Session 1: Rethinking Messianic Prophecy
In the first session, we talk about the first Messianic Prophecy in Scripture (Genesis 3:15).
- Play: Session 1 Video
What is the first Messianic Prophecy in Scripture? Discuss.
I ask this question in class; inevitably, we come up with a variety, but we land at this one.
Read Genesis 3:15.
- James Smith, in his book What the Bible Says about the Promised Messiah, claims: "All subsequent Messianic promises are but amplifications of that which is implicit here...Genesis 3:15 is the seed from which the Old Testament promise of a coming Savior grew like a mighty tree....Here is the mother prophecy which gave birth to all the rest."
- I have a couple of questions....First, how do we know this is Messianic? Who gets to decide?
Second, what do we mean by "Messianic"?
- I want to look at another passage, one that I think highlights the struggle for us. Luke 24, the road to Emmaus....
Jesus calls them foolish and slow of heart to believe! All because they were so consumed with their interpretation of the OT that they missed how Jesus fulfilled it
Read Luke 24:44-45...Jesus opened their minds to understand.
So, then, there are two important principles I think we need to walk away with from this text. #1: They knew the Scriptures but they missed the Messiah. #2: They only got it when Jesus himself opened up their minds to understand it.
We will always start in the NT. We will let the NT be our guide, our 'guard rails' as we seek to understand Messianic Prophecy. Second, we will pay careful attention to how the NT authors are using it so that we can understand what is meant.
To apply this to Gen 3:15: where is this passage quoted elsewhere in Scripture?
Romans 16:20...a common song used in kids church years ago.
So, if this is a MP, there are a few puzzling features of this text. A couple of things are really interesting about this.
- First, God is doing the crushing, not the "seed of the woman."
- Second, it is in future tense; it is not past, accomplished fact.
- Third, Satan is crushed underneath our feet
Perhaps we need to go back to the OT to really understand the text.
Discussion of Gen 3:15
Perhaps it would help to actually analyze this passage.
- First, there is good/evil.
- This is the first curse given, and it is given to the serpent. We aren't yet told who this serpent is; later tradition attributes the identity of the serpent to Satan.
Notice the changing of the wording: crush vs. strike. Which sounds more ominous? Crush. But actually, they are the same thing in Hebrew, with the only difference being in who actually does the action to whom. So why the differences in translation? Well, because they both represent potentially fatal blows...a human struck on the heel by a snake may in fact die from the venom; a snake struck on the head by a person may in fact die from the blow.
So, then, whatever we want to classify Gen 3:15 as, we have to agree that this prophecy is fulfilled, in some way, by our ongoing battle against the evil one. We even see this battle play out in Adam and Eve's own sons.
- When we arrive at Rom 16:19-20, what do we find? Be excellent at what is good and innocent of evil. It is the battle between good/evil, stemming from a knowledge of good and evil (think of the tree in the garden), and now God's people are to be concerned that they don't violate what God wants.
- That which was once hostility now is Peace, because the God of Peace will soon Crush Satan.
- What Jesus has done has now opened the way for victory. Because of his death and resurrection, we can indeed trust God to crush the enemy underneath our feet. It is a picture of God's victory, because of Jesus, as we move out to do God's work in the world. We fulfill Gen 3:15.
This, then, is our focus in these lessons. We will always start with the New Testament and ask, "what does the text say?"
- We will be much less interested in mining the Old Testament for Messianic foregleams, to borrow Smith's phrase, and will rather concern ourselves with mining the New Testament for Messianic fulfillments.
- In the process, it is my hope that we can come to a point where we realize the beauty of what happens in Scripture...the majestic unfolding of God's plan in unexpected ways for his glory.
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