I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.
I have a friend working in the extraordinary field of Nano-technology. This is the technology that can shrink the entire Bible to a microdot placed as a period at the end of a sentence. That way he can covertly send Bibles into countries that prohibit publication and distribution of Bibles. It goes into these countries as a dot on a page!
I cannot shrink the entire Bible to a microdot, but I can give you a scripture that shrinks the Bible to one verse. The verse I have in mind is Genesis 3:15. Through the centuries this one verse has been called the Protoevangelium, the “First Gospel”. Old Testament theologian Walter Kaiser explains that it is called the First Gospel:
…because it was the original proclamation of the promise of God’s plan for the whole world…it gave our first parents a glimpse…of the person and mission of the one who was going to be the central figure in the unfolding drama of the redemption of the world. The ‘seed/offspring’ mentioned in this verse became the root from which the tree of the OT promise of a Messiah grew.” (Walter Kaiser, Messiah in the Old Testament)
This one verse is “the sum and summary of the whole Bible.” (Charles Simeon, Horae Homileticae) It is God’s promise of Christmas!
God proclaims the First Gospel at the beginning of human history just after Adam and Eve have eaten the forbidden fruit. They futilely try hiding from God, then try shifting the blame for their disobedience to Him. Amazingly, it is in the context of human rebellion and disobedience that God intervenes with grace. He begins where sin began, with the serpent. God is addressing the serpent in Genesis 3:15, but His words have implications for the whole human race.
The Lord God declares that there will be“enmity” between the serpent and the woman, and between the “offspring” of the serpent and “offspring” of the woman. Other scriptures identify the serpent as HaSatan, “The Adversary” of God and humanity. The “offspring” of the woman implies a member of the human race. Look at some Christmas prophecies of a child born of a woman: “the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son” (Isaiah 7:14); “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). The theme of the woman’s “offspring” becomes a theme running through the redemption story.
Philosopher and theologian Francis Schaeffer described the “offspring” of the serpent and the “offspring” of the woman as the “two humanities” running through human history:
From this time on in the flow of history there are two humanities. The one humanity says there is no God, or it makes God in its own imagination, or it tries to come to God in its own way. The other humanity comes to the true God in God’s way. There is no neutral ground. (Francis Schaeffer, Genesis in Time and Space)
While Scripture never suggests that Satan or demons can have literal offspring, Satan has had his offspring throughout history who have made war against God and His people. By New Testament times the offspring of the serpent was understood to include all who opposed the Lord and His kingdom. Compare Jesus’ words to the religious leaders in Jerusalem: “You are from your father the devil” (John 8:44). The serpent’s offspring include all the forces aligned against the Lord throughout history, e.g. Cain, Pharaoh, Babylon, King Herod at Christmas, Judas Iscariot, and so forth.
The Lord declares in this verse that the enmity between the serpent and the woman will result in the serpent’s offspring striking the heel of the woman’s offspring. Note that in striking the heel, the serpent’s head will be struck. To strike the heel is the imagery of an injury, while to strike the head is the image of fatal and final destruction. Satan and his fiends thought they had defeated God at the cross, but the cross was their destruction! At the cross the woman’s Offspring, Jesus, acted as representative for all humanity in defeating Satan. Mel Gibson symbolizes this in his movie “The Passion of the Christ” when Jesus, in Gethsemane, crushes the head of the serpent. Genesis 3:15 is the first Gospel, but also the final judgment. Jesus promises that the “gates of hell” will not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18).
The First Gospel in Genesis 3:15 explains the chaos in today’s world; the serpent is at work! But the First Gospel also promises the victory of the woman’s offspring over the serpent’s offspring. The apostle Paul concludes his letter Romans Christians with the heartening news, “The God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).
At Christmas we sing Charles Wesley’s great hymn, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” In the seventh verse of the hymn Wesley explains why the angels are rejoicing:
Come, Desire of Nations come, Fix in us Thy humble home. Rise the woman’s conquering Seed, Bruise in us the serpent’s head.”
Genesis 3:15 is the entire Bible reduced to one verse. The battle rages between the serpent and the woman’s Offspring! But the serpent’s doom is sure! Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! So we call on the Lord to “finally beat down Satan under our feet. We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.” (Book of Common Prayer) Yes! We beseech Thee, good Lord, to hear us!
Grace and peace,