Genesis 3: 15
This is the first promise given after the Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. It is also the first gospel sermon ever preached. As the acorn contains the mighty oak, so these words contain the entire plan of salvation.
Although you may not see it at first glance, Christ is in this verse. He is the ultimate Seed of the Woman who would one day come to crush the serpent’s ugly head. In the process his “heel” would be bruised on the cross. This verse predicts that Jesus would win the victory over the Satan but would himself be wounded as the same time. These words would be fulfilled at Calvary outside the city wall of Jerusalem. But all of that was in the future when God spoke these words. Neither Adam nor Eve could fully have known what these words would one day mean.
Our theme this year for Christmas is Jesus B.C. That may seem like a contradiction because “B.C.” means “Before Christ” and how can we speak of Christ before Christ? We can if we realize that our Lord, as the 2nd Person of the Trinity, being fully God in all aspects, existed long before Bethlehem. He became a man with his conception in Mary’s womb but Christ the Son of God existed from all eternity. Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8: 58) - claiming eternal existence with God the Father.
We should not be surprised to encounter Christ in the OT. Sometimes he actually appeared on the earth as “the angel of the Lord.” But in a broader sense the whole OT bears witness to him through many symbols and images and also through direct prophecy of His coming to the earth. During these weeks leading up to Christmas we will see 4 OT pictures and predictions of His coming: Seed of the Woman (Genesis 3:15), Lamb of God (Exodus 12:3), A Prophet Like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:1-10), Born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14). I trust that these messages will prepare your heart for Christmas and will increase your devotion to Jesus Christ, the prophesied Son of God born in Bethlehem so long ago.
1. Understanding the Context
A. Time and Place
This verse takes place near the beginning of human history. Adam and Eve have just eaten the forbidden fruit and sin has entered paradise. Their first impulse is to hide from God. Their second is to make excuses for their sin. Adam blames the woman and Eve blames the serpent. No one is willing to stand up and say, “I did it. It’s my fault and I take responsibility.”
Suddenly paradise is not so beautiful. Eden has been ruined by the entrance of sin. Dark shadows fall on the ground as Adam and Eve contemplate what they have done. The smell of death is in the air. Under a nearby tree the serpent lies quietly. He alone is happy. He delights in what is happening for this was his plan from the very beginning. He intended to humiliate God by ruining paradise and now he has done it.
B. Persons Involved
God surveys the moral wreckage of the fall, he begins to pass sentence. He begins where the sin began – with the serpent. Later he will come to the woman and the man, but he speaks to the serpent first. This verse is not directed at us, though it certainly applies to us. God is the speaker and the serpent is the one being spoken to. God passes judgment on the serpent for his part in the fall - 1. He is cursed above every other animal. 2. He will crawl on his belly forever. 3. He will eat dust all the days of his life.
C. The Bad News
The bad news for the serpent is that there is no good news for him. God doesn’t ask him what he did or why he did it because the Lord had already judged Satan when he threw him out of heaven. There are no extenuating circumstances, no high-priced lawyers to argue the serpent’s case. This is the first mention of the gospel, but there is no ray of hope for Satan because he is forever excluded from God’s plan of salvation. For the serpent, there is only a curse and a public judgment.
In some ways, the Fall marks Satan’s finest moment. When he deceived Eve and Adam chose to follow her, he wrecked God’s plan and gained the whole world for himself. For a few short hours Satan won the great battle with God. But his victory was short-lived. Everything since then has been downhill for him.
2. What This Verse Predicts
A. Endless Conflict
The key word is enmity - “hostility” or “animosity.” “There will be war.” God himself takes responsibility for this state of affairs. Eve and the serpent will never get along. If he thought that by deceiving her he had her in his back pocket, he was wrong. Eve made a huge mistake but she would never join the serpent’s fan club. Every woman dreams of living in paradise; but every hard day will remind her to hate the serpent fiercely.
“Offspring” - Hebrew - “seed” - referring to the generations yet unborn that would trace their heritage back to Eve. Refers to the men and women of faith in every generation who have believed in God. This is the godly line that leads to Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Ruth, David, Daniel, Esther and culminates in the person of Jesus.
Satan Has His Seed
Through history in every generation, every country, every city, every village, every tribe and every family, Satan has had his people. That line starts with Cain who killed Abel and goes to the wicked generation of Noah’s day, to the Pharaohs who opposed Moses and the Canaanites who mocked Joshua - all the pagan peoples represented by Goliath who laughed at David and at David’s God. Who threw Daniel in the lion’s den? The ungodly line of Satan. Who hated the prophets and murdered them in cold blood? The ungodly line of Satan.
Then we come to the days of Jesus. When he was born, Herod tried to kill him. When he grew up, the Pharisees opposed him and plotted to take his life. Satan even infiltrated his inner circle, filling the heart of Judas with evil. When he was arrested, men stood in line to lie about him. When Pilate offered to release him, the bloodthirsty crowd cried out for Barabbas instead. Who was behind the crucifixion of Jesus? It was the ungodly line of Satan. This is the real struggle - between those who believe in God and those who don’t. Beginning with Gen.3:15 there is now a fundamental division in the human race. The “seed of the woman” and the “seed of the serpent” have opposed each other across the centuries. The struggle continues to this present hour.
Remember the words of Jesus in John 15: 18, 19. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” Jesus never promised that people wouldn’t criticise us. He just told us not to worry about it. Being hated by the world is part of the conflict that goes back to Genesis 3:15.
B. Temporary Defeat
“You will strike his heel.” If you’ve ever had a heel spur, or pulled your Achilles’ tendon, you know how painful this can be. We normally don’t think about heels until we start having problems. But what happens? You end up on crutches, taking painkillers and perhaps having surgery. Heel trouble slows you down. But it doesn’t kill you. You can live with heel problems even through you have to hobble around.
“He” will strike “his” heel - refers to the fact that in this life Satan sometimes wins the battle. He has many tools in his arsenal and he shoots them at the people of God 24 hours a day. Sometimes we are “wounded” by discouragement, criticism, anger, bitterness, or perhaps by cherished plans that go astray, dreams that never come true, projects that never come to fruition, goals that somehow are frustrated despite our best efforts. If you want proof that Satan wins a temporary victory, visit the cemetery. Every grave testifies to his power. This text reminds us that the Christian life is not a bed of roses. Not only is there continual conflict, but the bad guys win a fair number of the battles.
When they took the body of Jesus down from the cross, it appeared that Satan had won the battle. On Sunday morning, the true Victor walked out of the grave, alive from the dead. Satan delivered a terrible blow to Jesus on Good Friday. He thought he had thrown a knockout punch. But he was wrong. All he did was strike Jesus on the heel. As painful as it was, that suffering was nothing compared to what Jesus did to Satan.
C. Eventual Victory
“He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” Compare these 2 phrases - it’s the heel vs. the head and it’s striking vs. crushing. When Jesus died on the cross, he delivered a crushing blow to Satan. Who do you think won that battle?
Heel wounds are painful but they don’t kill you. No one survives a crushed head. The Cross was God’s death-blow against Satan. It was the payback for the Fall and more besides. When Jesus died and rose from, the dead, he utterly defeated Satan.
If Satan has been crushed, why does he still seem to be doing so well 2000 years later? We know that Satan is indeed alive and well on planet earth. How can a defeated being who was crushed by Christ exercise so much power? The answer is that at the Cross Satan was judged and his sentence pronounced. However, he is now free to roam the earth awaiting his final execution. This also explains why Satan’s destructive power on the earth will grow even greater in the last days. But in the end he will be destroyed and all those who follow him will be destroyed.
3. How It Applies to Us
A. The Christian life will always be a struggle.
Struggle implies effort, sweat, exertion, and difficulty. Paul uses the image of a runner, a boxer, a wrestler and a soldier. The Christian life isn’t easy; it’s hard work that demands your full commitment and the full engagement of your soul. Until the day you die you will struggle against temptation. Sometime you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose. Don’t get discouraged because the Christian life isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. We’re at war. Life is hard, times are difficult, the enemy attacks on every side. Salvation is free, but no one gets a free ride to heaven.
B. Our victories will not come without wounds.
If it pleased the Lord to bruise his Son, how shall we escape the wounds of life? If Jesus suffered in doing the will of God, so will we. At the Cross Satan struck a blow and wounded Christ in his heel. Even after his resurrection his body bore the marks of his suffering. The same will be true for us. You will struggle hard in this life and in struggling, you will be wounded. But do not despair that life is hard for you. Be thankful and struggle on! If you feel like running away from your struggles, remember that there is nowhere to run. If you leave the battlefield today, you will wake up to find yourself on another battlefield tomorrow. So you might as well stand and fight. There is no victory without wounding, no progress without pain.
C. God’s plan of salvation is wrapped in a person.
Jesus the “seed of the women” would one day make his entrance into this world in a most unlikely fashion. As the centuries rolled on, Satan kept winning victories and God kept raising up men and women who would continue the godly line on the earth. When this promise was given, no one could have imagined the coming Jesus Christ. The “seed of the woman” simply meant that he must be member of the human race. But after the flood the line was narrowed to Noah’s descendants, then later to Shem’s descendants, and later came to rest on one man – Abraham, the father of the nation Israel. Then to his son Isaac, to Isaac’s son Jacob, to Jacob’s son Joseph, and then to Joseph’s son Judah. Centuries later the line was narrowed to the house of David. Finally some 9 centuries after that, the line came to rest on the firstborn son of a virgin named Mary. What started with the whole human race has narrowed to just one man – Jesus Christ.
He didn’t come in the usual way; he came by means of a virgin birth. No one before or since ever entered the world as he did. Thus he is the ultimate “seed of the woman” since no man was involved in his conception.
When John Wesley wrote the familiar carol “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” he included a verse based on Genesis 3:15.
Come, Desire of Nations, come; Fix in us Thy humble home.
Rise the woman’s conquering Seed, Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness now efface, Stamp Thine image in its place,
Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love,
Hark, the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King.