The book of Genesis introduces us to the beginning. God created and, as the story goes, man corrupted. The “problem of sin” was introduced early in the story. Sin is a problem because it causes separation from the creator. Sin can prevent our relationship with God, and it always disrupts our fellowship with Him. The Bible teaches that sin has affected all people. It’s even disrupted the physical make-up of our planet. The problem of sin is world-wide. As big of a deal as it was when it happened, God still wasn’t caught off-guard.
The gospel means “good news”. Most people know that. There is a promise in Genesis chapter 3 that some call the first presentation of “the gospel”. Genesis 3:15 is often called the first promise God made to take care of the problem of sin. If I’m Adam or Eve… hearing God’s words would have been really good news. It was God’s first promise in this regard… and it suggested that one of Eve’s seed… someone down the line a ways… would take a blow to his heel… but he would crush the head of the deceiver. That’s code for… I’ll send someone who will take care of the problem of sin. That’s the first mention of the promise. The mess that man got into, God agreed to get us out of. The solution would be the seed of Eve.
That first promise is repeated again, several times and in different ways, as the Bible story continues. To Abraham, the promise included land, descendants and that through one particular descendant, the world would be blessed. What does that mean? It means that the seed of Eve talked about in Gen. 3:15, was now promised to come out of Abraham’s lineage. Abraham’s promise was then passed on through Isaac… and then Jacob. Jacob became known as Israel.
Along the way, the scriptures referred to this “promised seed” in other ways too. In the Old Testament, there were certain positions that were ordained by God. Specifically we see this with kings, priests and prophets. These positions were handed out by God himself. As a physical symbol of God’s choice… those who were chosen would often go through a ceremony where they were physically anointed with oil to symbolize God’s choice to complete their given task.
The word in the Hebrew language for one who is anointed is “messiah”. In the Old Testament there were many messiahs. A close look at certain prophetic scriptures show that there was one who would come who would be anointed to take care of the problem of sin. This (then future) character was known not just as “a messiah” but rather “The Messiah” (John 4:19-26). He was not just one to take care of “a problem”… but one to take care of “the problem”. In Hebrew the title is Messiah… in the Greek language the word for “anointed” is Christ. It’s not Jesus’ last name… it’s His title! It describes what he was sent to do.
Because of the promises in the Old Testament, The Messiah was expected to be a King (like David was a king) who would set up a physical kingdom on the earth. It was understood that The Messiah’s kingdom was to extend over the earth. It was understood that He would physically dominate His opponents. The Jews of Jesus’ day believed that this is how The Christ would save His people (John 6:14-15).
Just before Jesus’ arrival, there was a group of people who had faith in God’s promise. Their faith was accounted to them as righteousness. They were the remnant of faithful believers in God. They were patiently looking, watching, and waiting for The Messiah.