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]
The Promise of Conflict
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.
It is not to be doubted that Adam and Eve understood this promise in this sense for it is plain, in the latter part of the chapter [that] sacrifices were instituted. From what source should those skins come but from beasts slain for sacrifice of which God made them coats?
We find Abel, as well as Cain, offering sacrifice in the next chapter: and the Apostle tells us, he did it by faith, no doubt in this promise. And Eve, when Cain was born, said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord,” or, (as Mr. Henry observes, it may be rendered) “I have gotten a man, — the Lord, — the promised Messiah.” Some further suppose, that Eve was the first believer; and therefore they translate it thus, “The seed, (not of the, but) of this woman,” which magnifies the grace of God so much the more, that she, who was first in the transgression, should be the first partaker of redemption. Adam believed also, and was saved. For unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them, which was a remarkable type of their being clothed with the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Promise of Christ
This promise was literally fulfilled in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan bruised his heel, when he tempted him for forty days together in the wilderness.
He bruised his heel, when he raised up strong persecution against him during the time of his public ministry. He, in an exceptional manner, bruised his heel, when our Lord complained, that his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, and he sweat great drops of blood falling upon the ground, in the garden.
He bruised his heel, when he put it into the heart of Judas to betray him. And he bruised him yet most of all, when his emissaries nailed him to an accursed tree, and our Lord cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Yet, in all this, the blessed Jesus, the seed of the woman, bruised Satan’s accursed head; for, in that he was tempted, he was able to succor those that are tempted. By his stripes we are healed. The chastisement of our peace was upon him. By dying, he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. He thereby spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them upon the cross.
This promise has been fulfilled in the elect of God, considered collectively, as well before, as since the coming of our Lord in the flesh. For they may be called the seed of the woman. Marvel not that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution.
In this promise, there is an eternal enmity put between the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent, so that those that are born after the flesh cannot but persecute those that are born after the spirit. This enmity showed itself, soon after this promise was revealed, in Cain’s bruising the heel of Abel. It continued in the church through all ages before Christ came in the flesh, as the history of the Bible, and the 11th chapter of the Hebrews, plainly show. It raged exceedingly after our Lord’s ascension; witness the Acts of the Apostles, and the History of the Primitive Christians. It now rages, and will continue to rage and show itself, in a greater or less degree, to the end of time.
But let not this dismay us; for in all this, the seed of the woman is more than a conqueror, and bruises the serpent’s head.
More than a Conqueror
Thus the Israelites, the more they were oppressed, the more they increased. Thus it was with the Apostles. Thus it was with their immediate followers, so that Tertullian compares the church in his time to a mowed field: The more frequently it is cut, the more it grows. The blood of the martyrs was always the seed of the church.
And I have often sat down with wonder and delight and admired how God has made the very schemes which his enemies contrived, in order to hinder, become the most effectual means to propagate his gospel.
The devil has had so little success in persecution, that if I did not know that he and his children, according to this verse, could not but persecute, I should think he would count it his strength to sit still.
What did he get by persecuting the martyrs in Queen Mary’s time? Was not the grace of God exceedingly glorified in their support?
What did he get by persecuting the good old Puritans? Did it not prove the peopling of New-England?
Or, to come nearer our own times, what has he got by putting us out of the synagogues? Has not the Word of God, since that, mightily prevailed?
My dear hearers, you must excuse me for enlarging on this head; God fills my soul generally, when I come to this topic. I can say with Luther, “If it were not for persecution, I should not understand the Scripture.”
If Satan should be yet suffered to bruise my heel further, and his servants should thrust me into prison, I doubt not; but even that would only tend to the more effectual bruising of his head.
I remember a saying the then Lord Chancellor to the pious Bradford. “You have done more hurt,” he said, “by your exhortations in private in prison than you did in preaching before you were put in,” or words to this effect.
The promise of the text is my daily support, “I will put enmity between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
The Promise Fulfilled
Further this promise is also fulfilled, not only in the church in general, but in every individual believer in particular. In every believer there are two seeds, the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent; the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.
It is with the believer, when quickened with grace in his heart, as it was with Rebekah, when she had conceived Esau and Jacob in her womb. She felt a struggling, and began to be uneasy. “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” (Gen. 25:22) Thus grace and nature struggle (if I may so speak) in the womb of a believer’s heart. But, as it was there said, “The elder shall serve the younger,” so it is here, — grace in the end shall get the better of nature; the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.
Many of you that have believed in Christ may, perhaps, find some particular corruption yet strong, so strong, that you are sometimes ready to cry out with David, “I shall fall one day by the hand of Saul.” But, fear not, the promise in the text insures the perseverance and victory of believers over sin, Satan, death, and hell.
What if indwelling corruption does yet remain, and the seed of the serpent bruise your heel, in vexing and disturbing your righteous souls? Fear not, though faint, yet pursue: you shall yet bruise the serpent’s head. Christ hath died for you, and yet a little while, and he will send death to destroy the very being of sin in you. Which brings me
To show the most extensive manner in which the promise of the text shall be fulfilled at the final judgment, when the Lord Jesus shall present the elect to his Father, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, glorified both in body and soul.
Then shall the seed of the woman give the last and fatal blow, in bruising the serpent’s head. Satan, the accuser of the brethren, and all his accursed seed, shall then be cast out, and never suffered to disturb the seed of the woman any more. Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and sit with Christ on thrones in majesty on high.
Let us, therefore, not be weary of well-doing; for we shall reap an eternal harvest of comfort, if we faint not. Dare, dare, my dear brethren in Christ, to follow the Captain of your salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings.
The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. Do not fear men. Do not be too cast down at the deceitfulness of your hearts. Do not fear devils; you shall get the victory even over them. The Lord Jesus has engaged to make you more than conquerors over all.
Plead with your Savior, plead! Plead the promise in the tent. Wrestle, wrestle with God in prayer. If it has been given you to believe, fear not if it should also be given you to suffer. Be not any wise terrified by your adversaries; the king of the church has them all in a chain.
Be kind to them, pray for them; but do not fear them. The Lord will yet bring back his ark, though at present driven into the wilderness. And Satan like lightning shall fall from heaven.
Are there any enemies of God here? The promise of the text encourages me to bid you defiance: The seed of the woman, the ever-blessed Jesus, shall bruise the serpent’s head. What signifies all your malice? You are only raging waves of the sea, foaming out your own shame. For you, without repentance, is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
The Lord Jesus sits in heaven, ruling over all, and causing all things to work for his children’s good: he laughs you to scorn: he has you in the utmost derision; and therefore so will I. Who are you that persecute the children of the ever blessed God? Though a poor stripling, the Lord Jesus, the seed of the woman, will enable me to bruise your heads.
My [brothers and sisters] in Christ, I think I do not speak thus in my own strength, but in the strength of my Redeemer. I know in whom I have believed; I am persuaded he will keep that safe, which I have committed unto him. He is faithful who has promised that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.
May we all experience a daily completion of this promise, both in the church and in our hearts, till we come to the church of the first-born, the spirits of just men made perfect, in the presence and actual fruition of the great God our heavenly Father!
To whom, with the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honor, power, might, majesty, and dominion, now and for evermore.