Monday, August 25, 2014

The Prophecy of the Seed

There is great confusion today concerning the over-all theme of the Bible. While there are some who overemphasize the salvation aspect, calling the overall theme, “the progress of redemption,” others over-emphasize the kingdom aspect of Christ. The Scriptures themselves testify that the whole of the Old Testament speaks about Christ (Luke 24:27; 1 Pet. 1:10-11; Rev. 19:10). Indeed, Jesus testifies to this fact as He explains who He is to the disciples saying, “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27).

 The theme of the Bible is Christ – period. This involves both His first and second comings. In order to clarify the theme of the Bible, it is imperative to look at the first prophecy in Scripture concerning Christ - what is called the proteuangelium (Greek lit. “first gospel”) of Genesis 3:11-15. 

 As a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God in the Garden, the Lord provides this prophecy: 

 11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?"  12 Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."  14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life.  15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."  (Gen 3:11-15)

 Paul attributes fulfillment of this prophecy to Christ in Romans 16:20. He ascribes this Seed to Christ and His victory over Satan and death (cf. Isa. 25:8; Matt. 12:20;  John 12:31; 1 Cor. 15:54). Who then is the seed of Genesis 3 and what does the Old Testament have to say about the Seed of the woman?  

The Prophecy of the Seed

The Lord Jesus Christ is the prophesied Seed. This Seed has fulfillment in the incarnation of Christ who became flesh. The central verse for the incarnation is John 1:14, which defines the eternal Word became flesh:

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

 Of course a “seed” implies a lineage and this lineage is traced in Luke to Adam and the Seed of the woman of Genesis 3 (Luke 3:38).  However, it is the prophetic Seed of Abraham that we find the Seed of the promise that is satisfied in Christ. There are two important prophetic seed testimonies in Scripture: Abraham and David.  

16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. (Gal. 3:16)

 42 "Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" (John 7:42)


Romans 1:3:  Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.

 Notice in Romans 1:3, the Son existed and was made according to the flesh the prophetic Seed of David. The reference here is to the Davidic covenant of 2 Samuel 7:12-14, where the prophet Nathan proclaims to David:

 “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. “   

  As you can see, the Seed has two aspects: one based on the Abrahamic covenant wherein the blessing portion includes salvation that is extended to all nations; the other aspect is kingly wherein a throne for Israel will be established forever.  

 The Tender Shoot

This Seed also has an important prophetic metaphor called the Tender Shoot of Isaiah 53 – the Suffering Servant of the Lord:    

 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?  2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.  3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. (Isa. 53:1-5)

This prophecy is said to be fulfilled in Christ by the apostle John in 12:37-38. The main point of the Suffering Servant is Priestly not Kingly. The Suffering Servant came, as John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  The Suffering Servant that Isaiah proclaimed is fulfilled in Jesus in His first coming:

"I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.  47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.  48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him - the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”  (John 12:46-48)

 The Branch

In Scripture, there is also the Branch, which speaks of the kingly aspect of the Son. Isaiah talks about the Rod of Jesse. Who was Jesse? Jesse was the father of David (Ps. 72:20). Notice what Isaiah says:

 1There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.

 2 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.  3 His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;  4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.  5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.  6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.  (Isa 11:1-6)

 Jeremiah also speaks about this Branch as he writes:

 5 "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.  6 In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jer 23:5-6)

 Finally, Zechariah prophesied concerning the Branch:

12 Then speak to him, saying, Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD;  13 Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”  (Zec. 6:12-13)

 As can be seen from the verses of the Tender Shoot and the Branch, this is none other than the Son of God – Jesus Christ, the Anointed Savior. Jesus is the Son of Man, the Son of God, and the Son of David.  All three of these expressions relate to His first and second comings. We cannot have the King without the King coming in the flesh as the Suffering Servant to deal with the sin issue and His completed work on the cross. Likewise, we cannot claim Him King simply by proclaiming the cross; there will be a future day when the King will return to deal with the nation Israel and the nations of the world and sit on the throne of David.