We continue with this verse-by-verse study of Genesis chapter 3 here in part 3, starting with Gen. 3:15.
(15) And I will put enmity between you [speaking to the serpent, Satan] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head [In the margin the NASB has "Or crush" instead of "bruise"; the NIV translates "he will crush your head."], and you shall bruise him on the heel [[The NIV has, "you will strike his heel." The Hebrew verb used earlier in this verse was also used here; the NASB translates "bruise" in both places. The translation "bruise" seems far too mild for the destruction of Satan and his kingdom, which is what is being prophesied here.]]." [[(This double bracket continues for eight paragraphs.) There is widespread agreement that this verse constitutes the first preaching of the gospel of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ found in the Bible. We eventually learn (as God's progressive revelation continues in the Bible) that the "seed" of the woman heads up in the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who mortally wounds Satan - He crushes his head. When His work of judging is done (after the great-white-throne judgment at the end of the millennium), He will have overthrown and totally removed Satan and all who follow him from God's kingdom forever. It is important to understand that God wasn't caught off guard by the rebellion and fall of Adam and Eve. First Peter 1:20, for example, shows that before the fall of man God had already planned to send His Son to die for us and to overthrow Satan and his followers.
We eventually learn that the "seed" of the woman doesn't include all mankind, as you might have expected based on Gen. 3:15. The seed that will overthrow Satan is limited to that part of mankind that become aligned with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Seed, by faith. I'll say more about this seed as we continue.
However we translate the verb at the end of verse 15, it is clear that Satan (and his seed) attacks the people of God, very much including the Lord Jesus Christ. We now know that Satan even "succeeded" in having the Lord Jesus Christ put to death, but he was making a big mistake (cf. 1 Cor. 2:8). The atoning death of the Lamb of God was the primary thing that caused the downfall of Satan and his kingdom of darkness (cf., e.g., John 12:31-33; 16:11; and Heb. 2:14). It was also the primary thing that opened the door of salvation for all who will have a place in God's eternal kingdom (cf., e.g., Rev. 21:27).
Although it is clear that the Lord Jesus Christ (who was a man born of woman, a virgin, a descendant of Eve, but who was/is much more than just a man; He never ceased being the eternal Son of God, deity with God the Father) was/is the primary One engaged in warfare with Satan, all the people of God of all ages have been engaged in this warfare. God's people have a part in the overthrow of Satan: Romans 16:20 says, "The God of peace will soon CRUSH Satan under your feet," and the Bible shows that we will be involved in God's end-time judgments from the time of the rapture, at which time we will begin to reign with Christ, even reigning with a rod of iron (cf., e.g., Psalm 110:3; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Rev. 2:26, 27; 3:21; 17:14; and 19:14).
Satan's "seed" (those who are united with him in his rebellion and warfare against God and the people of God) includes the evil angels and demons, but in the fullest sense it also includes the descendants (seed) of Eve who follow him. The Bible speaks of Satan's being the father of evil men, and of evil men being his sons/children (cf., e.g., Matt. 13:38; Acts 13:10; John 8:38, 41, 44; and 1 John 3:8, 10). It is clear, therefore (even if it wasn't clear to Adam and Eve back then), that some of the descendants of Eve are not engaged in warfare against Satan; many reject God and align themselves with the devil. We don't have to read very far in Genesis to confirm this fact. In Genesis chapter 4 we learn that Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve, sided in with Satan and slew his brother Abel. 1 John 3:12 informs us that Cain was "of the evil one" (cf. 1 John 3:8-10; I'll quote 3:10, "By this the CHILDREN OF GOD and the CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL [my capitalization for emphasis] are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother").
REVELATION CHAPTER 12 IS AN IMPORTANT CROSS-REFERENCE. The "woman" of Revelation chapter 12 and her "seed" corresponds with the "woman" of Gen. 3:15 and her "seed," which is that part of mankind who are faithful to God and against the devil; (part of) her "seed" is specifically mentioned in Rev. 12:17. I'll quote Rev. 12:1-6, 13, and 17 and make a few comments in brackets, but I'll be brief here (Revelation chapter 12 is discussed in a verse-by-verse manner in some detail in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture" and my recently published e-book, "Introduction to The Mid-Week Rapture." The e-book should be read first, but the paperback book contains very much information that is not included in the e-book. Both books are available at amazon.com.):
"A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars [[Genesis 37:9, 10 help confirm that the "woman" here is a symbol for true Israel. Her seed (descendants, offspring) that we read about as we continue embraces all the believers from the days of Adam and Eve to the time the millennial kingdom begins.]]; (2) and she was with child [more literally, "she was having in the womb"] and she cried out [[better, "she was crying out"; the woman has been "crying out" since the fall of Adam and Eve because of the attacks of Satan and his followers; the first such attack that is recorded in the Bible came against faithful Abel]], being in labor and in pain to give birth. [[This birth (see Rev. 12:5) refers to the birth into the fullness of eternal life and glory that God's people will begin to experience at the time of Christ's mid-week return.]] (3) Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. [[Revelation 12:7-9 make it clear that the "dragon" is Satan. It is quite significant the he is called "the serpent of old" (referring to Genesis chapter 3) and "the devil and Satan who deceives the whole world" in Rev. 12:9. The "red" undoubtedly pictures the blood that he has shed, especially the innocent blood, starting with Abel. The "seven heads" represent the seven world-kingdoms of the Bible and show that Satan (the god of this world) is behind all the world-kingdoms. The "ten horns" represent the ten rulers of the revived Roman empire, who are spoken of in the book of Daniel and in the book of Revelation. The fact that the seven heads are crowned in this symbolic word-picture shows that this verse is describing what takes place throughout this entire age, with each of the world-kingdoms having their time to rule on the earth. (In Rev. 13:1, by contrast, it is the ten horns that are crowned, which shows that that word-picture just deals with the last days, the days in which the ten horns reign.)]] (4) And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. [[This is the only verse in the Bible that indicates how many of the angels (a third) followed the devil in his rebellion against God. That is a major rebellion! When the devil is cast down to the earth at the time of Christ's return in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, his angels will be thrown down with him (see Rev. 12:7-9).]] And the dragon stood [better, "was standing"] before the woman who was about to give birth [better, "who was going to give birth"], so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. [[It is important to understand that Satan doesn't wait for the ultimate birth of the child to attack; he does everything he can do to try to stop this birth from taking place; he attacks every godly person in every way that he can (God limits what he is permitted to do) throughout the history of man, and especially those clearly singled out by God (like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and his offspring, especially the Lord Jesus Christ, then the apostles, and every born-again Christian).]] (5) And she gave birth to a son, a male child [[This is the birth of the male child prophesied in Isa. 66:7. Both verses prophesy of the all-important birth into the fullness of eternal life for all believers (all the members of God's true Israel; whether still living or having died) who have become believers before the time of that birth. Two other verses that prophesy of this same birth are Psalm 2:7 and Mic. 5:3. (These verses are all discussed in some detail in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," and in less detail in my e-book, "Introduction to The Mid-Week Rapture.")]], who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron [Revelation 2:26, 27 demonstrate that the believers will rule (with Christ) with a rod of iron from the time of their mid-week birth and rapture.]; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. [[These words speak of the mid-week rapture of the saints. We will be "caught up" to the throne of God and begin to reign with Him at that time. Significantly, the Greek verb ("harpazo") translated "was caught up" here is the same verb used for the catching up/rapture of the saints in 1 Thess. 4:17.]] (6) Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that she would be nourished there for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. [[The "woman" still represents true Israel, but, in this subsequent context, she is minus the very large number of believers who were glorified at the mid-week birth and rapture. (Satan can't attack those believers any more.) The woman pictured in Rev. 12:6 is limited to those who will become believers (Christians) after the mid-week rapture, centering in the conversion of the end-time remnant of literal Israel (the Jews). Revelation 12:13, which is quoted next, shows why the woman flees into the wilderness. Revelation 12:17, which is quoted after Rev. 12:13, confirms that (after the mid-week birth into the fullness of eternal life of Rev. 12:5) the woman has more "seed" waiting to be born again through faith in Christ and then to be born into the fullness of eternal life/glorified. The "seed" of Rev. 12:17 (the NASB translates "children" but has "Lit[erally] 'seed;' " in the margin) are Christians; they "keep the commandments of God and HOLD TO THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS [my emphasis]."]] ... (13) And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted [or, pursued] the woman who gave birth to the male child. ... (17) So the dragon was enraged with the woman [[The dragon will be enraged against the woman (which equals being enraged against "the rest of her seed") from the time he is cast down to the earth in the middle of Daniel's 70th week (on his being cast down with his angels, see Rev. 12:4, 7-10).]], and he went off to make war with the rest of her children ["seed"], who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus."
PSALM 8 WITH HEBREWS 2:5-18 IS ANOTHER IMPORTANT CROSS-REFERENCE; IT DEALS WITH GOD'S PLAN TO USE MAN (THAT PART OF MANKIND THAT IS SAVED THROUGH AND UNITED WITH THE GOD-MAN, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST) TO TOTALLY OVERTHROW SATAN AND HIS SEED. See the verse-by-verse discussion of Psalm 8 in my paper on my internet site that deals with selected eschatological psalms (dated September 2004). Hebrews 2:5-14 are discussed there, and other important cross-references. (Now we are ready to discuss Gen. 3:16.)]] (16) To the woman He said, 'I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children [[(This double bracket goes on for three paragraphs.) Apparently these words don't include the idea that if Eve would have had children before the fall, she would have had pain in childbirth, but less pain. The Hebrew verb could be translated "make great [your pain in childbirth]," or the equivalent. In footnote 53, on page 32 of my paper on Genesis chapters 1-3 on my internet site, I mentioned some of the things that God used under the old covenant as powerful, often-recurring reminders that things were not right with man on the earth - man had fallen from a right, life-flowing relationship with God, and that is a very big deal. (Things change substantially under the new covenant, but many such reminders are still around.)
For one thing, everything associated with sexual relations and the bearing of children was greatly affected by the fall. This isn't surprising. Now, instead of children being born in the garden of Eden and having a right relationship with God, they are born outside the garden, they are spiritually dead, and the physical death process is already working in them. Although Adam and Eve (and their offspring) were spiritually dead after the fall, the death wasn't complete or final. God didn't totally withdraw His presence, His life, or His blessings from them. Spiritual death won't be complete and final until the time of second death of Rev. 20:14, 15.)
After the fall, instead of not having shame even though they were naked (Gen. 2:25), Adam and Eve knew that they were naked, and they knew shame. Although there was no sin associated with having sexual relations under the Mosaic Law (assuming, of course, that the relations were proper, by God's definition), sexual relations rendered the persons unclean (cf. Lev. 15:16-18; Ex. 19:15). Such ceremonial uncleanness, though not sinful, rendered the persons unfit to worship at the tabernacle, or to touch any consecrated thing. The menstrual cycle, which undoubtedly was adversely affected by the fall, served as another reminder for the people of Israel. Apart from the discomfort, the woman was unclean for seven days each cycle, and whoever touched her, or the chair she sat on, etc. became unclean (cf. Lev. 15:19-24). And, even though it was clearly recognized that having children was a blessing from God, giving birth rendered the woman unclean for forty days if a male child was born (Lev. 12:1-4) and for eighty days if a female child was born (Lev. 12:5, 6). Furthermore, after the days of ceremonial uncleanness were over for the woman who had given birth, she was required to offer burnt offerings and sin offerings to make atonement (Lev. 12:6-8).]]; yet [and] your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.' [[Before the fall, Adam was the authority figure in that he was created first and Eve was created to be a "helper" for him; the New Testament shows that it was Adam's sin, not Eve's, that caused the fall of mankind. Before the fall, however, that authority wasn't abused and it didn't involve any negative overtones. After the fall, the Old Testament (and the history of man in general) offers all too many examples where men have sinfully abused their authority. Christianity did a lot to eliminate such abuses, but Christian men haven't always walked as Christians are required to walk (which includes loving their wives as Christ loves the church, for one thing).]] (17) Then to Adam He said, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife [[See Gen. 3:6. Gordon Wenham "Genesis 1-15," page 82) comments that the words " 'listen to the voice of' is an idiom meaning 'obey'; cf. 16:2; Ex. 18:24; 2 Kings 10:6 (BDB, 1034a)." It is very clear that Adam listened to (obeyed) the wrong voice - God was his God; Eve (who passed on to Adam what she had "learned" from Satan) was his wife, his companion, and his helper.]], and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, "You shall not eat from it"; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. (18) Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you [cf. Heb. 6:8]; and you will eat the plants of the field; (19) By the sweat of your face you will eat bread [[Compare Gen. 5:29; Rom. 8:20-22. Before the fall and the curse that came on the ground and the growing of plants, etc. for food, the needs of man were met with very little labor and no hassle. After the fall, it became a full time job, with much opposition (including such things as bad ground; thorns, thistles, and weeds; animals, insects, etc. eating the crops; plagues and other diseases that attack crops; and too little water or, in some cases, too much water. These things were designed, for one thing, to remind man of his changed (fallen) status before God to help humble him, and to help motivate him to constantly look to God for His salvation (salvation in the spiritual/heavenly and earthly dimensions).]], till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken [see Gen. 2:7]; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.' [[Compare Psalm 90:3; 104:29; and Eccl. 12:7. God had warned Adam and Eve that they would die if they rebelled against Him and His word and ate of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:17). The very day they rebelled they died spiritually and the physical death process was initiated.]] (20) Now the man called his wife's name Eve [[The Hebrew noun "chawwah," which was translated "Eve," was only used twice in the Old Testament, here and Gen. 4:1. This Hebrew noun means "living," or "life." The name "Eve" is found twice in the New Testament (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13).]], because she was [The NIV translates, "because she would become."] the mother of all the living. [[(This double bracket goes on for three paragraphs.) "Living" is a translation of the Hebrew adjective "chay," which means "alive," "living." Eve was the mother of all the people that would ever live on the earth - they would all descend from her. In the light of Gen. 3:15, we can apparently also think of Eve in a more restricted sense as the mother of all believers. Christians participate in the life of God, having been born again through the outpoured Spirit. And although the new birth wasn't available yet to believers in the days of the Old Testament, they knew something of the life of God through His grace and Spirit. Ultimately (through the Lord Jesus Christ and His all-important atoning death and resurrection) all believers of all ages will be caught up into the fullness of the glory of the eternal life of God.
God gave Adam and Eve much basis for hope. We discussed the significance of the promise contained in Gen. 3:15, which included the ultimate total defeat of the serpent and his seed. Even though 3:15-24 spoke of quite a bit of suffering for Adam and Eve (much such suffering is redemptive if it helps humble people before God and causes them to repent and to look to Him for everything they need, especially salvation), nevertheless, in spite of the fall and the death penalty, they would become parents, and God would provide food, etc. to sustain them. Also, as the next verse shows, He even made garments for them. God, in His mercy, did not totally abandon man to sin and death.
Will Adam and Eve have a place in God's eternal kingdom? Before doing this study, I didn't have much assurance that they would have a place in heaven, though I thought it was quite possible that they would. After spending some time with these verses, I have much more assurance regarding their future. Based on the things God said to them here in chapter 3, I have to assume that they will have a place in heaven if they didn't rebel against God in a major way later, and the Bible doesn't mention further rebellion on their part. Assuming that they will have a place in God's eternal kingdom, their entrance into that kingdom will be through the atoning death of the Lamb of God. Only those who names are written in the Lamb's book of life will be permitted to enter (cf., e.g., Rev. 20:12, 15; 21:27). There will not be any people in heaven who earned the right to enter through their own righteousness - salvation is by grace (but, significantly, the grace of God in Christ sanctifies).]] (21) The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. [[This kind gesture on God's part confirms that He did not totally sever all relations with Adam and Eve, even though they did lose the life-flowing relationship they had enjoyed with Him in the garden. The "garments of skin" undoubtedly came from animals that were killed.]]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of Genesis chapter 3 in Part 4, starting at Gen. 3:22.