The Seed of Eve, and Christ.

We have looked at the sentence pronounced on Adam and his wife after the fall, and noted that it was judgement mixed with mercy. This is God’s way during this present life. It will not always be so. We also noted the importance of these sentences for a clear understanding of this present existence. We cannot be happy and RightWithGod in this life, except by a humble submission to these sentences. When we do submit to them, we glorify and justify God in His pronouncing of them.

Two very important things now take place before Adam and his wife are sent out of the garden of Eden. First of all we read of the naming of his wife by Adam in Genesis 3:20, “And Adam called his wife’s name ‘Eve’; because she was the mother of all living”. The Hebrew word translated, Eve, means ‘life’. It would hardly be necessary to say this, if all that was meant was that she was the mother of all members of the human race; that would be patently obvious anyway. It is very likely that Adam had in mind the gospel promise of Genesis 3:15, regarding the seed of the woman, where it is clearly a reference to all believers that will ever receive everlasting life through the suffering of the Saviour who was to be born of the seed of the woman: “In him was live; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Adam was expressing his faith in the God’s promise of a Saviour, in naming His wife, Eve.

Then there is the wonderful gospel illustration of God making for Adam and Eve coverings of skins. This necessitated the killing of an animal. Immediately after the fall Adam and his wife made for themselves coverings for their nakedness made up of leaves sewn together into aprons. (v7). This pitiful attempt represents the feebleness of the coverings that mankind make for themselves to hide the shame of their sin, by covering themselves with good works. It just will not work. A whole lifetime devoted to good works will not cover even one sin, or bring a person one bit nearer to being RighWithGod. I fact they will simply alienate us further from God, because they inevitably generate self-righteousness, which God hates. Instead of these feeble, and worse than useless coverings that Adam and Eve had made for themselves, God Himself makes for them better coverings, made from the skins of slain animals.

Why were these coverings better? Because they pointed forward to the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which in  turn pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, on the cross of Calvary, the final sacrifice to end all sacrifices. The bible encourages us to do good works, and it is natural for the person who is RighWithGod to do so; but they are an incidental part of the christian life, and must never be looked to as a way of salvation, not even part of that way. It is looking away from self and all that is within, and looking outwards to Christ and Him crucified that saves, and nothing else. He says, “look unto me, and be ye saved” (Isaiah 45:22).

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The Thorns and Thistles of this Life.

This is a very important subject. It explains so much of why life is the way it is for man. If we try to cope with the difficulties of our daily labour without a biblical understanding of it, we are going to feel quite dissatisfied and discontent in our daily work. in order to understand the ‘Why?’ of our daily work, it must be seen in the context of the divine sentence pronounced by God on Adam after the fall. Our daily toil should never be seen in isolation from that sentence, no matter what the nature of  that work is. We saw last week, how the first man and woman, by their disobedience,  brought sin into the world, making them immediately ashamed in the presence of each other, and of God. They were no longer RightWithGod, nor right with one another as they were before. We also saw how God pronounced sentence on the woman.

Today,  we are going to look at the all-important sentence pronounced on the man, Adam. Notice that this sentence is far more involved than that pronounced on the woman. First of all the  ground is severely adversely affected by the fall. God pronounces a curse upon it: “Cursed be the ground for thy sake” (as a result of your disobedience). The sad effects of Adam’s sin on the  ground is that the growing of crops for food was going to be accompanied by sorrow. This was a massive and very sad change. It was not the beginning of man’s work activity, because man was commanded to work even before the fall:  Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it”;  At this point labour was a totally satisfying and pleasurable activity. The difference that came into man’s work activity was that the experience changed from a totally satisfying one into one of much toil and much frustration: Genesis 3: 17-19: “In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days  of thy life”. The diet at that time was mainly vegetable in character. This necessitated working the earth, but it would produce not only what was planted, but unwanted things, such as thorns and thistles: “Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee; and thou shalt eat of the herb of the field”.  It was to be  hard toil: “In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread”, and this continues throughout man’s life on this earth.

Does this have relevance for us today?  It most certainly does. We are not all farmers, but the principles apply to every job in this life,  whether we are manual workers, office workers,  computer operators, top surgeons or even pastors, the principles apply. Every one soon comes up against thorns and thistle in some form in his daily work. The natural man sees nothing in his labours but toil and frustration, and he ends up living for his days off and his holidays for respite. This is the only way he can cope. He is not RightWithGod, and, consequently, no matter how satisfying the job may at first appear, eventually he cannot see his work as much more than a means of earning his living.  However, for the child of God who has been made RightWithGod through Jesus Christ, things are, or  should be different. He reads the first three chapters of Genesis, and he sees God’s judgement on mankind mixed with gospel mercy in Genesis 3:16. This enables him to cope with the thorns and thistles, because he knows they are God’s righteous judgement on mankind because of sin; he knows that by a full acceptance of God’s sentence, He glorifies God. He is saying to God, ‘Thou art just and right in all thy dealings with me, and because I see thy great mercy to me as a sinner in the promise of the Saviour in Genesis 3:15, I bow to thy rightness and justice’.

The unbeliever sees his labours as simply an economic activity, but  the person who is RightWithGod sees his labours as a religious activity. He worships and glorifies God in his submission to the sentence. He is happy that in his work, because it brings him nearer to God, and that is the happiness of the christian in every area of his life. Once we really grasp this, our experience of daily labour is transformed.

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Judgement mixed with Mercy after the Fall.

We have looked at what God said to Satan after the fall: the promise of a Saviour born of woman, who would deal a crushing blow to Satan. That this Saviour would do so by suffering, is  indicated by the bruising of the Saviour’s heel. You may wonder why we have not dealt with the first part of Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed”.  The reason is that this enmity is a massively important matter for understanding the history of this world, and will require thorough treatment in a future posting of RightWithGod.

There are important matters for us to attend to before we leave the post-fall situation. We have seen that there was an immediate effect on the man and the woman in their self-consciousness. This showed in the way they immediately felt because of their nakedness. They even hid from God, showing that they were no  longer RightWithGod. Let us see clearly that this was an immediate effect of sin, and not brought about by divine sentence.

We now have to move on to God’s response to the disobedience of the woman and the man. It was certainly a pronouncement of sentence, but it was all eased by the promise that they heard concerning themselves, in the words spoken to Satan in Genesis 3:15. God’s judgements on sinners, are always mixed with mercy.

Let us look at the sentence pronounced on the  woman in Genesis 3:16: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow, and your conception: in sorrow you shall bring forth children.” It is a great blessing for a couple to have and to raise children, but the  process is mixed with trials. At every point there may be sorrow, while the child is in the womb, at birth, and throughout life. Nevertheless,  it is rare to find a mother who would say at any stage in their child’s life, ‘I wish I had never had this child’. The delights of  having children far outweigh the sorrows involved.

Also, having children nearly always has a wonderful effect on the parents. How often have we seen two selfish, irresponsible  people being transformed into responsible, self-denying, and self-sacrificing people by the arrival of their first child. As a pastor of many years’ experience, I would say that this is one of the most encouraging things that I see. It is a thing of beauty. I know that some couples are not able to have children, and, for some, this is a sore trial for them, and we must all understand something of what they go through. It is particularly important for them to get RightWithGod, and to remain so, rather than quarreling with God.

Then there is the second part of Genesis 3:16: “and your desire shall be to your  husband, and he shall rule over you”. Many attempts have been made to explain this verse, but some mystery remains. Whatever  we say,  it is clear that the fall has brought tensions into the marriage relationship. Satan will take every opportunity to magnify these tensions, and cause the couple to give up on the marriage. The important thing is for couples to read these words, “and your desire shall be to your  husband, and he shall rule over you”,  and realise that these tensions do not mean the marriage is meaningless, and that they must always guard their marriage by not allowing Satan to  magnify these tensions. They must be patient with one another, talk things over, pray together if possible, and acknowledge that God  has brought them together. These things pass over and lead to better days. From what I have seen, I am  convinced that God sustains marriages.

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Satan’s Joy Turned to Sorrow.

In the overwhelmingly important words of Genesis 3:15. Satan receives from God some very bad news. In fact it was crushing news, just at the very moment when he thought he had triumphed over God by bringing about the catastrophe of the fall of man;  and it was indeed a catastrophe. The happy relationship between  God and man had been destroyed. The world was plunged into spiritual darkness. For man, the joy of being RightWithGod had vanished and was replaced with estrangement and alienation. He was enveloped in shame and guilt, and could not bear even to come face to face with God. This was a situation which man could never remedy. Satan knew that God was a God of perfect righteousness,  and hence, the breach between God and man was permanent. So, what he heard  from  God in Genesis 3:15, was to him a thunderbolt of bad news. The grin was wiped off his face. His  joy was turned to sorrow.

Contained in what Satan heard from the mouth of God, was the first gospel promise: “It (the seed of the woman) shall bruise (crush) thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel”. As we learned from the last RightWithGod, God is declaring to Satan that He would send into this fallen world a Saviour, born of a woman, who would suffer in the place of fallen human beings, sinners, and so remove their guilt before the all-righteous God. This was indeed a crushing blow to Satan. who thought that he had triumphed over God.

It seems strange that the ‘good news’, The first gospel promise, was announced to Satan, and not to man. We do not know the reason  for this, but  it is possible that God’s purpose in this was to emphasise that the Saviour was to be born of the seed of the very one he had enticed to sin. But Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, the parents of the whole human race, would certainly have heard the wonderful gospel promise as it was announced  to Satan. For them their sorrow was turned to joy at  the wonderful possibility that there was now hope that they would again be made RightWithGod. The good news turned their darkness into light.

The first thing that happened to Adam and Eve after the fall was a sudden change in their self-consciousness. Before the fall, as we read in Genesis 2:25, “They were both naked, the man and  his wife, and were not ashamed”. This lack of shame was due to their complete freedom from sin and its guilt. It was indeed a blissful existence. However, with the fall, this immediately changed. In Genesis 3:7 we read, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked”.  This speaks of the sense of guilt which came immediately upon them, and which was completely unknown to them before.

This sense of guilt is still common to man, and is real, and leads man to use all kinds of remedies and devices to ease it. But it can only be eased by getting RightWithGod. Psychologists tell us that what we are experiencing is guilt feelings,  and that there is no true guilt, and that we just have to assert ourselves and put these feelings away, but this remedy does not lead to what man needs more than anything: peace of conscience.

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God’s Great Enterprise

How do we connect the promises made to Abraham with the salvation of sinners? The answer lies in the fact that the bible, Old and New Testaments,  is all about the salvation of sinners. This is God’s great “enterprise”. This is in fact what all history is about. The first gospel promise is given in the all important verse, Genesis 3, verse 15. God says to the serpent (Satan embodied) immediately after the fall, two very important things, which are both of crucial importance to our understanding of this life, and the history of the world. The first of these, we will look at sometime in the future. The second is what concerns us at this moment: the first gospel promise from God that He would send into this fallen world a Saviour, born of a woman, who would suffer in the place of those whom Satan had seduced, and deal a crushing blow to Satan, who thought that he had irreversibly destroyed the plan of God for this world. The words uttered by God to the serpent were,  “It (the seed of the woman) shall bruise (crush) thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel”.  It is no exaggeration to say that this verse is the fountain of all history. All history radiates forwards and outwards from this point, and all is working towards  to a great conclusion, when at the end of history, Christ will return to see the full fruition of His great work in the salvation of  lost human souls. As we read in Isaiah chapter 53, verse 11, “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied”. He shall see that great multitude who, through His sacrifice on the cross have been made RightWithGod irreversibly and eternally. It is wonderful to think that He will be satisfied with the fruit of His labours when He sees the whole true church of all ages before Him, saved, sanctified and adorned with His own righteousness; “a multitude that no man can number”. His joy will be complete, as He looks forward to the eternity stretching before Him to be spent with that blessed company of saved sinners.

Genesis 3:15 was the first gospel promise, but certainly not the last. Throughout the Old Testament there are innumerable promises which amplify and clarify that first promise. They all point to the first coming of Christ, and His suffering on the cross. In Genesis 12, Abraham, the prime example of true faith in the Old  Testament, was told that, though He was childless then, and would be for years after, that God would make him into a great nation, and that in him all  the families of the world would be blessed. But this does not just refer to the physical descendants of Abraham, but also to his spiritual descendants, the line of true faith in the coming Saviour, or Messiah, Jesus Christ: “Know ye therefore that they that are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” ( Galatians 3:7).

There are also in the Old Testament, many illustrations which foreshadow the Lord Jesus Christ, such as Moses, Joseph, and David. We will learn more of these as we go forward with RightWithGod

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