The seed of Abraham Galatians 3:6-9, 16-19, 26-29 and 4:4-7

Two weeks ago we looked at the tragedy of the fall of man. We saw how in the beginning everything God created was very good. But then the devil, in the guise of a serpent, deceived the first human beings into disobeying the only command God had given them. Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and this one act of rebellion had three terrible consequences. Evil had entered creation and had a grip on every part of it, including human beings. The very earth was cursed, pain and suffering and death had entered the world. And human beings were separated from God their creator. Because of their sin, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden.
But in the middle of the story of the fall we found hope. There was the first glimmer of the gospel, the first hint of a Saviour, and it came as God pronounced a curse on the serpent, the devil.
Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’
He will crush your head. One day the serpent’s head will be crushed, the devil will be defeated and all the damage he had done to God’s perfect creation will be reversed. The ‘he’ who will accomplish this salvation will be an offspring of the woman, literally the seed of the woman. This is the first gospel, the protoevangelium, as we find it in Genesis 3, the first hint of a Saviour, in the promise of the seed of the woman.
Last week we saw how this promise of salvation began to be fulfilled as it was passed on to God’s Friend, Abraham and his descendants, Isaac and Jacob. God made many wonderful promises to Abraham.
Genesis 12 2 ‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; …
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. …
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’
So God’s blessing would flow out through Abraham to all peoples everywhere. But the primary form of God’s blessing to Abraham would be a land he could call his own, where he could live in prosperity and safety, the Promised Land. One day salvation will come through the seed of the woman. But on the way to that salvation, even before that, Abraham’s offspring, Abraham’s seed (same word) would inherit the Promised Land, and in that way, through Abraham and the seed of Abraham, all peoples on the earth will be blessed.
Genesis 15 5 He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’
God’s blessings are promised to Abraham’s seed. And this was Abraham’s response to God’s promise. 6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Abraham put his trust in God. We will see this evening just how important that verse is to God’s masterplan of salvation. And God “credited it to him as righteousness.”
That day God made a covenant with Abraham to guarantee his promises to him. 24 years later God confirmed that covenant and gave to Abraham the sign of the rite of circumcision. All God’s glorious promises were confirmed to Abraham and to his offspring, to his descendants, to his seed forever. The same promises were repeated to Abraham’s son Isaac and to his son Jacob, to whom God gave the new name Israel, the father of all Israelites. So the promise passed down through the line from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob,
All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.
God’s wonderful salvation would be brought to the world through the offspring of the woman, initially through Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all their descendants. Which brings us to the question for this evening. Which offspring are we talking about? Who is the seed of Abraham? Or who are the seed of Abraham? For centuries these promises were fulfilled in the literal descendants of the Patriarchs and then God renewed them in his covenant on Mount Sinai with the nation of Israel. For more than a thousand years the seed of Abraham were recognised by the world as
The Israelites – the Descendants of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob
But then God had a more wonderful masterplan of salvation, which would be accomplished through one specific seed of Abraham.
The seed of Abraham – the Messiah – Jesus
The Hebrew word for seed, zera, is singular but it can carry a plural meaning. It’s just the same as the English word sheep which can mean just one sheep or any number of sheep. Zera can mean one seed or it can mean many seeds, one offspring or many offspring, one descendant or many descendants. We saw last week how one particular promise to Abraham points towards a singular interpretation. On Mount Moriah God made these wonderful promises to Abraham.
Genesis 22 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.’
We saw last week how the word offspring in that last sentence was likely to refer not to many descendants but to one single descendant who would bring blessing to all the nations of the earth. We saw that as another announcement of the gospel, a second hint of a Saviour. The seed of the woman who would sacrifice himself to crush the serpent’s head and defeat the devil. The Saviour who would free us all from pain and suffering and even from death. The seed of the woman who would bring human beings back to God once again.
Paul explains in Galatians 3 what this means for us as we think about the promises God made to Abraham and to his seed.”
Galatians 3 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds’, meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed’, meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: the law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. …
19 …. (The Law) was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.
Galatians tells us that Jesus was the seed of Abraham, the single offspring or descendant, who would bring salvation. Jesus would be the focus and embodiment of all of God’s promises.
Galatians 4 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Jesus was the seed of Abraham, indeed he was the fulfilment of the promises God made to the seed of the woman. Jesus came to crush the serpent’s head.
1 John 3 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
Jesus prophesied that his death would drive out the devil.
John 12 30 Jesus said, ‘This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
It was by his suffering and death on the cross that Jesus won the victory over the devil and all the powers of evil.
Colossians 2 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
So all who put their trust in Jesus are set free from the grip which the devil and all evil has on their lives. By defeating the devil Jesus has also reversed the effects of the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden which brought death into the world.
Heb 2 14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Jesus was the seed of the woman and the seed of Abraham who brought salvation. But who is it receives all these blessings of salvation bought by Jesus at such great cost?
The spiritual descendants of Abraham – believers
The heart of God’s masterplan of salvation was revealed in Genesis 15 verse 6.
6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
New Living Translation “Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
Good News Bible “Abram put his trust in the LORD, and because of this the LORD was pleased with him and accepted him.
The sin of Adam and Eve had separated them from the Holy God who had created them. But already in Eve’s descendant Abraham that barrier began to be removed when Abraham, put his trust in God. This is how salvation works. And it is Abraham’s spiritual descendants, those who put their trust in God, who receive the blessings of salvation.
Romans 9 6 … For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.
So Paul, who was of course himself a Jew, indeed a Pharisee of the Pharisees, is saying that nobody inherits their salvation just by being an Israelite, a racial descendant of Abraham and Jacob. Rather it is the people who put their trust in God who are the true descendants of Abraham and inherit all the blessings God promised to them.
It is our faith that saves us, not our racial background. In Romans 4, Paul makes clear that Abraham wasn’t saved by being circumcised, the sign of being Jewish. He was saved through his faith even before the sign of circumcision was given. It is faith that matters, not Jewish heritage.
So then, (Abraham) is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. ….
Paul goes on to explain that Abraham wasn’t saved through the Law which God gave to Moses either, because Abraham lived before Moses. Abraham was saved through his faith. ….
16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

Paul then explains in Romans 5 that just the same as Adam’s sin brought death into the world, so Jesus’s death brought salvation to all who put their trust in him. In this way those who have saving faith in Jesus are Abraham’s true descendants. Galatians 3
Galatians 3 6 So also Abraham ‘believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’
7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone. Christian believers are Abraham’s true descendants. We are his seed and the heirs to all the promises God made to Abraham, and to Isaac and to Jacob.
Galatians 3 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Abraham’s spiritual heirs inherit all the blessings which Jesus has won for us on the cross. Adam and Eve disobeyed God – Jesus obeyed God. Adam and Eve brought guilt and condemnation into the world – Jesus brought forgiveness and righteousness. Adam brought death into the world but Jesus brought life, eternal life, life in all its fulness which not even death can take away. A verse in that great 18th century hymn by Isaac Watts, “Jesus shall reign where’er the sun” puts it perfectly.
“Where he displays his healing power, Death and the curse are known no more;
In him the tribes of Adam boast More blessings than their Father lost.”
Abraham’s seed, the Lord Jesus Christ, has fulfilled all God’s promises and crushed the devil’s head. We are Abraham’s spiritual descendants. We share in Christ’s victory over death and we also share in Christ’s victory over the devil. Even during his earthly ministry, Jesus’s disciples began to experience that victory.
Luke 10 (Jesus sending out the 72 disciples to preach and heal and drive out demons) 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
Christians already have authority to drive out demons in Jesus’s name. Breaking the hold which the devil has over lives through the ministry of deliverance is part of the arrival of the kingdom of God and an aspect of crushing the devil’s head which has already begun. Because we have God the Holy Spirit living inside us, Christians can rejoice in Christ’s victory over the devil. 1 John 4:4 … the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
At the same time our ultimate victory is still to come. At the end of time, on the day of Judgment, the devil who has already been crushed will ultimately be completely and utterly destroyed.
Revelation 20 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
When the devil is finally destroyed all the damage his lies will come to an end. All the problems Adam and Eve brought into the world by their sin will be reversed. The war is already over but the mopping up operations are still continuing. Until the devil is ultimately destroyed for us as believers there may be times when the battle against the world and the flesh and the devil seems to be so fierce. But here is a glorious promise which links into the first hint of the gospel which we first found in Genesis 3. Paul writes to the Romans,
Romans 16 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

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