Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Fourth Great Prophecy of Scripture

Dr. Walvoord’s classic work, “Major Bible Prophecies,” gives us the subject of this forth article. The forth major prophecy involves not only the promise to Abraham of a great nation, but the most important aspect – the Messianic line. The Messiah will come through a specific genealogy – the Messiah will come through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The promise to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3 involved a physical descendant of Abraham and Sarai. Both were already in their advanced ages and were childless. This indeed was the test for them – would they wait on the Lord or would they take things into their own hands? The certainty of Abram’s calling was complete and the certainty of Abraham moving out of Ur to the land of Haran was complete, but what about a blood heir?

After ten years waiting for an heir, Abram suggested that his close servant Eliezer be the legal heir. Indeed, according to cultural norms, that was possible, but that was rejected by God: “This man will not by your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir. Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:4-6).

After waiting ten years in Canaan, Abram heeded Sarai’s advice to conceive a son with her Egyptian maidservant, Hagar. The result was Ishmael. Yet God rejected Ismael as heir also. Even as Ismael was from the loins of Abram, and it was legal and a custom to have offspring with the maidservant, Ismael was not the heir God intended. God did not mean Abram’s heir to come through their manservant, nor maidservant. God meant the legal heir to be from the loins of Abram with his wife Sarai.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old God reaffirmed His promise giving Abram the sign of the covenant – circumcision, and Abram’s name was changed to Abraham “father of many,” and Sarai’s name changed to Sarah “princess.” After reaffirming the covenant promises, Scripture records:

17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"   18 And Abraham said to God, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!"  19 Then God said: "No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.  20 "And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  21 "But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year." (Gen 17:17-21)       

Dr Walvoord writes, “Twenty-five years after Abraham left Haran, as he waited for some evidence of the covenant being fulfilled, the promise of God, impossible as it seemed to Abraham and Sarah, was fulfilled, and Isaac was born. In recognition that Isaac was a covenant child, Abraham circumcised him on the eighth day (v. 4)…. The answer came in spite of Abraham and Sarah’s unbelief and their inability to contemplate the omnipotence of God in doing what is impossible to humans. The fulfillment of the promise illustrates again the unconditional and absolutely certain fulfillment required in the provisions and promises of the Abrahamic covenant.”

With the legal heir now established, God moves to reaffirm His covenant with Isaac’s offspring. However, Isaac and his wife Rebekah have twins – Esau and Jacob. Yet it is the younger, Jacob that will be the legal heir not the oldest Esau. From the womb, God proclaims to Rebekah, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23)

In Genesis 28, God reaffirms His covenant with Jacob (28:11-15). And the book of Genesis closes with the prophetic promise to the twelve sons of Jacob, most notable to Judah who is to be the prominent tribe. Scripture says:

8 Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father's children shall bow down before you.  9 Judah is a lion's whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him?  10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.  (Gen 49:8-10)

The promise of the seed, land, and nation brings the promise to the Davidic covenant found in 2 Samuel 7:5-17. It is here that one finds the Messiah comes from  Judah through the line of Israel’s best king David. Notice what Scripture says:

Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house.  12 "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.  (2Sa 7:11-13)

This eternal house of David refers to the future Davidic Kingdom wherein Jesus Christ is declared to be the unique one qualified to be from that line. Both Matthew and Luke itemize genealogies of Jesus from different perspectives uniquely identifying Jesus as the child born, but a Son given. That is to say, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the Son of David. As Dr. Walvoord wrote,” Matthew recorded this genealogy to show the legitimacy of the throne passing through Joseph, the legal heir of David, but actually, Jesus Christ had to come from a different line in the flesh through another son of David, Nathan. This leads to Mary, the actual mother of Christ. Accordingly, while the legal title passed to Christ through Joseph, the physical claim of being a descendant of David comes through David and Nathan instead of David and Solomon. This line of truth also tends to confirm the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ, for if Christ were the son of Joseph, he would not be able to sit on the throne of David in view of the curse put on that line.”