After Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation, God had every right to destroy the human race. Instead, He promised a Redeemer who would crush the devil’s head and deliver His people from judgment. Today, R.C. Sproul expounds on the first promise of the gospel: Genesis 3:15.
Remember that the third chapter of Genesis describes the fall of mankind into sin. It gives us the narrative of the temptation and the sin of Adam and Eve. You might expect that the Old Testament history of God’s relationship to mankind would start with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and earth,” and that the Bible would end in Genesis 3:14, and we would expect it to say, “And God destroyed the heaven and the earth and everything in it once human beings rebelled against His divine authority.” But instead, He makes a promise. He makes a promise to spare, to rescue, to redeem, and to save His fallen creatures.
Let’s look at it in chapter 3 of Genesis. This is the record of God’s cursing of the serpent who seduced Adam and Eve. “And so, the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field. On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.’” Now here comes the promise: “And 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.”
This is a prophecy. God is not saying here that Eve is going to crush the serpent’s head. He’s talking about something in the future. We don’t know yet how far off in the future it is, but He speaks of the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. He describes a future conflict, a future contest between a descendant of Eve and the descendants of the serpent. It is the ultimate conflict between good and evil that is forecast here in these words, “I’m going to put enmity”—that’s hatred, alienation, estrangement—“between your seed, Eve, and the seed of the serpent.” And God speaks here of an individual, a unique descendant of the woman, who at some point in the future will come and step on the snake, step on its head, grind it into the dust, crush it to death, giving it a mortal and fatal wound.
But in the process of destroying the evil one, the seed of the woman will Himself be wounded. As He uses his foot to crush the head of the serpent, His own heel will be bruised. Again, the Old Testament could stop right there. And the next chapter of the Bible could begin with words like this: “And in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.” With the birth of this one who was the seed of the woman, who was the seed of Eve, who when He was a baby, the prophecy was made to His own mother that her child would bring redemption. But in this process, a sword would pierce her own soul that looked forward to the cross, where Mary stood at the foot of the cross and watched her son be bruised.
In her vision, she saw the torture, the torment, the humiliation of her son. What she couldn’t see was the cosmic dimension of what was taking place. She couldn’t see Satan. She didn’t know as she watched this drama unfold before her that while Christ Himself was pouring out His blood on the cross, He was crushing the head of the serpent. The gospel was preached in Eden, the first gospel, the first promise of the coming Redeemer.