'Studies in the Old Testament'

The Abrahamic Covenant - 1

February, 2009

Genesis 3:15 and its importance to Old Testament history and Christianity


It is incumbent on us to recognise the primary continuing theme running through the Old Testament as a crimson thread of redemption found over and over again in its pages and culminating in the appearance of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the New Testament. It is therefore important for us to recognise the  beginning of God's  promise in the redemption to come through the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). This beginning of the crimson thread occurs here in Genesis 3:15 where, following Adam's sin and resultant fall, God makes this statement:

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed  and her seed; it shall bruise [or crush] thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
1

This was a declaration of war made to Satan, following the transgression of Adam, and clearly set the scene for the continuing conflict between Almighty God and Satan that stretches throughout the history of the Old Testament as God continued His plan of redemption based on the promised Messiah as initiated here in Genesis 3:15. We follow the struggle through the Old Testament period and, as Christians, look forward to the culmination promised through the Apostle John in the book of Revelation. At least partially recognising the significance of this promised Redeemer-Messiah (Matthew 4:1-11
1), the prophesied Seed of the woman who would crush his head, Satan used every means possible to see that the prediction made in Genesis 3:15 would not come to fulfilment. We see the Old Testament struggle between the Perfect and Omnipotent God and Satan and the powers of evil reflected in such battlegrounds as the courts of Pharaoh (Exodus 4-121) and the personal circumstances of servants of God, such as Job. John Milton, in his book Paradise Lost, sums up Satan's attitude after his fall from heaven in these words fictitiously placed in the mouth of Satan:

What though the field be lost? All is not lost, the unconquerable will, And study of revenge, immortal hate To wage by force or guile eternal war Irreconcilable, to our grand Foe, Who now triumphs, and in the excess of joy Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heaven.

Almighty God has no possibility of losing the battle, but the most powerful creature of evil in the Universe, Satan, will continue to do all in his power to try to defeat our God and try to foil the promise made in Genesis 3:15. However, throughout our Bibles we  see how the Sovereign God achieves victory and brings glory to Himself from every effort of Satan to destroy the Messianic line until we reach the culmination of the great promises found in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.

A casual reader of the Old Testament will notice that Adam's responsibility was to pass on the truth of God to successive generations, but he failed and, as a result, the world became so wicked that God had to destroy everything which had breath. However, we recognise from the full reading of the Bible that God's redemptive plan always included the preservation for Himself of a people who, although far from perfect, had God's ways in their hearts. If God had destroyed the entire world then the promise made in Genesis 3:15 could never have been fulfilled, but God never fails and Scripture tells us that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and through this man and his descendants the promised line continued. It became Noah's responsibility to pass on to his sons God's truths but, sadly, after several generations, the truth became clouded in obscurity, and man became idolatrous and tried to reach God
his way at the Tower of Babel. At that time, God confused their language and they were scattered abroad to establish diverse civilizations around the earth.

Every attempt at preserving a godly line through which to bring forth the Saviour and fulfil the plan of redemption had so far apparently resulted in failure by man, but not by God for He cannot be defeated regardless of what men do. God next reached down and selected Abram who, in man's eyes (and certainly Sarai's - Genesis 18:11-15
1) was well past his sell-by-date, as the one through whom the promised Seed of Genesis 3:15 would continue. From the worldwide promise which Satan had attempted to thwart, through the death of Abel and the corruption of all mankind prior to the flood, then via the rebellion of all mankind at the tower of Babel, the promise now focussed on this one man: Abram and his seed. Thus the promise was renewed through Abraham's son Isaac and then reconfirmed, not through Esau, but through Jacob. Jacob's first-born, Reuben, was by-passed because Satan corrupted him and caused him to commit incest with his father's concubine, Bilhah (Genesis 35:22).

The second and third-born sons, Simeon and Levi, were also by-passed because Satan placed in them a spirit of murder and revenge but, through the fourth-born son, Judah, the promise continued and then on down through his lineage finally centring in David (2 Samuel 7
1) and, in David's descendants, culminating in the birth of Christ. Thus we can trace this crimson thread of redemption through the history of the Old Testament and into the New Testament with the fulfilling ministry of our Saviour Messiah. In this historical trail we see how God continually thwarted the plans, guile, and overt and covert actions of Satan as he manoeuvred to try and destroy the Seed to try and make it impossible for the promise of Genesis 3:15 to be fulfilled. But we see throughout God's Word that Satan failed and, instead, the wrath of Satan was used by God to bring honour to His name. Thus we rejoice to see God constantly victorious in the plan of redemption in the programme of the Messiah, and in the continuation of the line of the promised Seed, regardless of opposition, down to that day when, as Galatians 4:41 records:

"When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son...."

who completed His victory on the cross and in His resurrection, and is even now performing His perfect High Priestly role in heaven making intercession for His own:

Hebrews 7:25
1:  Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

While observing this warfare being waged we follow a sub-plot as our God continues His programme through His chosen people, Israel, using them as the vehicle by which the Messiah would be born on earth.  Throughout the Old Testament period we see our Patient and Faithful God continually pleading with His stubborn and feckless people to return to Him. The Old Testament is seen as a continuing chronicle of the children of Israel and the dereliction to their calling to obey the ordinances of God.  God then causes a massive upheaval to their lives by dispersing the ten northern tribes in 722 BC, and finally sending the inhabitants of Judah into Babylonian Captivity in 586 BC. When we choose to follow foreign gods and turn from the only true God we find, throughout history, that His way is so often to allow us to follow the ways of the enemy and only experiencing the utter darkness, depravity and futility of life without Him will lead us to humble ourselves and seek his face in repentance and tears.  God is Omnipotent and will always be victorious without the help of man. But what a wonderful fact to find that, although our co-operation plays no part in the success of God's redemptive programme, He has chosen us to participate and for our lives to be a witness to His truth!

1 Peter 5:1
1 : Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed....

1 John 1:2
1 : and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us....

1 John 4:14
1 :  And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

(Continued on page 393)

'The Abrahamic Covenant'

Genesis 3:15 and its importance to Old Testament history and Christianity

Theories of the origin of the world and mankind

Abram's brothers

Promises and validation of the Abrahamic covenant

Isaac's prayer for his barren wife related to twentieth century Christianity

Jacob and Esau

Jacob's eleven sons

Esau, Jacob and Laban

Joseph in Egypt

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