Since the fall of man, God has pursued him with His unfailing love. As early as in Gen.3:15 He has committed Himself to destroy the relationship into which man had then entered with Satan, to defeat Satan and to provide an escape through the covenant of grace from the bond into which Satan has led man – an escape which God intended to complete over many centuries and along well-nigh inconceivable ways.
Even at this early moment, He promised Satan that, although he would bruise the heel of the Seed of the woman, that Seed would crush his head. This Seed is none other than Jesus Christ. How can we know that? We will look at this matter somewhat later.
Suffice it to say, for our present purpose, that there is no one else in God’s Word except Jesus who would and could defeat Satan. But this same Seed, Jesus, was also mentioned in the covenant that God made with Abraham.
In the covenant of grace with Abraham, God initiated His plan of salvation which He promised in Gen.3:15. He had chosen Abraham and his physical posterity to be the carriers of that covenant until it would culminate in Jesus Christ.
We must now look at the content of the covenant and its historical development. We must also determine how the significance of the Old Testament covenant applies to the meaning given to it by the coming of the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, especially in the sense of promise and fulfillment, prophesy and substantiation.
After all, God’s Word is understood as Old and New Testament, “old” and “new” covenant. In other words: Jesus Christ and the Gospel as the fulfillment of promises and prophecies, are set in the historical framework of the development, unfolding, and clarification of the one covenant.
In the case of Abraham God used the process of a covenant. Abraham understood the weight and implications of this covenant very clearly. After all, he was a very rich man. In his household, among others, he had 318 (three hundred and eighteen) trained soldiers – all born in his household (Gen.14:14). So he knew the implications of a covenant.
The Covenant of Grace
Very, very much can be said about God’s covenant with Abraham, but let us not be side-tracked and let us focus on the theme in hand: “Jesus in the Old Testament”.
It is important to remember that God, in His self-revelation and His benign dealings with man, uses terms and expressions well-known to man in his daily life – terms which man knows through normal usage. In this way, God communicates effectively in order to make us understand His intent (compare e.g. the parables by which Jesus taught).
We may, therefore, understand that in Gen.3:15 the elements of the covenant of grace were already present in character and in principle. This same covenant (by which God graciously binds Himself to man) continued to unfold in His dealings with Noah, Abraham, Moses and further until the New Testament times.
Throughout the different dispensations, this same covenant of grace manifested in various ways. But always it is the one God who, with the one purpose, by means of the one Savior and Intercessor, deals with man towards His ultimate goal.
Prof. J. Heyns wrote in this respect: “That which happens on various occasions with various persons or groups, are not old covenants terminated or new ones initiated, but the same covenant which is once more repeated, confirmed and effected anew”.
Now we need to understand the very important implications of the several covenant promises that God made to Abraham.
Firstly (for the purpose of our discussion): God told Abraham that He would make him exceptionally fruitful and that he would be the father of a multitude of nations (Gen.17:4-6).
Immediately a serious question arises: How can a Hebrew man become the father of any other nation – in fact, a multitude of nations? Surely it will need a miracle!? For the answer, we again turn to the broader context of the Bible itself. See “Covenant Fulfillment” here-under.
Secondly: When God told Abraham that in his Seed all nations will be blessed, He was actually talking about Jesus Christ (Gal.3:8, 16). So here we have the Seed that God said would defeat Satan (Gen.3:15) who is also the Seed to be born out of Abraham’s posterity.
It is clear now that God’s covenant promises about Jesus have been fulfilled. God’s Word itself assures us that we who belong to Jesus Christ, are the (spiritual) seed, the posterity, of Abraham and as such we are heirs of all the blessings that God has promised to Abraham (Gal.3:7, 8, 29).
Please note that God also promised Abraham that he would become the father of a multitude of nations (see under “Abraham’s Seed” above). That’s us!! All who belong to Jesus Christ, the Seed of Abraham, are now also counted under the very same covenant and heirs of all those blessed promises (Gal3:7, 26) - through Jesus Christ our beloved Saviour.
I do not claim to have covered every possible point in this feature. In the following article(s) that I intend to write, I want to discuss how Jesus was further figured and symbolized in the Old Testament. I pray that it will give my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ a greater sense of wonder, thankfulness, and worship, as well as the satisfaction of knowing – just knowing – what long and determined road God has walked with mankind in order to save those who would believe in Him. Amen!!
PS: The Greek word, “Amen” is used to confirm and impress something, as in “really!”, “truly”, “verily”. It does not mean: “I’m finished praying now!”
Part one of the Series - Jesus in the Old Testament
Read part two - Jesus in the darkness – Calvary of the Old Testament.
By Gideon Aggenbag
Mind On Jesus