"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." (Gen 3:15 NASB)
In the eternal council of the Godhead, the Lamb was slain before the foundations of the earth were ever set in place. By faith, the battle plan was drawn in the heart of heaven, sin was neutralized, its power nullified, the accuser defanged, and redemption secured. The price for liberating the children of God and securing eternal victory was the sacrifice of the life of God Himself. The Son accepted the yoke, the decree was made, and the plan was put into motion. From that point of eternity past, the entire historical account began to unfold as the Father set the stage and painted the background for the greatest work of love, sacrifice, and humility ever performed.
Now, at the dawn of recorded biblical history, the preparations for the Son's mission begin to take shape, and the earliest prophecy describing the nature and warfare of His first coming starts our journey. In this short and profound prophetic utterance quoted above, the first one concerning the Messiah's work, the Spirit of God establishes these foundational truths: A) - A savior will come. B – He will not be an angel or a heavenly agent, but rather be uniquely born of the seed of a woman (a biological mystery). C) – His coming is for conflict and war. D) – He will suffer and be bruised, as He smites the enemy's head.
A life will manifest on earth, God's life, fully human, fully holy, fully equipped to defeat the enemy, and fully capable to be poured out as the supreme sacrifice. Death will touch the divine nature, for a brief moment, and then be defeated forever. The abyss will imprison the Creator Himself, yet only to be unlocked from within, vanquished, releasing its captives. "And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire." (Rev 20:14 NASB)
From that very day, the day this prophetic word was uttered by God's own mouth in the garden, and given as a beacon of hope to the human family which was already slipping into the long and dark night of sin and suffering, the search has begun. Every godly mother in every successive generation will from now on wonder deep in her heart: is my child the promised savior? Am I so blessed to give earthly life to God Himself so that He can lay it down again?
"Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, 'I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.' " (Gen 4:1 NASB). What was in Eve's heart when she held her first born in her arms? What did she see in his future? God's promise was alive in her soul, echoing loud and clear. A savior was to come, a seed of a woman… will Cain be the one?
No, much more had to unfold before the savior would come. The flood, the patriarchs, the Law, the nation of Israel, the Land of Israel, the Temple, the exile, the longing… Cain was not the one. Soon, he will become the first murderer, and Eve the first mourning mother weeping over her slain son in a long list of pain and misery which will plague the human family for thousands of years to come.
Neither was Seth the one, nor Enosh, Enoch, or Noah. The entire world was drowning in the flood's judgment, and the savior did not yet arrive. A new beginning dawned on the reborn creation; will He now come to save it before a new cycle of evil consumes it again? Isaac was a close candidate as his life was laid on Mt. Moriah's altar, but he was not the one. Moses' birth and childhood, so supernaturally protected, and his call to lead the people out of slavery, set him apart in his generation. Could he be the one?
But Moses himself prophesied of a future savior. Speaking for God, he said "I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him." (Deut 18:18, 19 NASB). Moses was not the one, and the mothers continued to whisper in the tents, speaking softly of that blessed womb that will bear the savior of the world one day.
Balaam saw him in a vision on the distant horizon as he prophesied, saying, "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and tear down all the sons of Sheth." (Num 24:17 NASB). He will surely come, in the Father's perfect time, but not until the fullness of time. Until then, the mothers will continue to wait in hope and expectation.
Rahab heard of the promised savior and pondered this mystery as she conceived a child from Salmon, a Judean prince; but Boaz was not the one. Ruth, who also joined Israel from the nations, carried that hope in her generation, but neither was Obed the one. These sons, though mighty in their own generations and in the purpose of God, merely portrayed the savior's character and mission, preparing the way of the Lord. Hannah whispered of him in the back of her tent when she carried Samuel in her womb, as did the mothers of David and Solomon, but the savior was not yet ready to be born in the flesh. How long will the suffering go on? How many more pregnant mothers waiting, hoping, longing to give birth to the promised one?
Isaiah offered more revelation concerning the promised one when he prophesied, saying, "the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." (Isa 7:14) A virgin, an unmarried young woman will bear a child. For the first time, in clear language, a direct line is drawn to the earliest and original prophecy spoken in the garden, and a deeper truth yet was revealed. Not any woman could bear this child, but she will have to be unmarried, and a virgin.
His name is to be called Immanuel, God with us, a name too big for even the finest of prophets or the greatest of apostles. Who will this child be? Can God come in the flesh? Can He live among us? Incredible, yet necessary. If God is a personality, then He will make Himself known. If He is Love, then nothing will stop Him from coming to His children. And in order to reveal His love, He must come as one of us.
Revelation continued to pour out through Isaiah, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this." (Isa 9:6,7 NASB)
Upon this son's shoulders, and none other, will the government of God rest. This kingdom is not about territory, or economy, or political power. Rather, though it will rest on earth, it is a kingdom of justice and righteousness and of peace. His names are divine, pointing to His supreme nature and eternal holiness. He alone is Wonderful; He is the Counselor who has the keys to the mystery of our lives; He is the Mighty God; and simultaneously, He is both our Eternal Father and the true Prince of Peace. This One is the one promised to us from the beginning. But for now, the mothers will continue to wonder, hope, and whisper in the women's tents.
Years later, Micah spoke of the exact location of His birth. "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity." (Micah 5:2 NASB) This was a well-known prophecy, so much so that the scribes and priests quoted it to Herod in Mat 2:5,6, and many in Israel kept looking, waiting, and expecting. After years, though, disappointment clouded their hopes, and they forgot the word. When will He come? Will He ever come?
But God would not leave His people without a word. Daniel, by the visitation of the angel Gabriel, prophesied of the timing of His arrival. "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress." (Dan 9:24, 25 NASB)
From the decree of king Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem, issued in 444 BC, according to Nehemiah 2, there would pass sixty-nine weeks of years till the death of the Savior. Four hundred and eighty three years (with 360 days in a prophetic/biblical year) would pass from the command to restore Israel to her land from the Babylonian exile until her Messiah will accomplish His work of deliverance. This count brings us to the spring of 33 AD, the time of the Passover sacrifice.
And, indeed, in the fullness of time, at God's perfect moment, Gabriel came again, this time to a virgin in Nazareth. God, who always desired and planned to reveal Himself, was now about to make Himself known to mankind. But how? Through an angelic display? A heavenly messenger? In creation? No, this time God came in the person of His Son, the very image and substance of the Father.
In a Jewish virgin's womb, in a humble village in the backwaters territory of a conquered tiny nation, God planted His holy seed. The size of the divine package which would in time deliver the world was one microscopic speck of dust, one fertilized egg in the virgin's womb. The original promise from Genesis 3 was finally fulfilled. The Word spoken at the dawn of humanity became flesh in the humblest of ways, away from the courts of power and the seats of government.
The baby everybody wanted was finally born thousands of years after the promise was first spoken. The stage was set, the national arena of Israel was prepared, and the world was ready. In the least desirable surroundings and circumstances God took on human flesh and entered His creation. Helpless, defenseless, and completely vulnerable to the predator spirits of this age, Jesus was born.
Bethlehem was His entry point, but He was raised in Egypt and in the Galilee. In the land of Israel He matured, perfected obedience, and prepared for His death. The Lamb which was slain before the foundation of the world was at hand, and he said, "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour?' But for this purpose I came to this hour." (John 12:27 NASB) Not denying His humanity or earthly frailty, the Son of God nevertheless kept His eyes on the Father's purpose and on His own mission.
The baby that everybody wanted was born, grew up, died, and rose to life again within a hundred miles of his birthplace. He never wrote a book, never was elected to any official office, and never started a political movement. Yet His life was so pleasing to the Father, that His sacrifice was accepted as payment for the transgression of the entire world. Sin was undone, its sting canceled, and the enemy defeated in eternal triumph.
May the gift of His death and resurrection be planted deeply in your heart this Christmas and Hanukah season.
Embrace Israel Ministries PO Box 10077 Cedar Rapids, IA 52410-0077 USA
Voice: (319) 393-1096 / Fax: (319) 393-2912
Internet site: www.embraceisrael.org