Title: His Story in Ancient History: Promised from the Beginning of Time
Text: Genesis 3.1-15
CIT: God had a plan from the beginning of time to redeem mankind.
CIS: Christmas isn’t just about the birth of Christ. It’s the understanding that God had a plan to redeem us since the beginning. The Cradle, and The Cross, were all a part of the plan of God.
Introduction: I’d like to leave Ezra-Nehemiah for a few weeks and focus on the Christmas story. If you tell me ‘no,’ I’m going to be in trouble! There is an idea – a story line that has bounced around in my head for a few years. This past summer I actually had time to work through the idea and bring it in the form of a sermon series. I’m calling it: His Story, as in History. My understanding is that this word comes from the German language. It’s broken down from History to His Story. I’m breaking it down like this:
- Promised from the Beginning – His Story in Ancient History. Gen 3.1-24
- Prepared Throughout History – His Story in the Old Testament. Matthew 1.1-17
- Proclaimed Unexpectedly – His Story Announced. Matthew 1.18-25
- Arrived at the Right Time – His Story in our Time. Matthew 2.1-12
We begin with the Fall. We begin with the Fall because God’s had a plan from the beginning. It wasn’t something he came up with because Adam and Eve messed things up. No. If you focus on Adam and Eve, then you miss what God is doing. This isn’t their story – It’s His Story!
Gen 1 – a beautiful story of creation; Gen 2 – a picture of perfection in the garden. All is well! Genesis 3 – the fall. What a mess! Yes, a mess. And, all would seem hopeless if not for a closer look; At least at first glance…
In Gen 3.1-7, the Fall of Man is recorded. The Garden must have been the most wonderful human experience.
- Adam and Eve had an incredible relationship with the animals.
- Caring for the garden must have been a pleasure – no weeds, no scarecrows, no sprinkler systems to maintain, no problems.
- Walking and talking with God in the Garden in the cool of the day…sharing every intimate detail of life with God.
- No sin to separate them.
But then, in one small moment in time, all was lost. God appears in v. 8 – but not by sight, only by sound; rd v 8; heard, hid from the presence; rd v 9-10; Adam still hiding, only hearing – not seeing; rd v 11-13; they blame, they confess; And then – curses; you actually see the word in v 14; cursed are you, in v 17 cursed is the ground;
Yes, at this point, it would all seem so hopeless; But there is more to this story than just the fall and the curses. It is found in what God says in v. 14-15; rd 14-15; enmity – hostility; once again, there was a different world inside the garden. There was no hostility between the humans and the animals. There was no hostility between humans and the world of the spiritual. Now, there would be enmity – look at v 15; between your offspring (seed) and her offspring (seed). This is the topic I would like to focus on for the rest of this message: Who is or who are these offspring (seed)? And what’s more, what implication does it all have for us? I need at this point to identify three men I’ve leaned on heavily to answer these questions:
- James Hamilton, professor at SBTS and senior pastor of Kenwood Baptist Church, Louisville, KY and
- H. Spurgeon – that great pastor and scholar from the 19th Century, and another pastor – a contemporary of Spurgeon,
- Stuart Robinson – pastor, scholar in the 1800’s.
Hamilton identifies for certain lenses we use when focusing on the O.T. In Starting Points we call them filters: Here I will put on these lenses, these filters—lenses that assume that the OT is:
- A messianic document,
- Written from a messianic perspective,
- Written to sustain a messianic hope.
With these filters in mind, let’s look at this question of the offspring. When we read this passage, the question that arises concerns the numeric value of the seed: is it collective or singular? Is it a people or a person? The simplest answer is ‘yes’.
ill.: Often times in Scripture we find prophecy and are left with the question of whether it was for this person or another person or even a people as a whole, say Israel. Confusion has ensued when prophets or scholars have tried to limit the understanding of that prophecy to one answer. A great illustration is Psalm 16.10. 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. Who is this author talking about, Himself? Or another? Answer: yes. The author is King David and he’s was talking about himself, in that God protected him in spite of Saul’s attempts to kill him. God protected him and kept him alive. But, it is also a prophecy about Jesus: Acts 13.35ff. 35 Therefore he says also in another psalm, “‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
app.: This is a great teaching lesson for us. Let the NT be a commentary for us. If you don’t understand a portion of Scripture, see if the NT refers to it. You’ll see how they interpret that passage based upon the commentary of the N.T. Writers.
In doing research on this question, I came across a blog that referenced a work by a certain pastor, Stuart Robinson, a reformed pastor in Louisville, KY in the 1800’s. The blog is by Nicolas T. Blatzig; I found the book in the Google Library. On pg 65, Robinson gives a great commentary on this passage – Gen 3.15:
Thus it will be seen, on careful analysis of these words, and deducing the truths embodied by implication in them, that they set forth these eight points of the gospel creed.
- That the Redeemer and Restorer of the race is to be man, since he is to be the seed of the woman. So, he is a man – fully man.
- That he is, at the same time, to be a being greater than man, and greater even than Satan; since he is to be the conqueror of man’s conqueror, and, against all his efforts, to recover a sinful world which man had lost; being yet sinless, he must therefore be divine. So, he is also God – fully God.
- That this redemption shall involve a new nature, at “enmity” with the Satan nature, to which man has now become subject. – This new nature means that we’re all sinners, always struggling against Satan’s rule.
- That this new nature is a regeneration by Divine power; since the enmity to Satan is not a natural emotion, but, saith Jehovah, ” I will put enmity,” &c. – This is God’s doing, it’s His work.
- This redemption shall be accomplished by vicarious suffering; since the Redeemer shall suffer the bruising of his heel in the work of recovery.
- That this work of redemption shall involve the gathering out of an elect seed a ” peculiar people” at enmity with the natural offspring of a race subject to Satan.
- That this redemption shall involve a perpetual conflict of the peculiar people, under its representative head, in the effort to bruise the head of Satan, that is, ” to destroy the works of the Devil.”
- This redemption shall involve the ultimate triumph, after suffering, of the woman’s seed; and therefore involves a triumph over death and a restoration of the humanity to its original estate, as a spiritual in conjunction with a physical nature, in perfect blessedness as before its fall.
Such, then, is the gospel theology here revealed, in germ, through the very terms of the curse pronounced upon the destroyer of the race. It will be seen that here are all the peculiar doctrines of salvation, by grace, which every Christian accepts, who exercises the faith which is unto salvation. And in the broader and higher sense of the terms, Moses, as truly as Mark at the opening of his evangel, might have prefixed to this third chapter of Genesis the title,” The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.”
Transition: Spurgeon would have Amened Robinson at this point. Dated about the same time, is a sermon from Spurgeon on Genesis 3.15 and in that Sermon he lists 4 facts about the Gospel found in Genesis 3.15.
I. The Facts as outlined in Gen 3.15
exp.: Spurgeon’s facts: I sound a bit like a lawyer…
- Enmity was effected by God: God said: I will put…God is the one who put all of this into effect. He brought about the division – the enmity between the woman and the serpent; He created a new nature, one subject to ruler of the prince of darkness; and he made a plan for the redemption; there was nothing that Adam and Eve could do to repair the damage done. It would take a work of God. That work would be accomplished in her seed – A champion, as Spurgeon calls him.
- A Champion was now coming: indeed, he is now promised! I will put enmity between your offspring and her offspring. He shall bruise or he shall crush your head. The writer of Hebrews records in 2.14 –14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
exp.: This work will include enmity between the seeds – his seed (Satan’s) and her’s. A question arises here that causes one to wonder: is the seed seen as a collective and as in individual. The Answer is yes. Like Psalm 16.10 mentioned earlier – this prophecy is seen in both. Let’s look at these two for a moment:
- The seed as a collective – the people of Israel in the O.T. and the people of God in Christ in the church age.
- The seed as an individual – that is, the Messiah, Christ Jesus, the Son of God.
I’m grateful for the work of James Hamilton in this area of the collective seed. In his paper The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman: Inner-Biblical Interpretation of Genesis 3.15, Hamilton identifies Old Testament passages that fit the prophecy, with the idea that Israel, a the collective ‘seed’ of the woman is ‘bruised’ at times, but crushes the head of their enemy – the philistines, the Moabites, the Edomites, etc.
- David & Goliath: You know the story… 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. A skull crushing victory.
- Debra & Barak – go with me, the victory will be given to a woman, Sisera fled to the tent of Jael. Do you remember what Jael did? 21 But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died. A skull crushing victory.
- Hamilton notes that sometimes the skull crushing was of an individual enemy like those mentioned above. At other times, the prophecy is fulfilled in the crushing of a king, the head of another people. Or, another people who are ‘head’ of another people. And those people, those kings might be the physical seed of Abraham, but were obviously enemies of Yahweh; Isaiah 7.1-14.
- So, Which is it? Yes, it is both; Paul used both the collective and the individual in his letters
- Furthermore, Paul uses it in both terms:
- Rom 16.20 – 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
- Gal 3.16 – 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
- Furthermore, Paul uses it in both terms:
Transition: Fact #3…
- This Champion will be wounded. The Scripture reads – He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The Champion will suffer a major blow – one that even appears to be fatal. But, He shall prevail. Satan will do his worst on this Champion.
Please allow me the liberty to quote freely from Spurgeon’s Sermon. It is most eloquent and poetic. Spurgeon writes:
Do you need that I explain this? You know how all His life long His heel, that is, His lower part, His human nature, was perpetually being made to suffer. He carried our sicknesses and sorrows. But the bruising came mainly when both in body and in mind His whole human nature was made to agonize; when His soul was exceedingly sorrowful even unto death, and His enemies pierced His hands and His feet—and He endured the shame and pain of death by crucifixion.
Look at your Master and your King upon the cross, all stained with blood and dust! There was His heel most cruelly bruised! When they take down that precious body, and wrap it in fair white linen and in spices, and lay it in Joseph’s tomb, they weep as they handle that casket in which the Deity had dwelt, for there, again, Satan had bruised His heel. It was not merely that God had bruised Him, “though it pleased the Father to bruise Him.”
But the devil had let loose Herod, Pilate, Caiaphas, the Jews and the Romans, all of them his tools, upon Him whom he knew to be the Christ, so that He was bruised of the old serpent. That is all, however! It is only His heel, not His head which is bruised! For lo, the Champion rises again! The bruise was not mortal nor continual. Though He dies, yet so brief is the interval in which He slumbers in the tomb that His holy body does not see corruption, and He comes forth perfect and lovely in His manhood, rising from His grave as from a refreshing sleep after a long day of toil!
Oh the triumph of that hour! As Jacob only halted on his thigh when he overcame the angel, so did Jesus only retain a scar on His heel, and that He bears to the skies as His glory and beauty! Before the throne He looks like a lamb that has been slain, but in the power of an endless life, He lives unto God.
Transition: Fact #1: Enmity was put into effect by God. #2 – A Champion was coming. #3 – This Champion would be wounded. #4…
- This Champion will mortally defeat Satan. Spurgeon: He crushes the head of the serpent in fatal effect! Here is a picture of a snake biting the heel of a person. You would think that to be a fatal blow. And, at first, it might appear that way. But, in the course of the serpent effecting his blow upon the heel, the heel then crushes the head of the serpent – bringing victory! What the woman and the man in the Garden once destroyed has now been restored in the seed. Death has been conquered. Sin has been atoned for.
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found in Genesis 3.15. God makes a promise and he has kept his promise. You might think in all of this found in Gen 3.14-17 that Adam and Eve would mumble – blame each other – lash out at God, but look instead at the result in 20-21.
II. The Result (20-21)
exp.: rd v 20;
- Adam acts in Faith – he believed God! rd v 20, he named his wife ‘Eve’ because she was the mother of all living; we should be spurred to faithfulness in this! Here is a man who has rebelled against his creator. This man has believed the deceiver and rejected God’s will for his life. He is standing before God listening to God speak out what will be. He could have murmured and mumbled at his wife for the situation they now must endure. But he doesn’t. He sees the promises of God and acts in faith – he acts like he believes God and he calls his wife by the name she will live up to – the mother of all living.
- God acts in Mercy – rd v 21; he made garments or clothing of skins; why? Because they were naked. Adam would no longer have to say, “I am naked.” God covered his shame.
Transition: Oh, friend – would you respond to the mercy of God today like Adam did? Would you act out what you believe in your heart, that Christ, the Champion came and conquered and lives again victoriously. And in his death he washed away your sin – the sin that has separated you from your God. Yes, Adam and Eve’s actions put us in this place – But our champion, Christ Jesus has come to set us free.
- This Christmas season – read this verse as an entrance to the Christmas Story
- Tell your family about the fall and the promise.
- Share of the plan throughout history to bring us Salvation.
- Put Adam and Eve in your Nativity Set this Christmas. Use the leaves to cover them or better yet, cover them with animal skins. Then when people ask…
- Make an ornament out of a leaf. Use cloth. Take an ornament ball and fill it with leaves. Be creative.
- Share the story of Christmas beginnings with others as an opportunity to witness.