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September 12, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.”—Galatians 3:7 (NIV)
The genealogies of Jesus listed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 read like a Who’s Who of important biblical figures. From great kings like Solomon, Josiah, and David, to pillars of the faith like Boaz, Noah, and Adam, this family tree is ripe with mighty fruit. But, aside from David, there may be no more significant name in these genealogies than Abraham.
The father of faith, the patriarch of the people of Israel, the friend of God . . . It all started back in Genesis 12. Here, God instructs Abram—a descendant of Noah through Shem—to uproot his family and “go to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1 NLT). Along with this life-changing command came a precious promise: “I will make you into a great nation . . . All the families on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2–3 NLT).
At 75 years old, Abraham answered this call. The interesting thing about this promise was that Abraham and his wife Sarah had no children. How would God make a great nation out of a childless old man and his equally old and barren wife? Well, Abram wondered the same thing!
So, God revealed His plan: “Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, ‘Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have’” (Genesis 15:5 NLT). Despite the seemingly impossible circumstances, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith” (James 2:23 NLT). And guess what? A few years later, Sarah gave birth to Isaac.
The son of promise, Isaac would go on to become the clearest picture of God’s redemptive plan. How so? Well, in Genesis 22:2 (NKJV) God gives a strange command to Abraham: “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love . . . and offer him there as a burnt offering.” There is no doubt this must have been a heart-wrenching, indescribably painful thing for Abraham. But Abraham heard God and obeyed in faith.
And here is where we see the true nature of faith: it doesn’t demand explanations; it rests on promises. You see, Abraham knew that God would never contradict His promises. That’s why Abraham was able to say to his servants, “We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5 NIV), and why he was able to tell his son, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering” (Genesis 22:8 NIV).
What an amazing picture of God’s plan, which would be fulfilled in Jesus, the Lamb of God who came to bear the sins of the world. Scholars agree that Isaac, likely between 18 and 33 years old, knew what was happening. He carried the wood of his own sacrifice and remained silent as he was being placed on the altar. He didn’t protest when Abraham raised the knife; he willingly gave himself up to his father . . . just like Jesus!
In the end, the Lord stayed Abraham’s hand and provided another sacrifice, keeping His promise intact and giving us a glimpse of what was to come (Romans 8:32). God would later reaffirm His promise of redemption through the seed of Abraham to Isaac’s son Jacob (Genesis 27–28) and to Jacob’s son Judah (Genesis 49:8–10).
The legacy of the patriarchs is instrumental to the Christmas story. Not only are they the catalysts through which the promise of the Messiah took shape, but they also 1) model faith and true righteousness, and 2) provide us with some of the most beautiful and powerful examples of the faithfulness of our God.
Today, no matter what you’re going through, no matter what craziness this Christmas season has brought for you, rest in the knowledge of God’s faithfulness. As a family, let’s rest on His promises and on the truth of His Word. Let’s rest in Him, knowing He will never leave or forsake us!
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.