Romans teaches that the whole Bible centers on Jesus (Romans 1:2). The story of Scripture begins with creation and moves to the fall. Immediately after the fall, God promised to solve humanity’s problem through the seed of Eve. This seed would crush the head of the serpent, who brought a curse to God’s good world (Genesis 3:15). Later in Genesis, God specified that this seed of Eve would come from the family of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 26:4). Then, God identified the specific family from which the descendant of the woman would be born. He would come through the family of Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 21:12). Isaac’s son Jacob had twelve sons. Near the end of Genesis, we learn that the seed of the woman would be a king in the royal lineage of Jacob’s son Judah (Genesis 49:10).
As God’s plan continued to unfold, he further clarified that the messianic seed would come from the family of David (2 Samuel 7:12–16; Isaiah 11), the descendent of Judah.
Like many good gifts, the gift of the messianic seed took much longer to arrive than Abraham’s descendants anticipated. While they waited for this saving seed to come, they suffered greatly under the unbearable pain of exile. First, Israel was crushed by Assyria. Then Judah was exiled to Babylon, Persia, and Greece. Rome later captured Jerusalem, and Abraham’s people were once again forced to live under the occupation of a foreign nation.
These painful experiences of exile seemed at odds with the promise that they were God’s people and that He would deliver them through the descendant of David. Would God ever keep His promise and send the Messiah?
The prophet Habakkuk powerfully expressed the heartbreak God’s people felt as they suffered under the painful yoke of a foreign empire and waited for the coming seed. “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ and You will not save” (Habakkuk 1:4). The answer to Habakkuk’s painful cry is that “the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). Keep waiting. Keep trusting. The seed is coming. Live by faith.
Jesus is the answer to generations of the heartbroken waiting for the coming messianic seed. The book of Romans announces that through the good news about Jesus’ death and resurrection, God has kept the promises He made in Scripture (Romans 1:2–4). The coming of Jesus has revealed the promise-keeping righteous God (Romans 1:17).
Paul, quoting Habakkuk 2:4, reminds the Romans that the journey God had His people on began by faith. In faith, God’s people waited for the coming seed. Now God has kept His promise and sent the seed—Jesus the Messiah. His people will continue to live by faith, for the “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17b). The waiting is over. The Messiah has come. That which began by faith must continue from faith to faith (Romans 1:17a).