Pondering the Nativity Through The Lens of Abram

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As we approach the Nativity; the birth of our Lord, we must keep in mind the critical story of salvation. However, I think it is also important to take a look at Jesus’ lineage in biblical history which is relevant to the season.

Then the word of the LORD came to him: No, that one will not be your heir; your own offspring will be your heir.He took him outside and said: Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so, he added, will your descendants be. Abram put his faith in the LORD, who attributed it to him as an act of righteousness.* (Genesis 15:4-6)

If we look back to Genesis 15, we will read a story most of us are familiar with. Many of us understand the correlation between Abram and his faith. God was not in a hurry, Fifteen years after God’s covenant was first made with Abram, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham to show Abram He had not forgotten His promise Ten years passed from the time of Abraham’s circumcision until the time when the promised “seed” was born. God demands faith in the unseen.

Although God’s covenant with  Abram does not make it clear that the “seed” of Abraham, is the Messiah, Jesus Christ. it will be made clear in the New Testament. When we look at the nativity through the lens of God’s covenant with Abram, we can’t help but stand in awe of how God fulfills his work of salvation through history, in spite of sinful man.

Abram’s Descendants As Numerous as the Stars

However, there is a part of his life I would like to highlight. It is the story of Abram when he was told to look up towards heaven and count the stars. God promised to make his descendants as numerous as the stars.

Modern readers think they know what Abram saw when he looked up, but the sky the ancients saw at night and was more glorious than most of us can imagine: the stars were in unbelievable numbers, all giving glory to God

There are several interpretations of this, most of which appears that Abram is stepping out of his tent at nighttime.  Abram stated to God that since his wife, Sarah, was childless a slave born would be his heir. God, then told Abram, “’no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ He brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them’”. However, if we continue to read a little further we realize the original promise was made to Abram in the daytime:

When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces.* On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites,the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites. (Genesis 15:17-21)

There was only one star out during daylight when God made His promise to Abram, the Sun, the center of our solar system, providing support for all physical life. At that moment, there was only one star visible, a symbol of his one son Isaac who would be born later.

Many nations descended from Issac. As Isaac was Abram’s heir, the father of nations, so, too, did God give his only son, Jesus to us. Since Jesus is consubstantial with the Father [as we say in the Creed], He too is our life support to God and Heaven, spiritually and physically. In which not only was Abraham’s family vast but through Christ as Christians, we too appear to be as numerous as the stars.

As we anticipate the coming of Jesus, much like the magi that were guided by the star of Bethlehem, we too must keep our eye on that important star, which should be the center of our lives. The one that was promised through Abraham, as we can take time to think on the family lineage of Jesus Christ and our lineage as we are born in him in water and spirit.

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