Deliverance Promised

“The LORD 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, was endowed with faculties reflecting the image of the Creator. However, he had failed to pass the simple test of obedience to which he had been subjected. He had transgressed the law of his Creator, and now must die—“Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:19) In the divine wisdom, all of Adam’s progeny have 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 erstwhile human children, and even while sentencing Adam and Eve to death gave an indication that an opportunity of deliverance from the penalty would be provided. It is not plainly stated, but this is clearly implied in the statement to the ‘serpent’ that the seed of the woman would bruise its head. Even this obscure assertion seemed to give our first parents some hope that the Creator would do something about 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, or 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 considerable information concerning this kingdom and the deliverance it will bring to humanity. Even the dead are to be restored to life. 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 our minds 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 of mankind from the miasma of sin and death into which they were plunged when father Adam was induced by Satan to disobey God’s law.

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 Acts 3:21 there is the expression, “times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” Verse 25 reads, “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.” Here the Apostle Peter revealed that the blessing which God promised would come to all the families of the earth through the seed of Abraham is, in reality, their restoration—their deliverance from death—during the ‘times of restitution of all things’.

Jacob’s Prophecy

The promise which 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 individual blessings upon them—this parental blessing taking the form of prophecies. To his son, Judah, he 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 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 his descendants, the tribe of Judah. In this prophecy Jacob undoubtedly had in mind the promise to his grandfather, Abraham, concerning his seed. And this seed, he explains, would be ‘Shiloh’, and that unto him ‘shall the gathering of the people be’.

The name Shiloh means ‘tranquil’, or ‘peaceful’. It is one of the Old Testament titles assigned to the seed of Abraham, 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. Another title assigned to this promised Deliverer is the “Prince of Peace.”—Isa. 9:6

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 4:2 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 the Lord’s ways, and as a result will beat their “swords” into “plowshares” and their “spears” into “pruninghooks,” and will learn war no more.

In Isaiah 25:8 the Lord presents us with another promise descriptive of the blessings which will reach the people in his mountain—the Messianic Kingdom. One of these blessings will be the destruction of death. The Lord 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 the administration of this government 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 to his loving purposes 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.” (Gen. 3:4) The majority have been pleased to believe that there is no death. (Isa. 25:7) But we can thank God that this beclouding lie, together with all the other false notions which Satan has woven into a covering and thrown over the eyes of the people, will be removed. And since in this same kingdom, death is to be swallowed up in victory, it will become true for the first time since the transgression in Eden that there is no death. In Revelation 21:4 we read that “there shall be no more death.” If there is no death now, and never has been, as that old serpent has induced nearly all mankind to believe, how could it be said that then there shall be no more death?

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, and 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 man 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 been passed on to the entire human race; all have suffered from his act of disobedience, all have either died, or are dying.

But this, the Lord assures us, is to change. In those days when the promised seed of Abraham will rule as the Prince of Peace, he will also dispense 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 says that then it will be only those who individually disobey who will be “destroyed from among the people.”—Acts 3:23

Christ Is Born

The birth of Jesus attested 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 words, ‘Unto you is born this day’, mark the essential difference between this angelic announcement and the promises and prophecies which the Creator had previously given through his holy prophets. At that time these promises and prophecies began to be fulfilled! One of the prophecies identified the city in which the promised ruler would be born. It was to be in Bethlehem, the ancient “city of David.” (Micah 5:2) So, when the angel announced his birth 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 of 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 the shepherds on the Judean hills to whom the angel announced the birth of the Savior. There was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God. This heavenly host of angels had served God faithfully throughout the millenia when he was making his promises of a coming seed who would bless the people. Even the angels did not understand all the implications of those promises, but they knew they were expressions of God’s goodwill toward his fallen human creatures. Knowing this, we are not surprised at how enthusiastically they proclaimed the birth of Jesus to be a manifestation of this foretold goodwill, the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promises!

Jesus entered upon his ministry at the age of thirty, which fully harmonized with the prophetic testimony. We read, “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 had said, were to be ‘unto all people’—the good news that 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 be immediately established. They did not realize until later that it was first of all necessary for the Savior to die for those he had come to save, before they could be permanently released 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 grasp the real import of what he was saying.

The Twelve were with him as he preached and showed the glad tidings of the kingdom. They witnessed his miracles of healing the sick, of cleansing lepers, of casting out devils, of raising the dead. They cannot be blamed for supposing that this was the actual beginning of the 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.

They did not at the time realize that the marvelous miracles performed by Jesus were intended merely as illustrations of the worldwide program of miracles which must wait for other aspects of the divine plan of deliverance to be accomplished. It is 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; when the people will not say, “I am sick.” And in that due time those who “sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” Before this can happen, the sentence, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” must have been paid by the Savior, so the teeming millions who have died and are held in the great prison-house of death—the Bible hell—can be released. In due time Jesus will use the “keys of hell and of death” to set the captives free.—Rev. 1:18; 20:13

Witnesses of Jesus

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, and just before returning to his Father in heaven, he commissioned his disciples to be his witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth. It was not then the due time for his kingdom to be established and its blessings to flow out to the people, but his followers were to continue telling the world about him as the Savior and coming Deliverer. They were to continue preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. And those first disciples were faithful to this commission.

How stirring is the sermon preached by Peter, and recorded in Acts 3:12-26! This sermon is in explanation of a miracle in which Peter was instrumental in healing a man who had been lame from the time of his birth. It was in this sermon that he spoke of the times of restitution of all things—the restoration to health of this one man being but an illustration of what would be accomplished for the whole world of mankind when Jesus came the second time. Not only was restitution to be a boon to the sick, but it would also mean the resurrection of all the dead.—Acts 4:1,2

Culmination of the Promise

In the last chapter of the Bible—Revelation 22—we have the hope of deliverance through Jesus and his kingdom presented to us in symbolic language. First we see “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. It is the throne of God ‘and of the Lamb’. The Lamb is symbolic of Jesus and his sacrifice on behalf of mankind. Combined with the throne symbolism, the full thought presented is that the promised blessings of health and life will reach the people through the agencies of a divine government, these blessings 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 were 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 it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bear twelve manner of fruit, … and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” This language again takes our minds back to Eden, when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden to prevent them from partaking of the trees of life and living forever.—Gen 3:22

Revelation 22:3 declares, “There shall be no more curse.” Ever since the fall in Eden, a terrible curse has rested upon humanity—the curse of sin and death. It has blighted the happiness and peace of all mankind. No one has been free from it. All “in Adam” die. (I Cor. 15:22) But God loved the race of lost and dying sinners and provided a Savior, the seed of promise, who as God’s Lamb gave his life in sacrifice as the price of redemption. And now, in this last chapter of the Bible, we are comforted by the thought that from the throne of God and of the Lamb, water of life, clear as crystal, will flow out to mankind; and that there shall be no more curse. Then, as the Apostle Paul assures us, will be fulfilled the promise, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”—I Cor. 15:55

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