I can't imagine what went through Adam and Eve's minds after they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They had lived in perfect communion with God, each other, and creation. But now, by their act of disobedience, sin ruined this harmony forever. Adam and Eve hid from their Creator. They were blame-shifting and about to be expelled from paradise. If I summed up all my moments of regret and multiplied them thousands of times over, perhaps it might come close to what they were feeling. But I also wonder if these words gave them hope even in the midst of the fall.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Gen. 3:15
Theologians call this verse the proto-evangelium, the first preaching of the gospel. One day a seed of the woman will deal a death-blow to Satan. This seed will suffer in the process, but he will be victorious, not just for himself but for all mankind. So God pronounced judgment, but He promised hope as well.
I wonder if Eve remembered this promise when Seth was born after Abel's murder and Cain's banishment. Could he be the one? But Seth died, and subsequent generations after him lived and died. Yet this hope lived on and was fueled by hints and glimpses of the One who was to come - a ruler from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10) and an heir to David's throne who will reign in justice and righteousness forever (Is. 9:6-7). Despite the ebb and flow of history and the spiritual condition of His people, God would keep His promise.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Gal. 4:4-5
But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:20-21
So the incarnation fulfills God's promise in Genesis 3:15, the fleshing out of the proto-evangelium. Not just any descendant of Adam, but God the Son taking on human flesh, living a perfect life before God the Father, taking our deserved punishment on the cross, and dealing a death-blow to the Serpent. The Seed of the woman has won once and for all!
We have the benefit of looking back and tracing this thread from Eden to Bethlehem and ultimately to Calvary and the empty tomb. We can appreciate the longing of the Old Testament saints who believed that God keeps His promise even though they didn't live to see its fulfillment. In a sense, we are like them because we are hoping in God's promise, too.
Jesus came once, but we are waiting for Him to come again. We may not understand or agree on the details of how it will unfold. History and the state of the Church will continue to ebb and flow. We may die and go home before Christ returns, but we can rest assured that God will keep His promise.
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thess. 4:16-18.
Sermons on Genesis by Pastor J. Ryan Davidson, Grace Baptist Chapel, September 2014 to present.