Yah'shua's (Jesus') Seed
and Creation ex nihilo
NCW 10, June 1994
Q. In your publications you speak of Jesus being married and having children. But does not Isaiah prophesy that Messiah will be childless: "And who can speak of his descendants?" (Isa.53:8, NIV)? If he married young, as you maintain, then surely He would have had children by the time He was 30? This being so, is it not more likely that he was not unmarried and childless?
If you read a little further you will see that just the opposite is true: "Yet it was Yahweh's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life a guilt offering, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of Yahweh will prosper in His hand" (Isa.53:10, NIV). This passage can just as well be interpreted to mean that though He will be cut off in His prime, He will live again to see His children. Of course, we do not deny that this passage also refers to His spiritually-begotten sons and daughters too, for this is clarified in v.11.
This passage is not easy to translate and it is probably wise therefore to look at the more literal translations and not rely on paraphrases or semi-paraphrases like the New International Version. Therefore we will look at the King James Version and Septuagint, which broadly confirm each other:
The word zera' in Hebrew is a masculine noun and means seed, grain, sowing, crop, offspring, issue, progeny, family, race. Each and any of these words could therefore have been used in place of the word "seed". It is used exclusively, when referring to people, to literal descendants in the scriptures, and is often translated as semen (Lev.15:16ff; 18:21; 19:20; Num.5:28). Jesus Christ Himself is described as zera', the seed of David's lineage (2 Sam.7:12; 22:51; Ps.18:50; 89:4,29,36). So whilst it is true the word can have a spiritual or adoptive meaning its primary meaning is that of a LITERAL, PHYSICAL DESCENDANT obtained through semen.
"Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in His hand" (Isa.53:10, AV).
"Yahweh also is pleased to purge Him from His stroke. If ye can give an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed" (Ibid., Septuagint (LXX)).
The primary meaning of this verse must therefore mean that Jesus will make an atoning sacrifice for sin, will see both His literal children as well as His adoptive children (those born again of the Spirit), live beyond the crucifixion to see (have fellowship with) His literal and adoptive children on earth (following the resurrection) and later in heaven (after His ascension).
That the prophecy is dual -- referring to both His literal children as well as His adoptive -- is wholly consistent with the nature of Old Testament prophecy which is invariably two-levelled. To say that the meaning is entirely spiritual, referring to born-again Christians, is to do violence to the prophetic method; and indeed, if we were forced to accept one or other of the interpretations only, then there is no doubt that the literal one is the correct one.
It is a tragedy, in our view, that this issue is such a sensitive one, for Christian notions of Christ's celibacy are wholly without scriptural and historical warranty, being the product of superstition and Gnostic ideas about the evilness of the flesh. It is time that Jesus were not only allowed to be fully God but also to be fully man as defined by God in the Bible and as claimed by the orthodox creeds. The New Covenant Position is seen therefore not only to be the most reasonable but, even more importantly, the most Biblical.
The only reasonable objection advanced by advocates of a celibate Christ is that were the Saviour to have children they would be "semi-gods" -- but this is to misunderstand the relationship between spirit and flesh. The physical body of Jesus Christ was fully human, being derived from His mother Mary, but His spirit was fully God. He was fully "God-man" only in the sense that body and spirit are closely connected in mortality.
Any children born of Jesus would therefore have contained human flesh and their own human spirits from the pre-mortal worlds -- none of Jesus' "Godship" would have been transferred to them because what is transferred is flesh only. His children would have been no more special or unhuman than other children, no more than the Virgin Mary was special or unhuman compared with other mothers. Both Mary and Jesus' children and wife would have needed a Saviour, like the rest of humankind, even though Catholicism invented the dogma of an immaculate, sinless virgin Mary exactly because of this problem. But logically the "special-favoured" must be extended further back if it is (wrongly) assumed that the flesh of Christ was in some way "different" to other mortals. It wasn't. He was tempted and suffered the pull of the lower nature just like everyone else, but resisted and was sinless all His life.
The nature of the relationship of Christ's humanity and Godhood has troubled theologians for centuries, and fierce debates raged in the early Church over it. The result were some very strange formulae indeed that were so complicated as to be incomprehensible. The whole of Christendom split over it into the Western (Catholic) and Eastern (Orthodox) Churches. The truth, however, is much simpler: Jesus was fully human being in His flesh and fully God in His spirit. When He was resurrected, His fully humanized body was divinized -- utterly transformed, so that the body He now possesses is a body of glory, quite unlike ours. One day, we will all receive such a body, because of what He did for us on Calvary, as will His natural mother, foster father (Joseph), natural wife and natural children.
Of course, this understanding presupposes a knowledge of a pre-earth spiritual life, which most of Christendom rejects but which is an integral part of Jewish tradition nonetheless. The idea of an ex nihilo creation of our spirit bodies at conception is not a Biblical one; indeed, the whole concept of ex nihilo ("out of nothing") creation isn't even Biblical at all but derives from the Apocrypha which Protestantism rejects! The few texts in the Bible used to support it (Heb.11:3; Gen.1:1) are open to alternative interpretations. Scriptures like "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen.1:1, AV) can mean almost anything: is this just the physical creation being described (sky and earth) or spiritual as well (spirit world and physical world)? Is this the "beginning" of the whole creation, or just part of it? Or does it just refer to the "beginning of time" in our particular dimension? New Covenant Christians believe that Genesis 1:1 refers only to the physical creation and would see "heavens" as referring to the normal Biblical usage of the word meaning "sky", the original Hebrew of which, shamayim, literally translates as "the heaved (lifted) up things", which the Greek translates to ouranoi meaning "skies" (compare with Gen.1:1, LXX).
The fact of the matter is that there is no developed concept of the spirit world in the Bible, Old Testament notions being very primitive. The association of "heaven" and "sky" developed as a result of the people's awareness of ascension through the sky on the way to heavenly world, as of Elijah and Christ. Like our own language, the meaning of Hebrew and Greek words evolved over time, the word for "sky" coming to take on an added meaning, namely, a spirit dimension or world.
But Genesis 1:1, being perhaps the oldest Biblical book, says nothing of a "spiritual world", and references to shamayim are almost certainly to the sky or atmosphere and what is visible in it at night time (the "heavens" being the stars and planets too). It is for this reason that New Covenant Christians do not believe Genesis describes a spiritual creation at all and one of many reasons we do not believe in the creation of the spirit at conception.
For this reason we are not troubled by Jesus having children. Were the spirit to be created ex nihilo at conception, then there would perhaps be a case for claiming that Jesus's own children might "inherit" half of His Godhood in spirit, the other half being from Mary. This would certainly be a contradiction and an unmaintainable position. But if the spirit is a wholly different entity, created separately by God the Father previous to the foundation of the world in Genesis 1:1, then there is no problem of creating "semi-gods" as the spirit pre-existed the flesh. (For more information on pre-existence, see the New Covenant Christian Witness, No.7, December 1993, p.49: The Pre-existence of Jeremiah).
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