"And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew" (Gen 4:25).
Here in this short verse, the LORD God displays for us the doctrine of substitution. Adam’s son Seth is set forth as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, the sinner’s Substitute. In fact, his name means ‘substituted’. Eve named him Seth, because God had appointed her “another seed instead of Abel.” This is exactly what God has done in the salvation of chosen sinners by His grace. God has appointed another Seed, our Lord Jesus Christ, to be the divine Substitute of His elect. Also to be noted is the fact that Seth is in the direct lineage of the Messiah, the woman’s Seed (Luke 3:23-38).
Two things were clearly required for Seth to be substituted for Abel. Adam had to know Eve his wife, and Abel had to die. These two things, knowledge and death, are vital to the substitution and satisfaction our Savior made at Calvary for the sin of God’s elect.
It is clearly taught in the Book of God that our Lord’s substitutionary work was by the foreknowledge of God (1 Pt 1:20-21). God’s foreknowledge of a people was required for true substitution to be made. There must be a specific people for whom the blessed Son of God was sent to satisfy divine justice as their Substitute. What did this entail?
First, God’s foreknowledge is by a divine union of love and grace. Adam’s knowledge of Eve his wife portrays this truth. Marriage is a picture of God’s grace. “They two shall be one flesh,” of which the Apostle Paul declares, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph 5:32). God entered into a marriage covenant of free grace with chosen sinners in Christ, uniting Himself to a people in everlasting love, “according as He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:3-4). For this cause, Christ came as our Substitute to manifest the redeeming love of God.
Second, God’s foreknowledge is by divine, predestinating love. Seth was appointed by God as another seed instead of Abel. Even so, Christ was appointed our Substitute from eternity! By nature, God’s elect are born of corruptible seed as fallen sons of Adam. We “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph 2:3). But God pre-appointed for us another Seed with another destiny, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom 8:29). By one mighty act of sovereign love, God called us the His sons, justified us from all sin, and glorified us in Christ, before the world began (Rom 8:28-31). The substitution of God’s grace is an eternal work! Our Savior came to manifest and bring to light what God the Father accomplished from eternity. “By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb 9:12).
Here is the sum: Adam knew Eve and Seth was born as a substitute and “another seed instead of Abel.” God foreknew His people in Christ before the world began, and in due time a divine Substitute was born. He is another Seed, the woman’s Seed, the incorruptible Seed, the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and abides forever! (Jn 1:1-4, 14; 1 Pt 1:23).
THE DEATH OF CHRIST
In order for Seth to be Abel’s substitute, Abel had to die! He could not otherwise be named Seth. Unless Abel be slain by his brother Cain, there cannot be another seed appointed. Even so, Christ could not be our Substitute and manifest all the blessings of God’s grace, unless our old nature be put to death. He could not give us eternal life, except He take to Himself our sin and death. He could not substitute His righteous and freely impute it to us through faith by His Spirit, except He justly deal with our unrighteousness. He could not give us His acceptance with God, except He be forsaken of God in our room and stead. Our blessed Savior had to be made sin for us, or we could not be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21).
As a picture of Christ our Substitute, Abel’s name reveals what our Savior accomplished by His death at Calvary. His name means ‘emptiness or vanity’. That’s a good description of God’s elect in our lost condition as sons of Adam. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation… But with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pt 1:18-19). How were God’s elect redeemed from our vain existence and freed from sin’s guilt and condemnation? “Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Rom 6:6-7). Through the bloody death of Christ our Substitute, all of God’s elect were forever freed from the emptiness and vanity of sin’s nature and curse. So that when God the Holy Spirit comes to His people in regenerating grace, He gives us a new nature, substituting a new heart and another Seed, by Whom we’re born again to believe in God. The faith of God’s elect is the fruit and evidence of what Christ accomplished on the cursed tree. God appoints another Seed, giving us life and faith through His Word by the gospel (James 1:18).
THE ANSWER OF FAITH
How then does God reveal Christ in the hearts of chosen sinners? It’s pictured for us in our text. It was Cain that slew Abel his brother in hatred without a cause. In this he pictured the hatred and enmity of the natural heart against God and His Christ. Cain’s name means ‘a spear’, foretelling of the Roman spear that pierced our Savior’s side and caused blood and water to flow out. But more than that, Cain portrays the infinite wisdom and goodness of our God in that He used our enmity and hatred to open up the Fountain of blood for our souls’ cleansing and everlasting good. From our blessed Substitute’s wounded side, God has determined to pour out the Spirit of grace on undeserving rebels. He has promised, “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced” (Zech 12:10). The precious blood of Christ by the Spirit’s power regenerates the dead hearts of chosen sinners. We’re made to see our sins that spilt His blood, and helped to nail Him there. What a wonder of grace!
John Newton put it like this:
Thus while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too!
When God reveals Christ in us by faith, when we see our sins that crucified the Lord of glory, when a divine Substitute is born in our hearts by the power of God’s Spirit through the Gospel, we then give the answer of our mother Eve. – “God hath appointed me another seed,” with all the blessings of free grace, instead of what my sin deserves.
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Phone: (888) 602-3456