Posted in offspring/seed

Offspring (Seed) of the Woman: Protoevangelium, a Precursor to Offspring (Seed) of David

The gospel (good-news) of God first spoken is found in Genesis 3:15, often identified as the protoevangelium, finds its fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [seed] and her offspring [seed]; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3.15).

A couple of important points are embedded in this one verse. Let’s take a moment to look at them and their significance before we move on.  First observe who the prophetic utterance of God is being given to… the serpent and the woman, the man is purposely left out. Secondly, the emphasis is placed upon their offspring. Thirdly, the vision speaks of hostility, hatred and violence (i.e., enmity), which is demonstrated in a conflict between the future children of the two.

The nature of this revelation…

What is the precise nature of this revelation? It is spiritual and physical. Now, I could spend a lot of time defending this position—the dualistic[i] nature in which Scripture deals with us created things—but I won’t. We are not merely natural products of the earth, but supernatural creations of the Creator. There is a spiritual (immaterial) and physical (material) aspect to mankind, we are body and spirit.

Take for example, the Law of God. (I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating). Obedience, true obedience, requires a two-fold response. We must physically carry out what the Law of God requires, but we must also do so spiritually with a heart that loves God and neighbor. True love is the fulfillment of the Law, but true love is not outwardly only but inward as well.

Therefore, it is a correct understanding of Genesis 3 to see this in more than a physical light. When you fail to account for this, you will stumble into serious blunders in drawing the intent of the passage out.

Spiritual and Physical Elements Existent…

The disobedience at the beginning of the chapter was more than a physical act. Both Adam and Eve coveted what God said was off limits to them. A clear violation of the 10th commandment. In that moment they also chose another god (i.e., themselves), blasphemed (i.e. treating lightly the Name of God), by creating an idol to worship (i.e., the fruit). All violations of the first 3 commandments. They also attempted to steal from the Lord, it was His tree not theirs. They refused to honor their Father who gave them life. They bore false witness against their neighbor when confronted in their sin. They demonstrated hate, not love for God when the moment presented itself. They preferred to play the harlot, rather than being committed to their relationship with the Lord God. And since we do not know the day when they sinned against God it is just as likely they did this act near the close of the seventh day; a day God declared holy. Breaking not just one of the commandments, but violating each and every one:

“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it” (James 2.10; comp. Matt 22.40).

So, when God comes into the garden and makes His presence known to His creatures; when He confronts them in their sin, holding them accountable; and, when He delves out a just judgment for the crimes committed we—the reader—would do well to note that there is both a physical and spiritual aspect of the events and decree being given.

Genesis 3:15 as a promise is negative and positive; good and bad. On the one had death and suffering will follow in its wake, on the other hand life and victory.

Snakes and Men

The enmity between offspring…

You hate snakes. They disgust you. You run and scream, you may have even taken the head off one or two with a hoe or a spade shovel. That is all well and good, but that is not a fulfillment of what God has promised here.

In Genesis 3:15 we find this “enmity between [the serpent] and the woman…between [his] offspring and her offspring….” This promise from God is given as a lynchpin between two verdicts. One given to the serpent, the other to the woman (Gen 3.16). To the serpent God promised, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life” (Gen 3.14). This judgment is both physical and spiritual.

On the one hand there is a physical punishment that the serpent faces in God’s judgment. This springs forth from the way in which the Lord God refers to this cunning creature. He identifies it in contrast with livestock and beasts of the field. He does not say “creeping things” or that which is near the ground. So whatever form the first serpent kind was like then, it was different than what we might scientifically catalog today. The serpent is brought low (did it have legs? Did it fly?) and is commanded to move along on its belly and eat dust all the days of its life.

Snakes do not eat dust, so the curse is not to be taken in a wooden literal fashion. The point is that the serpent will be brought low even though it sought to exalt itself. The deceit in which the serpent entrapped Eve (Gen 3.1-4) was an assault against the image bearers of God, and therefore an attack against God whom they were created to represent. God had given mankind dominion over the earth and the creatures therein. Something malevolent drove this creature to attempt to rise above its station, but the Lord drove it to the ground.

The second half of God’s punishment against the serpent (Gen 3.15) addresses that malevolent force, whom we know to be Satan (symbolically). We are told that a continuation of the initial attack would be ongoing. “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3.15c).  A result of the constant hatred and violence (Gen 3.15a), between the two types[ii] of offspring (Gen 3.15b).

**A serpent strikes on the heel, and the man who is above it strikes the head of the serpent. Both parties are attempting to kill the other; although, their methodologies do differ. Only the seed of the woman will be successful.[iii]

This would continue until their chief representatives battled it out. This is the reason for suffering, persecution and various trials that godly men and women face in this world.

The Offspring…

Note the concern is on their children. The Hebrew word (zera’; זֶרַע) translated offspring or seed can be taken literally or figuratively, plural or singular depending upon its surrounding context and usage (cf. Gen 12.3, 7; 15.5, 18; 17.7; 22.18; Deut 31.21; Gal 3.16).

If we look a little bit closer at the enmity being discussed in Gen 3:15 we see the announcement of two different “heads” having been established in the rebellion. From one fount you would have the seed or “offspring” (i.e., children) of the serpent, and from the other you would have the seed or “offspring” (i.e., children) of the woman.

Two questions immediately come forth: 1) How do we know this? 2) Why is this important?

  1. In a technical sense the seed usually comes from the man, not the woman. Adam was designated as the head over the woman in function, but not in equality. He was the one given instruction on how to live having been formed first, and this knowledge was to be passed down to his wife (cf. Gen 2.16-17). Adam was given the charge “to work…and keep” (Gen 2.15) what had been given under his dominion. It is interesting to note that this charge of “working” is in line with the command to “subdue” in Gen 1:28, and the type of godly rule (dominion) the Lord expected him to “keep” what had been given him (Gen 1.26)—i.e., protect, build a hedge around. Rather than exercising godly rule in the garden, rather than protect what had been given to him, Adam rebelled. In seeking to throw off one Master, he became enslaved to another. Therefore, it makes sense that God would put the stress on the enmity between the seed of the woman rather than the seed of the man. Anything that came from Adam would be corrupted, for his offspring were to be slaves by nature. Only an act of grace changes the outcome.
  2. There are two ways in which one might enter the world. The first is by natural means. We who are born today have entered the world in this way. There are only two in the history of creation that have come a different way; in other words, supernaturally. As I said in my last post (Offspring (Seed) of David: Part III, Luke’s Genealogy) Jesus and Adam shared a commonality in that they both entered the world by supernatural means.

“Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli [his father-in-law]…the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3.23, 38b; italics added).

Through the virgin birth, Jesus bypassed being a natural product of Adam. His share in humanity was through His mother, not through our earthly father Adam. Pseudo-Christian theologians can debate the intricacies of this all day long, as they attempt to downplay the distinction given to Jesus through the virgin birth, but orthodox belief demands it. Sinners are born through Adam (Rom 5.12-21), and Jesus came about by other means. Thus, he could rightly claim later Satan “hath nothing in me” (John 14.30).[iv]

The reason that this is important is that the “seed of the woman” is the one who will crush the serpents head. Something only one in perfect union with the heavenly Father could do (John 10.30).

Again, we see a dualistic approach used here in the text. Both physical and spiritual aspects are stressed. All of life is spiritual. Humanity has spiritual value in their acts and state of being; either positively or negatively.

Genesis 4: Cain and Abel

Different Types…

We find this understanding not long after the decree of God in Genesis 3. Two offspring came by “the help of the Lord” (Gen 4.1). The first was Cain, the second was Abel. At first glance both children of Adam and Eve were indistinguishable.  What defined the two offspring was their dealing with God. One acted in faith towards the Lord, the other did not. One loved the Lord God, the other did not. One was found in the Lord, the other was not.

The result? Cain slew his brother Abel. In a sense, he struck at the heel of his brother with sinful venom that poured from his own wicked heart. In this act Cain revealed who he was truly an offspring of, as did Abel. But Abel was the true victor for he triumphed even in death (Gen 4.10; Heb 11.4); which, is a figurative strike to the serpent’s head. For thinking he won, he truly lost.

Perhaps you are wondering, “What sort of offspring is Abel? For you said that through Adam we are born of corruption being sinners, so how then is Abel revealed as anything different?”

Abel was a true offspring of the woman; whereas Cain was an offspring of the serpent. Bear in mind we are speaking of spiritual quality here, not physical.  Eve recognizing this to some decree rejoiced over her son Seth of whom she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring [Seth] instead of Abel, for Cain killed him” (Gen 4.25; cf. Luke 3.38).

This is not the first time that those who have opposed the will of God have been identified as children of snakes. One of the early themes in the gospel is that those who hate repentance, who hate obeying God, and refuse to honor His Name is that they are a “brood of vipers” (Matt 3.7; Luke 3.7). That is, children or offspring of serpents or Satan.

Jesus had the following to say to such individuals:

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8.43-44).

Those who are offspring of the serpent speak from “…the abundance of [their] heart” (Matt 12.34), and for them is promised an eternal “sentence to hell” (Matt 23.33).

The Cause of Different Types…

What is the cause of the different types? The short answer is natural versus supernatural birth. Or, if you prefer divine grace. The promise in Genesis 3:15 is that the offspring of the serpent would have enmity (hostility, hatred) towards the offspring of the woman, which wisdom reveals is Christ Jesus.

Grace is what enables the natural born children of Adam to be considered “types” of the seed of the woman, and only this is possible because of God’s grace in giving us the “anti-type” Jesus of whom it is said:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoptions as sons” (Gal 4.4-5)

Apart from God’s grace we remain “types” of the seed of the serpent, and are by nature children of wrath (Eph 2.3), enemies of God (Rom 5.10), hostile to His Word (Col 1.21). By grace, we become children of God (John 1.12-13), being reconciled through the Son (Eph 2.13-16), and knowing the mind of God through the Spirit, love His commandments (1Cor 2.9-13; 1John 5.2).


ENDNOTES:

[i] I am not speaking of an unbiblical form of dualism that sometimes pervades Christian thought (e.g. secular vs. spiritual categories; laymen vs. ministerial categories), but specifically the spiritual and physical aspects of reality we experience as God’s created beings, and in reading and interpreting His Word. For a discussion on this subject see: H. B. Kuhn, “Dualism” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd edition, Walter A. Elwell, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 357.

[ii] I cannot stress the importance of understanding biblical types and anti-types enough at this point. A type is a shadow, a symbolic representation of another; whereas, the anti-type is the image that the type is meant to reflect. This hermeneutical tool is vital to the biblical exegete if they want to draw deeper meaning from the text. Those that fail to notice them, often struggle with identifying categories and a proper understanding of the symbolic/figurative nature of God’s Word in key areas. E.g. Passover Lamb in Exodus 12 is a type of covering found in the anti-type Jesus of Nazareth identified as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1.29, 36) in relation to his crucifixion and the institution of the Last Supper rite (Matt 26.17-29).

[iii] I am merely speaking from the vantage point of Gen 3:15. That is the reason for my future tense. However, the fact is this event has already past, since Christ was victorious on the cross at driving the death blow against the vile serpent of old (cf. John 12.31).

[iv] Merrill G. Tenney admits that the KJV’s reading is the stronger reading that gets closest to the original of the NIV and other texts like the ESV whose reading emphasis “on me” instead of “in me.” The Greek en can be translated “on” rather than “in,” but the reason Satan “has no claim” (ESV) or “has no hold” (NIV) “on Jesus” is because unlike the rest of humanity Jesus was born without sin. The Living Word who put on flesh like the rest of us was/is distinct from us as He had no inner propensity/desire to sin. See: Merrill C. Tenney, “John,” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary with New International Version: John and Acts, Vol 9, Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1981), 149, ft.note 30.

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Posted in Jesus Christ

Offspring (Seed) of David: Part III, Luke’s Genealogy

Both Matthew and Luke present to their readers a genealogical record of Jesus’ lineage. In the last post on this subject (Offspring (Seed) of David: Part II, Matthew’s Genealogy) we focused on Matthew’s emphasis in tying Jesus to Abraham and David. This time around we are going to look into Luke’s emphasis and see what we might learn from it.

Why does Luke point from Jesus to Adam?

“Okay, why does Luke’s genealogy differ in that it points to Adam, rather than Abraham or David?” you ask. Great question.

I think that one reason is related to Luke’s audience. Jesus is not just the savior of the Jews, but to the Gentiles as well. There are many passages in the Old Testament (Tanakh) that reveal God’s willingness and provision for those people who are not physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (e.g. Isa 65). The whole earth is God’s, so it makes sense that He would include the means to deliver others from their sin. As it is written:

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1John 2.2).

Therefore, one would expect to find this gospel hope in the beginning…

Quick look at Luke’s Genealogy…

Luke’s genealogical record follows immediately after the acts of John the Baptist at the Jordan River. He is baptizing the people, calling for repentance and a turning towards the rule of God. Thus, he preached the gospel of God, pointing his audience to God’s Anointed (Luke 3.16-17). While at the same time denying the charge of the people that he (John the Baptist) was the Messiah (Luke 3.15).

The Baptist also highlights a truth contained in the whole canon of Scripture which is for various reasons overlooked. Earthly status and outward behavior do not save a person from God’s judgment; rather salvation is an act of God’s grace (Luke 3.8-9). Demonstrated in the hearts of believer’s via faith; a gift of the Lord (Luke 3.10-14).

After these things, Luke finds it appropriate to record the family line of Jesus through Joseph, his supposed father (Luke 3.23). Again, the thrust of this “family tree” is in tracing Jesus’ roots all the way back to the beginning. If salvation (deliverance from sin and separation from God) is that which truly belongs to the Lord, then it makes sense that this would have been appropriated by God from the beginning…not the end. Therefore, Luke ends Jesus’ genealogical heritage as follows: “Jesus…the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3.38).

Commonalities shared between Jesus and Adam

Son of God…

There are a couple of points that we need to hit on here. The first being that both Adam and Jesus are unique in that they alone are identified as the “son of God.” This is tied to the biblical understanding of supernatural creation. Both Adam and Jesus were formed by unnatural means. God formed Adam from the dust of the earth, and God formed Jesus in the womb of Mary. The Holy Spirit is seen hovering over both instances as this is a work of God and not anything else (cf. Gen 1.2; Matt 1.18, 20; Luke 1.27-28). The emphasis on Adam, the first man, and the emphasis on Jesus, the last man is that they are unique in terms of their entrance into the world (1Cor 15.45-49; cf. Rom 5.14).

Dominion Authority…

Due to their created status they were given specific authority in how they functioned and ruled in this world. Both Adam and Jesus were given dominion over the earth and over its creatures (cf. Gen 1.26-28; Matt 28.18; Luke 4.32, 36; 5.24; 9.1; 10.19; John 5.27; 10.18). This was due to their status as God’s image bearers. An image is a shadow or a reflection (a mirror) of that, which it images. Both Adam and Jesus were given instruction to exercise dominion in a godly fashion; reflecting God’s thoughts and therefore actions into daily activity.

Being fruitful…

As such they also served as representatives for their offspring. In the beginning God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Why? Besides children being a blessing from God, offspring serve another purpose. What is it? To follow in the steps of their father. Adam and Jesus were to follow in the steps of their heavenly Father as His image bearers. In the same way, their offspring after them was to follow in the steps of their father.

(NOTE: I am using the term “father” here as a functional word, which I shall explain in a few moments; so, please bear with me.)

Scripture speaks of offspring in the following manner:

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” (Psa 127.4-5).

An arrow is a weapon. A child is to be trained up in the ways of the Heavenly Father by their earthly father, so that when they grow old, they will not depart far from His ways (cf. Prov 22.6; Deut 6.7; 11.19). The offspring mirror their fathers.

Now you may question my use of “father” in applying it to Jesus. Understandable since we normally do not speak of Him in this light, but God in His Word does:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forever more.” (Isa 9.6-7).

If we are able to bear it, Adam was given authority to rule because he was designated a king (vice-regent) over creation, and his offspring were to walk in his steps after him. Similarly, Jesus was given authority as the Son of God to rule because he was designated a king over creation, and his offspring are to walk in his steps after him.

Differences Between Adam and Jesus

Son of God…Dominion Authority…Being Fruitful

Rather than treat his categories separately, I am going to tie them all together into one cogent thought. A son is supposed to be like his father. A son is supposed to rule, to govern, to exercise dominion like his father. A son is supposed to be fruitful to carry on his name, his heritage.

Adam rebelled against God in the garden. He disregarded God’s instruction and refuse to mimic his heavenly Father’s ways. Therefore, the free exercise of his dominion is unjust, unrighteous, and the ways of peace he, nor his offspring after him have not known.

Jesus on the other hand was obedient in the garden: “not my will be done, but thine.” He regarded God’s instruction and refused to depart from His Word or His Ways (Matt 4.4; John 5.19; 12.49). Therefore, the free exercise of his dominion was just, righteous, and the ways of peace he made known, freely giving it to his offspring (Luke 23.41; John 14.27. 1Pet 1.19).

One Final Observation…

There is one final commonality that Jesus and Adam shared when their first entered creation, and with it comes one marked difference. In the beginning when God created Adam, He made the first man upright, which is to say without sin. Now for some of you this may be a bit confusing, especially if you assume that “sin” is always just an action rather than a state of being.

Notice the difference between these biblical statements:

“See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (Eccl 7.29).

The phrase “God made man upright” speaks of status. It was the original state of “uprightness” that our forefather Adam found himself made in, in the beginning. Before the fall we would write the following sentence: Man is upright. However, after his rebellion we are told that he was placed in a different state.

“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Rom 5.19; italics added).

Here we see the similar phrase, but in the negative state: “…the many were made sinners.” This speaks of status, not action with “made” being the operable word. Why were “the many made sinners?” Because of Adam’s rebellion. The offspring became like their father (i.e., their representative head). Pay attention to the second half of the verse though, for it is equally important. Those found in the man Jesus Christ (i.e., his offspring) will inherit a different state of being. They will be made “righteous,” or upright.

Back to Luke’s Genealogy

Luke’s emphasis differs from that of Matthew’s primarily in the lineage that he traces ancestry from. For Matthew the focus while predominantly on Abraham and David, did settle on Jesus’ earthly father Joseph, whose own dad was Jacob (Matt 1.16). Luke goes the other route, he begins with Mary’s lineage by identifying her father Heli as the father-in-law of Joseph her betrothed: “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli” (Luke 3.23).

Why is this important? It really goes back to the conception of Jesus. As has already been noted Jesus, like Adam, is of supernatural birth. It was the action of God that brought both of these individuals about.

Importance of the Virgin Birth…

Some argue the importance of the virgin birth in different ways. Theologically, it is of primary importance, because of the doctrine of sin. All natural-born children of Adam are born in the state of sin; we are sinners. The only way to remedy this is for one to come untouched by sin. A lamb in the Tanakh (O.T.) had to be a year old and without spot or blemish. God was very serious about this regulation; anything less was viewed very harshly by Him (see Mal 1.6-2.3).

John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1.29, 36). Not possible if Jesus is a direct descendant of Adam (i.e., natural birth). Thus, we are told that “the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together [as husband and wife] she was found with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matt 1.18). Of course, that sounds very strange to our ears. Children are the product of sexual union between opposite genders (male and female).

The first time Mary heard it she was a bit puzzled as well. She said, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1.34). In other words, “how can I have a baby if I haven’t been with a man?” “The angel answered here, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1.35; italics added).

You catch that? The status—state of being—of Mary’s child will be holy (i.e., upright).

Upright Status…

Jesus is not from the seed of Adam, but rather from the seed of the woman (Gen 3.15). Adam was made upright, but in rebellion became a sinner. The result was that all of his offspring became sinners and followed in the paths of their father (i.e., sin). However, with the virgin birth we have a distinction provided between Adam and Jesus. Like Adam, Jesus was likewise made upright (i.e., holy) and therefore without sin. Therefore, it is rightly said that Jesus is the son of man and the son of God.

More will be said on this in the future, but for today I would like to wrap up with the following food for thought.

Of David it was that he was “a man after God’s own heart” (1Sam 13.14; Acts 13.22). However, in Jesus of Nazareth, we have one revealed as “the man after God’s own heart.” Unlike David or Abraham or even Adam—though Jesus is the true offspring of each—Jesus never strayed from the Father’s will. Of him it was said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3.17). And because He so perfectly imaged God we are told to “…listen to Him” (Mark 9.7).

To Him, we are told to bow the knee (Php 2.9-10). To Him, we are told to confess “Lord and Savior” (Luke 2.11; cf. Isa 45.21; Hos 13.4). To Him we are told to image, and in His image we—who confess Him and believe—are being conformed (comp. 1 John 2.6; Rom 8.29).

Next time this subject is visited we shall see in what ways David, as God’s man, shadowed Christ Jesus to come…


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