Seeds

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Do you have any opinion about seeds? Most of us are city dwellers, so perhaps our only connection to seeds is through the things they grow into: fruits and vegetables. Occasionally we’ll even eat seeds, but that still doesn’t make the topic of seeds any more exciting than talking about the weather for on a date.

The Bible, on the other hand, appears to get very excited about these little things we call seeds. In particular, Abraham is promised on numerous occasions that his “seed” will be too numerous to count. I was making some bread yesterday (yes, I am a cook!), and I took some caraway seeds to mix in with my flour. You can bet that I wasn’t even remotely in the mood for counting tiny bitty seeds. They look so insignificant! And yet, of course we know that every single one of those seeds has within it enormous potential, and a future much larger than might appear on the outside.

In Abraham’s world, having at least one seed (= descendant), and preferably a whole bunch, was probably the most important thing in life. That’s why you can imagine the thoughts going on in his mind as we read in Genesis 22 about how God asked Abraham to smashhis one and only seed. This was countable stuff. One seed. I don’t need to go into all of the pain Abraham went through in order to even get that one seed, his only son Isaac. You already know that stuff. At his age (he was a centenarian), what were the chances that he would strike gold again or win the lottery twice?

Despite all this, Abraham is faithful and obeys God. We know the story. Isaac was never to be killed in the first place, because God had provided a substitue for him. But look at how the King of the Universe gets into his “seed” mode (for the 100th time!) as He promises Abraham seeds too numerous to count:

“By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you and multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.”

Genesis 22:16-17

That’s some serious seed power. Seed to the N-th power. But my favorite part is right in the next verse, where God specifies exactly how this seed affects us:

“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

What’s that? How many nations get the goodies? (I’m thinking of good old birthday party goodie bags)

Wow. I get the blessing of Abraham’s seed. And so do you. And not just any old ordinary blessing. If we take a closer look at the phrase “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”, we find most translations of the Bible more or less agree. I took a look at fifteen, count’em fifteen translations of Genesis 22:18 and all but two said something like “all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” It’s actually not hard to see why translators would shy away from giving a more literal translation. Let’s look at Young’s Literal Translation, an old style Bible with archaic English prose.

“And blessed themselves in thy seed have all nations of the earth, because that thou hast hearkened to My voice.”

Wait, what?

Is it even possible for me to bless myself? How would I go about that? And yet, that is what the literal form (הִתְבָּרֲכוּ) of the Hebrew word means. This particular form also occurs extremely rarely in the Bible. Obviously, the more logical action would be to bless someone else.

But if we search among these very few occurrences of this awkward phrase, we find a mind-blowing connection. Psalm 72 gives us an incredibly packed, richly descriptive prophecy about the coming “royal Son” of God, the Messiah king. I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing. Here are just a few highlights:

– He will “defend the afflicted” and “crush the oppressor”

– In His days the righteous will prosper like grass after the rain

– Grain will abound throughout the land

– Crops will flourish

– His Name will endure forever

And here comes the key part in verse 17: “Then all the nations will bless themselves through Him, and they will call Him blessed.” 

Friends, may you INDULGE in blessing yourself and receiving blessing through Jesus, our Savior! May your boast be proud and loud: “I get to bless myself because of what Jesus has done for me.”

 

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