© Gregory L. Jackson, 1999
A Mighty Fortress Lutheran Church
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
Glendale, Arizona 85304
#2 The First Promise, Genesis 3:15
In the first lesson we discussed the Trinity and the Son of God. The Son of God has existed from eternity. The Son of God became Incarnate (Incarnate = in the flesh) when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. From that time on, the Son of God had two natures, truly human and truly divine. He had both natures in the womb, when He was born, and when He was raised from the dead. He still has both natures, human and divine.
In the early lessons in this series we will discuss the Son of God in the Old Testament. Some people think of the Old Testament as Law and the New Testament as Gospel. Or they think of the Old Testament as belonging to Moses and the New Testament as belonging to Jesus. But that image is not correct. The purpose of the Bible is to proclaim the Gospel of forgiveness through Christ. The Old Testament contains the Law, but the Gospel is quite prominent. The New Testament teaches the Law, but the Gospel predominates.
Goals of this lesson:
1. The youngest children should learn that God promised Adam and Eve the Savior at the time they were driven from the Garden of Eden for their sin. God helps us, even when we are weak and sinful.
2. The grade school children should be more aware of the battle between good and evil. The curse upon Satan is a major element of crucifixion.
3. Confirmation aged students should know that this passage is called The First Gospel (Protoevangelium), that it is a specific prophecy of Jesus, that it set the stage for the history of the Israelites before there was an Israel. They should start to get a grasp of God working through the centuries and keeping His promises.
God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from one tree, although they could eat from all other trees in the Garden of Eden.
Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The serpent, Satan, talked Eve into eating from the forbidden tree. She gave the fruit to Adam, who also ate it. This is how sin entered our world. That is why we call our sinful nature “the old Adam.” Our sinful nature rebels against God’s commandments. We are weak against temptation.
God cursed Satan through the serpent. From that time on Satan would have to creep and hide to do his work, to slither around in dark and secret places. All snakes remind us of how Satan works. They do not strut, sing, and show off, the way many beautiful birds to. Snakes hide under rocks, wrap themselves around tree limbs, and work secretly.
Curse Against Satan
Genesis 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
God did not curse Satan for Satan’s sake, but to teach Adam and Eve. When we get into trouble, we expect to be scolded and punished. Adam and Eve did lose their wonderful Garden of Eden. Adam was forced to work hard for food. Eve was given the difficulties of childbirth. Both became mortal. They would have disease and would die. But also comforted them with the promise of the Savior.
The First Gospel,
Genesis 3:15 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.
Enmity (hatred) between Satan and the woman, his seed and her seed –
God has played a trick on Satan here. He is promising the Savior, Jesus, Who will crush the head of Satan. The devil would love to know how and when this will take place, so he can work against it. God does not tell exactly how or when this will happen. As Luther wrote, Satan had to be suspicious of all women from that time on, afraid of all mankind. Satan was so anxious to find and destroy the Savior that Israel was reduced to a withered stump by the time Jesus was born.
He will bruise the head of Satan –
This means: “Jesus will destroy the power of Satan.” The first Gospel promise does not tell us everything. We look backwards from the New Testament to see what these first hints meant then. If the head of an animal is harmed, he will die. We can see a lack of balance in this prediction. Two will be harmed, but Satan will be defeated.
You will bruise His heel –
This made no sense until the crucifixion, when Jesus arms and feet were nailed to the cross. Satan thought he had a great victory. The promised Messiah was killed by his own people! The party in Hell was cut short when Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday.
Notice how much is in this verse. The Messiah will be the “seed of woman.” Man is not mentioned. This is a promise of the Virgin Birth. God told an evil king in Isaiah 7:14 that “a virgin will conceive and bear a Son, Immanuel (God with us, in Hebrew). Centuries passed before anyone knew what Genesis 3:15 meant – “seed of a woman.” Many more centuries passed after the Virgin Birth was promised.
God’s Concept of Time
When we think of Jesus being promised to Adam and Eve, at the beginning of human history, and His presence with us today, into eternity, we can try to imagine God’s concept of time. The Word of God says it best:
Psalm 90:4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
God does not work according to our sense of time. He does not make promises, as we do, and then forget them. God works according to His wisdom. We can see that He is kindly, quick to forgive, loving, and full of mercy. When Adam and Eve were at their lowest point , God promised them and us the Savior Jesus. The King of Creation became a man to die for our sins, to give us forgiveness and eternal life.
Beautiful Savior, King of Creation
Son of God and Son of Man!
Truly I’d love Thee, truly I’d serve Thee,
Light of my soul, my Joy, my Crown.
Author Unknown, The Lutheran Hymnal, #657
Class Discussion Questions and Project
1. If possible, bring a harmless snake into the class. The squeamish may want to bring a rubber snake or a dead snake. In Phoenix it is possible to find rattlers on the outskirts of town. One of our young mothers shoots them and put them in the freezer. Or discuss a photo of a snake. Discuss how snakes symbolize Satan today.
2. Ask the class about Jesus being truly human, just like us, and also truly divine, the sinless Son of God. Lutherans say – two natures united in the one Person, Jesus. He still has His human nature today. We receive His body and blood in communion.
3. Talk about God’s promises, carried out perfectly over thousands of years. Does that help us trust in Him? How often do we forget our promises and go back on them?
4. Why is Genesis 3:15 the First Gospel? Hint – another name for Gospel, besides good news, is promise. Every promise of God is good news. Adam and Eve had not hope without the Savior. They believed in Him. We have no hope without our Savior. We believe in Him.