Entry Level Theological Truth [36]

“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heelConflict is endemic in this fallen world. Famous feuds permeate history: the Greeks against the Persians, the Romans against the Carthaginians, Spain/France/Germany (depending on the century) against England, even down to the family level of the Hatfields and the McCoys.

But no struggle is more severe, protracted, and momentous than the age-long battle between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. Happily, the outcome is not in doubt: the chief representative of the latter group has already triumphed by dying on the cross, rising again three days later, and ascending to heaven where He sits in the position of authority (Hebrews 8:1; 1 Peter 3:22.)

 


God Is For Us


 

God is not an indifferent observer to this war; rather, He is actively leading His side – represented here by “the seed of the woman” – to overcome the serpent’s forces. Bonar cogently explains the Almighty’s role thus:

…Satan’s ruin and the sinner’s deliverance are bound up together. It was to ‘destroy the works of the devil’ that the Son of God was to come; nay, it was ‘to destroy him that had the power of death, even the devil.’…God Himself undertakes man‘s cause.—‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.’ It is not, ‘there shall be enmity;’ but ‘I will put it.’ God Himself will now proceed to work for man. The serpent’s malice and success have but drawn forth the deeper love and more direct interposition in man’s behalf.1

One commentator puts in perspective the Creator’s promise of Genesis 3:15:

…He blesses before He curses; He points out, afar off, the remedy, before He brings upon His guilty creature all the evils to which his crime will give birth; He causes a feeble light to shine forth in a dark futurity, that man may direct towards it his uncertain footsteps, amid the deep obscurity which surrounds him. Let us, then, with profound reverence, approach the tribunal erected in Eden, and, in the sentence of condemnation, let us endeavour to discern words of mercy and grace.2

 


The First Gospel Prophecy


 

The most outstanding member of this band of believing loyalists is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is “the seed of the woman” par excellence. A teacher notes:

Is not the seed of the woman here individualised and matched in deadly conflict with the individual tempter? Does not this phraseology point to some pre-eminent descendant of the woman, who is, with the bruising of his lower nature in the encounter, to gain a signal and final victory over the adversary of man? There is some reason to believe from the expression, ‘I have gotten a man from the Lord’ (Gen. 4:1.), that Eve herself had caught a glimpse of this meaning, though she applied it to the wrong party.3

Biologically one normally thinks of the seed of the man; yet in this singular description there is a hint of the virgin birth of the Messiah. Only when the Word became flesh would Genesis 3:15 become fully understood. As Kidner writes concerning the “seed of the woman” prophecy: “There is good New Testament authority for seeing here the protevangelium, the first glimmer of the gospel. Remarkably, it makes its début as a sentence passed on the enemy (cf. Colossians 2:15), not a direct promise to man, for redemption is about God’s rule as much as about man’s need…”4

 


The Union Of The Snake


 

The serpent’s seed (“offspring” ESV) are those who reject God’s authority in favor of the rebellious pathway of Satan and the fallen angels. Sailhamer elaborates:

As representatives, the snake and the woman embody the fate of their seed, and that fate is their fate as well. The author has brought about this ‘headship’ of the snake and the woman by means of a careful but consistent identification of the snake and his ‘seed.’ At first in v. 15 the ‘enmity’ is said to have been put between the snake and the woman and between the ‘seed’ of the snake and the ‘seed’ of the woman. The second half of v. 15, however, says that the ‘seed’ of the woman (‘he’) will crush the head of the snake (‘your head’). The woman’s ‘seed’ is certainly intended to be understood as a group (or individual) that lies the same temporal distance from the woman as the ‘seed’ of the snake does from the snake itself. Yet in this verse it is the ‘seed’ of the woman who crushes the head of the snake. Though the ‘enmity’ may lie between the two ‘seeds,’ the goal of the final crushing blow is not the ‘seed’ of the snake but rather the snake itself; his head will be crushed. In other words, it appears that the author seems intent on treating the snake and his ‘seed’ together, as one.5

 


Eternal Scars, Eternal Victory


 

The Lord Jesus came to earth to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8.) In order to accomplish this He must feel the serpent’s tormenting bite. As Hebrews 2:14 puts it: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”

Briscoe’s comments on the metaphorical language of Genesis 3:15 bear repeating: “The all too common experience of serpents biting men on the heel before being crushed underfoot takes on striking significance when applied to the wounding of Christ through Satan’s hostility and the crushing of Satan through Christ’s humility.”6 Christ crushed the serpent’s head: this is a mortal blow that also invalidates that lying murderer’s cleverness, annuls his authority, and devastates his arrogant pretensions.

Although the roots of the devil’s defeat were accomplished through the Lord’s death and resurrection, his final crushing will take place after Christ’s Millennial reign (Revelation 20:10.) Thankfully, the saints will share in this victory as Romans 16:20 asserts: “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” Everlasting peace can only flow from total triumph over the Evil One and every form of wickedness that he encourages.

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Image accessed here: http://aardvarkalley.blogspot.com/2011/12/adam-and-eve-our-first-parents.html on 8/9/12.

1 Horatius Bonar, Earth’s Morning: Or, Thoughts on Genesis, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1875), pp. 165f. Italics original.

2 L. Bonnet, The Exile from Eden; Meditations on the Third Chapter of Genesis, With Exegetical Developments, trans. W. Hare, (London: James Nisbet and Co., 1839), pp. 130-31.

3 James G. Murphy, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Genesis, (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1863), p. 138.

4 Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries,Vol. 1. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p. 75.

5 John Sailhamer, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis. electronic ed. (Zondervan.)

6 D. Stuart Briscoe, Genesis, The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 1. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1987), p. 55.

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