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It shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15

19th June 2010, mgh

 

1) It shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15

The following verse would have to be one of the most challenging verses in the Bible. It needs to be read in its context before it makes any sense. The serpent had spoken to Eve in the Garden of Eden and deceived her by saying “you shall not surely die” if they ate of the tree which God had forbidden them to eat the fruit of.

Eve, who had responded the truth by saying that by eating of the tree they 'would surely die', was deceived by the lie and ate of the fruit of the tree. She persuaded Adam to eat of the tree. Adam disobeyed God's command and so God's judgement came upon Adam and Eve.

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed (singular); it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)


The Psalms give us a clue as to the understanding of this verse in the use of a simile. Genesis 3:15 is directed at the serpent. The words of Psalm 58 state that the wicked are 'like the poison of a serpent'. The serpent had spoken a lie to entice Eve to sin. In a symbol all those who attempt to nullify God's commands and lead people astray from God's commands and the from the right way are like the serpent.

The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stop her ear; (Psalm 58: 3)


John the Baptist accused the Pharisees and Saducees of being vipers, that is serpents. He was pointing out to them that they needed to change their way of life, particularly as they were the teachers of the nation.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matthew 3: 7-8)


Jesus also condemns them and makes the same accusation against the scribes and Pharisees but in much stronger language.

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. (Matthew 12: 34-35 )

Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? (Matthew 23 :31,33)


Jesus is stating that these leaders were like their ancestors, who killed the prophets of God and were disobedient to God's commands. They were the seed, the descendants, of these men and thus the seed of the serpent. The seed of the serpent represents the characteristics of the serpent, such as telling lies, distorting the God's word and encouraging others to sin.


It is here that we can return to Genesis 3:15.

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed (those who lie and encourage others to sin) and her seed (the faithful); it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)


Here there is another seed, the woman's seed (singular). This seed would inflict a fatal, deadly wound on the seed of the serpent as it would 'bruise your (the serpent's/ often termed the devil or adversary) head'. Hebrews explains it in this way.

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he (Jesus) also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2: 14-15)


Jesus was sinless and was raised from the dead. Those who crucified Jesus were the seed of the serpent in figure and their wounding of Jesus was not fatal, but was as described in the figure 'you shall bruise his heel'. A wound to the heel is not a fatal wound. Sinful man had no power over God's will and Jesus' sinlessness brought his redemption and salvation to those who believe and are obedient to God's commandments.

Throughout history there has been continual warfare between the faithful and the disobedient who distort truth and teach error. This is seen in the opposition of the religious leaders of Israel to Jesus, despite the signs and wonders that proclaimed his Messiahship, and in the history of ancient Israel. The struggle between truth and error was to continue for 2000 years after the establishment of Christianity.

Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. (John 15: 20-21)


The Apostle John explains that through Jesus' death the faithful can also gain forgiveness of sins and deliverance from death.

He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (I John Chapter 3: 8-9 )


Isaiah, prophesying of the crucifixion of Israel's Messiah, explains the relationship between the Messiah and the faithful servants.

Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53: 4-5)


In Matthew 23 Jesus clearly shows how the scribes and Pharisees were failing to teach truth. They appeared righteous but they were leading the people in the path of death and the grave. Jesus' strongly condemns and in powerful language warns them.

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves....
Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies he gift? ...
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. ...
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children (seed) of them which killed the prophets. ...Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? ( Matthew 23 : 13-33)


Jesus gave warnings to the disciples to be aware of false teachers, 'the seed of the serpent' figuratively, such as the scribes and Pharisees, who professed knowledge but were in reality hypocritical and distorted the truth. They taught error, sought the praise of men and led people in the pathway to death. If they had known their scriptures they would have recognised their Messiah from the prophetic writings.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7: 15), and
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves:(Matthew 10: 16)


This warning holds true for all generations. It is from the Word of God that truth can only be found.


Jesus, as the seed (singular) of the woman, was the seed prophesied to open the way of salvation to mankind (for more here). His mind and character reflected that of his Father, the Creator. He achieved moral and mental perfection and overcame the sinful propensities of human nature, figuratively the seed of the serpent, that exist in all mankind. Through his knowledge of the scriptures, prayer and a close association with his Father, he attained a sinlessness and a character that was like his Father's, that prepared him to be the sacrificial offering to redeem man from death, which the Mosaic Law could not do. His sacrifice was the covering/atonement for man's sins and the means by which forgiveness of sins was made available to man and identification with the seed of the woman, the faithful, through Baptism.


Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: (Romans 6: 4-5)


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Tags: exegesis
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