21:13) Or, "it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." (NIV) The promises of blessing were part of a covenant or formal agreement that God entered into with Abraham, and he indicated that he would continue his covenant with Isaac: "And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him." (Gen 17:19 KJV)
There is no biblical record of God making a personal covenant with Ishmael, but the Almighty spoke to Isaac very much in the same way that he had spoken to Abraham: "And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake." (Gen 26:24 KJV)
Likewise, when it came to Isaac's twin sons Jacob and Esau, the Father of all mankind chose one of them in connection with the promised seed. It was to Jacob that he said, "And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen 28:14 KJV)
These were not choices made on the spur of the moment, after Isaac was born and then, again, after Jacob was born. No, the One who sees the future and who knows the end from the beginning, knew ahead of time the line of descent that would produce the promised seed. He knew the destiny of the Israelites way back when he made his first promises to Abraham: "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years." (Gen 15:13 KJV) God knew the future, not just of the nation of Israel, but also of the specific line of descent that would lead to the Messiah or Christ ("Anointed One" in Hebrew and Greek, respectively).
As can be seen in Matthew's chronology, above, God selected a line of descent though King David. (Read the full story of David in the Bible books of First and Second Samuel.) "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,
Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations." (Psalm 89:3-4 KJV)
"Now then, tell my servant David, 'This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. ... When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. ... Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.' " (2 Samuel 7:8-16 NIV)
David's son Solomon succeeded him as king of Israel, and Solomon built the "house" or temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem, as promised. And a long succession of kings in David's line ruled for hundreds of years. But God's promise to David hinted at more than that; it hinted at a descendent who would be called God's son and who would rule as king forever.
After being given a vision outlining a succession of world powers that would encroach on the territory of Israel over a period of hundreds of years, the prophet Daniel was given another vision depicting this promised immortal ruler, the promised seed who would be born "like a son of man," yet who would have access to heaven and to the presence of God the Father:
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14 NIV)
The prophet Isaiah provided additional details about the promised seed who would be born of a virgin and who would preach in Galilee: "Galilee" would "see a great Light" because "a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son." "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be