The Message of the Seed
“The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God … The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:1 & 15).
“From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17).
Now that we understand the character of the divine Seed as manifested in the person of Jesus Christ, we can focus our attention on the message the Seed brought for us. You see, as in the case of natural seeds, the divine Seed not only had His own special characteristics but also contained the message God the Father wanted humanity to hear. Every seed contains its own life and genetically coded message. Once planted, it becomes what it is supposed to become according to the pattern and the informational blueprint placed in it; and when it grows to full maturity, it manifests its parent’s purpose. Likewise, Jesus as the divine Seed of the Father, contained in Himself not only the Life of God that would one day, after His resurrection, ascension, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit be given to us in abundance, but He also carried a message from God that, if heeded and received, would produce the purpose God had in mind since the day He created mankind.
In the above passages, we get a glimpse of the message the Seed brought for us. Let us examine this message in its various aspects and applications as revealed in the New Testament through the mouth of our Lord and His Apostles.
The Twofold Message of Mark
In Mark 1:15, we observe a twofold message uttered by our Lord, which corresponds with the entirety of the Bible and its message. In order to understand this we must learn something about God’s dealings with mankind in the past eras or dispensations.
Bible scholars divide Biblical history into various periods or dispensations which represent the somewhat unique ways God has dealt with humanity. An in-depth discussion of these dispensations is beyond the scope of this book; however, I would like to highlight two important eras in the Old Testament – the period prior to the Law and the period of the Law – which make up the entire Old Testament. The New Testament is based on a proper understanding of the relationship between these periods and their impact on the present era of grace.
The pre-Law period is marked by God’s dealings with mankind on the basis of covenants and promises. This is very clear in the life of Abraham who is the focal point of this era. Abraham stands as the beacon of light from this era, revealing to us the manner in which God fulfilled His plan and purpose in and through him in all who would follow him. During this era, God was focused on one thing: getting man to believe Him and His promises! God needed a man who would fully believe Him and would trust His promises. He found that man in the person of Abraham. Abraham, by divine grace, was able to believe God, who He said He was and what He said He would do. From the beginning of his life as he exited Ur, Abraham believed God and His promises; thus he was reckoned as justified and declared righteous by God. What were the promises, or the Promise, Abraham believed? It was the promise of a son who would be the cause of blessing for the whole world. It was the promise of a son who would be king and would rule on behalf of God in the world. God asked that Abraham believe Him and His word; and Abraham did. Therefore, God justified him and promised to fulfill His word in due time. When would God reveal His promised Son, the seed of he woman and the seed of Abraham? Well, God had to spend another 2000 years in preparing humanity for this event; in the meantime, He obtained for Himself Israel. The people of Israel, as mentioned earlier, were the soil which would receive the Seed as well as the tree that would produce the humanity of the Messiah. The Lord Jesus, the divine Seed, needed a human body and Israel was the chosen means and the vessel for God to obtain this body. Moreover, Israel was to be the fertile land in which Jesus was to be planted. Therefore, before God could reveal His Son and plant the Seed in the human race, He had to create the soil and the vessel for bearing this Seed. So we see that God created Israel out of Jacob and his sons – He begat Israel as a child. In Hosea we read about God’s parental love for Israel: “When Israel was a child, I loved him. And out of Egypt I called my son”. This verse refers not only to Christ and His return from Egypt when He was a child, but also to Israel who was brought out of Egypt like a child being rescued by his father. Israel was God’s child, His firstborn among the nations.
Now the promise of deliverance and blessing to all nations through God’s Seed in Abraham was still outstanding; at the same time, Israel was also a young child in need of preparation for this occasion. Hence the arrival of the Law! As Paul so beautifully portrays in Galatians 3, the Law became responsible to preserve and protect Israel from all inward, outward, upward, and downward dangers until God could fulfill His promise to Abraham. The focus of the Old Testament is not the Law of Moses, but the promise of God to Abraham. The Law is incidental to the main subject. The Law had to only discharge a certain responsibility towards Israel, to establish a certain set of moral and spiritual principles by which they could recognize and know the love and the greatness of God. In Galatians 3:19, Paul states, “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come [reference is made to verse 14-18 where Paul so eloquently shows to the Galatians the superiority of the promise to Abraham as the means by which God would bless the world. This promise was accomplished through the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Seed of Abraham] to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator”.
The Law was added to the original promise made to Abraham for a certain purpose. It was given to guard Israel against Satan! If the Law was not given, Satan would have absorbed Israel into the mainstream of sin and corruption practiced by other nations. This would have prevented God from bringing forth His Son, the Seed, to this world.
Therefore, here are a few observations about the Law:
1. It was added because Israel constantly transgressed from the ideals that God had set before His young child. The Law, with it strict rules and regulations, and with the prescribed punishments and discipline for whoever violated it, was a means of limiting and restricting transgression.
2. The usefulness of the Law was only until the Lord Jesus came. He was the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham and the author of the Law, who now desired to commune with mankind, not on the basis of rules carved on tablets of stone, but on the basis of a living relationship through His Spirit who would dwell in all those received Him.
Paul further tells us about the relationship between the Law and the Promise, by saying, “Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law [i.e. Since the law was a temporary phenomenon and created by God until the revelation of the Seed, it could not bestow life, could not give mankind anything but protection against Satan!]. But the scripture [the Old Testament Law] has confined all under sin [which is powered by the law – I Cor. 15:56], that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith [the Gospel] came we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Gal. 3:21-25).
We learn from this magnificent passage that the Law was like a tutor, a babysitter, who is responsible for the care and discipline of children. The imagery Paul uses was not only familiar to the believers of that era, but to us today. Parents usually appoint a babysitter or a guardian to look after their children, provide for and protect them, during their absence. And they usually provide the babysitter with a list of “do’s and don’ts”, contact persons in case of emergency and other instructions. Likewise, the Law babysat Israel, protected them from utter corruption, provided for them a venue to worship God, and prevented them from being conformed into the image of Satan and fully absorbed by the prevailing demonic nations of the near East of that time. For almost 1500 years the Law kept Israel under strict guard and supervision until Christ appeared. Just as when parents return, the babysitter is rewarded and dismissed, likewise, God rewarded the Law and dismissed its supervisory control over Israel because the ‘parent’ had arrived. The substance had finally appeared from under the shadows. The reality Himself was present in the midst of the people.
Thus the Law became the bridge that the promise of God to Abraham had to cross safely and securely to reach its ultimate goal: Christ! There was no Seed promised through the Law! The Law was void of a seed and thus void of life! It was merely a protective network that kept the carriers of the seed in check and aligned with the purpose of God!
In this context and with this perspective we can now understand why Christ’s first words had such a profound meaning for the Jews who had the mind and willingness to understand what He was really saying. When Jesus said, “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), He was addressing both eras of the Old Testament – pre-Law and Law, in one verse. Two key words sum up the entire Old Testament, and each of these words satisfies the requirements of each era: Repent and Believe.
“Repent” represents the negative pole of the verse and corresponds to the negative pole of the Old Testament – the Law. “Believe” is the positive pole of the verse, corresponding to the positive pole of the Old Testament – the Promise.
The Jews had to do two things. First, with regards to the Law and the requirements of the Law which revealed the sinfulness and transgression of the people, they had to come to repentance. They had to admit that they had transgressed and sinned against God’s holy and righteous ideals and expectations. Repentance would satisfy the requirements of the Law since sacrifices without repentance were not acceptable to God. The Old Testament is filled with exhortations by prophets to repent. Repentance means a change of mind, a turnaround, and a change of course. Time after time God had pled with His people to return to Him. Jeremiah echoed this in his prophecies (4:1), Hosea pleaded with Israel in 2:7 to return to God, and Zechariah in 1:3 said, “Return to me”. John paved the way by a similar declaration and the act of baptism represented the return of Israel from the wilderness into the Land of Promise. Now Jesus was asking the people of Israel to cross the bridge of the Law through repentance. Repentance was the point of entry to the bridge that would lead people directly to God. By repenting, they would satisfy the requirements of the Law and would not longer need strict and mandatory ordinances, because the heart and soul of the Law was satisfied and fulfilled.
Next came faith, the gate ushering the repented believer into the threshold of the Kingdom! The Jews had to exercise faith and believe the good news that Jesus had brought. The good news was that God had finally revealed His Seed, and through His Seed, as promised to Abraham, the entire world would be blessed!
What a powerful verse! God asked for repentance to fulfill the Law in His people, and faith in order to bestow His blessings upon the world that He had created and loved. Abraham and Christ were connected to each other through the bridge of Mosaic Law that stretched for 1500 years ushering Israel to Christ. Now through repentance and faith in the Gospel they were about to leave the bridge and forever enter the realm of God’s kingdom! Therefore, the central message of Christ as the divine Seed was none other than the coming of the kingdom of God. The phrase ‘kingdom of God’ has many definitions and aspects, among which are:
1. The kingdom of God, first and foremost, speaks of the sovereign rule of God over all things. God is sovereign and the master of the universe, the only rightful owner, who is the creator and the sustainer of everything (Heb. 1:2). God has never shared nor will he share His sovereignty with anyone, whether human or angelic, as He remains the one and only God and the absolute monarch of the universe. He governs the world with righteousness and justice. He is holy and true. To Him belong all honor and glory! The kingdom of God is the realm in which this rule and sovereignty is manifested and experienced. Anywhere we experience the sovereign rule of God without any interference or hindrance, there we experience the kingdom of God.
Jesus Christ as the divine Seed of God declared that the kingdom of God was about to be manifested in its full intensity in and through Him. Jesus was the embodiment of the sovereignty of God, both in His own life and in the lives of the people He would come into contact with. The foundation of God’s being and actions, is His sovereignty.
As mentioned earlier, something terrible happened in the Garden of Eden that resulted in the loss of the most prized calling of God to mankind: Dominion over all creation on behalf of God! As a matter of fact, the very reason why God created man was to establish His sovereignty through man on a planet thrown into chaos and disorder as a result of a massive rebellion. Satan, or Lucifer, the highest ranking angelic being in God’s universal government, had been found in a state of rebellion and disobedience and was therefore removed from the presence of God. The earth then became the center of Satanic operations. God created man with a specific goal in mind: To re-establish His sovereign rule on earth. Man was to be the vessel representing God’s order and mastery over everything. Man was to express, manifest and represent the will of God in his life as well as in the lives of all other forms of creation. God’s plans for man were unique and filled with possibilities of close fellowship and companionship.
Above all of these, is that fact that God had created man in His own image. Man had the ability to feel, to reason, to decide and to choose. All of what God was in Himself (except His divinity) had been duplicated in man. Man was a perfect representation, manifestation and expression of God’s character. All of this was lost to a great extent in the Edenic deception. Satan brought chaos and disorder to man’s character just as he had to the planet earth. From Genesis 3:15 onwards, God’s plan in history was to redeem man and restore the calling and the promise that was given to him in Genesis 1:26. Thus the Seed promised to the woman (Eve) became the means of establishing God’s desire in due time. That is why Jesus, in His message to humanity, not only proposed a return from a state of sinfulness and loss through repentance, but He also asked people to believe the good news of the restoration of dominion to man as promised by God, in and through His own person, who represented us as the Son of man, and represented God as the Son of God.
Jesus declared that the days of the usurped and rebellious kingdom of Satan were numbered and that the absolute rule and order of God was to be manifested and established here on earth forever.
When Jesus invited the nation of Israel to be the first to experience and enjoy this kingdom spiritually and later physically, they rejected it. Consequently, Jesus declared that the kingdom with all it benefits and privileges would be taken away from the Jews as a nation and be given to a new nation, the church, who would accept and enjoy them.
The message of the Seed was very clear: Repent of your disordered and chaotic life that leads you to death and destruction, and believe in the goodness of God who desires to restore His promise made to your ancestor Adam – the dominion of this earth and all that His kingdom entails. By receiving the message through faith and trust in Jesus Christ the messenger, we are re-ordered and rectified to God and become suitable vessels for this great task and calling.
Becoming a Christian simply means that I recognize the disorder and chaos brought about by the effects of the Adamic rebellion and the loss of the original and godly image in me, and that I accept God’s free offer of forgiveness and the inward restorative work of the Holy Spirit to constitute me to the image and character of Jesus Christ. The word “Christian” carries in itself the notion of Christ-likeness and following the person who is the means of our restoration and reconciliation to God the Father and to His plan.
The message the Seed had brought was the message of God’s sovereign rule manifested first and foremost in our personal life before it can be fully manifested in the world as a reality. God’s kingdom is a realm in which all who live are fully constituted to the order and image that God desires and expects. The kingdom of God is not a tyrannical and oppressive government in a show of force and spectacular demonstration of power. No, it is a voluntary and free-will choice we make in yielding to the inner working of the Holy Spirit and allowing God to reconstitute and conform us to the image and character of His Son, Jesus Christ. Where there is such person or persons, there the kingdom of God is seen and experienced. The apocalyptic notions of the kingdom and the imagery we have of Jesus returning with a sword in His mouth and the battle of Armageddon are all insignificant and secondary to the main point of the message of the kingdom. The message of the kingdom is not about bloodshed and show of force, but about the manifestation and presentation of a collective humanity that has been fully reconstituted and conformed to the image of Christ and is thus able and ready to govern the world and bring it to a perfect harmony and conformity to the will of the Lord, who is the King of kings and the ultimate sovereign. This was the message that the Seed of God, Jesus Christ declared and offered to humanity. This was the good news of the Gospel that required believing and acceptance. This was the reason God was willing to forgive man and give him eternal life. This was why God was willing to put His one and only Son on the altar of this earth and sacrifice Him for the sake of humanity, a humanity He so loved and so valued that He was willing to die for them and bear their sins, their pain and their sorrows!
Genesis 22:17-18 is a key passage in the Bible which speaks of the full message of God and beautifully relates to the Seed. This passage comes right after Abraham having attempted to sacrifice his son Isaac to the Lord. We know of course that the sacrifice of Isaac is a beautiful type of the ultimate sacrifice God offered for all humanity, His Son Jesus Christ. Please notice that when Abraham obeyed the Lord in offering Isaac (even though in this case, God stopped him at the last minute), the Lord made an amazing and eternal promise which is the basis of the message of Jesus Christ fulfilled in His death on the cross: “Blessing I will bless you [this was Abraham’s personal reward for his obedience to God], and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore [this would be fulfilled both in the creation of Israel as a nation and the creation of the Church as God’s new Israel, one earthly, and the other heavenly in nature]; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies [this would be partially and in type be fulfilled in the history of Israel, especially in the reign of King David, but would find full and complete fulfillment in the church spiritually, and in the coming kingdom literally]. In your Seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed my voice.”
The phrase, “possess the gate of their enemies” refers to the exercise of power and authority over God’s and man’s enemies. It refers to the change of authority and government, as manifested by the return of the Lord Jesus and the establishment of His kingdom on this earth for 1000 years. It refers to the church of Jesus Christ, as the descendants of Abraham by faith, who will overcome their enemies and possess the kingdom. Daniel saw this in a vision where he said, “Then the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High” (Dan. 7:27). Yes, the kingdom has been promised, not to Satan, but to mankind and God will make sure there will be some who will be conformed and prepared for the task of ruling and reigning on His behalf as joint heirs with His son Jesus Christ, who will be the King of kings and the Lord of lords when He returns a second time. This promise made to Abraham is not yet fulfilled completely, not until God deems the time ready and brings a collective vessel of testimony into view. That is why Jesus declared, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. He was the Seed of this message who would be planted into the hearts of the people who would receive this news with gladness and would welcome God’s order and rule into their lives and would allow the Seed of the kingdom to grow and capture their lives with the vision of the Son of Man and His coming kingdom. Once planted in the soil of a people’s heart, the Seed has the power to transform them from a destitute pauper into Israel, prince with God. Yes, we have been called to royalty and the Seed of royalty has been sent and given to us in the person of Jesus Christ, God’s Seed of divine sovereignty and kingdom.
2. Ultimately, the Kingdom of God is about one and one thing alone: Blessing!
This perhaps is the most important and the most beautiful of all that Christ, as the divine Seed, was in character and in message.
The word “Kingdom” has been so abused that one may draw a very one-sided and even inaccurate picture in his/her mind of what the kingdom is all about. As I stated earlier, this kingdom is not about the apocalyptic and dramatic endings we perceive in our mind. Yes, the Bible does talk about cataclysmic and apocalyptic events in the future, but all these occurrences, cease to exist when the kingdom arrives. Jesus Himself stated this beautifully by comparing future events with the process of childbirth. As the birth of a baby draws near, the intensity and the frequency of birth pains increase; but all of a sudden, when the baby is born there is no more pain, but the joy of the arrival of a new life. Likewise, our world is headed towards more intense and frequent pains, turmoil, turbulent conflicts, killings and genocides, economic downturns and losses; and yet, as soon as the kingdom of Christ arrives, everything will cease and a new era will be ushered, an era of peace, justice, and happiness for all the citizens of this world. Our notion of the kingdom, at least mine, to a great extent, was that it would be a time when we will rule with Christ in glory. Even though this is very true, it does not address the reason why there will be need for the church and Christ to exercise such power and authority, according to Revelation 19:1, when Satan is bound and no longer a threat. The word “kingdom” conjures up the image of a tyrannical or at best, an authoritarian rule. This is very far from what Christ and the Bible have in mind. What I am about to share with you is what I believe the Holy Spirit wants us to know about the future kingdom and its implication on our lives today.
Do you recall Genesis 22:17 where God pronounced the greatest promise recorded in the Bible? I have already mentioned it, but allow me to repeat it one more time with my personal highlights in order for you to see the picture.
“Blessing I will bless you [this was Abraham’s personal reward for his obedience], and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore [this has its fulfillment partly with Israel and the church]; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies [this will be fully realized when Christ sets up His kingdom, and the church in her heavenly position and Israel in her earthly position assume and share the throne with Him]. In your Seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed My voice”.
Notice the progression of the verse starting with the person of Abraham and ending with all the nations of the earth! Notice how God will start with one individual who is in a totally obedient relationship with Him and bless that person, and then through him and his Seed, bless the entire world! Do you really want to know what will happen once the kingdom of Christ arrives on the earth? One word: Blessing! Blessing of all nations by Christ and His church! His church? Yes, His church! What did you think we will be doing in the kingdom? Did you think we will just sit on thrones and order people around, take revenge on those who hurt us, or go around punishing people? No! We will be the dispensers of God’s manifold blessings upon a world that has just come out of seven years of devastation, wars, famines, diseases, killings, and atrocities. The world Christ will inherit to rule and bless will not be a rose garden! It will rather be a war-torn and ravaged world filled with people who are hopeless, homeless and hurting! People who need love, comfort and peace! People who need reconciliation, restoration, and reconstruction! People who need guidance, instruction, and care to inhabit the earth which Christ and His church will convert to the paradisiacal Garden of Eden before the flood of Noah. People who need blessing!
The calling of the church is to be a vessel of blessing now and in the kingdom to come. The church is not called to just preach (even though preaching the Gospel and teaching the Word of God are the greatest blessings a person can receive), but to truly demonstrate the love of God in action and in character! We are not here to rule over people but to love people and bless them. Jesus Himself said this very clearly in Matthew chapter 5, when He outlined the constitution of His kingdom. He said that we should learn to bless our enemies, because in the kingdom to come, we will have to bless all people including our enemies. We are to be and become a vessel of blessing for God, so that He can use us to bless the world. He promised Abraham that through His Seed, Jesus Christ, He would bless all the nations of the earth with His presence. In Matthew 5, Jesus said to His disciples that they were the “salt of the earth”! What does salt do? It seasons food! Our job and task will be none other than the administration of blessing in the kingdom. Every single human being who is left on this planet, upon the return of the Lord Jesus, will become the recipient of His blessings through the church. If you study the word ‘blessing’ in the Bible, you will see how eager God is to bless humanity. As a matter of fact, in Genesis 1:28, immediately after creating Adam and Eve, the first thing God did was to bless them. The greatest desire of all the heroes in the Bible was to receive and have the blessing of God in their life. They sought it as hard as a gold miner seeks to unearth gold from a mountain! God’s blessing meant everything. It meant the difference between life and death, poverty and prosperity, health and sickness, abundance and emptiness! Jesus, as the divine Seed of God, not only preached the coming of the kingdom and its full blessings, but He in His own life and His own person contained and dispensed all of God’s blessings to the people He came in contact with.
In order to clearly see the vocation of each and every believer who wants to follow Christ, let us look at two incidents in the Old Testament that speak of Christ and the Church as the vessels of blessing.
1. Joseph as a type of Jesus Christ blessing the world.
One of the most beautiful portrayals of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament is the person of Joseph. His life resembles the life of Christ so closely that one is amazed at the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit in preparing the people of Israel for their Messiah.
Joseph was the favored son of Jacob. So was our Lord, the favored and the only Son of our Father. (Joseph was also the only son of Jacob through Rachel). Joseph had the vision and dream of greatness and exaltation. So had our Lord been predestined and preordained to be the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Joseph was the object of his brothers’ jealousy and hatred. So was our Lord the object of hatred by His brethren, the people of Israel. Joseph was thrown into the pit to be killed. Our Lord was killed and thrown into the pit of death. Eventually Joseph became the ruler of Egypt, seated at the right hand of the Pharaoh, wearing his ring of authority and full power over Egypt. Our Lord, after His resurrection from among the dead, sat at the right hand of His Father and having received all power and authority from Him will rule and reign in the day of His exaltation and public manifestation as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
What was Joseph’s attitude and conduct, once he reached the top and became the most important man in Egypt? Did he immediately punish Potiphar and his wife for mistreating him? Did he chase down the Medianites who had purchased and resold him? Did he put a price on the head of his brothers to be brought to Egypt so that he could take revenge? No! Joseph began his throne mandate by devising means to feed the people of the world who were caught in the most devastating famine of their lifetime. Joseph was going to bless the world with his wisdom and compassion! He was going to be a vessel of blessing, dispensing blessing to people so desperately in need of blessing!
Likewise, our Lord Jesus, upon His return to this earth and His public assumption of the throne of David and His Father, will begin the task of blessing the world, dispensing grace, knowledge, restoration, reconciliation to humanity for a thousand years. Yes, Jesus will return as king, with full authority and power for the sole task of blessing humanity with His presence and grace. Obviously those who resist such a gracious offer and attempt to hinder and derail the fullness of His blessing, will be stopped and punished, but the main focus of the kingdom of Christ is not to retaliate or punish, but to restore and recover! The kingdom will not be a polite state in pursuit of violators, but a peaceful state in pursuit of blessing people. The story of Joseph is a perfect illustrative type of the person and the life of our Lord Jesus from His suffering to His glory and His greatest act of blessing the world. Even his brothers who had been his enemies and had conspired to kill him and rid themselves of him found favor with Joseph, because he realized that everything that had happened to him was for a higher and nobler cause, namely rescuing multitudes from death and destruction and blessing them through an abundant supply of food. Likewise, our Lord having been betrayed and surrendered by His own people in an evil conspiracy to rid the nation of Him, has not only forgiven his brethren (He prayed for their forgiveness even when He was about to die, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”), but will also restore Israel to their earlier prominence, respect and glory and will shepherd and care for them. Jesus has forgiven His people after the flesh and will one day heal them and care for them as a nation.
2. Elisha as a type of Jesus Christ blessing the world through His church as the vessel of blessing.
We see a very interesting incident at the very outset of the ministry of Elisha (who also represents Christ in many respects). In II Kings 2:19-22 we read, “Then the men of the city said to Elisha, ‘Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren.’ And he said, ‘Bring me a new bowl [vessel] and put salt in it.’ So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the source of the water, and cast in the salt there, and said, Thus says the Lord, ‘I have healed this water; from it shall be no more death or barrenness.’ So the water remains healed to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke”.
This passage reveals an amazing truth about the person of Christ, the underlying principle of His ministry, and surprisingly, the part the church of Jesus Christ will play in this ministry. Let us examine some aspects of this story more closely.
a. At the time of this incident, Elisha had just returned from Elijah’s ascension and had received a double portion of the anointing which had been on Elijah. This in type speaks of he ascension of our Lord Jesus [Elijah’s rapture] and His return to this earth with the double portion of God’s anointing and blessing [double portion of blessing in the Old Testament refers to a special bestowment of power, authority, and anointing for the purpose of exercising the will of God in relation to the people of God]. Likewise as Elisha returned with the full anointing of God to complete the mission Elijah had started, Jesus will return to a planet marred and ravaged by death and curse. (Elijah’s ministry was more confrontational in nature and was meant for the redemption of God’s people from the tyrannical and evil kingdom of Ahab and Jezebel; Elisha’s ministry was more restorative. He recovered what was damaged and ruined by the effects of a kingdom governed by Evil. Likewise, Jesus Christ in His first appearance challenged and confronted Satan and his kingdom for the purpose of redeeming mankind from the tyranny of sin and death unto Himself; whereas, Jesus in His second appearance will be mainly devoted to the recovery and restoration of all that was robbed from mankind and this planet.)
b. The people of Jericho appealed to Elisha to help them with their water supply. Joshua had placed a curse on Jericho because it was a Canaanite stronghold preventing the people of God from entering into the land promised to them and from establishing God’s sovereign rule there. In the same manner, God had pronounced a curse upon the earth which, by becoming a center of Satanic activity, prevented the possession of the planet by mankind and hindered the establishment of God’s sovereign rule. So Jericho was cursed by Joshua as follows, “Cursed be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn and with his youngest he shall set up its gates” (Joshua 6:26). Death would rule in Jericho if anyone attempted to rebuild it. The earth is a greater Jericho. In Genesis 3 God pronounced a curse upon this earth and its residents. If humans tried to rebuild this world apart from God, they would come under the curse of death! And death did rule and reign as Paul tells us in Romans 5:12-21. Yet, for the past 6000 years, human beings have attempted to rebuild, renew and revive the Jericho that was under curse. Look at the results! They have laid their sons and daughters on the altars of war, famine, disease, disasters, and death with no relief in sight. They have attempted to break God’s curse and claim superiority over God by trying to circumvent God’s word and rebuild this world apart from God. Hence the condition we are in!
c. Finally the people of Jericho realized that there was no hope in trying to improve and rebuild the city because its water supply, or its lifeline, was polluted and dangerously contaminated by a fatal agent. Likewise, there will come a day, the day Christ will return to this earth, that humanity will finally realize that there is no hope for this planet because its very life source is infected with death! As the people of Jericho pled with Elisha to help them, so will the people of the world gladly welcome the Lord Jesus to heal their planet ravaged by the curse of death!
Notice the statement these people made to Elisha, “The situation of this city is pleasant!” So true! Earth is a very pleasant and beautiful planet, the masterpiece of God’s artistic creation. The planet earth sustains life in itself. No other planet in our solar system, or in any other part of the universe, has yet been discovered to have the perfect and ideal position that our earth enjoys. Every factor needed for the sustenance and the propagation of life to its fullest is abundantly available on this planet. Earth is truly a pleasant situation. The only problem with it is that its life source which could have been eternal has been polluted with sin and death.
d. In response to this request, Elisha did not judge the people saying, “You should have known better than to rebuild the city; now go and perish in your own misery!” No! Instead, Elisha asked for a new bowl and some salt. Our Lord also, will not judge the people, but will seek to heal and restore the planet to its rightful relationship to Himself and God. God does not want to destroy the earth but to redeem and restore it to Himself. God wants to bless this planet and its inhabitants in the coming days. So what does God do to heal the waters of a polluted humanity? As Elisha asked for a new bowl and salt, so will our Lord Jesus seek a new vessel of abundant blessing (salt represents life and the blessings of life) to heal this world on the day of His return. What is this vessel of blessing? None other than the church of Jesus Christ! The church is the vessel in the hands of the Lord to bless the world in a powerful and visible way. In the coming millennium of Christ, the church will be mightily used of Christ to dispense His glorious and generous blessings upon this world and to heal it of all the effects of curse and death that has challenged the very life and existence of mankind on this planet.
e. Notice, as soon as Elisha poured the salt into the water source, he proclaimed that according to the word of the Lord the waters were healed and that there would be “no more death or barrenness”! The word of the Lord, through the sprinkling of the salt, reversed the effects of death and restored the water to fullness and life. Likewise, our Lord Jesus upon His return to this earth will declare the removal of death from this planet and its healing. There will be no more death or barrenness. Revelation 21:4-5 says, “There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold I make all things new.’”
Praise the Lord! He will heal this planet and bless it abundantly in the age to come through His chosen vessel, the Church!
3. The dual aspect of the Message of the Seed.
In conclusion, I need to bring the dual aspects of the message of Christ together, to form one overwhelming idea which represents the very essence of the message Jesus preached.
We spoke of the message of Christ, the divine Seed, as pointing to the necessity for a vessel of testimony, declaring the sovereignty and the lordship of God, and a vessel of blessing, dispensing the manifold blessings of God upon the peoples of this world in this age, as a deposit, and in the age to come, as the manifestation of the fullness of Him who fills all things. Thus we see a duality of roles in the message of Christ, both for Himself as the Son of God and the Son of man (The Son of man testifies to God’s sovereignty, the Son of God dispenses the manifold blessings of God) and for His church, His body who will attain to the perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, in this age and most fully in the age to come.
In several places in the New Testament, particularly in Revelation, which is a book dealing primarily with future events, this duality is mentioned in an interesting way. Notice how John opens the book of Revelation as he reminds his readers of the calling and the vocation the church has been given, “and had made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen” (1:6). John tells us that we are made (fashioned) to be kings (speaking and testifying of the sovereignty of God, since kings represented the sovereign rule of God in Israel), and priests (speaking of the compassionate position of the believers in dispensing blessing on the people). Attributing two distinct titles for the same group of people in one verse (unprecedented in the Old Testament and only seen in Christ) is a significant clue to the vocation of the church in the age to come as co-heirs with Jesus Christ, who Himself is also King and Priest in the order of Melchizedek. This duality of calling was, is and should be the focus of the message of Jesus Christ as preached by Him, His apostles, and us who are His church. Even Peter mentions this very explicitly in his epistle to the believers scattered in Asia Minor. He opens his letter with, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood [the dual aspects of the believers calling and vocation is all contained in this phrase, since the word “royal” speaks of the kingdom and sovereignty of God and the word “priesthood” speaks of the vessel of blessing], a holy nation, His own special people” (2:9).
The message of the Seed, Jesus Christ, is very clear: Ruling for blessing!
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