Saturday, 5 April 2014

THE FIRST GOSPEL (2)







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.”                                             (Gen 3:15) 

Continuing our look at the protoevangelium of Gen 3:15.

I often remind the folks at church that if they are ever unfortunate enough to find themselves in A & E then they need to remind themselves that being there is all the fault of A & E (Adam & Eve)!


What would have happened to the human race had our first parents not fallen?

 This can only ever be a matter of conjecture, but it is noteworthy that prior to the Fall
there had already been a commandment to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28)

 This suggests that we perhaps ought to to envisage life in the Garden as a temporary state of affairs regardless of the Fall, perhaps a kind of probationary period.  Then, upon successfully passing the test, humans could have been brought out into the wider world in a sinless state. But this is pure speculation.

Instead the choices of our two ancient forebears condemned all of us to a world of sin, suffering, and death.

 But if you are ever tempted to think that you would have fared any better in their place then let me assure you that you are mistaken.

 Adam and Eve were the pick of the crop. They were (until Christ) the best possible representatives for the human race. You and I would certainly not have done any better. 

 In fact there is a very real sense in which we are Adam and Eve. Unfortunately due to our individualistic western mindset we do not tend to think in these terms; we fail to see our essential union in Adam despite our being more than happy to declare our union in the Last Adam!.


 In the questioning of the man and the woman that follows their transgression, I find intriguing echoes of the New Testament episode involving Ananias & Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). In that account also, both transgressors are questioned; the man first, and then the woman. Then both are judged, and both die- spiritually in the case of Adam & Eve. I think the parallels are suggestive and worthy of our consideration.  

 The serpent on the other hand is not questioned, Satan being wholly beyond redemption.Instead it is he who receives the words of the prophecy that spell his future doom. It is truly ironic that the Good News should be delivered first to the one for whom it is catastrophically Bad News!

With the prophetic pronouncement of Gen 3:15 God has set in motion a long series of events that will lead to the Cross and beyond. It is the outworking of a plan formulated in the counsels of the Triune God before the foundation of the world. A plan to give us the hope of a Redeemer.

Why is this Redeemer described as the “Seed" of the woman?

Strictly speaking this is a biological impossibility; in the act of conception it is the man who contributes the seed, not the woman. But it serves to remind us that Jesus was actually conceived as the result of a biological impossibility; and many have seen here a veiled reference to the Virgin Birth since no seed of man was involved.


The words of the prophecy hint at just how painful the plan of redemption will be to bring to fruition. 

 The final victory over the Serpent is one that is to be won only through tribulation. The Victor must have His heel bruised before He will strike the fatal blow. A blow to the heel is always painful, but it is the head shot which is fatal! 

But still we see that this is a hope which will play itself out in the midst of conflict and suffering. The two “seeds” are destined to war until the end. 

 We can understand this in a general sense to be speaking of the enmity that has existed throughout history between the people of God and those enslaved to Satan; the first round of which will play out in the very next chapter with the slaying of Abel.

Despite all of this, we ought to note that it is God who is said to have created the enmity. It is He who creates the rivalry between these two seeds not the Serpent. God starts it and He will must certainly finish it!


 Much of Bible history can be understood in terms of the attempt to prevent the emergence of this divine Deliverer. So many bloody crimes are explained by the exigency on Satan's part of snuffing out the Messianic hope. 

  In the massacre of the infant boys in Egypt (Exo 1:15-16) we see the hand of a greater Pharaoh behind that infamous action, one who urgently seeks to destroy the promised Seed of the woman.

And on through sacred history it goes.    

From Queen Athaliah’s murderous destruction of David’s royal line (2 Kin 11:1-3) to the genocidal acts of Haman in Persia (Est 3:6); the messianic hope is ferociously assailed. It is sometimes left hanging only by a  thread but always it remains intact.

 In the New Testament the attempts to snuff out the Seed of the woman become increasingly desperate, most notably  in Bethlehem (Mt 2:16-18) but also in Nazareth (Lk 4:28-30).

But all to no avail.

The Messiah has come and no power in Hell can prevent the day when He stands alone and abandoned in Gethsemane declaring,      

                          “Not my will but thine be done” (Mt 26:39)

And Satan, who had had his greatest victory in a Garden millennia before is now soundly beaten in another garden.


Yet there is to be one last strange twist in the tale that night of Jesus’ arrest

What are we to make of the enigmatic words of Pilate’s wife that evening?

“Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him” (Mt 27:19)

That this dream is considered significant enough to find a place in the inspired record suggests that it probably had a supernatural origin.  Some say it was from God, a dramatic device to highlight both Jesus’ innocence and Pilate’s iniquity.

 But certainly it was not Heaven’s purpose to abort the Crucifixion, which leaves open another intriguing possibility: could the dream have been demonically motivated?   

 Is it possible that, after thousands of years of seeking to destroy the Seed of the woman; now as the prophesied hour looms, Satan is actually attempting to keep the Messiah alive?

 For the Enemy, the one way in which Christ must not die is in that precise manner prescribed by the Law of Moses. Dying in the very hour when the Passover lamb is being sacrificed in the Temple, as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Either way, it is too late!

Death on the Cross is followed in short order by triumphant resurrection from the grave. That which had been decreed from all eternity and announced aeons ago in the Garden is now put into effect,

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in the cross” (Col 2:15)

Christ has been “bruised” but Satan’s fate is sealed

The final victory over the seed of the serpent is yet awaited and will be the subject of our final post. But the decisive victory has already been won.

Everything else is a mopping up operation