The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel’” (Gen 3:14-15).
Herein marks the announcement of God’s plan. A promise of defeat for Satan, a word of assurance to the angels, and a message of hope for fallen humanity. It is all contained here in kernel form.
The significance of this passage can scarcely be overstated. In one short statement the underlying theme and meaning of history is laid bare. Whatever one says about the history of mankind, therefore, whether they’re looking at the specks of some seemingly insignificant incident, or the grand movements of a mighty nation, if this overarching perspective is fundamentally absent from their thinking, the task of making sense of human experience, whether it be the past or the present or the future, will inevitably fail to reflect the deep currents of reality. As a result, the historian’s work of collating data into a meaningful whole will inevitably run astray. (1)
Given the importance of this pivotal declaration from God, here are four observations spinning out of the text.
Observation One: Two Kingdoms
In its most basic form, history is a clash of two kingdoms.
In Genesis 3:15, the division between these two kingdoms is made explicit. There is “your offspring” and “her offspring;” Satan’s kingdom and God’s kingdom; the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light (Col 1:13; John 18:36; 1 John 2:15-16).
It would take some time for this concept to fully materialize, but even in its earliest days, a division of allegiances would be clear to both men and angels. Abel is illustrative. He offered a better sacrifice than Cain, thereby showing a difference in heart commitment to God (Heb 11:4). Satan no doubt considered this pious man to be the “seed of the woman” who would dare crush his head. Intent on squelching the threat, he influenced Cain to murder Abel (1 John 3:12), thereby exercising one of the powers of sin (Heb 2:14), namely death. But immediately after this incident, we read in Genesis 4:26 that Eve bore another son named Seth who in turn bore a son named Enosh. Here the Scriptures teach that “at that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.” God perpetuated a godly line, thereby revealing the existence and ever growing reality of His inbreaking kingdom.
Observation Two: Enmity
The relationship between these two kingdoms will be marked with hostility. As God put it, “I will put enmity between you and the woman.”
This enmity isn’t of a casual sort, as if the citizens of each kingdom are at a ballgame rooting for a different team. The antipathy and opposition will be nothing less than absolute, resulting in the shedding of blood and even the taking of life. It is warlike hostility (Rev 11:7, 12:7, 13:7, 19:11-19). It should be thought of in terms of swords and shields, not empty threats or an unwillingness to attend the same social event.
At the command of God, Joshua and David, key leaders in God’s kingdom, annihilated entire cities. Heads of enemy leaders would be literally chopped off, their bodies hacked to pieces (1 Sam 15:33, 17:51). Of course, God didn’t command them to do anything falling outside the pale of His own just actions. Here one need only recall the choking cries of the world during the days of Noah, or the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
While Satan’s motives wouldn’t be propelled by justice, he nevertheless utilized and employed the sword, as well as other instruments of destruction against the people of God. As the author of Hebrews writes,
“Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb 11:35-38).
The nature of this hostility certainly carries with it an emotional component. God hates sin and Satan hates holiness. Here the emotional component is intrinsically linked to the ideological nature of the enmity. The disagreement isn’t over one issue, or even four issues, but a totality of issues. It is a conflict of worldviews. There is real antithesis.