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Worship Series: Genesis: Foundations of the Christian Faith
Worship Theme: The Promise
First Lesson & Sermon Text: Genesis 3:15 (EHV)
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 27:45-54 (EHV)
Music: CW 238 Oh, Bless the Lord, My Soul, Show Us Christ, CW 353 Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness, Jesus, Refuge of the Weary (in worship folder)
Message Notes & Growth Group Questions
Message: The Promise
Over the past month and a half we have taken a look at the first 3 chapters of Genesis. We’ve seen how the Trinity, consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as one God brought about the creation of the world. Everything was good, but God didn’t stop there. The LORD kept pouring out his free and faithful love! He gave humans the image of God, allowing them to have the same will as God himself. They wanted the same things! God placed humans as the crown of his creation. He gave them great gifts like food, shelter, a perfect place to live, costly materials, and of course the opportunity for meaningful service. He then blessed humans even further with the gift of relationships. He made preparations for relationships to flourish, and established one of the strongest relationships found on earth: marriage. He gave good gift after good gift to Adam and Eve and it seemed natural to think that this perfect situation would last unto eternity. Adam and Eve would joyfully live with one another under God’s direction in perfect happiness forever. Then last week we heard the unthinkable. We watched as Adam and Eve took all the things God had given them and tossed them away as if they were nothing. They set themselves against God and ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil at the Devil’s direction. They disobeyed God’s command and for the first time learned what evil was, not just by knowledge, but by experience. And original sin entered through the world to be passed on to every human being who would ever enter this world. The image of God? Gone! All work being fulfilling and enjoyable? Gone! The perfect home, only meant for perfect people? Gone! Perfect relationships with one another? Gone! Adam and Eve knew what they had done was evil. They hid from God, understanding the punishment would be severe. Of course, they couldn’t succeed in hiding from God. He found them and immediately, in a display of their new depravity, Adam and Eve started blaming each other and everything other than themselves. In the heat of the moment, they even had the audacity to accuse God for their sin. But they knew deep inside it was their own fault. Adam and Eve knew and now they expected the other shoe to drop. We left off the story last week, as they were cringing before an almighty, perfect, and utterly just God, just waiting for the punishment they deserve. Here is where our text picks up the story today and we find out what happened next.
Here it comes. The pain. The agony. The horror! Think of the feeling you get when you are helpless and can no longer do anything to change your outcome. If you’ve ever been caught up in a powerful ocean wave and are at the mercy of nature’s devices, you know this feeling. When either you or a loved one has received a terminal illness and there is nothing you can do about it. You know this feeling. Adam and Eve are helpless to change the outcome that is coming. But instead of the wrath and fury and judgement and pain, God gives them a promise. And not the promise of a beat down, but of a solution to this recent sin epidemic that would spread to every human being. The LORD (notice again all caps is the God of free and faithful love; the God who does not change in his promises) says, “And I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will crush his heel.” This is such a wonderful and joyous message. The church fathers called this verse the “protevangelium” which means the first good news. This verse promises a Savior from sin. The better we understand it the more beautiful this message becomes so let’s break it down together.
It’s important to remember here that God is talking to Satan throughout this verse, but he wants Adam and Eve to hear the message too. They are standing right there and so they are hearing every word of what God is saying. God says, “I will put hostility between you and the woman.” Here is step one to a solution for sin. Eve has kind of been all buddy-buddy with Satan in the guise of the snake. Maybe they are not quite friends, but Eve was pretty friendly to Satan, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing except Satan is the kind of friend who will stab people in the back. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself and will only fake friendship if it helps make someone else miserable in the long run. For obvious reasons, God does not want any sort of friendly relationship between Eve and the Devil because God cares about Eve. If you’ve ever had your kids fall in with the wrong crowd and then watched as they were dragged away from God and godly living, you probably understand this concept quite well. So God puts a stop to it for the well-being of Eve. There is going to be hostility between them now. No more buddy-buddy with the serpent of lies. But it is deeper than that. God says this hostility won’t just be between Satan and the woman, but also between his seed and her seed. This hostility will last throughout all generations between those who follow God and those who follow the Devil. These are not the Devil’s offspring in the physical sense that he conceived them. He doesn’t give birth or anything like that. He’s a fallen angel and that’s not the way angels work (Matthew 22:30). Instead, Satan’s offspring is anyone that follows his ways (Matthew 13:38-39).
Then God gets more specific, he talks about the hostility that will be between one individual from the woman’s seed and between Satan himself. This individual and Satan are going to war against one another. They will each attempt to crush one another. The seed of a woman (Note that passage doesn’t say seed of a man because Jesus our Savior didn’t come from a man, just from the virgin Mary) will succeed in crushing the Devil and will deal him a fatal blow. He will crush the Devil in respect to his head. There is simply no recovering from an injury like that. Oh, the Devil will strike too, but he will only crush the individual in respect to his heel. It’s a rough injury, no doubt, but not fatal by any means. It is an injury someone can definitely heal from. Jesus is the individual seed promised here, although not yet by name. He would be the one to come and defeat the Devil, crushing his power and reclaiming his people from the onslaught of sin.
Ok. Maybe you don’t buy that explanation. I’ve heard people suggest this passage just talks about why people and snakes don’t get along. First of all, if that were all this was you would need a much larger list of things people tend not to get along with, including why people don’t like spiders, and maybe a command or two from God saying, “Mosquitos shall annoy you to enmity so slappeth them in the face.” There’s definitely something more than a healthy fear of certain creatures here. Some examples from Scripture help us understand this. The Hebrew word used for “hostility” here is a word that is never used with animals. It is always used between persons or morally responsible agents. This makes perfect sense when we don’t just see the snake as a snake, but we see the Devil in the guise of a snake. More importantly, Revelation 20:2 backs this up. It tells us Satan is “that ancient serpent” whom God controls and eventually puts out of commission.” Sometimes even the Devil’s followers are referred to as snakes, (Matthew 23:33) which wouldn’t make sense unless there was a connection between the Devil and this snake in Genesis 3:15. The Devil is the serpent. Then, Romans 16:20 speaks of Jesus’ saving work in light of Genesis 3:15: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” He’s the one that fits so perfectly into this promise of the Woman’s offspring crushing that ancient serpent’s head. The Bible reiterates with verse after verse that Jesus’ mission in coming to this world as true man was to defeat Satan (Matthew 4:1-11; John 12:31; 1 John 3:8-13; Revelation 12:9). We see the hostility between him (the seed) and Satan (the snake). These verses combined with all of the Old Testament prophecies of a Messiah, combined with all the New Testament accounts of Jesus fulfilling prophecies leaves no other explanation for Genesis 3:15 other than the promised Savior who comes to take away the sins of the world. The prophecy of everyone being blessed through Abraham pointed to a Savior blessing the world through his actions. The Old Testament practice of animal sacrifices pointed toward a Savior who would one day be the sacrifice for all people, interceding on behalf of them and their sins. Isaiah promising a child who would be born of a virgin and called Immanuel (meaning “God with us”) pointed to the Savior who was literally God with us. This and so much more all helped carry on the promise from Genesis 3:15 through the generations and spread hope.
The Devil understood what God had proclaimed in Genesis 3:15. From the time God gave this promise, we see the Devil, desperately trying to stop the coming Messiah and attack God’s people and turn them from him. But God kept showing mercy to his people and bringing them back to him. The Devil tried to kill Jesus and when that didn’t work he tried tempting Jesus into sinning. But the Son of God wasn’t going to fall for the same trick Adam and Eve fell for. Instead, “when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Galatians 4:4-5). This was the one and only solution to sin and it was promised at a point when Adam and Eve deserved only punishment.
You know, the promise of a Savior wasn’t just for Adam and Eve. It’s for you too and trust me, we all need it! You know how many commands of God you’ve broken? God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, yet they did and therefore sinned. Meanwhile, you’ve eaten from the trees of addiction and greed. You’ve plucked the fruit of impatience and selfishness. You’ve taken bite after juicy bite of accusation and excuse. Don’t believe me? Just look at what the simple debate of whether to wear masks or not has done to us! I’m not telling you which one is right, but we are filled with resentment and hatred towards our own brothers and sisters, even accusing each other of not being Christians instead of lovingly trying to understand someone else’s viewpoint and working together to grow through this. We are so concerned with what we want that we’re looking past how to help our brothers and sisters. And that’s just masks. Think of everything else that we do more pertinent to Christianity. We are slow to forgive, but oh so quick to judge. We are filled with excuses reminiscent of the garden: “I can do no wrong. It’s obviously someone else’s fault.” We even blame God for our shortcomings. “You know God, I would believe, but you didn’t provide me with miracles.” “I would have listened to your Word, but I didn’t have the energy. You didn’t stop me from being tired after I finished doing all the things I put before you.” I’m no different. I look at the sins of Adam and Eve and think, “Child please, I’ll show you a sinner. Just look at me! When we realize just how bad we are, we flinch as we expect the back hand of a righteous God to come and smite us from the face of the earth. He would have that right. But as we stand here waiting for the other shoe to drop he reminds us that it’s not coming for those in Christ. Christ took the punishment. It’s over! The Devil is crushed, the punishment paid, sin and death have been defeated. Rejoice, the blood of Jesus has redeemed you. The promise given to Adam and Eve has been passed down to you. This is what we see when we look at Genesis 3:15. You are saved in Christ Jesus.
Even the Devil knows he can’t win. He’s already lost. He doesn’t have the strength to overturn God’s “not guilty” verdict placed upon you. He can’t take any of God’s promises away. All he can hope for is that you throw away this wonderful gift, but he can’t make you.
My friends, soak in this wonderful message and realize how undeserved and merciful it is. Even though we sinned, Jesus died for our sins taking all the punishment the Devil could possibly throw at him. Then he crushed the Devil and his power of sin and death. You have eternal life. This is not just a question or wish, but just like that first good news in the garden of Eden, this is a promise. And the LORD doesn’t break his promises. Amen.