A COVENANT is a formal binding agreement that defines relationships and responsibilities between two or more parties. Biblical covenants define the relationship between God and His people, and give binding expression to statements of His plans and purposes.
Eight covenants constitute God’s covenant-kingdom program. The Adamic and Noahic Covenants are universal in scope while the Mosaic, Palestinian, Davidic, and New Covenants fall under the umbrella of the Abrahamic Covenant. These five covenants form the framework of the Mediatorial Kingdom of Israel, and along with the first-two are fulfilled in the Messianic Kingdom. The fulfillment of God’s covenant-kingdom program culminates with the Everlasting Covenant of Peace. See the chart Kingdom—Messiah—Land in the Covenants of the Bible.
The first Messianic promise of Scripture sets forth the foundation upon which all Messianic prophecies concerning Jesus will be laid:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel (Genesis 3:15).
Part of this promise is fulfilled with the incarnation of the Messiah, when Mary conceives by God’s power, instead of by a man’s seed. Thus, Jesus Christ is the woman’s offspring or seed according to the Gospels.
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:34-35; cf. Matthew 1:22-24).
The protevangelium pinpoints four things that must occur with Jesus Christ:
1. He must be a man, springing from the seed/offspring of the woman.
2. He must bring enmity (animosity, antagonism, hostility) among the human race.
3. He must be victorious by crushing Satan’s head.
4. He must be wounded by Satan, who crushes His heel.
OT predictions often are couched in this reversed pattern of glory and suffering. Such reversals made it even more difficult for the prophets themselves to understand the time and circumstances of the Messiah (1 Peter 3:21-23). Suffering preceding the glory of the Messiah is recognized by the NT writers, for example:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
The protevangelium is the beginning of the Messianic hope as outlined by Genesis.
1. Satan ultimately would be crushed. The implication is that if Satan is crushed, so also his seed, the enemies of God’s people (3:15).
2. The agent of this crushing would come from the seed of the woman (3:15).
3. This victory over Satan would only be possible through suffering on the part of the Crusher (3:15).
4. God would come to dwell in the tents of Shem (9:27 KJV; HCSB; GW).
5. Through a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all nations of the earth were to be blessed (12:3, etc.).
6. The scepter and ruler’s staff will not depart from the tribe of Judah until He comes to whom it belongs (49:10).
7. The One from the tribe of Judah would be Shiloh (Messianic tile meaning “Rest-bringer”) (49:10).
8. The nations would give allegiance to Shiloh—the Rest-bringer (49:10).
9. His coming would introduce a time of great abundance (49:11-12).
Upon these nine foundational predictions, God constructed Israel’s Messianic hope. Of the specific Messianic predictions that followed over the next 1,400 years, scarcely one can be found which is not but a further amplification of these original predictions.
Progressive predictions are much like individual pieces of a jigsaw puzzle or flannel on a flannel-graph. No one or two pieces of flannel can depict the lesson to be presented. To get the full picture it is necessary to lay one piece, and yet another and another until the entire picture clearly appears.
The Promised Seed
“The Seed” motif rests at the heart of Messianic predictions.
The Seed of the Woman – Victory over Satan
The Seed of Abraham – Blessing to the nations
The Seed of David – Eternal rule
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ (Galatians 3:16).
Christ Jesus is the Seed promised to Abraham. Consequently, all in Christ are one in Christ and heirs of the promises spoken to Abraham (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:28-29).
The Royal Messiah
“The seed” promise made by God to Eve is narrowed to the family of David.