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The Promised Seed

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.

-- Galatians 4:4 --

In Genesis 3:15, the LORD God told the serpent, “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.” This verse is known as the protoevangelium – the first gospel.

There are two important elements associated with this passage: the curse on all humankind because of the sin committed by the first man and woman (Genesis 3:1-13; Romans 5:12); the promise of a seed from the woman who will deal a death blow to the head of the serpent; the serpent will cause the woman’s seed to suffer by bruising him on the heel. The woman’s seed will ultimately have victory over the serpent’s seed. The LORD God set His plan of salvation in motion. I’m sure Adam and Eve thought this plan would take place soon. Little did they realize there would be at least four-thousand years before this promise was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Enmity is defined as personal hostility between people. In this case, there will be hostility between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. This word is also found in Numbers 35:21-22, Ezekiel 25:15, and Ezekiel 35:5. Seed is a singular noun. The singular pronouns He and him indicate that the woman’s seed will be a man. It is important to note that the seed who will bruise the serpent’s seed will not come from a man, but from a woman (her seed). This leads to the conclusion that the woman’s seed (literally offspring) will not have an earthly father. Offspring is found 70 times in the Old Testament. Depending on the context, offspring has several meanings: creatures such as birds and animals (Genesis 3:7; Exodus 13:2); fruit and other crops (Deuteronomy 28:18); seed/human descendants.

God appointed Adam an offspring, Seth, in place of Abel who was killed (Genesis 4:25). God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you” (Genesis 9:8-9). There are twenty generations between Seth and Abraham (Luke 3:34-38). The LORD God declared to Abraham, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18). The promised seed is a descendant of Abraham.

Abraham had two sons: Ishmael and Isaac. The LORD God told Abram, who was childless, that he will be given an heir from his own body (Genesis 15:2-4). Abram's wife, Sarai, told him that the LORD prevented her from having children. She offered her maidservant, Hagar the Egyptian, to be Abram's wife so that the promised child would be born through her. Hagar conceived and bore Abram a son who he named Ishmael, which literally means God hears (Genesis 16:1-4, 11-15). God promised Hagar that He will greatly multiply her descendants so that they will be too many to count (Genesis 16:10). Ishmael would be “a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers” (Genesis 16:12). The twelve sons of Ishmael became princes according to their tribes (Genesis 25:13-16). They settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria (Genesis 25:18). Shur is the wilderness between Beersheba in the Negev Desert and Egypt. Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur (Exodus 15:22). Havilah is located in the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula, just east of Shur. Thus, the descendants of Ishmael became known as Arabs. Islam claims that their prophet, Mohammed, is a descendant of Ishmael through his eldest son, Nebaioth, or his second son, Kedar (Genesis 25:13). There is some debate on whether or not this claim is true. However, one thing is true: the promised seed is not a descendant of Ishmael.

God kept His promise - Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac (Genesis 21:2-3). Isaac married Rebekah who bore him twin sons who would become the fathers of two nations: Esau and Jacob. Esau was born first. He despised his birthright and sold it to Jacob (Genesis 25:19-34). Esau acquired lots of livestock, cattle, and other goods while living with his brother in the land of Canaan. Because their property had become too great for them to live together, Esau moved to the hill country of Seir and was the father of the Edomites (Genesis 36:6-9). The Edomites never got along with the descendants of Jacob - the Israelites. The Edomites worshipped pagan gods. The Israelites worshipped the one true God. The LORD God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the descendants of Esau - “Flee away, turn back, dwell in the depths, O inhabitants of Dedan, For I will bring the disaster of Esau upon him At the time I punish him... “Concerning Edom... I have stripped Esau bare, I have uncovered his hiding places So that he will not be able to conceal himself; His offspring has been destroyed along with his relatives And his neighbors, and he is no more" (Jeremiah 49:7-8, 10). The promised seed is a descendant of Isaac and his son Jacob, not Esau. In speaking to the prophet Malachi, the LORD God declared "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?... Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau" (Malachi 1:2-3).

God gave Jacob a new name - Israel (Genesis 35:10). Jacob had twelve sons who were born to him through four wives (Genesis 35:23-26). His sons became the twelve tribes of Israel - Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher (Genesis 49:1-28). Jacob told each of his sons what will befall them in the days to come. He had the most to say about Judah - “Judah, your brothers shall praise you; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you. “Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him up? “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples" (Genesis 49:8-10). God revealed that a royal line of kings will be established through Judah leading to the eternal king, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David (Revelation 5:5) who will rule the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:26-27). The promised seed is a descendant of Judah.

There were eleven generations between Judah and David, the son of Jesse (Matthew 1:3-6). The LORD God made this covenant with David - “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13). “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land" (Jeremiah 23:15). The promised seed, the Righteous branch, is a descendant of David.

There are two important genealogical lines associated with Jesus Christ. Matthew 1:1-17 is the record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham (v. 1). Luke 3:23-38 is the genealogy of Jesus, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God (v. 38). Matthew 1:1-6 and Luke 3:31-34 have identical genealogies from Abraham to David. David had two sons: Solomon and Nathan. Both records diverge at this point. Matthew 1:7-16 is the genealogy of Jesus through Solomon, and Luke 3:23-31 is the genealogy of Jesus through Nathan. Both genealogies converge in the person of Jesus – his birth (Matthew 1:16) and when he was around thirty years old (Luke 3:23).

The record in Matthew 1:1-17 shows that Joseph, a descendent of David through his son Solomon (vs. 6-7) and the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born (v. 17), is the adoptive father of Jesus. The genealogy in Luke 3:23-38 records that Jesus is supposedly the son of Joseph (v. 23). Luke used this language to show that Jesus is the son of Mary, not the son of Joseph, by natural birth. Luke’s record shows that Mary is a descendant of David through his son Nathan (v. 31). The genealogies recorded in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 point to the fact that Jesus did not have a natural father. He was conceived in the virgin womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit when she was married to Joseph (Matthew 1:18). Additionally, the genealogy of Matthew 1 points to the fact that Jesus has the legal authority to sit on the throne of David. His adoptive father is a descendant of Solomon through whom the Davidic kingship line was established forever (1 Kings 2:45-46). Thus, Jesus is the Messiah, the son of David (Matthew 1:1), and the Son of God (Luke 3:38).

Satan bruised the heel of Jesus when he used evil men to betray (John 13:2), arrest (John 18:1-11), try (John 18:12-24, 28-40), scourge (John 19:1), and crucify (John 19:16-30) Him. Jesus bruised the head of Satan when He victoriously declared “it is finished” from the cross just before He bowed His head and died (John 19:30) then rose from the grave on the third day (John 20:1-18). Through His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus rendered powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14). He abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10).

Although he remains active today, Satan has no power over those who are in Christ Jesus. Paul assured the saints in Corinth that Satan will be destroyed when he wrote “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (1 Corinthians 16:20), an allusion to Genesis 3:15. Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire, where he will be tormented day and night forever (Revelation 20:10).

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture cited in this post is taken from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update.

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