The preservation of the Messianic line - Part 2
Mervyn Wishart, Newcastle, Northern Ireland
By might of Israel’s enemies
The children of Israel were oppressed by the Egyptians in Egypt for 430 years. When they commenced their journey through the wilderness, they were attacked by the Amalekites. When they crossed the Jordan and entered the land of Canaan, seven nations, each greater and mightier than themselves, awaited them, Deut. 7. 1. In the days of the judges, the Midianites and the Philistines were their constant enemies. Babylon was another mighty enemy that conquered Jerusalem around 604 BC.
The question is, why were the Israelites hated so much that their enemies’ aim was to blot out their name forever? The psalmist, speaking to the Lord, said, ‘They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance’, Ps. 83. 4.
It was a spiritual warfare. To understand the reason for it, we must begin in the garden of Eden. When Adam sinned, God said to the serpent, ‘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. If the enemies of Israel, energized by Satan, could wipe out the nation, then the line of the Messiah would be broken. But their survival was assured. They were protected by an omnipotent God, the same God whose promise was, ‘For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her . . . he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye’, Zech. 2. 5, 8.
By a man
In speaking of Judas Iscariot, the Lord Jesus quoted from Psalm 41 verse 9, ‘Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me’. This is a clear prophecy that it would be someone close to the Lord who would betray Him. None of the other disciples seemed to suspect Judas; they thought rather of themselves, and asked, ‘Lord, is it I?’ Matt. 26. 22.
In John chapter 13, there are two passages which confirm that when Judas acted as he did, and sold the Saviour for thirty pieces of silver, he was acting under the control of Satan. ‘And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him’, v. 2 – the idea for the betrayal of Christ was conceived by the devil. ‘And after the sop Satan entered into him [Judas]. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly’, v. 27 – he was possessed by Satan.
Later that evening in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would say to the band of men who came to arrest Him, ‘this is your hour, and the power of darkness’, Luke 22. 53. Satan was active both in the conception of the plan and in carrying it out, a further example of his enmity against the seed of the woman. He frantically attempted to frustrate the purposes of God, not aware that these events were moving according to God’s eternal plan and in fulfilment of His prophetic word written one thousand years before in Psalm 41.
A brief look into the future may help us to understand the past
In Revelation chapter 12 verse 1, John sees a woman, who wears a crown of twelve stars. She is mentioned seven times in the chapter. The twelve stars lead us to conclude that the woman could be Israel. This is confirmed by verse 5, ‘And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne’. It was from Israel that the Saviour came, ‘of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen’, Rom. 9. 5. The child is undoubtedly the Lord Jesus. He alone will rule all nations with a rod of iron, Ps. 2. 8, 9; Rev. 2. 27. He alone in His ascension ‘was caught up unto God, and to his throne’.
There was one who was enraged at the birth of the child. Four names are given in Revelation chapter 12: the dragon, that old serpent, the Devil, and Satan, v. 9. ‘He persecuted the woman [Israel] which brought forth the man child’, v. 13; ‘[he] was wroth with the woman’, v. 17.
Even after the child is born and caught up to God in His ascension, the animosity of the devil continues against Israel. Subsequent history has made clear that the persecution of Israel continues to this day.
Although 4,000 years had rolled by since the words of Genesis chapter 3 verse 15 were spoken, the promise was fulfilled, ‘But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons’, Gal. 4. 4, 5.
God’s first promise has been fulfilled, and every subsequent promise will be fulfilled, ‘there hath not failed one word of all his good promise’, 1 Kgs. 8. 56; ‘For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen’, 2 Cor. 1. 20.