The One to Whom All the Prophets Bore Witness
1. What do the facts about Jesus’ prehuman existence show as to his relationship with Jehovah?
DESCRIBING his own warm relationship with Jehovah, Jesus said: “The Father has affection for the Son and shows him all the things he himself does.” (John 5:19, 20) The closeness of that relationship began at the time of his creation, countless millenniums before his human birth. He was God’s only-begotten Son, the only one created by Jehovah alone. Everything else in heaven and on earth was created by means of that dearly loved firstborn Son. He also served as God’s Word or Spokesman, the one through whom the divine will was communicated to others. This one, the Son that God was specially fond of, became the man Jesus Christ.—Col. 1:15, 16; John 1:14; 12:49, 50.
2. To what extent do Bible prophecies refer to Jesus?
2 Before his miraculous birth as a human, scores of inspired prophecies about him were recorded. As the apostle Peter testified to Cornelius, “To him all the prophets bear witness.” (Acts 10:43) To such an extent is Jesus’ role in connection with pure worship featured in the Bible that an angel told the apostle John: “Worship God; for the bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires prophesying.” (Rev. 19:10) Those prophecies clearly identify him and draw attention to aspects of God’s purpose regarding him that are of keen interest to us today.
What the Prophecies Revealed
3. (a) In the prophecy at Genesis 3:14, 15, who is represented by “the serpent”? “The woman”? ‘The seed of the serpent’? (b) Why would the ‘bruising of the serpent in the head’ be of great interest to Jehovah’s servants?
3 The first of such prophecies was spoken after the rebellion in Eden. It was embodied in Jehovah’s judgment addressed to the serpent. Jehovah said: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Gen. 3:14, 15) What did that mean? In God’s due time other prophecies clarified it and enlarged on it. As a result we know that the one to whom it was addressed, as represented by the serpent, is Satan the Devil. “The woman” is Jehovah’s own loyal heavenly organization, which is to him like a faithful wife. ‘The seed of the serpent’ includes both angels and humans who manifest the spirit of the Devil, those who oppose Jehovah and his people. In view of the way the serpent was used by the Devil in Eden, it could be discerned from the prophecy that the ‘bruising of the serpent in the head’ referred to eventual destruction of this rebel son of God who had slandered Jehovah and brought great grief to mankind. But as for the identity of the “seed” that would do the bruising, this long remained a sacred secret.—Rom. 16:25, 26.
4. How did Jesus’ ancestry help to identify him as the promised Seed?
4 After some 2,000 years of human history Jehovah provided further details. He indicated that the Seed would appear in the family line of Abraham. (Gen. 22:15-18) However, the line leading to the Seed would depend not merely on fleshly descent but on God’s choice. In spite of Abraham’s love for his son Ishmael, born to the slave girl Hagar, Jehovah pointedly said: “My covenant I shall establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you.” (Gen. 17:18-21; 21:8-12) Later that covenant was confirmed, not to Isaac’s firstborn son Esau, but to Jacob, from whom the 12 tribes of Israel descended. (Gen. 28:10-14) In time it was indicated that the Seed would be born in the tribe of Judah, in the house of David.—Gen. 49:10; 1 Chron. 17:3, 4, 11-14.
5. Even early in Jesus’ earthly ministry, what else made it evident that he was the Messiah?
5 Over 700 years in advance, the Bible named Bethlehem as the place of the human birth of the Seed but also revealed that he was one who had already existed “from the days of time indefinite,” since the time when he was created in heaven. (Mic. 5:2) The time of his appearance on earth as Jehovah’s Anointed One, the Messiah, was foretold through the prophet Daniel. (Dan. 9:24-26) And when he was anointed with holy spirit, a voice from heaven identified him. (Matt. 3:16, 17) So, after becoming a follower of Jesus, Philip could say with conviction: “We have found the one of whom Moses, in the Law, and the Prophets wrote, Jesus, the son [by adoption] of Joseph, from Nazareth.”—John 1:45.
6. (a) After Jesus’ death, what did his followers come to realize? (b) Who, principally, is the ‘seed of the woman,’ and what is meant by his bruising the serpent’s head?
6 Thereafter, Jesus’ followers came to realize that literally scores of prophetic references to him were woven into the inspired Scriptures. Following his death and resurrection, he personally “interpreted to them things pertaining to himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:27) It is now apparent that Jesus, principally, is the ‘seed of the woman,’ the one who bruises the head of the “serpent” in such a manner that Satan is finally crushed out of existence. By means of Jesus all God’s promises to humankind, all the things for which we earnestly long, will be brought to fulfillment.—2 Cor. 1:20.
7. In addition to the identity of the one referred to in these prophecies, what else is it beneficial to consider?
7 When you first read some of these prophecies perhaps you asked, as did the Ethiopian eunuch, “About whom does the prophet say this?” But the eunuch did not let the matter rest when he received the answer. After listening carefully to the explanation that Philip gave, the man realized that appreciation for how Jesus fulfilled the prophecy called for action on his own part, by his getting baptized. (Acts 8:32-38; Isa. 53:3-9) Do we respond similarly? Sometimes it is the manner in which a prophecy is presented that deeply moves us, or our heart may be touched by the conclusions that are drawn in the Bible itself when the fulfillment is pointed out.
8. Four prophetic patterns regarding Jesus Christ are considered here. Reason on the questions and scriptures provided to show how these prophecies affect us. Consider just one at a time.
8 Notice how this is so with the following prophetic promises and patterns concerning Jesus Christ. The questions are for you to answer with the aid of the cited scriptures.
(1) How does the record about Abraham’s attempt to offer up Isaac help us to appreciate what Jehovah did in providing the ransom by means of his Son? (John 3:16; Gen. 22:1-18 [notice how Isaac is described in Ge 22 verse 2.])
What confidence should this give us? (Rom. 8:32, 38, 39)
But what is required on our part? (Gen. 22:18; John 3:36)
(2) In identifying Jesus as the prophet like Moses, of what serious responsibility does the Bible remind us? (Acts 3:22, 23; Deut. 18:15-19)
What are some of the things that Jesus has spoken to us, and why are they timely now? (Matt. 28:18-20; 19:4-9; 18:3-6)
(3) When explaining what was foreshadowed by the priesthood of Aaron, to what appealing qualities of Jesus as high priest does the Bible direct attention? (Heb. 4:15–5:3; 7:26-28)
So how should we feel about approaching God in prayer through Christ for help to overcome our weaknesses?
(4) In view of the superiority of Jesus’ sacrifice (replacing all those offered under the Mosaic Law), why should we be very careful to avoid getting into the habit of doing anything that we know is displeasing to God? (Heb. 10:26, 27)
If we truly appreciate the hope of life made possible as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice, what things will we be diligent to do? (Heb. 10:19-25)
How Can We Show Our Faith in Christ?
9. Why is there no salvation for us apart from Jesus Christ?
9 After pointing out to the Jewish high court in Jerusalem how prophecy had been fulfilled in Jesus, the apostle Peter forcefully concluded: “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:11, 12; Ps. 118:22) All Adam’s offspring are sinners, so their death comes as the condemnation for sin and holds no merit that can be applied as a ransom for anyone. But Jesus was perfect, and the laying down of his life has sacrificial value. (Ps. 49:6-9; Heb. 2:9) He offered to God a ransom that exactly corresponded in value with what Adam had lost for his descendants. How has this benefited us?—1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
10. Explain one way in which Jesus’ sacrifice has greatly benefited us.
10 It has made possible our having a clean conscience because of forgiveness of sin—something far more than was ever achieved for Israel by the animal sacrifices under the Mosaic Law. (Acts 13:38, 39; Heb. 9:13, 14) Having this, of course, requires that we be honest with ourselves and that we have genuine faith in Jesus Christ. Do we personally appreciate how much we need Christ’s sacrifice? “If we make the statement: ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:8, 9.
11. Why is water immersion an important factor in gaining a good conscience toward God?
11 Of course, some who say that they know they are sinners and who profess to believe in Christ, who even share to some extent in telling others about God’s Kingdom as Jesus did, nevertheless stop short of full faith in Jesus. In what way? Well, as shown in the Bible, when persons in the first century truly became believers, how did they publicly demonstrate that? They got baptized. Why? Because Jesus had commanded that disciples be baptized. (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 8:12; 18:8) When a person’s heart is really moved by the loving provision that Jehovah made through Jesus Christ, he will not hold back. He will make any needed adjustments in his life, dedicate himself to God and symbolize this by water immersion. As the Bible shows, it is by demonstrating faith in this way that he makes ‘request to God for a good conscience.’—1 Pet. 3:21.
12. If we realize that we have committed a sin, what should we do about it, and why?
12 Even after that, of course, sinful traits will show themselves. What then? “I am writing you these things that you may not commit a sin,” said the apostle John. So we should not lightly pass off sin in ourselves, whether manifest in action, speech or attitude. “And yet, if anyone does commit a sin, we have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one. And he is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.” (1 John 2:1, 2) Does that mean that, no matter what we do, if we pray to God, ‘Forgive us our sins,’ everything will be all right? No. The key to forgiveness is genuine repentance. Help may also be needed from elders in the Christian congregation. We must recognize the wrongness of what was done and feel sincere regret over it so that we will make an earnest effort to avoid repeating it. (Acts 3:19; Jas. 5:13-16) If we do this, we can be assured of Jesus’ help. On the basis of our faith in the sin-atoning value of his sacrifice, restoration to Jehovah’s favor is possible, and this is vital if our worship is to be acceptable to him.
13. (a) Explain another way in which Jesus’ sacrifice has benefited us. (b) Why does our service to God not earn this reward? (c) But if we really have faith, what will we be doing?
13 Jesus’ sacrifice has also opened to us the opportunity for eternal life—in the heavens for a “little flock,” and on a Paradise earth for billions more of mankind. (Luke 12:32; Rev. 20:11, 12; 21:3, 4) This is not a reward that we earn. No matter how much we do in Jehovah’s service, we can never build up such merit that God will owe us life. Eternal life is “the gift God gives . . . by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-10) Nevertheless, if we have faith in that gift and appreciation for the manner in which it was made possible, we will make this manifest. Discerning how marvelously Jehovah has used Jesus in accomplishing His will and how vital it is that all of us follow Jesus’ steps closely, we will make the Christian ministry one of the most important things in our life. Our faith will be evident from the conviction with which we tell others about this magnificent gift of God.—Compare Acts 20:24.
14. How does such faith in Jesus Christ have a unifying effect?
14 What a fine, unifying effect such faith has! By means of it we are drawn close to Jehovah, to his Son and to one another within the Christian congregation. (1 John 3:23, 24) It causes us to rejoice that Jehovah has kindly given to his Son “the name that is above every other name [except God’s name], so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”—Phil. 2:9-11.
● When the Messiah appeared, why was his identity clear to those who truly believed God’s Word?
● How should the prophetic patterns fulfilled in Jesus, as depicted on page 34, affect us?
● In what ways has Jesus’ sacrifice already benefited us? How can we show our appreciation for it?
[Box/Pictures on page 34]
Prophetic Patterns About Jesus—How Should They Affect You?
Abraham offering up Isaac
Moses as spokesman for God
Aaron as high priest