The Promise Maker Chapter 6 from Kent’s book, The Preposterous God

Within the Bible’s first prophecy is also the first promise: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). 

The prophecy of the enmity is clear, as is the promise, “he shall bruise your head.” Bruising the head of a serpent means a death blow. At our point in history this promise is partially fulfilled through the victory of Christ on the cross, in which He bore our sin, becoming the sacrifice for sin, forever washing our sin into oblivion. While only partially fulfilled, it is still powerful during this interim period. But then the end will come. 

In a number of places in Scripture, the final and total defeat of Satan and his legions is depicted. Here is one of these: “The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). 

The Promise of the Messiah to Come 

Dipping back into the Books of Moses, we find the promise of a prophet like Moses. “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen” (Deuteronomy 18:15). 

What “a prophet like Moses” means is debated. Moses gave the Law of God. And the promised Messiah of 18:15 would likely do something similar. The Law did not bring wholeness and salvation, as we suppose it was meant to do. The Law revealed the impossibility of earning favor with God, since everyone is a law breaker. The coming prophet, meaning one who speaks the Word of God, would bring life, wholeness, and salvation. 

Moses and his Torah, the first five books of the Bible, dating to around 1500 BCE,1 are joined by prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah who lived much later. Isaiah’s date is around 750 BCE and Jeremiah’s about 580. There are many other prophetic messages in the Hebrew Bible, but that is not the focus of this “little” book. 

1 Dates are problematic in regard to the Hebrew Bible. The 1500 BCE is a case in point. Some scholars move it forward to approximately 1350 BCE. Some think Deuteronomy was written later than Moses’ period and serves as a summary of the first four books plus. One need not decide in order to see that Deuteronomy 18:15 contains a promise to come. 

Isaiah’s book is crowded with prophetic images and utterances. The most obvious are found in chapter 53. Here is a short list: 

For he grew up before him like a young plant (v. 2). 2 

He had no form or majesty that we should desire him (v. 2). 

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted 

with grief (v. 3). 

He was despised, and we esteemed him not (v. 3). 

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (v. 4). 

We esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted (v. 4). 

But he was wounded for our transgressions (v. 5). 

He was crushed for our iniquities (v. 5). 

Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace (v. 5). 

With his stripes we are healed (v. 5). 

The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (v. 6). 

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth 

(v. 7). 

Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its 

shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth (v. 7). 

By oppression and judgment, he was taken away (v. 8). 

He was cut off out of the land of the living (v. 8). 

Stricken for the transgression of my people (v. 8). 

They made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death (v. 9). 

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief (v. 10). 

When his soul2 makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days (v. 10).

(Soul means human being, human self or person, and is not some kind of spiritual particle or substance.) 

And he shall bear their iniquities (v. 11).

He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors (v. 12). 

Yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors (v. 12). 

Isaiah in chapter 7 speaks of a woman, a virgin, conceiving a son who is Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14).

Then in chapter 9 we find more: 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace, there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (vv. 6-7) 

Jeremiah’s chapter 31 looks forward to a new covenant, testament, or agreement that the God of Israel will establish. This rather long passage sums up the prophetic tradition: 

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. But his is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each on teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, “know the LORD.” For they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” 

Jeremiah 31:31-34 

There is one more prophetic piece I must add here, and that is from David, who is not usually considered a prophet, but in a number of his Psalms we cannot help but see a prophetic utterance. Note that David lived close to 1000 BCE, at a time when no nation or tribe had developed the form of execution we know as crucifixion, which apparently was developed by the Persians, later refined by the Greeks, then further perfected by the Romans. The reader must keep this in mind as key parts of Psalm 22 appear below.3 

3 King David did not experience any of that which is described in Psalm 22. The accounts of his life are laid out in Samuel and Kings. 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (v. 1) This sentence was spoken by Jesus while on the cross (see Matthew 27:46). 4 

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people (v. 6). 

All who see me mock me (v. 7). 

He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him (v. 8). 

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint (v. 14). 

My heart is like was; it is melted within my breast (v. 14). 

My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my gaws; 

you lay me in the dust of death (v. 15). 

For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me (v. 16). 

They have pierced my hands and feet (v. 16). 

I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me (v. 17). 

They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots (v. 18). 

How can we account for this? 

Even a cursory examination of the material above shows that it can be accounted for in only one way: the prophets of Israel accurately pointed to a coming Messiah, and Jesus perfectly met every single prophecy. 

Some will claim the prophetic material was edited after the days of Jesus to match His life story. However, no biblical scholar—Jewish, Christian, Islamic, whatever—can make this claim stick, since the manuscript evidence disputes this and makes it an impossible assertion. 

It is certain that the Hebrew Bible material was published prior to Jesus’ era, and we need only consider the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, which sets in stone the books of that Bible and which dates to 180 BCE. 

The thousands of extant copies of the Greek Bible, the Christian testament, reveal no evidence of reading back into the story of Jesus events that mirror the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible. 5 

It frankly requires a very preposterous God to arrange all of what we have considered and seen in this chapter. I know it makes non-Christians uncomfortable, even anxious and fearful to even acknowledge the possibility of the truths examined here. 

The promise maker delivers 

The unknown author of the Letter to the Hebrews starts off his masterpiece with a stunning proclamation: 

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1–4) 

The Jewish but unknown author of the piece above captured the spirit of the prophets. He lived through the time of the fulfillment of the first-time arrival of the Messiah. Yes, first time arrival. This Little Book speaks only of the first advent of Messiah. There will be another. 

If what has been presented so far seems preposterous, it will seem even more so to find out there are three aspects, dimensions, or personages of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

Leave a Reply