During the previous two articles in this column, we have examined Jesus’s parabolic teaching about seeds. But the word ‘seed’ in Scripture stands for more than plant propagation. It also applies to human beings and their descendants.
There is a key reference to human ‘seed’ in the ‘protoevangelium’ of Genesis 3:15, where, immediately after Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, God announces to Satan: ‘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.’
On reading these words, many Christian minds immediately home in on the first Christmas, with the birth of Jesus Christ of the virgin Mary and the subsequent incarnate ministry of the Son of God. That identification is sound since Christ is the grand subject of all the Scriptures (John 5:39; 1 Peter 1:10-11) and most definitely spoken of in this Genesis text.
But there is more that can be said. Just as, botanically, the same word ‘seed’ can be used to mean one or many, so in Scripture ‘seed’ can mean either an individual person or people in a collective sense.
The ‘seed of the woman’ certainly speaks of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 7:10-14), but in Revelation 12:13-17 it also describes the church of Jesus Christ. From this latter perspective it includes all those who, like Abraham, are justified by faith (Galatians 3:26-29; 4:4, 24-27).
Included in the collective ‘seed’ that is the church are humble, godly Mary, the mother of Jesus, and even Eve herself. For Eve too became a child of faith and (paradoxically) a member of the ‘seed of the woman’ the moment she believed the gospel promise of Genesis 3:15.
Eve and Adam were clothed with animal skins to cover their nakedness, symbolising the imputation of Jesus Christ’s righteousness to them by faith (Genesis 3:20-21). Together, as their naming of their babies in Genesis 3:20, 4:1, and 4:25 signalled, our first parents placed their earnest hope in the ‘seed of the woman’ yet to come.
What victory over Satan was reflected in the announcement of Genesis 3:15! In the same words, God both asserted the inevitability of Satan’s judgment and the certainty of grace for sinners. Adam and Eve believed what God said and were saved by it, but Satan learned of his inexorable doom so soon after savouring what seemed like a major victory.
His doom was to arise from the very creation he had tried to ruin. He used a tree to tempt Eve, but on a wooden cross the Saviour triumphed over him (Colossians 2:14-15). Sin, pain, sorrow, and thorns were now prevalent in the world, but ‘for us men and our salvation’ the woman’s seed would be crowned with thorns and become a man of sorrows.
The same heel at which Satan would strike with his fangs would crush his head. And all of this would come upon Satan through a seed of that weak woman who had proved such an easy target for his deception.
Eve was about to provide Satan with an early example of his defeat in the cosmic struggle between two seeds. The very first person to sin would, along with her husband, be the first to be saved from sin’s wretchedness.
She, like every sinner justified by faith, would henceforth live a life of humble sorrow for sin and of growth in grace. A fountain would be opened for her sin and uncleanness (Zechariah 13:1). For her, as for all other believers, ‘the God of peace will crush Satan under [her] feet shortly’ (Romans 16:20).
We can draw such encouragements from Genesis 3:15. First, it speaks of a God who is never blindsided by evil but always victorious over it. Let us trust in our conquering Lord! Second, it demonstrates that even the guiltiest sinners can find mercy through Christ.
Unbeliever, there is room for you too in the wounded side of the Saviour. Just as Eve did, come and embrace the promise of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world!
Roger Fay, Elder at Zion Evangelical Baptist Church, Ripon, North Yorkshire. Chairman and former editor of ET.