Nana Yaw Aidoo
Long before it would be established in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the ascension of Jesus Christ, long before Jesus Christ and John the Baptizer would “prepare the way and make straight a highway” for its establishment, and long before it would be seen by the Old Testament prophets, the church of Christ existed in promises made by God in the Old Testament. These promises, not arbitrary, were made in subsequence of God’s foreseeing of man’s sin even before the creation of the world and His eternal plan to redeem man from sin through Christ and the church (Eph. 1:4; 3:8-11).
Thus, when man did actually sin, God made His intention known in His cursing of that old serpent: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). Here was God making a promise to Satan of his certain defeat and a promise to Christ, the woman’s seed, of certain victory.
While this promise indeed anticipated the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ (cf. Jer. 31:22) it is far from being merely and only a divine anticipation of the virgin birth. Rather, it anticipated everything Christ achieved in His incarnation, including the purchasing of the church with His blood (Acts 20:28).
Contained in the germinal promise of Genesis 3:15, God’s eternal purpose comprehended Christ’s Virgin Birth, his struggle with the powers of hell, his death, burial, resurrection, triumphant exaltation to the throne of David and the salvation of Jew and Gentile in one body (Brewer, Chapter One).
Keep in mind that everything that Christ achieved in His crucifixion is entwined and interweaved with the church. Jesus Christ died on the cross to purchase the church with His blood and so to separate the purchasing of the church from Christ’s mission is to do that which God forbids (Matt. 19:6 cf. Eph. 5:32). Because the prevailing view in religion is that one can have Christ without having the church, many see the importance assigned to Christ in Scripture yet fail to see the same importance assigned to the church. However, one cannot separate Christ and His mission from the church any more than one can separate a head from a body without committing murder.
Everything God said in His remarks to Satan in the garden was the entirety of the mission of Christ in germ form. Satan bruised the heel of Christ when he sent Him to the cross and Christ gave Satan a mortal defeat when He resurrected from the grave thus making it possible for men to be freed from Satan’s power (Acts 26:18; Heb. 2:14). In an apparent reference to this promise, Paul in writing to the church at Rome said: “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20). One cannot but see the apostle’s application of the Almighty’s promise to the church, those whom Christ purchased with His blood.
With the passing of time, God would make His promise to save fallen man through Christ and the church, even clearer in His promises to Abraham:
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3).
It goes without saying that the land and the nation promises refer to Canaan and the nation of Israel respectively. However, that Seed of Abraham (cf. Gen. 22:18) through Whom God would bless all families of the earth was Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:16 cf. Eph. 1:3). Once again, we see God promising to redeem man from sin through Christ and the church. This promise was also made to Isaac, Abraham’s son (Gen. 26:4) and to Jacob, Abraham’s grandson (Gen. 28:14). Little by little, God was working in space and time and demonstrating his love for man in spite of his sins (John 3:16).
Years later, Amos would write: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Did the Lord reveal His plan to redeem man through Christ and the church to His servants the prophets? We shall see.
Brewer, Jerry C. The Kingdom of God. PDF file, Jerry C. Brewer, 2012.