And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Gen. 3:15)
Paul tells us to walk by faith, not sight (2 Cor. 5:7), but he was speaking of our human sight, vision, or perceptions. The Bible does, however, give us a great deal of supernatural revelation intended to guide our life, and we are expected to use this knowledge to structure our life, our walk of faith.
The Bible gives us the sweep of history from beginning to end, from our predestination before the world began to Revelation’s glimpse into the eternal Kingdom that centers on the throne of God. God spent very little time describing man in Eden. We cannot comprehend life before the Fall; it is the sinner post-Genesis 3 that we recognize. Nevertheless, it is important also to note the centrality of the promise of Genesis 3:15 that a seed of the woman would one day crush the head of Satan. It is that promise that gives a structure to the rest of that big picture Scripture relates.
When Paul warns against walking by sight, he is referring to our fallen, creaturely understanding. God Himself has given our faith a past, present, and future, and it is therefore our duty to walk in terms of that sight or vision, which He Himself has provided us. We do not walk in the dark; we are in the light and are children of the light (John 12:36; Eph. 5:8; 1 Thess. 5:5; Luke 16:8).
History Is Meaningful
History is not cyclical (though man tends to be unimaginative in his folly), but rather linear; it moves from creation to the final judgment. History is in God’s hands, and it is purposeful. To say history is meaningless is to say the outworking of God’s providence has no meaning and that John’s statement that Satan battles on the earth “because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12) is also a meaningless statement. If history is meaningless, its resolution by Christ as Judge at the end of history is also meaningless. Rather, all the Bible is presented in the context of a history totally controlled by God. History is totally meaningful.
We must understand history in terms of the promise of Genesis 3:15. When Adam and Eve sinned, they allied themselves with Satan on the false assumption that this would advance their position. God then declared that this alliance would not stand, that He would, in fact, restore men to Himself and defeat Satan.
In Revelation 12 John describes another conflict between a woman and a serpent (dragon) who sought to destroy the woman’s child as soon as it was born. The woman, however, delivered a man-child who was caught up to God and His throne. This is an obvious reference to Mary and Jesus, but the church is also described as a woman (Luke 15:8; Matt. 13:33). John describes Satan’s attempt to destroy Christ as a battle for heaven and the sovereignty its rule conveys. Satan loses the battle for heaven and is cast down to earth (Rev. 12:7–12a). John then says,
Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. (vv. 12b–13)
This reference to the woman is clearly a reference to the church and not Mary.
Revelation 12 makes clear that the nature of our struggle is not one of ideas, not even of good and evil. The struggle is about Christ versus Satan and whether we find our place as the people of Christ (the church) or those following Satan and his lie of Genesis 3:5 that we can “be as gods” ourselves. Satan is defeated in heaven, but he wars against the church in history.
Christianity cannot be reduced to good and evil. Other religions believe good as opposed to evil, as do apostate modernists. It is the reduction of Christianity to morality that allows almost anyone to feel free to call themselves “a good Christian, too” because everyone believes in good by their own definition.
The greatest battle of history is that between Christ and Satan. This battle was prophesied in Genesis 3:15, and John tells of the total victory of Christ before he shows us a picture of heaven at the end of Revelation. There is our worldview, the big, cosmic picture.
It is in terms of this battle that we must view the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. That event was no less than the invasion of history by God coming to reclaim what is His. Satan may not have been playing the “spoiler”; he may have believed he triumphed in Eden, but Genesis 3:15 was God’s declaration that Satan’s alliance with man would fail and that he himself would be crushed. Satan’s defeat was certain, but Satan would bruise Christ’s heel. This bruising was the wound (not to death) of Calvary where Christ was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities (Isa. 53:5).
Something important to note about Genesis 3:15 is that it switches from a general to a specific reference. It starts by referring to “her seed,” then switches to a specific “it,” a single seed of the woman that will crush Satan’s head though Satan will bruise “his” (again specific) heel. The conflict is not between masses of people and our hope in all the seed of woman (humanism), nor even in those descended from Abraham’s household (racialism). The conflict is between Christ and Satan. The people of Jesus Christ, the body of all believers, must find its identity and know its loyalty in the person of Jesus Christ. Those who are not new creatures in Christ, part of the new humanity in Him, are part of the old, fallen humanity of Adam, the natural man, and are cursed with Satan.
Abraham was called to leave his home and larger family for a new home and a new identity because in him all families of the world would be blessed (Gen. 12:1–3). What was going on in Abraham’s mind?
Some scholars believe the book of Genesis was merely a conveyance of preexisting family records (or toledoths) edited by Moses. In other words, the phrase “This is the book of the generations of Adam” (Gen. 5:1) is a bibliographic note identifying the original source of the records. Other such sources for Genesis include Noah (6:9), Noah’s three sons (10:1), Shem (11:10), Abraham’s father Terah (11:27), and so on. The existence of such records is significant, but not really surprising. They would mean Abraham was aware of redemptive history before it was recorded by Moses in its inspired Biblical form.
Abraham was not some clueless mystic following a vague, mysterious revelation, but a man aware of God’s promise and willing to be used of God in its outworking. Additionally, we must not assume Abraham was alone in the worship of the true God. Adam’s and Methuselah’s lines overlapped, the latter dying the year of the flood when Noah was 600 years old. Adam was still alive when Lamech, Noah’s father, was born. Noah missed living during the life of Adam by only 126 years, and Abraham was born 58 years before Noah’s death. Noah’s son Shem outlived Abraham and did not die until Jacob was about 48 years old!
This proximity of early major figures explains why and how men had spiritual knowledge before Moses (sacrifices, tithing, the priesthood of Melchizedek, not to mention the obviously corrupted Babylonian accounts of the Flood). We can assume that Abraham was not in the dark about early history and the promise of Genesis 3:15. He had a context in which to understand the call of God. Abraham not only understood the past, but the future as well. Christ said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). He knew his blessing had to do with the Messiah and that the seed of the woman was now narrowing down to him and his seed.
“Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:3). He had a worldview based on his understanding that he had a purpose in God’s providence.
There is another aspect of Abraham’s call we should note. In the ancient world, peoples were known in terms of their gods, their religion. It is a post-Enlightenment phenomenon that nations claim to be non-religious, but Abraham saw all peoples as religious and knew that a people represented a god and a law-order based on their religion. When God said He would make a great nation of Abraham, the only possible context in which Abraham could have understood that was as a promise that they would be God’s nation and a people under His law-order.
“He Whose Right It Is”
Two generations later, the promised line narrowed even further. Of the twelve sons of Jacob, Judah was to be given the prominence (Gen. 49:8–10). On his deathbed, Jacob compared Judah to a lion (no one disturbs a lion) who would hold the scepter (the Davidic line of kings was the tribe of Judah) “until Shiloh come; and unto him [singular; one man] shall the gathering of the people be” (v. 10). Of the Davidic line of the tribe of Judah, one seed would come, the seed promised to Adam and Eve. Paul made a point to emphasize that the promise was to a singular seed, which he makes clear was Christ (Gal. 3:16).
David’s purpose was not to create a permanent earthly kingdom, but to pass the scepter to “Shiloh,” which means “He whose right it is.” It is this King whom Paul says “must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (1 Cor. 15:25) and who Himself said that all power in heaven and earth was His (Matt. 28:18).
The promise to Adam and Eve was fulfilled in Shiloh. The line narrowed through Abraham, Judah, and David to Jesus Christ, Shiloh, He whose right it is. This was the worldview of Abraham and the Hebrews, when faithful.
Our Worldview and Our Walk of Faith
Do we take the promises of Jesus Christ and the apostles and understand history in terms of them to the same degree the patriarchs lived in terms of the promises of old? Our world and life view has to include the big picture and our part therein, or our faith becomes a strictly personal and retreatist thing. Augustine spoke of the opposition of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man. We could just as easily call the latter the Kingdom of Satan, though that perhaps gives him too much credit. Christ as Lord of heaven and earth has saved us from the reign of Satan, sin, and death. Jesus Christ is the new, or last, Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), the head of a new humanity that will not fall from its calling, one that is held by the power of the Spirit that raised Christ from the grave. This is our worldview, and we must walk in terms of it; we must act in this awareness.
We who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord are the new humanity, reestablished in our relationship to our Creator. We are recalled to knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and dominion. The Son of God who has all power in heaven and earth has commissioned us to proclaim His salvation, His Word, and His Kingdom.
Our work in the Kingdom is not without peril as Paul warned (Rom. 8:35ff.), but neither was it easy for the patriarchs of old. Abraham lived and worked in a culture so vile his wife was subject to seizure at the whim of any man more powerful than he. Isaac was blind much of his life, and Jacob was fearful of his life at the hands of his own brother and was badly mistreated by his own father-in-law. Nevertheless, they overcame, as shall we.
Because Christ is central to all of history, He must be central to our lives, but not just in the personal sense. The Kingdom of God and His Christ must have first claim to our loyalties, more than our country and more than our own little kingdoms of wealth and status. All right and glory belongs to Shiloh, He whose right it is. “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry,” the Psalm declares (2:12). Like Abraham and those who follow his faith, we find our place, our meaning, in submitting to God’s salvation and the seed of the woman, the King of kings and Lord of lords. This must be our world and life view, and this must direct our walk of faith.