The preservation of the Messianic line - Part 1
Mervyn Wishart, Newcastle, Northern Ireland
The first prophecy concerning the Messiah
‘And I 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’, Gen. 3. 15.
- He will be the seed of the woman: He will be born of a virgin. 1
- He will be a man, ‘he shall crush thy head, and thou shalt crush his heel’, Gen. 3. 15 JND.
- He will be a descendant of Seth; Eve said, ‘God . . . hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew’, 4. 25.
- He will be of the seed of Abraham, ‘in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed’, 12. 3. ‘Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ’, Gal. 3. 16.
- He will be of the seed of Isaac, ‘in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed’, Gen. 26. 4.
- He will be of the seed of Jacob, ‘in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed’, 28. 14.
- He will be of the tribe of Judah, ‘The sceptre shall not depart from Judah . . . until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be’, 49. 10.
- He will be the son of David, ‘Howbeit the Lord would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised to give a light to him and to his sons for ever’, 2 Chr. 21. 7. ‘The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham’, Matt. 1. 1.
The attack of the serpent on the royal seed
‘Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him’, Gen. 4. 8. It is a sad mark against the human family that, of the first two brothers born, one became a murderer. It is important to note that it was not merely the result of a quarrel or disagreement between them. Cain was angry with God and jealous of his brother Abel, whose offering had been accepted.
The New Testament states clearly that Cain was under Satanic influence, ‘[He] was of that wicked one’, 1 John 3. 12. This was the first visible manifestation of the enmity that would rage for many generations between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. When Cain was born, Eve thought he would be the fulfilment of Genesis chapter 3 verse 15. She said, ‘I have gotten a man from the Lord’, Gen. 4. 1. When her third son was born, ‘[she] called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew’, v. 25. In spite of the murderous plot contrived by Satan against Abel, the seed of the promised Messiah was intact.
By attempted murder
David was anointed king by Samuel, 1 Sam. 16. 13. Immediately he became a prime target for the enemy. Goliath would have killed him, but the Lord gave him victory. The Lord preserved David from Saul’s javelin twice, 1 Sam. 18. 11, and a third time, 19. 10. When Saul sent messengers to his house to kill him, David made his escape through a window, vv. 11, 12.
There were those who would have killed the Lord Jesus before the arrival of God’s appointed time. In the precincts of the temple, ‘Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him’, John 10. 31. Following His public reading of the scriptures in Nazareth and His teaching that followed, the people ‘were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill . . . that they might cast him down headlong’, Luke 4. 28, 29.
The godly line of Seth intermarried with the descendants of Cain, Gen. 6. 1-7; a tactic the devil would use again in succeeding generations.
When the children of Israel left Egypt, ‘a mixed multitude’ went with them, Exod. 12. 38.
When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem from Babylon, the princes of Israel brought a report to him, ‘The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands . . . For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands’, Ezra 9. 1, 2.
In spite of the devil’s plan, on each occasion God protected the line through which the Messiah would come.
In Nehemiah there was a recovery of the truth of separation, ‘And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins’, Neh. 9. 2. The genealogies recorded in Luke chapter 3 verses 23 to 38 and Matthew chapter 1 verses 1 to 16 were not altered from God’s original plan.
There were at least three massacres of children recorded in scripture, each a direct attempt to halt the messianic line, and one that was planned but prevented in the days of Esther.
Pharaoh gave orders to the midwives, who cared for the Hebrew women in Egypt, to kill every male child born, Exod. 1. 15, 16. ‘But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them’, v. 17. Pharaoh then widened the scope of the edict, ‘And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive’, v. 22.
Speaking of these events, Stephen said, ‘The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live’, Acts 7. 19.
Ahaziah reigned as king of Judah for just one year. When he was killed, his mother, the wicked Athaliah, in order to prevent royal succession, killed the seed royal and assumed the position of queen herself. She reigned for six years in Judah. Unknown to her, when she killed the royal children, there was one who escaped. ‘But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram . . . took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain. And he was with her hid in the house of the Lord six years’, 2 Kgs. 11. 2, 3. At the end of that time, when Joash was seven years old, he was anointed king, and Jehoiada the priest and his sons announced his coronation, shouting, ‘God save the king’, v. 12. The line of the Messiah was reduced at one point to a single individual, a child of one year.
The onslaught of Satan against the seed of the woman increased in ferocity. The Lord Jesus was already born in Bethlehem, and the wise men from the east came searching for Him. They asked Herod for directions, and he told them when they found Him to bring him word. ‘And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way’, Matt. 2. 12.
The result was that Herod’s fury was unleashed against the child population in the Bethlehem area. ‘Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under’, v. 16. An angel had appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him to take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, ‘for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him’, v. 13. Once again, in frustrating the plan of Satan, the word of God in prophecy was fulfilled, ‘When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt’, Hos. 11. 1.
In the book of Esther, Haman was promoted by King Ahasuerus to be second in command in the land. He used his newly acquired power to plot the destruction of the Jews. A decree was published to all of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. ‘And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day’, Esther 3. 13.
The plan of the wicked Haman was thwarted by the intervention of Esther, who, at great risk to herself, interceded with King Ahasuerus. Haman was hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai the Jew. A new proclamation was sent to all the provinces, granting protection for the Jews and their families. The letter was sealed by the king’s ring and sent out in his name, 8. 10.
1 Gen. 3. 15; Isa. 7. 14; Luke 1. 31-34.