Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

The Messiah in the Torah: The Seed

The Messiah in the Torah: The Seed


We are coming into the season of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting, a time to get us ready for the Christ child who will come at Christmas. We know the Christmas Story. We have heard it many, many times and you probably can’t hear it too many times because it is a beautiful story, but during this season of Advent we are going to look how the Christ, the Messiah, is presented to us through the prophets of the Old Testament because the better we understand how Jesus fulfilled the role of this coming Messiah, the better we can wrestle with our own faith and how we understand Jesus to be a part of our lives.
So we go back to the pictures of the Christ in the Old Testament, especially those images of Messiah we find in the Torah – the first 5 books of the Bible, also called the Pentateuch or the Books of Moses. They are the books that most people can rattle off in order – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy! In these books, we find pictures of the Messiah that the people of God looked for for generations since the time of Moses. The Messiah - the coming one who will save them. The pictures of this Messiah from the Old Testament are designed so that when the Messiah comes, the people will be able to recognize him as who he is - the coming one, the savior, the Son of God.
However, we as Christians know that that didn’t happen. The Jews did not recognize Jesus when he took on the role of the Messiah. Jesus over and over again kept saying to the Jews, his own people – “You’ve got the evidence”, “You know the scripture”, “You’ve heard the prophecy”, yet they didn’t see it.
And even though we do understand Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the World, It is still a great benefit to us to go back and see what it is that the Hebrew scriptures say about the Messiah. Because it does help us to better understand the role of Jesus in our life and the better we understand who Jesus is, the easier it is to allow him to shape us and mold us into the people he wants us to be. The more we understand about God’s plan for this ‘coming one’ the more we can appreciate the coming of the Christ Child on Christmas.
We first look at the picture of the coming Messiah, the Christ, that we understand to be Jesus of Nazareth, as a seed. One of the great Christmas Carols is Hark the Herald Angels Sing but the form we sing is not exactly like the hymn that Charles Wesley wrote. In his original carol came the verse: Come, Desire of nations, come, Fix in us thy humble home; Rise, the woman’s conquering seed, Bruise in us the serpent’s head. In this verse, Wesley is referring to the passage in Genesis 3:15.(read). Wesley understood that the seed that is mentioned in Genesis 3:15, is a picture off the coming Messiah. God is talking to Eve and telling her that even though she and Adam are being thrown out of the Garden because they disobeyed God, the serpent who represents Satan, will suffer a worse fate because an offspring of Eve – and we realize that this offspring of a future generation – will eventually be the one who defeats Satan.
In the opening scene of the move “The Passion” Jesus is praying in the garden right before his arrest and as he gets up to walk out to the disciples, there is a snake crawling around him and he takes his heel and crushes the head of the snake. That is a reference back to this passage where we are assured that the Messiah who comes, will be the one who defeats Satan, the serpent of the Garden.
Again, in the book in Genesis, in Genesis 22:18, Abraham is promised that through his seed, the world will be blessed and this passage has always been understood to be a reference to the blessings of Jesus for the world; the one who will come offering salvation to all. So just
from these two verses we already understand that God promised to Eve that there would come a savior who would defeat Satan and from Genesis 22 we now know that this Messiah will be a descendent of Abraham – in other words the Messiah will be Jewish. And from this Messiah, the whole world will be blessed – salvation will offered to all people. What this does to help us with our faith is to understand that from the very beginning of time – God had a plan to redeem all people which we see in the coming of the Christ; in this baby Jesus. It also reminds us that there is a continuity between Old Testament and the New Testament and that it is important that we come to know what is in the Old Testament in order to fully understand what happens in the New Testament. We read in Colossians 1:17 (read thru 20) we see that this was God’s plan all along – from before creation God planned to offer salvation to all people and this will come from the seed of Abraham.
Not only does this picture of the seed help us to see the promised of God fulfilled in Christ, the seed also becomes a picture of the believer and what happens to the believer as they allow Christ in their lives. The seed represents Transformation; the seed represents growth; the seed represents bearing fruit; and the seed represents the future.
Picture a seed. It has this really hard shell around it. Until you plant it in the ground and water it and then something magical happens and that shell opens up and a tiny shoot of a plant comes out and begins to grow. Without Christ in our life, we are like that seed. We are hardened, our hearts are hardened (that is another phrase used often in the Bible to describe people who aren’t open to God). Without Christ, we are that seed with a hard shell. But when we give our life to Christ – we are reborn. The New Testament uses the vision of dying and being reborn as a new creature. That is the picture from the death of Christ when he is buried and resurrected. We are in essence buried as one person and we rise from the ground as someone new when Christ comes into our lives. The shell opens up, our heart softens and we begin to allow Christ to change us.
We are a baby plant – Paul calls us ‘baby Christians’, the more we learn, the more closely we follow Jesus, the more bible study we do, the more we pray, the more we surround ourselves with God’s people, Christ is able to nourish us just like the water and the sun nourish that new plant. What often happens is that as a tender shoot, we neglect the nourishment, we don’t do the study, the prayer, the worship, we isolate ourselves and as a result we never grow in our faith, or our faith actually will wither and die. But as we allow Christ to nourish us, we grow and we become stronger. And once the plant grows enough, it gets strong enough, the plant begins to bear its fruit – fruit in this picture isn’t really talking about apples or pears, but the seed that the plant produces. All plants produce seed in one form or another in order to propagate itself. Once we have allowed Christ to nourish us and we grow strong, we start bearing fruit. We start bearing seeds that can propagate in the lives of others. Our lives bear witness to what Jesus can do in a life – our transformation is so that people can see Jesus in us.
Jesus’ words in John 15:16 remind of this command that Jesus gave us – go and bear fruit. And how do we bear fruit – by loving each other. Not just each other, those of us here in this sanctuary, but love each other. Love all people – and all that entails – caring for people, treating people with respect, providing for the needs of others…And how is this possible, only through allowing Jesus to live in us and through us.
From the beginning, from Genesis, the Messiah is presented to us as a seed. Remembering the purpose of that seed is to bless all people and to bruise the head of Satan. We come to see this fulfilled in Jesus – the Christ; the Messiah. But we also see that it is through allowing Jesus to live in us that this truly comes to pass. For as we allow Jesus to transform us, as we allow Jesus to come into our hearts and soften that shell and allow us to grow, it is through us that Jesus comes to bless all people, for as we allow Jesus to lead us to Love Each Other, to care for each other, that we will bear fruit, that the message of Christ will spread, there will be more people transformed and Satan’s plan to make us all miserable will be defeated.
So this advent, allow the Messiah, the seed of the Torah, to transform you, to soften that shell you have build around yourself, to allow you to grow until you can bear fruit and then through you, this baby born at Christmas, this Christ, this Messiah, will be a blessing to the world.
Amen!