************ Sermon on Genesis 3:15 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 10, 2011
"Christ the Conqueror"
The year was 1848. Nuggets of gold were discovered at Sutter's Mill, California. In the following year about 80,000 prospectors walked, sailed, or rode to California. All of them had one dream: to strike the mother lode of gold.
If we were to prospect through Scripture to find the mother lode of the Gospel, to find the text from which all other Gospel texts spring, we would have to turn to Genesis 3:15. This text is known as the Mother Promise of Scripture. It is the first promise of God about the coming of Christ. It is the first promise of God about His great and glorious plan for our salvation – which we celebrate today in the Lord's Supper. It is the first Gospel sermon that was ever preached on earth; the Lord God Almighty was the preacher; sitting in the pews listening was the whole human race and even the devil himself.
I God's Response to Human Sin
A Take note that the Mother Promise was said in the Garden of Eden already.
Why? Because of sin. The Mother Promise was God's response to human sin.
Notice, God responded immediately to human sin. He saw the problem and right away announced the solution. He did not waste any time putting into motion His plan for our salvation. Man sinned and right away God stepped in to carry out His plan of redemption. In many situations there are months, if not years, between the diagnosis of a problem and the offering of a solution.
Think of the Space Shuttle program. This past Friday the shuttle blasted off for its final mission. The space shuttle was sold to America as cheap, safe and reliable. It was none of those – though it did accomplish some wonderful things. It cost $196 billion over 40 years, ended the lives of 14 astronauts in two separate accidents, and managed to make less than half the flights promised. Why? Because some of its problems were never solved.But this is not the case with God. Right away when man sinned God stepped into the Garden with the Mother Promise, with the first proclamation of the Gospel, with the only solution to the problem of sin.
It is remarkable that the first and great Gospel promise was delivered before man was condemned. As of yet, no sentence has been pronounced upon either Adam or Eve: the woman has not yet been condemned to the painful bearing of children and the man has not yet been condemned to painful toil in order to eat. The Gospel promise was given before the Lord said, "for dust you are and to dust you will return" (Gen 3:19). That's how quick and how soon God responded to the first human sin.
Do you see the mercy of God? Do you see His grace? The Gospel is announced before the judgment. Truly, mercy triumphs over judgment. On this Lord's Supper Sunday, let us rejoice in the swift mercy of God.
B God had to step in so quickly and decisively because sin is so bad and so total in its effects.
Ruth and I used to live close to Niagara Falls, so we often would take trips there.That's what sin does to man: it renders man incapable of escape and plunges him into the abyss of corruption, guilt, misery, and eternal death.
I remember the Spring-time we saw big blocks of ice rushing down the river towards the falls. I also saw dozens of sea gulls landing on the pieces of ice. As they came close to the edge of the falls, their wings would go out, they would take flight, go upriver, and land on another piece of ice rushing towards the falls. As I wondered about this, I soon realized that the gulls were feeding on the carcasses of dead fish embedded in the ice.
One gull was so engrossed in its feeding frenzy that it delayed taking off until the ice started to fall over the brink; out came its powerful wings; it flapped and flapped, but it just couldn't take off. This gull had waited so long that it got caught in the spray. Unable to fly, it was plunged into the abyss.
All around us we see sin. We watch TV or read the front page of the newspaper and it almost always is about sin. For instance, Casey Anthony has been all over the news. Maybe the jury is right that she is "not guilty" but her daughter, Caylee, is still dead. Think of all the celebrities who have been caught in sin: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Wiener, Charlie Sheen, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. After hearing the Law, we know we all are sinners too. Sin is everywhere and it touches every part of human life.
Wherever there is sin, there is misery. Wherever there is sin there is pain, suffering, and wretchedness. Sin and evil – like an invading army – floods into human life and destroys kindness, smashes justice, deceives children, kills babies, hurts old people, leads teenagers into drugs and alcohol, wrecks families, puts down the poor, gets girls pregnant, pulls down good rulers and props up bad ones, bribes policemen, and ruins all that is good and wholesome and beautiful.
When God looks down from heaven upon the sons of men, He sees that because of sin there is no one who does good, not even one; that no one is righteous; that no one seeks after God; that all are corrupt. When God looks down from heaven upon the sons of men, He sees that every human needs salvation. No wonder that right away when man sinned God stepped into the Garden with the Mother Promise, with the first proclamation of the Gospel, with the only solution to the problem of sin.
As we look at Genesis 3:15 on this Lord's Supper Sunday, we remember with joy that God responded immediately to the problem of sin. In dealing with Adam's sin we recognize that God is also dealing with our sin. That what Genesis 3:15 tells us.
II The Redeemer and His Blood
A We also see how God deals with sin. First, Genesis 3:15 establishes a principle that runs throughout the Old Testament: the expectation of a Redeemer – a descendent of Adam and Eve – who would pay for sin.
As I mentioned when we looked at Cain and Abel, Eve mistakenly thought Cain was the promised offspring (Gen 4:1). Abraham was given promise after promise about this offspring (Gen 12:7; 13:15-16; 15:3,18; 17:7-10,19; 21:12; 22:17-18; and so on). Like Eve, Abraham was also mistaken on the identity of the chosen offspring when he thought it might be his nephew (Gen 13:14), his servant (Gen 15:2), or the son of his wife's maid (Gen 21:12-13).
Regardless of what men said or did, there can be no doubt that God was directing the affairs of men and nations so that the chosen Redeemer would be born in the time and place ordained by Him: from Adam and Eve, of course; of the line of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob; of the tribe of Judah; of the family of Ruth and Boaz; a descendant of David; born in Bethlehem, and so on.
B Second, Genesis 3:15 also tells us how the Redeemer will pay for sin. We are told the heel of the Savior would be struck. From the rest of Scripture we quickly realize this is a metaphor for the shedding of blood. We realize we are being told about the sufferings of Christ.
Blood needs to be shed for sin to be forgiven. As Hebrews tells us, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Heb 9:22). But not just any blood. It is the blood of the Savior that needs to be shed. His blood is substitutionary blood; that is, His blood is shed in your place and my place. He shed His blood once for all time and all men.
On this Lord's Supper Sunday, Genesis 3:15 points us to the Savior. And, it points us to His blood shed in our place.
III Satan's Conflict and Defeat
A On the day Eve took the forbidden fruit, an unholy alliance was formed between man and Satan. It is true that Satan is not mentioned here. But, the rest of Scripture makes clear that the serpent is entwined with the devil. Somehow, in someway, the serpent allowed itself to become a tool of the devil. Throughout the Bible, this connection becomes more and more clear. So, in Revelation 12 we see the serpent grow into the great red dragon. Remember how this dragon stands in front of the woman giving birth waiting to devour her child? Remember how this dragon is cast out of heaven? Remember how this dragon is identified as the ancient serpent called the devil? He hates Christ and His church.
The day of man's fall was a day of triumph for the serpent/devil. He was finally able to strike out at God for kicking him out of heaven. He was able to indulge his malice and gratify his spite. He actually destroyed a part of the works of God's hands. How? By introducing sin into the new world, by stamping the human race with his own image, by gaining new soldiers to rebel and transgress against God. I can just imagine him crowing and celebrating and breaking out in some sort of devilish song and dance when Eve and, then, Adam fell. Again, it was his day of triumph as he formed an unholy alliance with man.
God does not allow the devil to savor his triumph for long. Because God announces the breakup of the unholy alliance the day it is started. Instead of an alliance, God made it a battle. God announces enmity:
(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.
Did you hear what God said? "I" will put enmity. "I." Which means that the two parties to the quarrel are not the serpent on one side and man on the other. No, this quarrel goes much deeper than that. It involves the players behind the scenes. On the one side is Satan and on the other side is God. Do you see what God does? God makes the quarrel personal. God announces He is the One Who will deal with the devil.
What would have happened, do you think, if God did not intervene? Wouldn't we all be unprotesting servants and slaves of Satan? Wouldn't Satan be the undisputed master of the earth? But, thank God, Satan is not the undisputed master. Because God intervened. Because God challenged Satan's claim to rule and authority. God intervened out of grace and for His glory.
B Why is there so much disorder and strife in our world? Why all the conflict? According to Genesis 3:15 the answer lies in the enmity between God and Satan. This is a struggle to the death. The kind of struggle in which neither side takes any prisoners.
This struggle, we are told, involves the offspring of both the woman and the serpent. There was evidently to be in the world a seed of the woman on God's side, and a seed of the serpent that will always be on Satan's side. We are told that the church of God and the synagogue of Satan will both exist. So, we have an Abel and a Cain, an Isaac and an Ishmael, a Jacob and an Esau. There are those who are the children of their father the devil and there are those who are born-again by the Spirit and blood of Jesus.
We see this struggle, don't we? We see it whenever good clashes with evil, whenever light clashes with darkness, whenever justice clashes with injustice, whenever the truth of God's Word battles liberalism or evolutionism or heresies or the lies of Islam.
Don't we also feel this struggle? Aren't we participants in this struggle when our old man of sin fights against our new man of righteousness? Don't we feel this struggle when we find ourselves doing the evil we do not want to do and not the good we want to do?
C Finally, joy of all joys, in Genesis 3:15 we are also told about the defeat of Satan and the victory of Christ. The Lord God Almighty says, "he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Gen 3;15). We are told two things here.
First, we are told that Satan will strike the heel. In fact, again and again he will strike the heel. This was Satan's attempt to get rid of the chosen seed. So, Satan struck the heel when Cain murdered Abel. He struck the heel when Abraham gave up Sarah to the Pharaoh of Egypt. He struck the heel when the Hebrews boys were drowned in the Nile. He struck the heel when Haman received permission to kill all the Jews in the Persian Empire. He struck the heel when King Herod killed the baby boys of Bethlehem. He struck the heel when Jesus was betrayed and denied. In each and every instance, Satan struck the heel. But, by God's grace and providence, the blow was never fatal. By God's grace and providence, Satan never succeeded in destroying the line of the promised seed.
Today, as you know, Satan keeps up the struggle. But he has had to change his attacks. He cannot attack Jesus and the chosen line anymore so, instead, he attacks the body of Christ which is the church. Every time a believer is persecuted, every time heresy crops its ugly head, every time a Christian is lured into sin, we are to see Satan striking the heel. And, again, by God's grace and providence, Satan cannot ultimately succeed.
Second, we are told that Jesus will crush the head of Satan. He did this in what Satan surely thought was his moment of greatest victory – the death upon the cross and the burial in the grave. When this happened, when Jesus died and was buried, Satan must have thought to himself: "There, I finally got rid of the chosen seed. He is not only dead but he is also buried." But, as you know, the grave could not contain Him. As for the cross, it ended up as the place where atonement was made for the sin of His people.
At the cross and at the grave of Christ, Satan has been crushed. So now he is in his death throes as he thrashes around. This means he is still dangerous. His death throes will end only when Jesus returns and casts him into the abyss.
On this Lord's Supper Sunday, Genesis 3:15 points us to the defeat of Satan and the victory of Christ. We find that their struggle is also our struggle because none of us are silent bystanders.
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