left Ur.

Acts 7:2 (ESV) And Stephen said: “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. 5 Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. 6 And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. 7 ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ 8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

This is powerful stuff, this speech got Stephen stoned to death! (Acts 7:54-60) He goes on to give them a history lesson of the times of the Jewish people and a history of the Hebrew people. he concludes with this.

Acts 7:51 (ESV) “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Stephen is a verifiable primary witness as he lived in the time of Jesus death; he was also so sold out as a believer that he knew that by saying these things in a religious melting pot like Jerusalem he was most certainly going to be harmed. He was willing to go on record, to be killed by stones and die to make sure that the link between the Messiah promised through Isaac was validated and verified as Jesus Christ.

Whatever happened to Ishmael?

Here is the deal, God promised a child to Sarai and Abram, Sarai thought God needed a helping hand and decided to have another woman birth an heir. But God showed more faithfulness to her than she did. God keeps his promises, even the ones that seem so impossible and out there that we do not see any way they could come true.

The lesson here is faith! Sarai did not have enough faith and patience to allow God to lay the foundation and do things in his time. I do not mock Sarai for this as I have much the same problem in my life. (Let’s be real here!) I have lost count of the amount of blessings I have lost because I thought God “needed my help” achieving what had been promised.

Look at this passage written by Paul to the Roman church that explains it far better than I ever could:

Romans 4:16 (ESV) That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

God’s faithfulness is not conditional on us keeping our end of the bargain; otherwise NONE of us would be blessed! We all fail in some way. God also gives a timescale that this prophecy will be fulfilled, it will be done within a year, let’s look to see if a son was in fact born. Also we have the question “what happens to Ishmael?” Let’s look at Genesis chapter twenty one.

Genesis 21:8 (ESV) And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

So Ishmael starts the chain of events by mocking Sarah and Isaac, emotions are running high at this point with two women in the same dwelling having birthed children by the same man. (Could this be a warning about multiple wives or polyamorous relationships?)

Sarah rather unsurprisingly grew resentful of Hagar and Ishmael now that God has come good on his promise. Isaac was no longer a promise but a real tangible child in her arms. Things quite literally got real! Abraham knew that Ishmael would be blessed due to him; however he had the hard job of fulfilling the wishes of his wife and sending away Hagar and his son.

God however made provision for the boy, in true Godly compassion he made a place for him, gave him a nation. It would not be Israel but he would be that father of a great people. Ishmael knew what was going on being some 13 years older than Isaac. I understand this perfectly as I myself am 12 years younger than my older brother. Paul writes to the Galatian church using Ishmael and Isaac as an example; let’s look at Galatians chapter four:

Galatians 4:21 (ESV) Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” 28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

Are you a child of promise? Have you accepted the free gift of salvation that is only given through Christ Jesus our LORD? It is as real as this my friends. This is talking about where you will spend eternity!

The life of Jesus – Isaac’s descendent

Now that we have successfully shown that Jesus was the one promised through the line of Isaac we must look at the life of Jesus in the gospel of Luke chapter three.

Luke 3:23 (ESV) Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Some of you may have skipped this verse a hundred times and dismissed it as a boring genealogy, I see a line of family but I see something more! A promise that was given to a faithful man and his wife which seemed impossible. God showed what a big God he is and made it happen. Nothing is impossible for God.

This has application for us all; regardless of what you face and regardless of where you are in your life God wants to use you. You must first come in complete obedience and surrender, but God is faithful and do what he promised. Don’t do what Sarah did and “give God a hand” he is faithful and more than capable of fulfilling his will in your life.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.

One response to “TTE Advent Calendar Day Five – December 5th

  1. Pingback: What’s in a family tree? Jesus in the book of Matthew | Taking the Epistle

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