The Overall Harmony of the Bible
Imagine a library of 66 books written by about 40 different people over a period of 1,600 years. Three languages were used by writers who lived in a number of lands. All the writers had different personalities, abilities, and backgrounds. But when the books they wrote were eventually gathered together, it turned out that, really, they made up just one great book following one basic theme from beginning to end. That is hard to imagine, is it not? Yet, the Bible is just such a library.
1. (Include introduction.) What remarkable harmony testifies to the fact that the Bible is inspired by God?
NO HONEST student can fail to be impressed by the fact that the Bible, although a collection of different books, is one unified production. It is unified in that, from beginning to end, it promotes worship of just one God whose characteristics never change, and all its books develop one overriding theme. This overall harmony is powerful evidence that the Bible is, indeed, the Word of God.
2, 3. What prophecy uttered in Eden gave a basis for hope, and what circumstances led to the uttering of that prophecy?
2 The basic theme of the Bible is introduced in the earliest chapters of its very first book, Genesis. There, we read that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created perfect and placed in a paradise garden, Eden. Eve, however, was approached by a serpent that challenged the rightness of God’s laws and lured her with subtle lies into a course of sin. Adam followed her and also disobeyed God. The result? Both were expelled from Eden and were condemned to death. We today suffer from the results of that first rebellion. We all inherit sin and death from our first parents.—Genesis 3:1-7, 19, 24; Romans 5:12.
3 At that tragic time, however, God uttered a prophecy that gave a basis for hope. The prophecy was spoken to the serpent, but it was uttered in the hearing of Adam and Eve so that they could tell it to their children. Here is what God said: “And 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.”—Genesis 3:15; Romans 8:20, 21.
4. What entities were mentioned in Jehovah’s prophecy in Eden, and how would they interact through the centuries?
4 Notice the four entities that are mentioned in this theme verse: the serpent and its seed as well as the woman and her seed. These entities would be key players in events for thousands of years to come. Constant enmity was to exist between the woman and her seed on the one hand and the serpent and his seed on the other. This enmity would include the ongoing conflict between true worship and false, right conduct and wickedness. At one stage, the serpent would gain a seeming advantage when it bruised the heel of the woman’s seed. Eventually, though, the woman’s seed was to crush the serpent’s head, and God himself would be vindicated when all traces of that original rebellion were removed.
5. How do we know that Eve was not the woman of the prophecy?
5 Who are the woman and the serpent? And who are their seeds? When Eve had her first son, Cain, she exclaimed: “I have produced a man with the aid of Jehovah.” (Genesis 4:1) Perhaps she felt that she was the woman of the prophecy and that this son would prove to be the seed. Cain, however, had a bad spirit like that of the serpent. He turned out to be a murderer, killing his own younger brother Abel. (Genesis 4:8) Clearly, the prophecy had a deeper, symbolic meaning that only God could explain. And this he did, a little at a time. All 66 books of the Bible contribute in one way or another to the revelation of the meaning of this, the first prophecy in the Bible.
Who Is the Serpent?
6-8. What words of Jesus help us to identify the power behind the serpent? Explain.
6 First, who is the serpent spoken about in Genesis 3:15? The account says that a literal serpent approached Eve in Eden, but literal serpents cannot speak. There must have been some power behind that snake, causing it to do what it did. What was that power? It was not until the first century of our Common Era, when Jesus was performing his ministry here on earth, that the identity of that power was clearly revealed.
7 On one occasion, Jesus was speaking with some self-righteous Jewish religious leaders who boasted that they were sons of Abraham. Yet, they had adamantly opposed the truth preached by Jesus. So Jesus said to them: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.”—John 8:44.
8 Jesus’ words were strong and to the point. He described the Devil as “a manslayer” and “the father of the lie.” Now, the very first recorded lies were those spoken by the serpent in Eden. Whoever spoke those lies was indeed “the father of the lie.” Moreover, those lies resulted in the death of Adam and Eve, making that ancient liar a murderer. Obviously, then, the power behind the serpent in Eden was Satan the Devil, and Jehovah was really talking to Satan in that ancient prophecy.
9. How did Satan come into existence?
9 Some have asked: If God is good, why did he create such a creature as the Devil? Jesus’ words also help us to answer that question. Jesus said of Satan: “[He] was a manslayer when he began.” So when Satan lied to Eve, that was when he began to be Satan—from a Hebrew word that means “resister.” God did not create Satan. A previously faithful angel allowed wrong desire to develop in his heart so that he became Satan.—Deuteronomy 32:4; compare Job 1:6-12; 2:1-10; James 1:13-15.
The Seed of the Serpent
10, 11. How do Jesus and the apostle John help us to identify the Serpent’s seed?
10 What, though, of ‘the seed [or offspring] of the serpent’? Jesus’ words also help us to solve this part of the puzzle. He said to the Jewish religious leaders: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father.” These Jews were descendants of Abraham, just as they boasted. But their wicked conduct made them spiritual children of Satan, the originator of sin.
11 The apostle John, writing toward the end of the first century, explains clearly who belong to the seed of the Serpent, Satan. He writes: “He who carries on sin originates with the Devil, because the Devil has been sinning from the beginning. . . . The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:8, 10) Evidently, the seed of the Serpent have been very active throughout all human history!
Who Is the Seed of the Woman?
12, 13. (a) How did Jehovah reveal to Abraham that the woman’s seed would appear among his descendants? (b) Who inherited the promise concerning the Seed?
12 Who, then, is ‘the seed [or offspring] of the woman’? This is one of the most important questions ever asked, for it is the woman’s seed that will eventually crush the head of Satan and undo the evil effects of the original rebellion. Back in the 20th century B.C.E., God revealed a major clue about this one’s identity to the faithful man Abraham. Because of Abraham’s great faith, God made a series of promises to him about the offspring that would be born to him. One of these made it evident that ‘the woman’s seed’ that would ‘bruise the serpent’s head’ was going to appear among Abraham’s children. God told him: “Your seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies. And by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.”—Genesis 22:17, 18.
13 As the years went by, Jehovah’s promise to Abraham was repeated to Abraham’s son Isaac and to his grandson Jacob. (Genesis 26:3-5; 28:10-15) Eventually, Jacob’s descendants became 12 tribes, and one of those tribes, Judah, received a special promise: “The scepter will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong.” (Genesis 49:10) Evidently, the Seed was to appear in the tribe of Judah.
14. What nation was organized to be prepared for the coming of the Seed?
14 At the end of the 16th century B.C.E., the 12 tribes of Israel were organized into a nation as God’s special people. To this end, God made a solemn covenant with them and gave them a law code. The main reason for this was to prepare a people for the coming of the Seed. (Exodus 19:5, 6; Galatians 3:24) From then on, the enmity of Satan toward the woman’s Seed was seen in the hostility of the nations to God’s chosen people.
15. What final clue was given as to which family among Abraham’s descendants would produce the Seed?
15 The final clue as to which family would produce the Seed was given in the 11th century B.C.E. At that time, God spoke to the second king of Israel, David, and promised that the Seed would come from his line and that this One’s throne would be “firmly established to time indefinite.” (2 Samuel 7:11-16) From that point on, the Seed could properly be referred to as the son of David.—Matthew 22:42-45.
16, 17. How did Isaiah describe the blessings the Seed would bring?
16 In the years that followed, God raised up prophets to give more inspired information about the coming Seed. For example, in the eighth century B.C.E., Isaiah wrote: “There has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom.”—Isaiah 9:6, 7.
17 Isaiah further prophesied about this Seed: “With righteousness he must judge the lowly ones, and with uprightness he must give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth. . . . And the wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together . . . They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” (Isaiah 11:4-9) What rich blessings this seed was going to bring!
18. What further information about the Seed did Daniel record?
18 In the sixth century before our Common Era, Daniel recorded a further prophecy about the Seed. He foretold the time when one like a son of man would appear in heaven and said that “to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.” (Daniel 7:13, 14) So the coming Seed would inherit a heavenly kingdom, and his royal authority would extend over all the earth.
The Puzzle Solved
19. What role, as revealed by the angel, was Mary to play in the coming of the Seed?
19 The identity of the Seed was finally unveiled at the dawn of our Common Era. In the year 2 B.C.E., an angel appeared to a young Jewish girl named Mary, who was a descendant of David. The angel told her that she was going to give birth to a very special baby and said: “This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:32, 33) So the long wait for the “seed” was finally coming to an end.
20. Who is the promised Seed, and what message did he preach in Israel?
20 In the year 29 C.E. (a date pointed to long in advance by Daniel), Jesus was baptized. Holy spirit then descended upon him, and God acknowledged him as his Son. (Daniel 9:24-27; Matthew 3:16, 17) For three and a half years thereafter, Jesus witnessed to the Jews, proclaiming: “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matthew 4:17) During that time, he fulfilled so many prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures that there was no room for doubt that he was indeed the promised Seed.
21. What did the early Christians understand as to the identity of the Seed?
21 The early Christians understood this well. Paul explained to the Christians in Galatia: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It says, not: ‘And to seeds,’ as in the case of many such, but as in the case of one: ‘And to your seed,’ who is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16) Jesus was to be the “Prince of Peace” foretold by Isaiah. After he would finally come into his Kingdom, justice and righteousness would be established worldwide.
Who, Then, Is the Woman?
22. Who is the woman referred to in Jehovah’s prophecy in Eden?
22 If Jesus is the Seed, who is the woman who was referred to back there in Eden? Since the power behind the serpent was a spirit creature, we should not be surprised that the woman too is spirit and not human. The apostle Paul spoke about a heavenly “woman” when he said: “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” (Galatians 4:26) Other scriptures indicate that this “Jerusalem above” had already existed for millenniums. She is Jehovah’s heavenly organization of spirit creatures, from which Jesus descended to fulfill the role of ‘the seed of the woman.’ Only this kind of spiritual “woman” could endure the enmity of “the original serpent” for millenniums.—Revelation 12:9; Isaiah 54:1, 13; 62:2-6.
23. Why is the progressive revealing of the meaning of Jehovah’s Edenic prophecy so remarkable?
23 This brief overview of the development of that ancient prophecy in Genesis 3:15 is a powerful testimony to the grand harmony of the Bible. It is truly remarkable that the prophecy can be understood only when we put the events and sayings from the 20th, the 11th, the 8th, and the 6th centuries B.C.E. together with the sayings and events from the first century of our Common Era. This cannot have happened by chance. There must have been a guiding hand behind it all.—Isaiah 46:9, 10.
The Meaning for Us
24. What does the identification of the Seed mean for us?
24 What does all of this mean for us? Well, Jesus is the primary ‘seed of the woman.’ That ancient prophecy in Genesis 3:15 foretold that his heel would be ‘bruised’ by the Serpent, and this happened when Jesus died on the torture stake. A bruise is not lasting. Thus, the Serpent’s seeming success was quickly turned into defeat when Jesus was resurrected. (As we saw in Chapter 6, there is overwhelming evidence that this really occurred.) Jesus’ death became the basis for the salvation of righthearted mankind, so the Seed began to be a blessing, just as God had promised Abraham. But what about the prophecies that Jesus was to rule from a heavenly kingdom over all his earthly realm?
25, 26. What issue was involved in the enmity between ‘the seed of the woman’ and the Serpent, as described in Revelation?
25 In a graphic prophetic vision recorded in Revelation chapter 12, the beginning of this Kingdom is pictured as the birth of a male child in heaven. In this Kingdom, the promised Seed takes power under the title Michael, meaning “Who Is Like God?” He shows that no one can rightfully challenge Jehovah’s sovereignty, when he casts “the original serpent” out of heaven for all time. We read: “So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth.”—Revelation 12:7-9.
26 The result is relief for the heavens but distress on earth. “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ,” came the triumphant shout. Furthermore, we read: “On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Revelation 12:10, 12.
27. When was the prophecy about Satan’s being cast from the heavens fulfilled? How do we know?
27 Can we say when this prophecy was to be fulfilled? Really, that was the question raised by the disciples when they asked Jesus about ‘the sign of his presence and of the conclusion of the system of things’—as we discussed in Chapter 10. (Matthew 24:3) As we saw, the evidence is overwhelming that Jesus’ presence in heavenly Kingdom power began in 1914. Since that time, we have experienced “woe for the earth” indeed!
28, 29. What great changes on the earthly scene still lie ahead, and how do we know they will take place soon?
28 But notice: That heavenly cry announced that Satan has only “a short period of time.” So that original prophecy in Genesis 3:15 is moving to its unerring climax. The serpent, his seed, the woman, and her seed have all been identified. The Seed was ‘bruised in the heel,’ but he recovered. Soon, the crushing of Satan (and his seed) will begin under God’s now-reigning King, Christ Jesus.
29 This will involve tremendous changes on the earthly scene. Along with Satan, those who prove themselves to be his seed will be removed. As the psalmist prophesied: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be.” (Psalm 37:10) What a radical change that will be! Then, the psalmist’s further words will be fulfilled: “But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:11.
30. Why are skeptics who cast doubt on the inspiration of the Bible and even on God’s existence the unrealistic ones?
30 In this way, the “Prince of Peace” will finally bring peace to mankind. This is the promise of the Bible, as we noted at Isaiah 9:6, 7. In this skeptical age, many find such a promise unrealistic. But what alternative does man offer? None! On the other hand, this promise is clearly stated in the Bible, and the Bible is the unfailing Word of God. It is really the skeptics who are unrealistic. (Isaiah 55:8, 11) They ignore God, who inspired the Bible and who is the greatest reality of all.
[Picture on page 151]
The Bible’s first prophecy gave fallen mankind a basis for hope
[Picture on page 154]
In the 20th century B.C.E., Jehovah told Abraham that the promised Seed would come from among his descendants
[Picture on page 155]
In the 11th century B.C.E., King David learned that the Seed would come from his royal line
[Picture on page 156]
In the eighth century B.C.E., Isaiah foretold the blessings the Seed would bring
[Picture on page 157]
In the sixth century B.C.E., Daniel foretold that the Seed would rule in a heavenly kingdom
[Picture on page 159]
Near the beginning of the first century C.E., Mary learned that Jesus, the baby she was to bear, would grow up to be the Seed