A Promised Messiah, Prophetic Revelation, Literal Fulfillment
Up until that time in history when a young baby was born in a small village in Judah the promises God made regarding His Promised Messiah were unfulfilled prophecy. Up until that time these prophecies were eschatological in nature – future events. In his Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, J. Barton Payne references 127 Messianic prophecies involving more than 3,000 Bible verses, with a remarkable 574 verses referring directly to a personal Messiah. What I would like to explore in this study is how faithful God is in keeping His promises. I am sure there were those sages within the Jewish community that did not believe that God would fulfill these prophetic promises literally. We do know that there were those that read into these promises their own hopes for Messiah. Judas, for instance, was one. Even though Scripture tells us of a Suffering Servant and a Conquering King, most Jews, like Judas, wanted only a Conquering King. They missed God’s revelation of a Suffering Servant and many other prophetic passages that clearly pointed to Jesus as the Promised One. They also missed the promised Salvation that Messiah would bring to God’s people.
God’s Word is the cornerstone of our Christian faith. God clearly revealed Jesus in His Word as Messiah. Those who rejected Him rejected the Word of God itself. The faithfulness of what He has revealed to us is the Rock that our faith is based on. In God’s Word He has revealed yet unrealized future events to His Church. By faith we can we can certainly count on them being fulfilled literally. We may argue over the nature of how He will fulfill these events but with certainty we can count on Him doing so. In studying the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy I would first like to explore the earliest Biblical passage that pointed to a Promised Redeemer.
Genesis 3:15 tells us that because of the fall God will “put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (King James Version). A difficult passage to understand at first view. God is talking to the deceiver Himself, the serpent or Satan. The reference to enmity between Satan and the woman’s seed points to the enmity between Satan and Jesus Himself. In Genesis 3:15, therefore, we have the first promise of a Redeemer. It is the beginning of a long line of prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. The Promised One would be from the woman’s seed, an indication of the eventual virgin birth of Christ.
We need to now see the literal fulfillment of this passage. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Rome that “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Romans 16:20). He also wrote to the Galatians of the Redeemer’s promised advent: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law.” (Galatians 4:4). The Messiah had manifested Himself. The seed of the serpent would now bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. On the cross Satan bruised the heel of Christ, causing His death. The term bruising was used to denote that the death of Christ would not be final. Christ would die on that cross but that was not to be the end since we worship a risen Christ. Jesus died on that cross on our behalf as payment for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21) because this was God’s plan for our redemption. Jesus bore our judgment upon Calvary’s cross and, in doing so, Satan bruised His heel. Though wounded, the damage done to Jesus was not final, for He came back from the dead three days later. It needs to be remembered that many of the Jewish people saw Christ’s death as a reason to reject Him as Messiah. They ignored the prophecy that the Messiah would be a suffering servant (Isaiah 52:13–53:12). Even His disciples felt dejected until He would later reveal to them that He had risen and overcome death.
New Testament Scripture would further reveal how Jesus would fulfill Genesis 3:15. In Revelation 12:9 it is written: “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” The enmity, at this point in Scripture continues as “the dragon became furious with the woman (the Church) and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.”
There are forty Old Testament passages I will continue to explore to show how God revealed to His people, through His Word, His Promised Messiah. I will continue contrasting these Old Testament passages with the New Testament literal fulfillment of them. We can have confidence that God’s Word is true and without error. We can have confidence that even though we might not understand how God might fulfill prophecies not yet realized He is fully capable of keeping to a literal fulfillment of them. God intended His people to understand His Word. He did not hide from His people His truths. He did not intend that His Word be cloaked in mysteries or did He intend that His people needed a magisterium or an advanced degree to understand them.