The Case for Jesus the Messiah – Program 2

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Walter Kaiser, Jr.; ©1989
The first significant messianic prophecy in the Bible is found in Genesis 3:15. But that’s not the only one in that book!


Messianic Prophecies in Genesis

Program 2

Ankerberg: This week, we have a very special program where we are looking at the case for Jesus being the Messiah. Now, where do you find the case for Jesus being the Messiah? It’s in the text of the Hebrew Scriptures. And it’s one of the most powerful arguments concerning the existence of God: that God is there, that God has supernaturally spoken to man. And the reason we know it’s supernatural is that it happened hundreds, even thousands of years in advance, and it was written down and you can check it out. And then, that what he said came true in his special person, Jesus Christ.
Now, if there’s that kind of evidence in existence, I’m sure that you want to know about it. No other religion even claims to have that kind of evidence. Tonight, we’re looking at: Is it really solid evidence? And we have Dr. Walter Kaiser, who is Professor of Semitic Languages and Dean of Trinity Seminary with us. He’s a prolific author and one of the best communicators to the laymen that I know. And yet he can debate and has debated on our program some of the most brilliant theologians in the world today.
But tonight, Dr. Kaiser, we’re in Program 2 and this is New Year’s night for many, many people that are watching the program. We want a word for them. We’re setting the case for the significance, for the case for Jesus Christ being the Messiah in the Hebrew scriptures. Where do you want to take us tonight in presenting this case?
Kaiser: We want to go right to “beginnings,” the book of beginnings: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” [Gen. 1:1] The book of Genesis as it is sometimes called, or B’reshith in the Hebrew scriptures. And we’d like to make a case for four new beginnings that are found there. The first is in that magnificent text which is the core of the whole doctrine of Messiah, that’s Genesis 3:15. Then we’d like to take you to Genesis 9:27, and there we want to show that not only is this Messiah to be born of a woman. It’s interesting there: from the seed of a woman. I almost thought the text was going to say “a seed of a man.” But Genesis 3:15 says, “The seed of a woman.” Then he says, “You should look for him among the Semitic peoples.” He is going to come from the race of Shem, and “God will dwell in the tents of Shem,” Genesis 9:27. And then we want to go to Genesis 12:1-2, and it’s one Semite particularly, Abraham, who later will be known as a Hebrew. So we narrow it down even more. And then, finally, what God is going to do through this one Semite is going to be for the benefit of all the nations upon the face of the earth, Genesis 12:3. So there’s our four new beginnings that we want to talk about tonight.
Ankerberg: Alright. We have to explain to many people that are looking at a Bible that these prophecies weren’t made up by Christians and written in. This material at least was in existence 247 years before Jesus ever appeared on the scene, because we know the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was written at that time in Alexandria. So everything you’re saying tonight we’re going to date. But even if they don’t believe those dates, they have to know this was in existence at least 247 years before Jesus appeared on the scene.
Kaiser: That’s correct, John.
Ankerberg: Alright, let’s go to Genesis 3:15.
Kaiser: Genesis 3:15 is that great text where, after the first tragedy came upon the whole human race, God gives a glimmer of light. And that first tragedy was what we call the Fall. Adam and Eve partook of the fruit and therefore failed the test that God had set up.
In the midst of all of the negative statements there, that is, the judgments that were to come upon the human race, especially because of their involvement here, all of a sudden, like daylight, there breaks out this marvelous phrase: God says, “I will put enmity between you [that is, the serpent] and the woman…between your offspring and her offspring. And he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”
Well now, at first this sounds very, very enigmatic. You wonder what in the world is going on here? First of all, I should tell you that the word “enmity” here is always person-to-person hostility. It’s only found five times, but it’s always between persons and people. My suspicions are here that we’re dealing with the serpent. It’s always found with the article: ha nachash, the serpent, that old dragon; the one who is known in the book of Revelation as the Devil. And I take it here that he has a line of people that are his offspring, his seed, his descendants and the woman has her line.
But then suddenly, God who puts hostility: 1, the “serpent” versus 2, the “woman”; and then 3, “his [the serpent’s] offspring”; versus 4, her offspring. That seems like… Well, you say, I suppose that there really, there’s an antipathy that’s built in there. But then we’re surprised all of a sudden by “4a.” One versus two; three versus four; then all of a sudden, Wow! Out of the text comes “4a,” a male descendant of this woman. And this one is going to be nipped in the heel. But on the other hand, he’ll turn around and tread on the skull of the serpent. Now, nipping in the heel is bad enough, but crushing the skull is somewhat damaging. I would think it’s lethal. And so you have a pattern here that is built from the very beginning. God is going to send his Messiah through the seed of a woman.
You say, “Well, did they really understand this? You might be reading this in.” I must tell you that the Greek translation done in the third century BC, as John has been mentioning here, they broke the rules of grammar agreement here in order to show that they understood that this was a male descendant of the woman. There are rules of agreement in Greek which are precise, observed in all the rest of the book of Genesis, broken once, here, in pre-Christian times three hundred years before Y’Shua, Jesus the Messiah appeared on the scene. And it is said here that this one is to be born from a woman; the seed of a woman, not from the seed of a man. And that also contains a mystery which God will elaborate on a little later on.
Ankerberg: Why did the King James Version at that point goof and put “It”?
Kaiser: Oh, I think that they were a little chicken, I suppose is the technical scholarly word. And they just didn’t want to come out full-bloom. And some others have said “she” there at that point. But the Hebrew is clear. The Hebrew word is hu, he, the third person, singular pronoun. You can’t miss it. “He” comes across. You could translate that “It” or “He” but it still is clear from context that it has to be a male descendant.
Ankerberg: Okay, and also there’s a tip-off that Eve thought it that way as well, because in Genesis 4:1 doesn’t she make a statement that shows that?
Kaiser: That’s exactly where I was headed. How did you know? In Genesis 4:1 there’s an interesting kind of statement here, because “Adam knew his wife Eve and she conceived and gave birth to Cain and she said, ‘I have gotten a man.’” She makes a little play here on it. She names him Got because she says, “I’ve gotten a man.” She calls him “Cain” because she says, “I’ve cained a man,” if you want to put it in English. A little pun there. I enjoyed it, you may not. But I like that; that’s a blessing to me.
And then she says, “I’ve gotten a man, even the Lord.” Technically, the Hebrew text just says v’eth, and then it has the Tetragrammaton, which some will pronounce; others will not. If you don’t pronounce it, it’s Adonai. So “I’ve gotten a man, the Lord.” When Luther translated this, he didn’t say, “I’ve gotten a man with the help of,” as most of our English texts will say here. But those words, you say, “Yes, but they are in italics, they must be important, that’s where the Holy Spirit meant to pound the pulpit.” I don’t think so. Italics means that these are added words by translators, “with the help of.” There is no Hebrew for “with the help of.” It just says, “I’ve gotten a man, the Lord.” So, Eve’s instincts were the same as the interpretation I’ve just given you here. She thought she was receiving the Messiah. She was right in her aspirations. She was wrong in her timing. It was a little premature. But she wanted to have the Messiah.
Ankerberg: Take a moment, and why is it that this applies to Jesus?
Kaiser: This applies to Jesus because he was the one who was born, not through natural descent, through a woman knowing a man, but by a special work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the phrase then will apply in a very special way: “the seed of a woman.” And more than that, too, it is this same Messiah who will come, as everybody, the Jewish people and Christians all agree: “Wait till you see when he comes in the time of peace!” And there is where he will put down evil, Romans 16:20. Paul, writing to the Church says, “Now may the God of peace crush Satan under the foot of all of you shortly.” So that the victory that Messiah will have is also the victory for the whole believing community, Jewish and Christian alike if they believe in Messiah.
Ankerberg: Is there any evidence in the text, I mean, 1800 or whenever this was written, when Moses put it down, that he had an idea that this was special?
Kaiser: I think there is an indication here. The very fact that you go: in verse 14, a curse; verse 16, a curse; verse 17, verse 18, verse 19. But as they often do in the prophets, they’ll go like a funeral dirge: Boom! Boom! Boom! one sort of indictment, another indictment, a third indictment. But yet in that day there come these rosy-tinted prophecies and a changing of the gears very fast. Some modern scholars say you can’t have hope and judgment in the same context, you’ve got to separate them out. But there’s such overwhelming evidence now, not only in the Bible but also in other kinds of literature, that we’ve got to see them together.
Ankerberg: Alright. Where are we going after the break?
Kaiser: We’re going to go to Genesis 9:27 and then to two passages in Genesis 12. We want to show that the Messiah will also come from the Semites and he will be a Hebrew from the family of Abraham.
Ankerberg: Yeah. And what people need to realize, I mean, as I sit here listening, is that you just didn’t make this up and put it on a piece of paper and come here and tell us all of this. This was written thousands of years before we ever appeared on the scene and before Christ was on the scene. These are specific statements and that’s what’s mind-blowing. We’re going to give you some more of those statements in a moment. Stick with us.

Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back, and we’re asking the question: “Are there remarkable prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures which identify a Messiah hundreds, even thousands of years in advance?” And we’re setting the case out of the evidence itself. And Dr. Kaiser, we just got done seeing that a male child would be born from the seed of the woman, and that he would actually bruise or crush Satan’s head but he would also be nipped in the heel. And now you’re going to build on that. What else does the Scripture tell us?
Kaiser: We have three more new beginnings that I think we need to get to, John. There is the new beginning, a second new beginning in Genesis 9:27. You know, we have these three great crises that come in the first part of Genesis 1-11. There is the crisis of the Fall, first of all, then the crisis of the Flood, and then finally, the crisis of the Tower.
Well, I don’t like to have these sort of things that just don’t sort of fit. You’ve got the Fall, that’s “F,” then the Flood, that’s “F,” maybe we should call it the “Fiasco” of the Tower. “So there!” that ought to work.
But for each one of them God gives a wonderful release. And in Genesis 9:27, after the Flood God gives a special note here to the three sons that come with Noah out of the ark. I have to start with verse 26: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem.” And then he goes on to say, “May Canaan be the slave of Shem.” “May God extend the territory of Japheth” is the way it’s generally translated here, but it’s quite clear that in the original text it just says God will be the one who extends the territory, and “may he dwell in the tents of Shem,” or really “God will dwell in the tents of Shem.”
Some say it’s “Japheth will dwell in the tents of Shem.” But it is clear from the older Jewish interpreters and from the more recent modern interpreters, a number of them have seen that the subject of this clause must be the same one as the subject of the preceding clause. That’s your normal rule in Hebrew. That if God is the subject of enlarging Japheth, then may God also come and “pup tent,” and “tabernacle,” and dwell in the tents of Shem; in other words, among the Shemites, or the Semites as we say today. God would come and would take up his dwelling. Much like in John 1:14 in the New Testament where it says “The Word became flesh and it dwelt amongst us.” It “pup tented.” He came and “tabernacled” in the midst of us. So here is God, coming down and saying look to the people of Shem, the Semites, because that’s where the Messiah is going to come from.”
And then, a second text given to us after the “Fiasco” of the Tower of Babel, then God also does a work and he calls Abram. This man, Abram, down in Ur of the Chaldees in present-day southern Iraq. There he says [Genesis 12:1-1], “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land that I will show you. And I’ll make you a great nation, and I’ll bless you, and I’ll make your name great so that you may be a blessing.”
And here again, we’re finding that the new beginning, God is going to send his Messiah, not only from the seed of the woman, not only from the Semitic peoples, but now from a Hebrew. Abram is going to be called a Hebrew a little later on. And we now know that God is going to focus on what they’ve all been striving for. In Genesis 6 there, “the sons of God come to the daughters of men” and they are all trying to quest for a name, they want to build a reputation. In Genesis 11 they build this great tower. They are looking for a name. And God says, “You want a name? I’ll give you a name. I’m going to give a name by my grace as a gift, a freebie, and I’ll give it here to Abram.” And he says, “Your name will be great.”
So again, a third beginning. The beginning of the seed of the woman. God gives the beginning of the messianic doctrine from the Semitic peoples. God gives it to Abram who is a Hebrew, one of the Semites. We keep narrowing, narrowing, narrowing this down.
And then finally, the fourth beginning in Genesis 12:3. He says, “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to bless those that bless you; and whoever curses you I will curse.” And why is he going to do this? A result clause now follows: “So that all the families on earth may be blessed through you,” through this seed.
So the promise given to Eve is picked up by Shem, is then picked up by Abraham, and Abraham’s children. Isaac and Jacob are going to carry it on. So that we have here not just prediction and fulfillment; too frequently we have looked upon the messianic doctrine as if it were just prediction and fulfillment. Oh no! It’s more than that. I’d rather refer to it as “promise” rather than “prediction.” For you have the word, which is “promise,” then you have the means by which that word has been maintained, and then the results. So we need three elements here, not just the prediction and the fulfillment, but we need to see that God kept his word alive through history.
And how did he keep it alive? Through the Hebrew peoples God has continued to send through David’s line, that one who is born in Bethlehem; that one who is born in Judah; that one who also comes from David’s line; that one who is “Immanuel, God with us.” He comes from the woman, the seed of the woman. And he has a marvelous victory. Ultimately, he ends up stamping on evil itself, the impersonation and the person of evil, ha nachash, the serpent, that old dragon, the devil. He crushes him in that final day. That’s the promised victory in Genesis 3:15.
And then from a Semite, and then from Abraham, and then finally he says, “All the families of the earth.” That had been the title used in the table of nations two chapters before this; seventy nations are listed, they are called “the families of the earth.” And he said, “This word that I’m bringing through this one has relevancy and will be the means of bringing blessing.” I think it should be translated, as it is in most of the texts and was up until 1900 in all versions that “in your seed, all the nations of the earth will be blessed” through you. So it is a passive form there.
No wonder, then, in Galatians 3:8 when Paul saw this, he said, “This is it! The good news! The gospel was preached beforehand to Abraham, saying…” You say, “What’s the gospel? Come on, tell me!” “…Saying, In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” That’s good news! And the best news I can give you at the beginning of this New Year.
Ankerberg: For those people that are thinking about this, when you talk about narrowing this down, when it’s the seed of the woman; you go to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, out of the house of David, and you narrow this line down, you have to ask yourself, “How hard would it be for somebody to come on the scene a thousand years later and have that ‘arranged’ before they’re born? How do you ‘arrange’ to be born into a geographical area and into a particular tribe?” And then you have to have your lineage absolutely correct. Little hard to arrange that in advance. But all of this is mapped out, which is what you’ve been telling us tonight. For those people on New Year’s night that are watching, you’ve talked about new beginnings. You know, Walter, there’s a lot of people that want to make a new beginning. They’ve made a mess of their life. We’ve been talking about the Messiah. What can he offer them that is the good news that you’ve been talking about, that Gospel?
Kaiser: The “good news” and the “Gospel” it seems to me is wrapped up in that Genesis 12:3. He said, “What I’m going to do through you, Abraham, this one who is coming, this seed of the woman, this Semite, this Hebrew, this one, through that particular one, I’m going to give a gift. I’m going to give hope; I’m going to give deliverance for the whole world, all the families of the earth.” And that, Paul said, and that also Moses says, and the writer here, under inspiration of the Spirit of God says, “That’s good news!” and good news it is indeed.
Ankerberg: That’s right. Next week, what are we going to talk about?
Kaiser: Next week we want to talk about four great moments of the messianic doctrine in the rest of the Torah. You’ll remember on the Road to Emmaus our Lord sort of called those who were two disciples and said, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that’s written about me. And beginning with Moses he began to describe all things concerning himself.” We’ve started with four “new beginnings” but I think that’s only the start of it. We want to talk about “Prophet, Priest and King” and the one who is foremost in rank above every other person.
Ankerberg: Great. I hope that you’ll join us next week.

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