The Creator’s Grand Design—Part 6

Deliverance Promised

“The Lord God said, … 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.” —Genesis 3:14,15

MAN, the highest of all God’s earthly creatures, endowed with faculties reflecting the image of the Creator, failed to pass the simple test of obedience to which he was subjected. He had transgressed the law of God and now must die—“Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:19) In the divine wisdom all Adam’s progeny inherited the death penalty. All are born imperfect and, unable to resist the ravages of disease, ultimately die, for “the wages of sin is death.”—Rom. 6:23

But God still loved his errant human children, and even when sentencing Adam and Eve to death, he gave an indication that an opportunity of deliverance from the penalty would be provided. This promise of deliverance is not plainly stated, but it is clearly implied in the statement to the “serpent” that the “Seed” of the woman would bruise his head. And even this obscure assurance seemed to give our first parents a measure of hope that the Creator would remedy their plight; for when Seth was born Eve said, “God … hath appointed me another Seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.”—Gen. 4:25

Eve, of course, did not understand that the Seed mentioned by God was the great Deliverer, the Messiah of promise and prophecy, and that it would be more than six thousand years before the “head” of the “serpent” would be “bruised” by this Seed. As the Creator’s plan unfolds throughout his Word, it becomes clear that the work of deliverance implied by God’s statement to the “serpent” will be accomplished by a powerful government, or kingdom, under the control of the Seed of promise.

In the 20th chapter of Revelation we are presented with much information concerning this kingdom and the deliverance it will bring to humanity. According to the assurance here given, even the dead are to be restored to life. But first comes the binding of “that old serpent.” Verses 1 and 2 read: “I saw an angel come down from heaven. … And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.” This language recalls to mind the “serpent’s” activity in Eden and, together with the remaining verses of the chapter, assures us that the “bruising” mentioned by the Lord implies a complete deliverance from the miasma of sin and death into which humanity was plunged when induced by Satan to disobey God’s law. Sin and death are not to continue forever.

Promise to Abraham

A more definite promise of deliverance was given to Abraham. To him God said, “In thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:18) In the New Testament, reference is made to this promise to Abraham and the explanation given that in reality Christ is the Seed. (Gal. 3:8,16) What is the blessing that God promised would come to all the families of the earth through the Seed of Abraham, which is Christ?

This question is answered by the Apostle Peter in Acts 3:19-25. This passage of scripture is a report of a sermon delivered by Peter, in which he drew a lesson from the miracle just performed by him and John, the miracle of healing a man who had been lame from his birth. He explains in his sermon that following the second coming of Christ there would be a time of general restoration, or “restitution,” as it is translated in our Authorized Version Bibles, that just as this one man was restored to health, so all are to be restored in the “due time” of the divine plan. Then he concludes, “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy Seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.”

Jacob’s Prophecy

The promise of deliverance that God made to Abraham was reiterated to his son Isaac and to his grandson Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons, and toward the end of his life he gathered them around him and pronounced blessings upon them individually. These parental blessings took the form of prophecies. To his son Judah, Jacob said, “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”—Gen. 49:9,10

This prophecy was uttered by Jacob while he was living in Egypt, and the reference to the couched lion reflects this. In Egypt at that time the claimed royal right of the pharaohs to rule was symbolized by a couched lion. By thus employing this symbol Jacob was saying in his prophecy that the “sceptre,” the right to rule so far as the promises of God are concerned, belonged to his son Judah and that in due time there would be born a descendant of Judah whose name would be Shiloh. To him would the gathering of the people be; that is, through Shiloh all the families of the earth would be blessed.

The name “Shiloh” means tranquil, or peaceful. It is one of the Old Testament titles assigned to Christ the Messiah and suggests that this promised Deliverer would be a peacemaker, not only among the people who would be gathered to him, but a peacemaker also between God and men, restoring the harmony that existed before man transgressed divine law. In one of the prophecies of Jesus’ birth he is referred to as “The Prince of Peace,” and we are assured that “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”—Isa. 9:6,7

In this same prophecy of Isaiah we are informed concerning “The Prince of Peace” that “the government shall be upon his shoulder.” This is the government over which Shiloh holds the sceptre, or the right to rule. It is the messianic kingdom, and in Micah 4:1-4 it is presented under the symbol of a mountain, “the mountain … of the Lord.” We are assured that in this mountain, or kingdom, the people will learn God’s ways and as a result will “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks” and will learn war no more.

Other Kingdom Blessings

In Isaiah 25:6-9 the Lord God presents us with another promise descriptive of the blessings that will reach the people in his “mountain,” the messianic kingdom. One of these blessings will be the destruction of death. He will “swallow up death in victory,” the promise reads, and will “wipe away tears from off all faces.” Another blessing to reach the people through Christ’s kingdom is described as the destroying of “the face of the covering cast over all people.” This is a “covering,” or veil of superstition and misunderstanding pertaining to God and his loving purpose in the creation of man and his plan for restoring him to life.

Included in this “covering” which hides God’s truth from the people are all the God-dishonoring theories arising out of Satan’s lie, “Ye shall not surely die.” The majority have been pleased to believe that “there is no death.” But we thank God that this beclouding lie, together with all the other false notions that Satan has woven into a “covering” and thrown over the “eyes” of the people will be removed.

The “Sour Grape” of Sin

Another very interesting and reassuring promise of deliverance from the result of original sin is found in Jeremiah 31:29,30. This passage reads: “In those days [the days of Messiah’s rule] they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” The lesson here is obvious. It was father Adam who ate the original “sour grape” of sin. The result has passed on to the entire human race, and all have suffered from this act of disobedience; all have died or are dying.

But this is to change, the Lord assures us. “In those days,” when the promised “Seed” of Abraham is ruling as “The Prince of Peace,” he will also be dispensing blessings of health and life. This will be possible because Jesus took the sinner’s place in death and during his reign will offer to every individual of the human race an opportunity to obey and live. No longer will the people die because of Adam’s sin. If they die at all, it will be because they have individually eaten the sour grape of sin. This will be during the “times of restitution of all things,” and Peter explains that then it will be only those who disobey who will be “destroyed from among the people.”—Acts 3:21,23

Christ Is Born

The birth of Jesus confirmed the truthfulness of the prophetic testimony concerning a coming Deliverer and deliverance for the sin-cursed race. The angel, in announcing Jesus’ birth, said: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”—Luke 2:10,11,13,14

The expression “unto you is born this day” marks the essential difference between this angelic announcement and the promises and prophecies which the Creator had previously given through the holy prophets—these promises and prophecies now began to be fulfilled. One of the prophecies identified the city in which the promised Ruler would be born. It was to be Bethlehem, the ancient “city of David.” (Mic. 5:2) So, when the angel announced the birth of earth’s coming Ruler, he called special attention to this: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” All God’s promises, beginning with his statement in Eden that the serpent’s head would be bruised by a Seed, implied a coming deliverance from death. And now the angel confirmed this. The One who was born in Bethlehem was to be a Savior, and this Savior was Christ, the Messiah of promise.

It was a dramatic moment for those shepherds on the Judean hills to whom the angel announced the birth of the Savior, the Messiah. “Suddenly,” we are told, “there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” This heavenly host of angels had served God faithfully for the many centuries during which he was making his promises of a coming Seed that would bless the people. They did not understand all the implications of those promises, but they knew that they were expressions of God’s goodwill toward his fallen human creatures. How enthusiastically, therefore, they must have proclaimed the birth of Jesus, knowing it to be a manifestation of this foretold goodwill, and the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promises!

Jesus’ Ministry

Jesus entered upon his ministry at the age of thirty, a ministry which fully harmonized with the prophetic testimony concerning him. We read that “he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.” (Luke 8:1) These “glad tidings,” the angel said, were to be “unto all people.” The Creator had sent a Savior and had made provision for the establishment of a kingdom through which the blessings of salvation from sin, sickness, and death would reach the people.

It did not at once become apparent to the followers of Jesus that his kingdom would not immediately be established. Only later did they realize that it was necessary for the Savior to die for those he had come to save before they could be permanently delivered from sickness and death. True, he announced to them that he would give his flesh “for the life of the world,” but they did not understand from this statement that his humanity would go into death as a substitute for the forfeited life of Adam and for the entire human race.—John 6:51

The Twelve were with Jesus as he preached and “showed” the glad tidings of the kingdom. They had witnessed his miracles of healing the sick, cleansing lepers, casting out devils, and raising the dead. They cannot be blamed for supposing that this was the beginning of the actual foretold work of deliverance and that his kingdom would soon be fully established and its blessings of health and life extended to “all the families of the earth,” as God promised would be done through the Seed, even the Messiah.

The disciples did not realize at the time that the marvelous miracles performed by Jesus were intended merely as illustrations—illustrations of the worldwide program of miracles they thought was then beginning, but which must await the accomplishment of other aspects of the Creator’s grand design for deliverance. It is true—gloriously true—that in God’s due time all the blind eyes will be opened, all the deaf ears unstopped, all the halt and the lame made sound of limb, and none will say, “I am sick”—no, not any of the people. And in that due time those who “sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” The sentence, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” (Gen. 3:19) having been set aside by the sacrificial death of the Savior, will no longer be effective against the teeming millions who have long been locked in the great prison of death, for all will be called forth from the grave.—Dan. 12:2; John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15

No More Curse

In the last chapter of the Bible—Revelation 22—we have the hope of deliverance through Jesus and the kingdom presented to us in meaningful symbolic language. First we see a “throne”—“the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (vs. 1) The throne symbolizes the kingdom. It was the glad tidings concerning the establishment of this kingdom that Jesus and his disciples so faithfully preached. The Lamb is symbolic of Jesus and his sacrifice on behalf of mankind. Thus we are shown that God’s promised blessings of life will reach humanity through the agencies of a divine government, being made available through the death of “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”—John 1:29

These promised blessings are pictured by “a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal,” which flows from “the throne of God and of the Lamb.” “In the midst of the street” of this river, “and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, … and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (vs. 2) This language takes our minds back to Eden, when Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden to prevent their partaking of the tree of life and living forever. In the messianic kingdom life will again be made available, not to Adam and Eve alone, but to all mankind.

Verse 3 declares, “There shall be no more curse.” A terrible curse has rested upon humanity—the curse of sin and death. It has blighted the peace and happiness of all mankind. No one has been free from it. All die as a result of Adam’s transgression. But God loved the race of lost and dying sinners and provided a Savior, the Seed of promise who, as the “Lamb,” gave his life in sacrifice as the price of redemption. And now, in this last chapter of the Bible, we are assured that from “the throne of God and of the Lamb” “water of life, clear as crystal,” will flow out to all mankind. All will be invited to partake of this life-giving water. “Come, …” the word will go out, “take the water of life freely.”—Rev. 22:17

The Larger Seed

We have focused attention on Jesus as the promised Seed of blessing, the One who would “bruise” the “serpent’s” head. And certainly all honor should be given to him for the place assigned to him by the Creator in the divine plan for deliverance of the human race from sin and death. However, the Scriptures point out that Jesus will have associates in his work of ruling and blessing the people. The Apostle Paul reveals this. After telling us in Galatians 3:16 that Jesus is the promised Seed of Abraham through whom the people would be blessed, he explains further, saying, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”—Gal. 3:27-29

There are many texts of Scriptures which corroborate this point. Paul wrote that those who suffer and die with Jesus will live and reign with him. (II Tim. 2:11,12) This group of faithful followers of the Master is identified in Revelation 20:4,6, and here we are told that they will live and reign with Christ a thousand years. In order that these might live and reign with Christ, they are brought forth from death in what the Scriptures describe as “the first resurrection.”

A Mystery

The fact that the Messiah of promise would have associates who would share his messianic name and glory had been kept secret by the Lord throughout all the ages prior to the coming of Jesus at his first advent. Writing to the Colossian believers, the Apostle Paul said, “to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”—Col. 1:27

In I Corinthians, chapter 12, Paul uses a human body to illustrate the relationship between Jesus and those associated with him in the messianic arrangement. In this illustration Jesus is the Head, and his faithful followers are the members of the body. One of the main points of the lesson set forth in this chapter is, as Paul states it, that “ye are the body of Christ [the Messiah], and members in particular.” (vs. 27) As we have seen, the Messiah is the Seed that was mentioned by God in Eden when he said that this Seed would bruise the “serpent’s” head; and the Apostle Paul wrote, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”—Rom. 16:20

Jesus’ original disciples believed that he was the promised Messiah and that he would establish his kingdom at his first advent. Not until after being enlightened by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost did they understand that, before the kingdom could be established, those to he associated with Jesus as rulers in that kingdom would have to be called from the world, tested, and otherwise made ready for their exalted position with Jesus as rulers in his kingdom.

This preparation of the body members of Christ has been the work of the Lord in the earth throughout the centuries since Jesus’ first advent. It has been accomplished largely through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel itself containing the invitation to those who hear and believe to take up their cross and follow the Master into sacrificial death. Jesus commissioned his followers to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, and this commission has been carried out by the faithful in each generation. These have rejoiced in their privilege of making known the glad tidings.

A Spiritual Hope

Man’s deliverance from sin and death through the agencies of Christ’s kingdom will see mankind restored to life as perfect humans here on the earth. This is in keeping with the Creator’s original design. But those who during this present Gospel Age, through obedience and sacrifice, qualify to live and reign with Christ in his kingdom will receive a spiritual, or heavenly, reward. Jesus said to his disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go, … I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”—John 14:2,3

Jesus prefaced his promise to “prepare a place” for his followers with the statement, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.” (John 14:2) Jesus did not promise these particular mansions to his followers but said that he would prepare a special place for them. As for the mansions, he simply observed that they already existed in his Father’s “house.” It seems reasonable to conclude that the Father’s house is the entire universe. It all belongs to him and is all his domain. In this domain are various “mansions,” or dwelling places—planes of existence or spheres of life.

The earth is one of these spheres of life. This is the sphere of life in which God designed that his human creatures should spend eternity—the mansion which God created for man. And “he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited.” (Isa. 45:18) But as Jesus promised his disciples, he went away to prepare a place for them. Much is said in the Bible concerning this place. It is vaguely foretold in the Old Testament and described in the New Testament as an “inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven.” (I Pet. 1:4) Those for whom this place is prepared are said to be “partakers of the heavenly calling.”—Heb. 3:1

In our study of the Bible it is essential to keep in mind that its heavenly promises are only to the footstep followers of Jesus and that these followers are to be associated with Jesus in the grand work of restoring all mankind to life on the earth. Keeping this distinction in mind, we will find harmony in the many wonderful promises of the sacred Word and will rejoice as we look forward to the deliverance of mankind from sin and death through the promised Seed, which is to bind and ultimately destroy Satan and bless “all the families of the earth.”

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