Today’s Reading: Genesis 15.
(Context: Abram is now a wealthy and immensely blessed man, yet he still desires one thing that his “money cannot buy”. A son. It is just this that God promises him, a son to him and his wife Sarah, both well-past their natural abilities to have children. Only a miracle could change such a circumstance.)
It’s ironic that this morning’s reading led me to an unlikely scenario: finding a Christmas story in Genesis! Maybe I was looking harder because of the season, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Theologians have often pointed out the similarities of Isaac, Abraham’s son and heir, and Jesus Christ. Isaac is refereed to as a foreshadowing and a type of Christ.
The similarities are usually seen in Isaac being Abraham’s only son, in being a symbolic sacrifice, and in being the father of a nation. Jesus Christ is God’s only Son, He was the Sacrifice for the ages to atone for the world’s sin, and He is the father of the holy, spiritual nation known as the “Redeemed” (Christians, more simply put).
I would like to point-out one more similarity, as it applies to Christmas:
Isaac is a type of Christ in 1. his awaited birth (prophetic) and 2. his miraculous birth.
1. His Awaited Birth: Abram is promised a son, years before this actually takes place, making such an event even more remarkable and unlikely. The prophecy that God gives Abram of myriads of descendants is truly incredible. I mean, just put yourself in his place. To be one of such prominence for God, the “founding father” of the greatest country in history (according to God), Israel. Why me God?
The type here is of Mary, and Joseph with her, awaiting the birth of the long-awaited one, Messiah. The were a couple prophecies about the birth of Isaac, as one can see when reading Genesis 15 and beyond. There is time before the birth of Isaac, 10 years. There are dozens of prophecies about the Coming and Anointed One. He was to be born of a young girl (“virgin”, as in the LXX (Greek translation of the Old Testament), making it a dual-prophecy), He was to be born in Bethlehem, He was to be called Immanuel, He was to be Divine, a direct descendant of King David, and on and on.
Mary and Joseph knew of such prophecies, in fact all good Jews would (and still do) pray daily for the coming of Messiah. To think that they had been chosen by God to be the parents of the Incarnate One! Like telling a 90 year old man he would have an heir through his 80 year old wife!
2. His Miraculous Birth: Abram’s wife Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was 90 years old, Abram being 100. No need to point out the obvious.
Mary gave birth being a virgin, seemingly being a virgin until the day she gave birth to Jesus (Note that many ancient Catholic Theologians, such as Paschasius Radbertus, wrongly argued Mary had perpetual virginity, that she conceived, gave birth, and remained in virginity until her death (or ascension as some also wrongly argue)).
Mary gave birth to a son while a virgin, to the wonder and cutting criticism of those that knew her. God knew the truth, and so did she. Christ was born in a form that no other human had been born in the history of the world, from a true virgin. It was God’s first great “fingerprint” on His arrival into the world, as a Son of Man, being God the Son.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.