************ Sermon on Genesis 3:14-15 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 14, 2010
"Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment"
Lord's Supper Sermon
Last time we saw that the Lord God questioned the man who blamed the woman. Then the Lord God questioned the woman who blamed the devil's serpent. We learned that the Lord's questions to the first couple were designed to bring about confession and repentance. God was reaching out to them in grace.
We see today that the Lord God does not bother questioning the devil or his serpent. Instead, He simply pronounces sentence on them. Why? Because Satan is to be given no chance to confess and no opportunity to repent. Instead, Satan has already been convicted of rebellion against God – especially now that he has seduced man into doing the exact same thing he did – that is, rebel against God.
As we look at the judgment that is in front of us this morning we will observe a pattern that is also followed in the judgments God pronounces upon both the woman and the man. What is this pattern? Each judgment is a double judgment.
On this Lord's Supper Sunday, a number of things clearly stand out in the passage in front of us. First, sin is punished. After all, God does pass judgment upon the devil and his serpent even as the Lord's Supper shows us that God passes judgment upon Christ. Second, what is judgment for Satan ends up being a word of hope for Adam and Eve and their descendants; in other words, as the Lord's Supper shows us, God's mercy outweighs His wrath. Third, God is sovereign. He is the One Who passes judgment. He is the One Who announces mercy. He is the One executing His plan. Sin does not threaten God's sovereignty; it simply sets sovereignty in a different context.
I Humiliation (verse 14)
A Notice how verse 14 starts off? With God addressing the serpent and, through him, the devil.
"Cursed are you ..." The Lord God curses the serpent/devil. You may wonder why the serpent shares in the devil's punishments – after all, he was but the devil's tool. Unless they repent, the devil's instruments must share in the devil's punishments. We see this principle throughout Scripture. For instance, the bodies of the wicked share in the punishment and torment given to the soul (Rev 20). And, even the ox that killed a man must be stoned to death (Ex 21:28-29).
As I already said, the serpent was a tool of Satan. Now, remember, he is a crafty serpent – more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made (Gen 3:1). Therefore, we can add that the serpent was Satan's willing tool. What he did was in conformity with his will. The serpent was not torn like Paul in Romans 7 – doing what he did not want to do, being used in a way he did not want to be used.
B "Cursed are you ..." Notice, it is the serpent/devil who is directly cursed – not the woman and not the man. Do you see how displeased God is with those who entice others into sin? For instance, what is the blemish that is forever on King Jeroboam's name? Isn't it that he led Israel into the sin of idolatry (1 Ki 13:34; 15:34; 16:2; 16:19,26; 21:22; 22:52; 2 Ki 17:21; 23:15)? And, think of what Jesus said:
(Mt 18:6) But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.A warning – at the very least – to parents, pastors, and teachers. Those who tempt others into sin are the most accursed creatures under the sun. Which means that pornographers, prostitutes, drug dealers, child molesters, heretical pastors, serpents, devils, and others – will receive greater damnation, unless they repent.
"Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals" (Gen 3:14). The chapter starts with the serpent who is more crafty than any of the wild animals and now it ends with the serpent who is cursed above all the livestock and wild animals.
"Cursed are you ..." According to Paul, Jesus experienced the curse of God when He hung upon the tree (Gal 3:13). Don't we remember and celebrate this in the Lord's Supper – that Jesus took the curse which should fall upon us? Do you see how God hates sin – that He not only cursed the serpent/ devil but even His only Son?
C "You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life" (Gen 3:14). The punishment certainly fits the crime, doesn't it?! He who tempted Eve to eat will himself eat dust. And, he will crawl on his belly. How the mighty have fallen! That's the point. As Jesus puts it,
(Lk 14:11) For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Cf Ps 18:27; Ps 72:9; Is 49:23; Mic 7:17)The serpent has been humbled. And, as expressions of his humiliation and subjugation, he crawls on his belly and eats dust. The crafty serpent has become the symbol of all that is odious, disgusting, and low.
You should realize the same thing happened to Satan. He too was humbled and brought low. Revelation 13 tells us that Satan and his angels lost their place in heaven and were hurled down to the earth because of the blood of the Lamb. Isaiah 14 describes the scene this way:
(Is 14:12-15) How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! (13) You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. (14) I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." (15) But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. (Cf Ezek 28:1-10)
II Defeat (verse 15)
A I said earlier that the three judgments in Genesis 3 are each a double judgment. We see the second part of the judgment against the serpent/Satan in verse 15. Listen to this judgment:
(Gen 3:15) 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.It is doubtful if Satan fully understood this judgment when it was first delivered; and, it seems doubtful that he fully understood what was at stake at the cross and the grave. Why else did he put it into the heart of Judas to betray the Lord?
B To understand this verse, we need to ask and answer five questions.
Our first question: What is meant by enmity? The basic meaning of the verb is "to be hostile to," "to be or treat as an enemy." This enmity arises out of hatred.
Our second question: Who is the enmity between? Our text mentions "you and the woman." "You" refers to the serpent first of all; don't forget, God is speaking to the serpent. But "you" also refers to Satan, the devil behind the serpent.
Now, did you notice the rest of the equation? On the one side is the serpent and the devil; on the other side is "the woman." Isn't this strange? Why the woman and not the man? After all, isn't Adam the head of the woman? Shouldn't Adam be mentioned here because he came first and it was he who named the woman? So why the mention of the woman instead of the man? Hold that thought for a couple of minutes.
Our third question: Who are the offspring? More specifically, who are the offspring of Satan? And, who are the offspring of the woman?
The offspring of Satan are those who, like Satan, are an enemy of God and His people. They are those who, like Satan, want to harm the covenant community, lead people astray, and take away from God's glory. Who are the offspring of Satan? We see them throughout Scripture: Cain, the daughters of men who seduced the sons of God, Ishmael, Esau, Pharaoh, the peoples of Canaan, Assyria, Babylon, Haman, Herod, and the list goes on and on. Those same offspring are at work today – attacking the church, persecuting the church, mocking the church.
The offspring of the woman are those who stand against the devil's schemes and extinguish his flaming arrows. They are the people who arm themselves with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the shoes of the Gospel, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6). I am talking about the covenant people of God, the children of Israel, the church – what we know as the bride of Christ.
And enmity exits between the two groups – between the offspring of Satan and the offspring of the woman. Enmity that exists through all of this age.
Our fourth question: What do the offspring do to each other? Our Bible uses the words "crush" and "strike":
(Gen 3:15) ... he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.This translation makes us think there are two totally different Hebrew words being used. However, it is the exact same word used twice. The offspring do the same thing to each other. They both strike at each other; however, one strikes at the head while the other strikes at the heel. As you know, a strike to the head is far more serious than a strike to the heel; a strike to the heel merely injures while a strike to the head kills.
Our fifth question: Who is the "he" in "he will crush your head"? "He" is an offspring of the woman. "He" strikes a killing blow at the serpent/Satan. This can only be a gracious promise of Christ.
C Do you know what we are seeing here? We see that mercy triumphs over judgment. But isn't that God's character? God punishes sin for three and four generations but shows love to a thousand generations of those who love Him (Ex 20:5).
God announces judgment in our text for this morning. But, let there be no mistake about it, God also announces grace. In fact, as soon as man falls into sin God announces and begins the process of providing the remedy for sin. The same mercy and grace that we see in the Lord's Supper is seen in the Garden already. More specifically, our gracious and merciful God announces three things concerning Christ.
First, God announces that Christ is the offspring of the woman. This gets us back to the question I asked earlier: why the woman and not the man?
Throughout Scripture, it is the woman and not the man who is mentioned. Consider the graphic image of Revelation 12: the dragon stands in front of the woman waiting to devour her child (Rev 12:5). Consider the genealogy in Matthew 1. It is clearly the family tree of Joseph. Yet, Jesus is identified not as the son of Joseph but as being born of Mary (Mt 1:16). Along the same line, Paul writes,
(Gal 4:4) But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law ... (cf Mt 1:23)The same kind of thinking is found in the Apostles' Creed. As we will find out in tonight's message, the Apostles' Creed emphasizes Jesus' birth of the virgin Mary.
The woman was the one deceived by Satan. She was the one blamed by Adam. Yet, God chooses to honor her. Though the woman was first in sin, yet, says Paul, she shall be saved by child-bearing (a verse I never understood until this past week); that is, she shall be saved by the promised offspring Who shall descend from her (cf 1 Tim 2:15).
The second thing we are told concerning Christ is His sufferings and death – which we also remember in the Lord's Supper. Satan "will strike his heel" (Gen 3:15). You know what this means. Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. It was the devil that put it into the heart of Judas to betray Him, Peter to deny Him, the chief priests to prosecute Him, the false witnesses to accuse Him, and Pilate to condemn Him.
The third thing we are told is Christ's victory over Satan. Satan, so to speak, has struck a blow at the woman. But her seed will be raised up in the fullness of time. He will strike at Satan's head, lead him captive, and triumph over him (Col 2:15). This victory we celebrate this morning in the Lord's Supper.
I need to tell you that we see this victory everyday around the world.
On Friday I met with two representatives of Mission India. They told me about 100,000 baptisms in the last three years in a northern, mostly Muslim, province of India.What a defeat for Satan! What a victory for Christ! A defeat and a victory we see every time a baby is baptized, every time someone professes their faith in Christ, every time a sinner repents and believes.
We participate in this victory not only over Satan but also over snakes and serpents. Serpents and snakes are usually viewed with horror and revulsion around the world. People rightly fear them – even as we should fear the devil filled with fury because he knows that his time is short (Rev 12:12). Yet, what does the prophet say about snakes and serpents with the coming of the promised Christ (not realizing there will be two comings)?
(Is 11:8) The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. (Cf Ps 91:13)Think, for example, of the Apostle Paul. A viper fastened itself upon his hand but Paul simple shook it off and suffered no ill effects (Acts 28:3-5).
As Martin Luther put it, "Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us."
Let's pull this all together. We are being told of a divinely ordained and divinely controlled age-long struggle between Satan and Jesus. A battle that we see at the cross and the grave of Christ. A battle still going on today. A battle that is part of God's judgment against sin. However, judgment does not have the last word. Why? Because, as the Lord's Supper shows us, God's mercy triumphs over His judgment. Because, as the Lord's Supper shows us, God cannot leave us in our sins. Instead, God gives the first promise of Christ, the cross, and the grave!
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page