by Dr. Brad Whitt, pastor
Abilene Baptist Church
When we open the pages of our Bible, we encounter what many Christians refer to as “the book of beginnings.” And in Genesis 3:15 I believe that we discover one of the greatest Christmas verses in the entire Bible.
The book of Genesis is, of course, the book of “firsts.” Here we find the first day, the first planet, the first plant, the first ocean, the first mountain, the first animal, the first fish, the first bird, the first man, the first woman, and even the first promise ever given in the Word of God.
It’s a powerful, personal promise concerning the coming of Christ into a world that had rebelled against the Father’s command. The result of such disobedience is a fallen, terrible condition which the Bible calls “sin.” In the wake of this terrible decision, God gives to a subtle, slimy, sneaky serpent (and us as well), “the Promise of Christmas.”
If you’re like me, the first time you read this promise, you probably thought, “That can’t be right. The first promise of Christmas had to have been when the angel came to Mary in Luke 1:30-31 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.’ That’s got to be the first promise of Christmas!”
“Or maybe it was in Matthew chapter 1, verse 23 where the angel came to Joseph and said to him, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us.’”
“Perhaps it is even back in the Old Testament. Maybe it’s Micah, chapter 5, where it tells us the Messiah would be born in the littlest of towns, a town by the name of Bethlehem. “
“No doubt one of the first promises of Christmas is the verse from Isaiah, chapter 7, where the angel quoted to Joseph, Isaiah 7:14, ‘Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.’ No doubt, that’s got to be the first promise of Christmas in all the Bible.”
These are the verses that came to my mind the first time I heard about the Christmas connection in Genesis chapter 3. No doubt, all of these are great Christmas verses and wonderful Christmas promises, but the truth is that the first promise of Christmas is found in the first book of the Bible, Genesis chapter 3 and verse 15.
Reread the wonderful promise of Christmas, of the grace and hope given right in the middle of God’s pronouncement of judgment on the serpent. “And I will put enmity (which means ‘war’) between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."
Jon Farrar has written a Christmas devotional for families entitled, “Looking Forward to the Nativity.” In the very first chapter of this little book, “The Seed of the Christmas Story,” listen to the simple, but powerful words Farrar writes:
“It was the beginning of all time, the start of human history. There was a garden called Eden. Within that garden, God planted the seed of the Christmas story. As Adam and Eve walked around the Garden of Eden, God told them they could eat any of its fruit, except the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But one day, history was forever changed. Adam and Eve ate some fruit from the tree God had told them not to eat from. The devil, in the form of a serpent, had tempted them to demand their own way. Because Adam and Eve disobeyed God, he threw them out of the garden. Although God was angry, he promised that someday a Savior, one of Adam and Eve's own seed, or offspring, would come to overthrow all evil and the devil as represented by the serpent in this story. Adam and Eve looked forward to that day. That day of course is Christmas, the birthday of Jesus-Eve's Seed and our Savior.”
An anonymous writer once penned these words, “Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man.”
Let me share with you three simple aspects of this very first promise of Christmas.
The Promise Of A Spiritual Conflict
God told the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." It’s a statement covered in conflict. There’s a fight coming. In fact, it’s a war that was waged for thousands of years. We even see some of the after skirmishes today. There’s the serpent and his seed, and there’s the seed of the woman.
Now, allow me to hit the pause button and explain why I see the wonderful Christmas promise of God in this verse. God didn’t ask any questions. He didn’t ask the devil to give his side of the story. He didn’t enter into a dialogue with the devil. (By the way, you shouldn’t either. Don’t ever debate the devil, you’ll lose every time.) God judged him right there on the spot and declared war upon him and in that declaration of war Adam and Eve heard the Gospel message for the very first time. They lifted up their heads and opened up their ears to listen to the marvelous message of hope and the very first promise given in the entire Bible.
This verse is what is known as the “Protoevangelium” or “The First Gospel.” It’s the first pronouncement of good news in the entire Bible. Do you remember the words those shepherds heard that first Christmas night? “Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings (good news) of great joy which will be to all people. "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 1:10-11).
You see, this particular verse goes all the way back to our verse in Genesis chapter 3. For there to be good news, there has to be bad news. The bad news is that man sinned. Man disobeyed God and as a result death and despair and discouragement and depravity entered this world. These are all the results of Satan’s deception and man’s disobedience. The good news is on the first Christmas; Jesus came to this earth and made the journey from the cradle to the cross to finish the fight that started in the very beginning.
The Promise Of A Special Conception
Perhaps you are wondering, “Where did he get Jesus or Christmas out of that verse?” Well, look very carefully. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. . .” That’s not the way it’s normally done. When you read the family tree of the Bible it almost always uses the man’s name. “And Noah was five hundred years old and Noah begot Shem, Ham and Japheth.” “Cush begot Nimrod. . .” "Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn and Heth.” You see, normally we talk about the man’s seed because it’s through our fathers and grandfathers, even today, that we trace our lineage.
Why is that? Well, part of this is as a result of the fall. You see, sin comes through the seed of man. This is why when Genesis talks about Adam’s boys, it says something like this, “And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” What kind of image was that?....a broken image that has fallen and is sinful.
This is why the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 21-22, “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
Adam was ultimately held responsible for sin entering into this world. He would bear the brunt of the burden and the responsibility for a ruined race. This is why the solution to the problem of sin couldn’t come through the seed of man; it would have to come through the seed of the woman.
What are we talking about here? We’re talking about the fact, that in the very first book of the Bible, there is the promise of the virgin birth….“the seed of the woman.”
I want you to stop and think about the amazing amount of grace and mercy and forgiveness in that one verse. “Eve, even though you messed up, even though you blew it, there is going to come a woman, just like you, and from that woman I’m going to provide a person who will restore and renew what you just destroyed.”
One of my favorite writers, Warren Wiersbe comments, “To God’s old covenant people, this verse was a beacon of hope; to Satan it was God’s declaration of war, climaxing in his condemnation; and to Eve, it was the assurance she was forgiven and that God would use a woman to bring the Redeemer into the world.
Keep this in mind when considering Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
The Promise Of A Settled Conquest
Satan started it, but Jesus will finish it. The last part of our verse says, “He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel.” What’s the difference in those two bruises? Simple. One you get over, and one you don’t. One is temporary, and one is terminal.
The great English Preacher, John Stott wrote, “God foretells this age-long conflict will culminate in suffering, though more for Satan than for Eve’s descendant, for a single champion is now in mind. God says, ‘He will crush your head,’ dealing a lethal death blow to the serpent, while ‘you will strike his heel.’ That is, he will not escape injury Himself.”
This really is one of the most amazing and accurate prophecies of the life and work of Jesus. What’s the temporary bruise?...the cross. What’s the terminal bruise?....the finished work of Jesus on the cross!
Author and Pastor, Dr. Hebert Lockyer, put it this way, “At Calvary, Christ as the seed, destroyed Satan’s power and authority, and bought us back from sin’s slavery, captivity and death.”
That’s exactly what Revelation 1:18 says, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
According to a legend, Satan and his demons were having a Christmas party. As the demonic guests were leaving, one grinned and said to Satan, “Merry Christmas, your Majesty.” At that, Satan replied with a growl, “Yes, keep it merry, if they ever get serious about it, we’ll all be in trouble.”
Under most Christmas trees on December 25th, there will be many gifts. On Calvary’s tree, there was only one gift but it included all others . . . God’s gift of His only begotten Son.
I think that’s why Vance Havner said, “Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts: the gift of God to man – His Son; and the gift of man to God when . . . we first give ourselves to God.”
Wilda English has given us a beautiful description of Christmas.
“God grants you the light of Christmas which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief of Christmas, which is truth; and the all of Christmas, which is Christ.”
This is the wonderful promise of Christmas. Merry Christmas!