THE basf - it's importance and teaching
THE BASF – CLAUSE 7
“VII.- That he inaugurated this plan by making promises to Adam, Abraham and David, and afterwards elaborated it in greater detail through the prophets.- Genesis 3:15; 22:18; Psalm 89:34-37; 33:5; Hosea 13:14; Isaiah 25:7-9; 51:1-8; Jeremiah 23:5”
Following the failure of Adam to attain to the standard of Divine Glory (cp Rom 3:23) by failing to manifest, or reflect the attributes of Divine Character – the image and likeness of elohim, we have seen that the Almighty purposed to bring about His Purpose nevertheless, through a “plan of restoration” of His devising. In our last study, we saw how that this plan provides for the ultimate Glorification of the Father, and thereby the salvation of man – but without compromising in any way God’s Righteousness, and His Righteous imposition of ‘the law of sin and death’ upon man. But the details of how this was to be achieved was not revealed all at once – at least so far as the record which we have is concerned. Rather, it so Pleased the Almighty to impart to man successive revelations, gradually unfolding further details of His Plan.
THE CURSE OF THE SERPENT
The first indication we have in Scripture of the coming Redeemer is, most significantly not in any kind of promise to man – but to an animal, the serpent. So the Lord spake:
“And Yahweh elohim said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 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)
This, we believe, is a vitally significant point to note, in order to perceive what is being meant in these words. This often quoted prophecy of the Lord Jesus is not a promise to man. It is part of the curse of the Serpent – the principle being, that the appointed plan of redemption is not that man be glorified, but that sin be condemned in God’s sight. For the serpent, in Eden, was the originator of sin, in that it was the originator of the temptation which led to man’s fall. So, in this enigmatic prediction, the Lord spake of the final cursing of the root cause of sin, how it’s head would be crushed, and destroyed victoriously by the woman’s seed.
The seed of the woman clearly speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not to be the seed of the man and woman – just the seed of the woman. Even so, “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the Law …” (Gal 4:4). This is the Lord Jesus, the seed of the woman. But notice in Genesis, it is the human parentage which is being emphasised, not the Divine. The woman was to produce the redeemer, albeit by Divine conception. And this is the fundamental principle to recognise in relation to our Lord, that through his mother, Mary (whose name signifies bitterness), he inherited the bitter consequences of Adam’s transgression, in being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, the likeness of all Adam’s posterity. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same …” (Heb 2:14), by being born of a woman. The emphasis in the serpent’s condemnation therefore, is that it was one of humankind that was to crush it’s head – at the same time as the serpent bruised his heel.
There is a clear parallel between this emphasis of Hebrews 2, and Gen 3:15. As we have abundantly shown in recent months, it was essential for our Lord Jesus to be the woman’s seed – a partaker of our nature – in order for him to possess “the law of sin”, or diabolos, that he might destroy it in death. He could not destroy the root cause of sin, if it were not in him to destroy – and it could not be there, unless he partook of our defiled nature by being made of a human woman. That is the clear statement of Hebrews 2:14, for the passage continues to say, “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the diabolos”.
HIM THAT HAD THE POWER OF DEATH – DESTROYED
Churchgoers and the like often use this passage as evidence that the Devil is a person: “him that had the power of death”. And in our contentions against such a position, we ought not become blinded to the fact that the pronoun him is indeed used here – not as a mere figure of speech, but a direct allusion to that which has the power of death in Genesis – the serpent. The serpent was told in no uncertain terms that his head would be crushed. But in the action of crushing that head underfoot, the Victor would himself undergo a bruising – in his heel, meaning that his walk in life would of necessity be interrupted, albeit temporarily.
Notice the parallelism: In Hebrews, the devil has the power of death. But through death, it was destroyed by Christ. In Genesis, the venomous snake has the power of death in it’s fangs. And in having occasion to inflict it’s bite of death- the bruising of the heel lifted over it to deliver the crushing blow – it’s head would also be crushed. We cannot escape the logical deduction therefore, that the serpent speaks of the diabolos, that great enemy within which was overcome and destroyed in the lifting up of the son of man. Hence that same power of sin – albeit in political manifestation – is apocalyptically described as “that old serpent, called the diabolos and satan” (Rev 12:9).
Notice, it was the head of the serpent which would be crushed. The head is the arena of thought, the location of the mind. So it was that the carnal mind which is “enmity against God” (Rom 8:7) was crushed in Christ. Sin in the flesh – whose sting is death to all it’s possessors, was overcome, by the One who by virtue of his Divine begettal achieved the victory. As Paul rejoiced: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin … But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 15:57). In the Divine cursing of the Serpent then, we find exhibited many wonderful points pointing forward to the ultimate destruction of sin itself by the Lord Jesus. Truly such a promise would give hope to the sin-stricken, mortal pair, and their descendents who looked for that great Seed who would be able to overcome. Yet the overriding principle must never be forgotten; man is the offender, and the Plan of Redemption devised by the merciful kindness of his Creator is not for man’s glory, but for the furtherance of the Divine Purpose, and the condemnation of Sin – and eventual removal of all defilement from his Creation.
THE PROMISES TO ABRAHAM
Whilst the serpent’s curse provides us with the first indication of One who would crush the carnal mind and accomplish God’s Plan of restoration, the promises made to Abraham comprise the first specific promises made to man himself concerning the Redeemer. Following Yahweh’s promised sevenfold personal blessing (Gen 12:2,3) of Abraham, upon his obedience to the command to depart from the world of darkness, Abraham left in faithful obedience. And upon his entry into Sichem, (which, incidentally, became the site of the patriarchal burial ground – Acts 7:16), “Yahweh appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto Yahweh, who appeared unto him” (Gen 12:7, cp 13:15). Note this point; the first specific promise made to man concerning the Lord Jesus, again was not to do with man’s redemption. Rather, it was to do with a gift of land, an inheritance which the promised seed should receive.
The significance of this is expounded in Paul’s inspired letter to the Galatians, where we have confirmation that the ‘seed’ who was the object of the 7 fold promise made to Abraham was indeed the Messiah: “and to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal 3:16). Although the land was later promised to Abraham (13:15), and to his multitudinous seed (15:18, 17:8), it was to Christ first – which means that no other party involved in the affair can receive their part, until he does. This is the Spirit’s teaching, that for this reason Israel who inhabited the Land under the conditions of Law did not, and indeed could not possess the land by promise:
“the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the Law which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is not more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the Law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator” (Gal 3:17-19).
There are those in our midst who claim that the promises were fulfilled in ancient times, when Israel, as Abraham’s seed occupied the land, and that they have no future relevance. But such is not the testimony of the One who made the promise, even Yahweh Himself, who declares that His promises cannot be, and were not so disannulled, or dispensed with by Israel’s occupation in former times. Whilst the people did inhabit the land as Abraham was promised (Cp Neh 9:8), they did so under law. “But God gave it to Abraham by promise”. Israel have never dwelt in the land under the covenant of promise. The Law, we learn, was merely a temporary arrangement, “added because of transgressions”, that is, to regulate the behaviour of the Children of Israel, “till the seed should come to whom the promise was made”, and to be a “Schoolmaster” to teach them of that ‘seed’. As the One who was the primary beneficiary of this inheritance, only when he came could the land be bestowed to them also – as a gift. For how can a promise be given in the absence of the one to whom it was primarily made?
“God gave it to Abraham by promise”. Thus saith the Spirit, who “calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Rom 4:17), for as yet, neither the Seed, nor Abraham himself have actually received it. The Lord Jesus never owned any land in Israel – on the contrary, he himself said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Mat 8:20). The patriarchs, and others of like faith “all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off …” (Heb 11:13). Of necessity therefore, the Seed must return, and Abraham must be raised from the dead before God’s promises can come true. Then, and not before can it be possible for Abraham to take possession of the land “for ever” (Gen 13:15), for only an immortalised man can possess anything for ever. Possession usually terminates with death; but under the terms of the Abrahamic promise, resurrection to Immortality must take place – and that being effected by the pre-eminant ‘seed’, as it is written ” … in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen 22:18).
This latter aspect of things, that the ultimate blessing would be made available to all nations through the Promised Seed is itself highly relevant to our present considerations. The immediate context of the promise, is that both Abraham, and his son Isaac, were both taught the principles of Sacrifice upon Mount Moriah. At that place, Isaac obediently yielded himself as a living sacrifice before his Father, who bound him, and offered him up before the Almighty upon an altar, built for the purpose. The hand of death being stayed by Angelic intervention, Isaac was not actually slain – yet the Apostolic commentary is that he was as good as dead upon that Altar of faith, and being unloosed and allowed to go free was typical of his being loosed from the bonds of death, being raised to newness of life: “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son … accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Heb 11:17,19).
This then, is the background to the promised blessings to come through the greater seed of Abraham – foreshadowing the means by which Abraham might become the father of a multitude, and the means whereby all nations which comprise that multitude might be blessed: “By myself have I sworn, saith Yahweh, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his -30-enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:16-18).
Because of this symbolic sacrificial death and resurrection, such blessings would be granted, inasmuch as it prefigured the reality to be seen many years later in the sacrifice of Christ. Through being raised victorious over death, the Lord Jesus, it is testified, would “possess the gate of his enemies,” that is, have control over them; and their activities. Similarly, the Apostle spoke of his Millennial reign: “he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1Cor 15:26). Death then, is the greatest enemy of mankind – and therefore of the One who came to save man from it, and it shall itself be destroyed at the last. But prior to it’s removal from the experience of the terrestrial inhabitants, in fulfilment of the promise to Abraham, the Lord shall have dominion over it’s entrance, determining who may emerge, and who must remain in the grave. He will possess it’s gates, ensuring that it shall not prevail over the household of faith (cp Mat 16:18), even as the Lord himself testified, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev 1:18).
GOD’S PROMISE TO DAVID
Thus far then, we find a progression in the successive promises of God. Firstly, in the cursing of the Serpent, we have exhibited in symbolic prediction, the overcoming of the carnal mind; the crushing of the root cause of sin by the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Seed of the Woman. Next, as the Seed of Abraham, the Lord is promised as the One who must come in order that a promised inheritance might be given to the great Patriarch, and his descendants. And involved with this, as we have seen, is the hope of resurrection, as having achieved the victory over Death, the Lord Jesus is able to determine who is permitted to escape though it’s gates. Thus, we have firstly, the condemnation and destruction of sin, followed by the consequence of that victory – blessedness to all nations who would become heirs of the promise. And in the promises made to David, the Lord is depicted as a Royal Seed – who shall built the great palace/temple of the age to come, and be enthroned there as a great King.
2Samuel 7 describes certain promises made to David, following the expression – and rejection – of his desire to build a house for the Ark to dwell in:
“… Yahweh telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son … And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2Sam 7:12-17).
That this promise speaks of the Lord Jesus, we can be left with no doubt, for it is cited by the Spirit as being illustrative of the greater prominence of Christ over the Angelic Host: “unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” (Heb 1:5). And like the promise to Abraham, this promise does not relate to the Lord – the Seed – alone, but to David also, in the assurance of resurrection to be with the Lord for ever: “thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee …”. Clearly, in order for David’s house and Kingdom to be established for ever before him – he must be there to see it. That is, he must be raised from the dead to experience it. And again, this is not simply an inference on our part, for David himself understood it to be a central aspect of this oath: “being a prophet, and knowing the God had sworn with an oath unto him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” (Acts 2:30-31).
God promised Abraham that his Seed would inherit a portion of land for ever. But to David, he promised that this land would form the nucleus of a Kingdom, over which he would reign from the ancient Davidic seat of power. This was the testimony of Gabriel, in alluding to the oath made to David, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32).
This then, is the great climax in the unfolding revelation of the promised Seed. First, the Woman’s Seed, as the vanquisher of Sin. Then Abraham’s Seed as obtaining an eternal inheritance. Then David’s Seed as a King ruling over that inheritance, over a Kingdom which shall see no end. So it is, that in these promises, we have presented the rudiments of the Gospel – the “things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ” are all encapsulated in them.
And though in such a brief study, we have but given the barest outline of such wonderful promises, it behoves us to see ourselves also as being the beneficiaries thereof. As Peter spake of the knowledge of the Truth “wherein are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2Pet 1:4). The promises are given to us. Therefore, the enmity between the world of serpentine philosophy and the woman’s seed, marks our enmity with, and separation from the corruption of the World. Being One with the Victor of sin, we become part of the Woman’s seed having forsaken the natural family of our Father, Adam, having received the spirit of Adoption whereby the Father of the Lord Jesus becomes our Father. And therefore we, like Abraham and David look forward to the Resurrection, that we might obtain the inheritance with the Greater seed; an inheritance which will be a royal dominion, the centre of a world empire with Christ himself at it’s head. Truly these are exceeding great and precious promises – to which we would do well to take heed.