Dr. James T. Naismith of Scarborough, Ontario, a physician and Bible teacher, continues his series of character studies in Genesis.
Copyright by Everyday Publications Inc.; used by permission.
[1. Prophecies of Christ in Genesis] cont.
The Seed of Abraham
In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. This is the culmination of a series of promises made by God to Abraham, from the time of his call in Ur, Gen. 12:2, 3; see also 13:14-17; 15:5; 17:4-8, to this occasion near the end of his life when he so completely obeyed the voice of God in offering up Isaac. All these promises included, not only Abraham’s personal blessing, but also the raising up of a “seed” to him, and the blessing of all families and nations of the earth through that seed. The natural descendants of Abraham were very evidently embraced in the seed — they were to include nations and kings, 17:6, and were to be as numerous as the dust of the earth, 13:16, and the stars of heaven, 15:5, 22:17. But the New Testament teaches clearly that much more was involved in these predictions; not only the physical descendants of Abraham were included, but also his spiritual progeny, those who walk in the steps of his faith, Rom. 4:12. So the promise is sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, Rom. 4:16. This is confirmed in Galatians 3:7-9, 29 —If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed. Finally, in Galatians 3:16 (one of the great “3:16’s of the Bible” — cf. John, 1 John, 1 & 2 Tim., etc.) the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul asserts that, by using the singular seed, rather than choosing a noun which would normally be used in the plural such as children, God was making a very specific promise: not … many; but … one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Thus, He who is the Seed of the Woman, the Conqueror of Satan, is also the Seed of Abraham, the Blesser of men. Moreover, He is also the Seed of David, Rom. 1:3, the Sovereign of the world.
The Lamb of God
Abraham’s response to Isaac’s question, Where is the lamb? was not intended as a prophecy of the distant future, but was a simple and clear expression of his faith in a God who provides in every circumstance. Yet, like the Old Testament prophets (see 1 Pet. 1:10-12) he was stating more than he knew, when he said, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering. His prediction was certainly fulfilled on Mount Moriah in the provision of a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; but not till hundreds of years later was it finally fulfilled — possibly on the same mountain (Jewish tradition has identified Moriah with Jerusalem; “one of the mountains” may have been Calvary) — by One whom John Baptist pointed out on the banks of the Jordan when he said, Behold the Lamb of God, John 1:29, 36. God Himself provided that Lamb; no one else could. Moreover, He provided the Lamb for Himself — the perfect Burnt Offering that fully satisfied Him. Finally, He did indeed provide Himself a Lamb, for the Lamb of God of John 1:29, 36 is identified with the One who in John 1:1 is introduced to us as the Word — and the Word was God.
This chapter is the record of Jacob’s dying prophetic blessings on his sons. Included are some remarkable prophecies, and none more so than those connected with Judah, from which tribe our Lord came, Heb. 7:14. He is the lion of the tribe of Judah, Rev. 5:5, foreshadowed in Genesis 49:9. He is undoubtedly also the “Shiloh” of verse 10. “Shiloh” means “peaceable” or “Peace-bringer,” or “He whose it is” — referring to His right to reign. The prophecy seems to indicate that stable rule and law would not depart from Judah till the rightful Sovereign takes the sceptre and establishes peace — see Psalm 72.
2. Pictures of Christ in Genesis
The Bible resembles a profusely illustrated textbook in which the teaching is clarified by diagrams and pictures that make it easier to understand the text. The many “types” of the Bible are the pictures that God uses to illustrate divine truth, particularly in relation to the person and work of His Son. A dictionary definition of a “type” is: “A symbol of something in the future, as an Old Testament event serving as a prefiguration of a New Testament event.” Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter, in his comprehensive study of the Bible: “Explore the Book,” defines a type as “any person, object, event, act, or institution divinely adapted to represent some spiritual reality, or to prefigure some person or truth to be later revealed.”
Typology is a fascinating and extremely valuable study, “a priceless treasure-mine to the Bible student.” There is ample Scriptural warrant for such study. While the word “type” does not occur in the King James Version of the Bible, the Greek word “tupos,” from which it is derived, is used in relation to Old Testament illustrations of New Testament teachings. For example, Adam “is a figure of Him that was to come,” Rom. 5:14; and the incidents that occurred during the journeys of the children of Israel from Egypt to Canaan are cited as “examples” to us, 1 Cor. 10:6, 11. Other words with similar meaning are also used to indicate the pictorial teaching of the Old Testament. Thus, in Hebrews, many lessons are drawn from the tabernacle and the services connected with it. The tabernacle itself was constructed from a model or “pattern” (“tupos” — Heb. 8:5; also Acts 7:44 — “fashion”) shown to Moses on Mount Sinai. All that was associated with the tabernacle was an “example,” a representation; and a “shadow,” cast by the object which it depicted, Heb. 8:5; see also Heb. 10:1. The fact that the high priest alone, once a year and not without blood, was able to enter the most holy sanctuary in the tabernacle was itself a “figure” or parable, Heb. 9:9. The Holy Spirit was thus signifying — making plain by this picture —that there was then no clear way of access into God’s immediate presence, v. 8.
In many instances, we have definite and specific New Testament authority to consider Old Testament persons, events or objects as types, for example, Adam, Melchizedek, Noah’s ark, the tabernacle. In some cases — e.g. Joseph — while there is no such indication of the typical teaching, the analogies are so close and so clear that the typology is unmistakable.