“And they blessed Rebekah, and said to her, ‘Our sister, you shall become like countless thousands and may your seed inhabit the gates of those who hate him.’”
“I will surely bless you and your seed will surely be great as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the lip of the sea. And your seed will take possession of the gates of his enemies.”
“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed — it does not say, ‘To the seeds…’ as if to many, but as if to one. ‘And to your seed,’ which is Christ.”
It is hard not to make a connection between this blessing and to the Messianic promises that are to come. It could be legitimately pointed out that the term oår‰z (zera), or “seed,” is a collective singular (a singular term that refers to a group or a set of like things or persons) and thus nothing of great significance should be made of the language here. At the same time, given the covenantal significance of this event, a second look should be taken at what is being pronounced for even Nahor’s line understands that Abraham and his line has been singled out by God for a special purpose and, just as God did through the lips of Balaam, God sometimes speaks great truths through the lips even of non-believers.
It will be through Rebekah that the promised seed of Abraham will continue to descend that will ultimately culminate in the Great and true Seed: Jesus Christ. Note too, the similarity of this language to the language that God speaks to Abraham in Genesis 22. In part, of course, this will be fulfilled as the nation of Israel grows and then conquers Canaan. In full, this promise will find its completion in Jesus Christ — for it is in the church that True Israel will find its fullness, that the children of Abraham will be numbered like the sands of the sea, and that the gates of hell will find their demise (Matthew 16:18). Surely this promise, whether the family of Rebekah recognized it in full or not, is a promise that speaks of the coming of the Messiah through the line of Rebekah and Isaac.
How wonderful is the scope and plan of God. How puny our plans quickly become when placed alongside of God’s design. Isn’t if fascinating that we get so caught up in the moment — our successes and failures — our plans — our particular church’s rises and falls in attendance or fiscal numbers when God’s sovereign plan covers the scope of millennia. And why do we worry and fret? Why do we lose sleep over things that are meaningless in the scope of eternity? Friends, God is sovereign and he is the ruler of all of his creation. And he has a plan and a design for his church and kingdom of which he has graciously made us a part. Rejoice! Revel in that truth! And when faced with difficulties and opposition, trust in the wisdom and grace of God. Though men are not; God is good … and he is good all of the time — even in the midst of our trials and difficulties. What is it that God would lead you into doing and what is holding you back?
“I will erect my covenant between me and between you and between your seed who come after you through their generations as an everlasting covenant—to be God to you and to your seed after you.”
Even the language that God uses here denotes the permanent nature of this covenant. He says, “I will erect…” The verb that he uses here denotes the idea of building a castle tower, something strong and permanent that stands for all people to see. In addition, the Hiphil form of this verb is used, which reflects that God is causing something to take place—God is the one erecting this covenant, Abraham has no part in its building (and as we saw in chapter 15, no part in its completion). In addition, the eternal nature of God’s unchangeable purpose (Hebrews 6:17-18) and character (Malachi 3:6) provide this everlasting covenant its absolute permanence. Because God is, this covenant stands even today despite the wickedness of the heart of man. Friends, that is something to rejoice about.
Notice too, the language about the seed of Abraham. This is a reference to his children and to his children’s children throughout the generations. Some would try and suggest that this language of seed only applies to Jesus, as Paul says that the Seed is Christ (Galatians 3:16). Yet, while the covenant is clearly fulfilled in and by Christ, to see Christ as the only end of this promise is to take the language out of context. God is clearly promising this covenant not only to Abraham, but to his covenant household—hence the sign of the covenant that will be given a little later in this chapter will be placed not only on Abraham and not only on those in Abraham’s household old enough to accept the covenant on their own, but also on their children and infants. Thus, in the New Testament age, we place the covenant sign of baptism on the children of believing parents to indicate that they are part of the blessings of this covenant because of their parents.
Loved ones, cherish God’s covenantal promises to you—he will be God to you and will never abandon you. This promise is more valuable than anything else on the whole of the earth. It is permanent and established in stone and God will never fail to bring it about in your lives. In addition, the covenant is not just about you, but it is about your children and your children’s children after you. Rejoice in that and raise your children up knowing these great promises of God that one day they too may accept them as their own. Sing of the might of our God, for these promises do not rest on the work of men, but upon the character and plan of God. He has established them in stone, confirmed them in blood, and will renew them in your life—day in and day out.
Come, let us use the grace divine, and all with one accord,
In a perpetual covenant join ourselves to Christ the Lord;
Give up ourselves, through Jesus’ power, His Name to glorify;
And promise, in this sacred hour, for God to live and die.