Children of promise: Meditation for Sunday next before advent/Christ the King
The Sunday next before Advent is the last Sunday of the liturgical year, which has been celebrated as the Feast of Christ the King.
“Children of Promise” are neither “promised children”, nor “children that have God’s promise,” but those who are children, not by mere fleshly descent, as was Ishmael, but by promise, as was Isaac: children of the Jerusalem above, belonging to it by virtue of God’s promise, even as Isaac was the child of Sarah by virtue of God’s promise. Isaac was born by virtue, and in consequence of a promise made to Abraham of God’s free good will and pleasure. Isaac’s generation and conception were beyond the strength and course of nature —they were the effects of divine power.
Likewise, the Children of Promise are born by virtue, and in consequence of the promise (not only made to Abraham, but to the Lord Jesus Christ) and above and beyond the strength of nature — not through the power and free will of man, but through the abundant mercy and sovereign will of God, by his powerful and efficacious grace, and by the word of promise, the Gospel, as a means.
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The OT passage (Gen. 18:1-19) gives the origin/background of the promised child/children. By entertaining visitors, Abraham received the promise of a child, even at a time when he and his wife were too old to have a child. The promise was not actually just of a child, but children: indeed a great nation by which all nations on earth would be blessed.
In the NT (Rom. 9:1-13), Paul expounded the concept of the promised child/children in the context of God’s sovereignty. He distinguished between biological children and children of promise. Not all of Abraham’s children were children of God’s covenant promise (cf. Gen. 12:1-3; 15:1-11; 17:1-21; 18:1-15; Gal. 4:23).
The promised child (“the seed”) would come from Sarah at God’s initiative. This would eventually culminate in the birth of the Messiah. The key is God’s choice: not human lineage or merit or achievements. This is the heart of the gospel, the new covenant (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-36).
However, it must be remembered that God’s choice was not meant to exclude, but to include! The Messiah will come from a select seed, but he will come for all (who exercise faith, cf. 2:28-29; 4:3, 22-25.
• The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC. is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. Email:email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org