The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent: Divine Love

Genesis 3:15 — “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.” [ESV]

“What is this that you have done?”

Verse 13: “Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’”

What a wonderful concern does God express in this expostulation! “What a deluge of misery have you brought upon yourself, your husband, and your posterity? What is this that you have done? Disobeyed your God, obeyed the devil, and ruined your husband, for whom I made you to be a helpmate! What is this that you have done?”

God would here awaken her to a sense of her crime and danger, and therefore, as it were, thunders in her ears: for the law must be preached to self-righteous sinners. We must take care of healing before we see sinners wounded, lest we should say, Peace, peace, where there is no peace. Secure sinners must hear the thunderings of mount Sinai, before we bring them to mount Zion. They who never preach up the law, it is to be feared, are unskillful in delivering the glad tidings of the gospel. Every minister should be a Boanerges, a son of thunder, as well as a Barnabus, a son of consolation.

There was an earthquake and a whirlwind, before the small still voice came to Elijah: We must first show people they are condemned, and then show them how they must be saved. But how and when to preach the law, and when to apply the promises of the gospel, wisdom is profitable to direct.

And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”

“The serpent deceived me…”

“The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” She does not make use of so many words to excuse herself, as her husband; but her heart is as unhumbled as his. “What is this,” says God, “that you have done?”

God here charges her with doing it. She dares not deny the fact, or say, I have not done it; but she takes all the blame off herself, and lays it upon the serpent. “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” She does not say, “Lord, I was to blame for talking with the serpent; Lord, I did wrong, in not hastening to my husband, when he put the first question to me. Lord, I plead guilty, I only am to blame, O let not my poor husband suffer for my wickedness!”

This would have been the language of her heart had she now been a true penitent. But both were now alike proud; therefore neither will lay the blame upon themselves:

“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

“The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

I have been the more particular in remarking this part of their behavior, because it tends so much to the magnifying of Free-grace, and plainly shows us, that salvation comes only from the Lord.

Let us take a short view of the miserable circumstances our first parents were now in: They were legally and spiritually dead, children of wrath, and heirs of hell. They had eaten the fruit, of which God had commanded them that they should not eat. And when arraigned before God, notwithstanding their crime was so complicated, they could not be brought to confess it.

What reason can be given, why sentence of death should not be pronounced against the prisoners at the bar? All must own they are worthy to die. Nay, how can God, consistently with his justice, possibly forgive them? He had threatened, that the day wherein they eat of the forbidden fruit, they should “surely die.” And, if he did not execute this threatening, the devil might then slander the Almighty indeed. Yet mercy cries, “Spare these sinners, spare the work of Your own hands!”

Behold, then, wisdom contrives a scheme how God may be just, and yet be merciful. Be faithful to his threatening, punish the offense, and at the same time spare the offender.

An amazing scene of divine love here opens to our view which had been from all eternity hid in the heart of God! Notwithstanding Adam and Eve were thus unhumbled, and did not so much as put up on single petition for pardon, God immediately passes sentence upon the serpent, and reveals to them a Savior.

An amazing scene of Divine love

Verse 14: “The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.’” He should be in subjection, and his power should always be limited and restrained. “His enemies shall lick the very dust,” says the Psalmist.

Verse 15: “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.”

Before I proceed to the explanation of this verse, I cannot but take notice of one great mistake which the author of The Whole Duty of Man is guilty of in making this verse contain a covenant between God and Adam, as though God now personally treated with Adam, as before the fall.

For, talking of the second covenant in his preface, concerning caring for the soul, says he, “This second covenant was made with Adam, and us in him, presently after the fall, and is briefly contained in these words, Gen. 3:15 where God declares, ‘The seed of the woman shall break the serpent’s head; and this was made up, as the first was, of some mercies to be afforded by God, and some duties to be performed by us.” This is exceeding false divinity: for those words are not spoken to Adam; They are directed only to the serpent.

Adam and Eve stood by as criminals, and God could not treat with them, because they had broken his covenant. And it is so far from being a covenant wherein “some mercies are to be afforded by God, and some duties to be performed by us,” that here is not a word looking that way. It is only a declaration of a free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God the Father and God the Son had entered into a covenant concerning the salvation of the elect from all eternity, wherein God the Father promised that, if the Son would offer his soul a sacrifice for sin, he should see his seed. Now this is an open revelation of this secret covenant, and therefore God speaks in the most positive terms, “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

The First Adam and the Second Adam

The first Adam, God had treated with before; he proved false. God therefore, to secure the second covenant from being broken, puts it into the hands of the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. Adam, after the fall, stood no longer as our representative; he and Eve were only private persons, as we are, and were only to lay hold on the declaration of mercy contained in this promise by faith, (as they really did) and by that they were saved.

I do not say but we are to believe and obey if we are everlastingly saved. Faith and obedience are conditions, if we only mean that they in order go before our salvation, but I deny that these are proposed by God to Adam or that God treats with him in this promise, as he did before the fall under the covenant of works. For how could that be, when Adam and Eve were now prisoners at the bar, without strength to perform any conditions at all?

The truth is this: God, as a reward of Christ’s sufferings, promised to give the elect faith and repentance, in order to bring them to eternal life; and both these, and every thing else necessary for their everlasting happiness, and infallibly secured to them in this promise; as Mr. Rastan, an excellent Scots divine, clearly shows, in a book entitled A View of the Covenant of Grace.

This is by no means an unnecessary distinction; it is a matter of great importance. For want of knowing this, people have been so long misled. They have been taught that they must do so and so, and though they were under a covenant of works, and then for doing this, they should be saved.

Whereas, on the contrary, people should be taught that the Lord Jesus was the second Adam, with whom the Father entered into covenant for fallen man. That they can now do nothing of or for themselves, and should therefore come to God, beseeching him to give them faith, by which they shall be enabled to lay hold on the righteousness of Christ; and that faith they will then show forth by their works, out of love and gratitude to the ever blessed Jesus, their most glorious Redeemer, for what he has done for their souls.

This is a consistent scriptural scheme; without holding this, we must run into one of those two bad extremes. I mean Antinomianism on the one hand, or Arminianism on the other, from both which may the good Lord deliver us!

The seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent

But to proceed: By the seed of the woman, we are here to understand the Lord Jesus Christ; who, though very God of very God, was, for us men and our salvation, to have a body prepared for him by the Holy Ghost, and to be born of a woman who never knew man, and by his obedience and death make an atonement for man’s transgression, and bring in an everlasting righteousness, work in them a new nature, and thereby bruise the serpent’s head, i.e. destroy his power and dominion over them.

By the serpent’s seed, we are to understand the devil and all his children, who are permitted by God to tempt and sift his children. But, blessed be God, he can reach no further than our heel.

To be continued…

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  • Keystone

    It is with fear and trepidation that I comment on this post. For on November 21, I posted a comment on Part 3:

    “Keystone – some interesting points here; keep in mind that this post is part three of the representation of Whitefield’s sermon, so there’s more to come!”

    “Some interesting points here”; um,….NONE were discussed.
    Wait for more to come.
    I misunderstood then, for I have always commented on a given POST;
    not waited until the entire series was complete and then see comments out of juxtaposition with whatever post they speak to.

    But I shall venture anew on Part 4, with a simple observation of these things:

    1) This guy does not understand Genesis 3, and the most relevant parts for us today.
    2) He does not have his facts right when he does speak.

    For example, Whitefield is quick to chastise the thoughts of the author (no name given), ….one who spoke on Genesis 3, without being of like mind to Whitefield.

    Whitefield states:
    “Before I proceed to the explanation of this verse, I cannot but take notice of one great mistake which the author of The Whole Duty of Man is guilty of in making this verse contain a covenant between God and Adam, as though God now personally treated with Adam, as before the fall.”

    I have not read “The Whole Duty of Man” so I do not quibble with the variance of that book and Whitefield.

    But to critique another author, when you do not even get it right on the story of Elijah, God, thunder, and wind……as God made His presence known to Elijah….
    (an enormous insight into how God relates to humans, just as Genesis 3 is; just as Enoch walked with God is; just as Abraham’s conversations with God is; and more. It teaches US how to relate to God in our lives!)

    But I digress.

    Whitefield is quick to chastise another author directly, but earlier states THIS blunder:
    “There was an earthquake and a whirlwind, before the small still voice came to Elijah: We must first show people they are condemned, and then show them how they must be saved. But how and when to preach the law, and when to apply the promises of the gospel, wisdom is profitable to direct.”

    Um, Mr. Whitefield, there was MORE than an earthquake and whirlwind, and gentle whisper. Read it yourself here:

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+19%3A9-18&version=NIV

    Yup, there was also a huge fire, and God was not in the fire.
    For a guy to not even have his facts straight on the Bible, and God speaking to Elijah (and “WHY” He was speaking), I find it curious to take in his analysis of Genesis 3, thereafter.

    Whitefield concentrates on the snake being bruised on the head (by an undisclosed plan for Calvary and Resurrection later—-why tip off satan—
    but stresses the heel will be bruised. I guess Whitefield never saw a Boa Constrictor bring death.

    Whitefield totally ignores a platinum statement between God and Eve:
    God is NOW speaking with Eve alone, and has yet to address Adam.
    Whitefield commends V.15 (God and Eve) while untimely omitting V.16 (God and Eve). They are a singular statement between God, satan, and Eve.
    Here are the two together; not out of context later: (reference is made to all of US; we need to learn from this):

    “15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
    he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

    16 To the woman he said,
    “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
    with pain you will give birth to children.
    Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

    Look at the bottom of V.16 and “your desire will be for your husband”.
    Boy, there’s punishment for you, eh?
    Need a spider crushed? Call the hubby.

    Forget that Adam will rule.
    I suspect Eve already knew this since she came from a rib; not created out of dust as Adam, as a whole and separate entity.
    “Rule over” is “rule over”.

    But a curse to desire for your husband???
    Where are you Whitefield?
    Don’t tell me it comes later, for this is the moment you choose to discuss a convo between God and Eve.

    Pharaoh’s wife had that curse exposed as she ‘desired for her husband’, and it cost the first born of all male Egyptians later.

    How is that specific curse working out today?
    Ask Whitefield and you get silence.

    All sermons on Genesis 3 like to play the Blame Game, and proceed willy nilly through each actor blaming the other as God elicits truth.
    Well, Blame is the most useless of all emotions we possess, and not even worthy of such multiple discussion as Genesis 3 evokes from all pastors.

    Desiring your husband would seem to be a case of love; not curse.
    But God is clear that this is a curse. I suspect more manipulation has occurred in all human eternity due to this curse, over any other.

    Whitefield’s comment on that? NADA.
    It can not be deferred as he is speaking of God and Eve talking. It is ludicrous to break the conversation in segments/posts and expect an audience to learn how this applies to our lives.

    Enoch walked with God. (Adam too, before Eve)

    Whitefield regurgitates the obvious you can find in any church, while the pastor drones on about blame, and the audience falls asleep.

    Even the Title is dubious; equating “The Seed of the Serpent” and “Divine Love”. The woman has an egg a month (except Octomom and some mothers of twins and triplets the normal way).

    Ever see the Seeds a Serpent produces?
    Evil grows at an exponential rate, but it is the extraordinary power of love that overcomes ANY amount of evil produced.

    It takes very little of God’s Holy Spirit to defeat ALL of the Evil Spirit.
    Where is that hope express by Whitefield?

    He doesn’t even know Elijah had a fire, as well as earthquake and whirlwind.
    Tha balance of his expose and contention are just as complete. (two thirds of a story).

    Read Genesis 3 and ask God to explain it to your life (and wife if you have one). No pastor will ever explain it; they are all hung up on the Blame Game, as it fills in the hour at church, and adds to the coffers while you are there.
    I feel sorry for this guy.

    [I know Aaron...."wait for the rest".
    Too late to comment then, and unrelated as well.]

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Keystone, I appreciate your passion, but you run close to creating a straw man argument here.

      Not commenting on the great fire which God presented to Elijah in addition to the whirlwind and earthquake before coming in the quiet does not mean Whitefield, one of the greatest preachers of the 18th century, lacks understanding.

      It’s not an omission that alters the point of 1 Kings or this text: Just as God speaks most clearly in the quiet, He brings victory from the appearance of defeat.

      Remember, Genesis 3:15 is spoken to the serpent. There is only hope for us in this verse. Indeed, in the entire passage of Gen. 3:15-17, it is the only verse that contains any hope for humanity at all.

      Satan, our great enemy was and is defeated by Christ’s death on the cross (which is the “bruising of His heel,” as it were). The seed of the woman, Jesus Christ incarnate. A warning to the serpent, but a gift to us.

      Why give him warning?

      I can only speculate, but I’d imagine He would do so to let him squirm (pardon the pun). He knows retribution for the evil he’s wrought will come, but he didn’t know when.

      Gen. 3:15, the first time the gospel is preached, is the source of great hope. And Whitefield rightly expresses that hope here:

      “But to proceed: By the seed of the woman, we are here to understand the Lord Jesus Christ; who, though very God of very God, was, for us men and our salvation, to have a body prepared for him by the Holy Ghost, and to be born of a woman who never knew man, and by his obedience and death make an atonement for man’s transgression, and bring in an everlasting righteousness, work in them a new nature, and thereby bruise the serpent’s head, i.e. destroy his power and dominion over them.

      “By the serpent’s seed, we are to understand the devil and all his children, who are permitted by God to tempt and sift his children. But, blessed be God, he can reach no further than our heel.”

      As I’ve studied this passage over the last couple years, I’ve found much to rejoice over.

      Though under the power of the curse, I could do nothing but abuse my authority over my wife and she could do nothing but be consumed with desire to rule over me (the word for “desire” in 3:16 is the same as the one used when God tells Cain that sin’s “desire is for you, but you must rule over it” in 4:7), God has made a way for us to be restored to Him and to each other–through the “bruising of the heel” of Jesus Christ.

      I would encourage you, after the last of this series is published, to go back and read through each part. You might find that he does in fact understand Genesis 3 far better than most of us today.

  • Keystone

    I was surprised at your opening quibble Aaron:
    “Keystone, I appreciate your passion, but you run close to creating a straw man argument here.”

    You allude this Whitefield is a master of Genesis 3; I dispute that.
    You reframe my position that if Whitefield does not understand I Kings 19 and Elijah, a “straw man” effect has been set up.

    WOW!

    That would be like my referring to this usage of the word “desire” in Genesis 3, being correctly the same as Cain heard as a “desire” for sin;
    [YOUR claim, and it is correct], BUT, since you failed to mention that this “desire” is the same word used in Solomon….indeed, the only three places that the word is used in the Bible, then your contention is a “straw man”.

    For the record, NEITHER my point on “fire” being missed with Elijah, nor your point, omitting “desire” in Solomon is a straw man. That verbiage is brought up when an argument or presentation is weak. Not appreciated.

    You have TWICE referred to me as needing to WAIT until the Whitefield presentation is done in full, before making a conclusion on his sermon.
    But if there are parts along the path with which I do not agree, the conclusion will not vary in the end.

    Indeed, the choppy presentation is done by your postings. I was unaware that more was coming, when I first commented on this guy.

    You have read widely, and occasionally stamp a book with your opinion:
    “NOT RECOMMENDED”. I take you at your word when you do this.
    In the Whitefield presentations, I have done nothing more than use your same procedure. “NOT RECOMMENDED” would be my evaluation in what I have read to date.

    May I suggest when you are doing a fellow in a series, the series be immediately sequential to be better understood.

    I respect your right to love this guy ad nauseum. Hopefully, you would respect my insights, that what he says is truth, but not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. [Whitefield's juxtaposition of V.15 and V.16 apart misleads; that is why I put them together for this audience to make up their mind on seeing it as one discussion . God speaking to the serpent in 15 was about the woman also present in 16, and standing right there in the entire conversation. They are better understood when read together; not formatted for a sermon by Whitefield].

    I appreciate your enthusiasm in posts and your depth in theology.
    That is why I come back here from RSS.

    Your ending blurb on the curse stating “your desire shall be for your husband” is but one interpretation of zillions I have read.

    Some attribute today’s divorce rate as a reflection of this curse.

    Others point out that pregnancy was natural before the fall, and painfull after the fall, making the “desire” a curse unto childbearing.
    [They are separate issues].

    Another opinion refers to “desire” as teshuquah” or quah” and alludes the desire is for man (or husband if married)….not the Lord, as before the fall.

    The interpretations are endless; and it behooves Whitefield, you, and this audience, to discuss such things, to aid us in our current generation and pass it along to the next, truthfully as can be.

    The written word leaves conclusions at variance; it is flawed and open to interpretation. Indeed, your interpretation of “why tip off satan” is on the 1 yard line, from the pass I sent out with that quip.
    God had already informed the serpent that his head would be crushed by the heel of the one he bruised, so satan is “tipped” in advance….but not as to when or how, just that it would occur. You and I are saying the same thing there.

    When I first read Whitefield, I was curious as to how a presentation was made to an audience of a different era, or culture, so to speak. I also wanted to find if there were ways to take the message at hand, and UPDATE it to modern usage and application. Whitefield fails that test. His sermon is appropriate to his audience and time (I hope).

    But even the “Curse of your desire will be for your husband” could not be imagined in Whitefield’s era……when run though the filter of Women’s Lib, cohabitation, teen pregnancy, cosmetics industry, women’s peer pressure working outside the home or SAHM, worship of the breast as a society, and hundreds more issues of this present day.
    Your interpretation ends up as simple as Whitefield; “Honey, I am gonna Lord it over you”, “but I shouldn’t do that”…..a misinformed contention, and far from “Serve one another”.

    But “Serve one another” hardly seems a curse, eh?
    The SON of God was more direct in his proclamation, than the Father to Eve.
    Genesis 3:16 is a whole post of its own. Good luck!

    Pastorally, this issue of “curse” and “desire to control your husband” are probably the MOST overlooked sermons of today (with the possible exception of Ephesians 6:10-20.

    What Whitefield misses, I had hoped you would greatfully expand.
    With or without a straw man.
    Why else study sermons from days of yore, unless they can be adapted to today, and amplify a message better, than today’s vernacular?

    Genesis 3:15 is indeed spoken to the serpent; but I do not find the great “Hope” for humanity in it that you see.
    Enmity is a 13th century word defined as : “positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will”. I do NOT see redemption in there Aaron.

    That “free will of the Garden” was an abysmal failure, and God needed a Plan B is apparent.
    Crushing heads and striking heels (via offspring on man and serpent) is battle coming up…..a good tie in for Ephesians 6:10-20 again. All missed by Whitefield. And today’s pastors too.

    Finally, I will allow that a variance exists since Whitefield is ESV and I use NIV.
    Given that, I still vote “NOT RECOMMENDED” from what I have read.

    You approve, or low ball a book, based on variance or adherence to the Bible.
    I include the ability to explain the truths of the Bible to today’s audience as a factor. The church is in disarray from lack of reading the Bible these days.
    Maybe we should text message the Word.
    That would be a curse, eh?

    I will patiently read the “to be continued” on Whitefield, but he has been like listening to a concert with out of tune instruments for me to date.
    And I’m deaf.

    Thanks for starting the conversation in earnest.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Keystone, thanks for taking the time to write very thorough and thoughtful comments (please understand that although I don’t respond to all parts, I do read them). And I definitely respect your insights and I do apologize for giving you the impression that I don’t.

      Next time I try a series like this (the beauty of a blog is experimenting a bit, no?) I’ll definitely look at running it as a daily rather than a weekly.