OLD TESTAMENT SURVEY OF MESSIANIC HOPE
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head (heb. ‘rosh’), and you will strike his heel.” (Gen 3:15 NIV)
A. Ireneaus de Lyons (early mid 2nd century —c. 202AD) called this verse the ‘proto-evangelium’ or the ‘first gospel’. The beginning of the Messianic expectation (i.e. ‘the Gospel’) is given within the context of the curse upon creation. Just as a man lead a rebellion against God, and brought a curse to the entire kingdom of man, so an offspring would be given who would crush the serpent and restore the effect of his influence.
B. Immediately after the curse is pronounced by God, men named themselves and their offspring in hope that they might be the appointed seed, and thus see an end to the curse upon the ground. Adam begins by naming his wife in accordance with the promise that the seed would come from her.
20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. (lit. ‘life’) (Gen 3:20 NIV)
C. Next a son is given to them. In hopes that he will deliver them from the curse Eve names him Cain —acknowledging that she was given a seed by God who had promised the seed who would crush the serpent and restore the ground.
1 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain (heb. ‘qa-yin’ lit. ‘possession’), and she said, “I have gotten a manchild (i.e. as a gift) with the help of the LORD.” (Gen 4:1 NASB)
D. After Cain murdered Able, it was clear that he was not going to restore the earth and cleanse it from sin. Another son was given to them. Seth was named within the same context that the Lord would give them the promised seed from Eve who would crush the serpent. After it became evident that Seth nor his offspring could be the promised see, men began to call upon the Lord. This was not simply a cry for help, but a plea in the context of His covenant with creation and with Adam.
25 Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth (lit. ‘appointed’), for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring (i.e. seed) in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh (lit. ‘mortal’). Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD. (Gen 4:25-26 NASB)
E. Enoch saw the day of the seed’s coming, and named his son in response to the prophecy. Most likely, the Lord told him that a day of judgment was coming when his son died, but Enoch named his son with the hope that the seed would restore everything at his death. The year that Methuselah died, the fountains of the deep were opened.
21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah (lit. ‘when he dies, it will come’). … 27 So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died. (Gen 5:21, 27 NASB)
14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (Jud 1:14-15 NASB)
F. Thus, Lamech —Methuselah’s son —named his son with the expectation that he would be the promised seed.
28 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son. 29 Now he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed.” (Gen 5:28-29 NASB)
G. After the flood, the promise of the seed was narrowed to a particular race. Of Noah’s three sons, the seed would come through Shem (through whom we have Semitic tribes). Though the curse was upon the earth and God had withdrawn His immediate presence, Noah prophesied of the day when He would dwell on the earth again. It would be in the ‘tents of Shem’ where the immediate physical dwelling of God would be restored to the earth —thus bringing blessing to the whole earth.
25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him (i.e. God) dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” (Gen 9:25-27 ESV)
H. Abraham —who was born before Noah died —was visited with the promise that the seed would come through his specific family. Again, the covenant with Abraham is not a new one which is meant to anchor him to a new hope. Rather, it is a reiteration of the promise to Abraham serving to motivate him to continue on in righteousness because of the assurance of what has been promised.
4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 “I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. 7 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants (lit. ‘seed’ singular) after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants (lit. ‘seed’ singular) after you. (Gen 17:4-7 NASB)
- 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ (i.e. the Messiah). (Gal 3:16 NASB)
- 13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world (i.e. in the age to come) was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. … 16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. (Rom 4:13-17 NASB)
- 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. … 25 “It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED. (cf. Gen. 22:18)’ 26 “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” (Act 3:21, 25-26 NASB)
- 23 On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, … 29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. … 31 “But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 32 ‘I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Mat 22:23, 29, 31-32 NASB)
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hbr 11:8-10 NASB)
- 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (Hbr 13:12-14 NASB)
I. Abraham’s grandson, Israel (or Jacob), prophesied over his 12 sons prior to his death within this same framework. Just as Enoch prophesied the logical conclusion that if there were to be a complete reversal of the curse, then wickedness could not dwell on the earth again. Thus, the seed had to come to cleanse the earth from wickedness. Now, Israel prophesies another requirement for perpetual righteousness —and thus perpetual life without a curse —the seed has to stay and govern over the nations.
J. Speaking to Judah, Israel said that his family line would hold the scepter of leadership in Israel until the Messiah comes.
10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. (Gen 49:10 NASB)
“Many sources, including the Targum (Aram. paraphrase of the OT), see “Shiloh” as a title of the Messiah. However, the Hebrew word šîlōh should be rendered “whose it is,” that is, the scepter will not depart from Judah … until He comes whose it (i.e., the scepter) is (or as the niv puts it, to whom it belongs). Similar words in Ezekiel 21:27, “until He comes to whom it (the crown, Ezek. 21:26) rightfully belongs” were addressed to the last king of Judah.”
K. Balaam, a foreign prophet, prophesied about the coming seed who would also be the ruler of Israel. From Israel, Judah specifically, the Seed was going to rise by crushing many surrounding nations.
17 “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter (cf. Gen. 49:10) shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth. 18 “Edom shall be a possession, Seir, its enemies, also will be a possession, While Israel performs valiantly. (Num 24:17-18 NASB)
 The Hebrew word ‘rosh’ (translated ‘head’ in Genesis 3:15) not only implies the physical crushing of the serpent’s seed at the end of the age (cf. Rev. 12), but also a reversal of his perverted influence upon the earth…i.e. the curse. The word is translated elsewhere ‘ruler, beginning, top, captain, first, etc…’.
 Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Ge 49:8–12). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.