(Editor's Note: The following is the first of a 4 blog series commemorating Advent)
The first messianic prophecy in the Bible is delivered by God before Adam and Eve were even able to comprehend how far-reaching the consequences of their sin extended.
To the serpent (both the physical animal and the spiritual entity that possessed the physical) God said,
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 (Genesis 3:15).
A powerful symbolic portrait of that first prophecy is painted in Revelation 12:1-17. John’s vision on Patmos clearly has that first prophecy in mind as he describes what he sees:
And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it (v.4).
A divine prophecy shrouded in mystery predicts antipathy, hatred, and conflict. Yet as we see the biblical drama unfold we are puzzled as the offspring of the woman (Jesus, the Son of God) is struck down by the actions of another welcoming host of the Serpent (Judas). The prophecy is upended (or so it seems) as the Serpent seems to strike the head of the woman’s offspring devouring His life and encompassing Him in the darkness of death. That is, until Resurrection Sunday through which Jesus declares to John,
I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades (Revelation 1:18).
Adam and Eve were oblivious to the pain and torment they unleashed on both their Creator as well as their own progeny. Pain unleashes divine compassion and hints at one of the most famous verses in the Bible written thousands of years later:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good… (Romans 8:28).
But in order to fully appreciate the foresight, wisdom, and compassion of God, one must first fully immerse in the event that prompted the first statement in Scripture about the coming Messiah (it would behoove you to read Genesis 2:24 – 3:19 to refresh your memory about the fall of mankind).
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul emphasizes the importance of solemn heartfelt prayer to his young protégé. He believes men should lead in this endeavor and he gives Timothy a reason:
For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor (1 Timothy2:13-14).
The sin of the woman was taking decisive action in opposition to the command of God which she knew and recounted (Genesis 3:2-3) thereby becoming “a transgressor.” However, of great importance is Paul’s reminder that “Adam was not deceived.” Milton’s Paradise Lost is a powerful and impressive embellishment of Genesis 3 (that every Christian should read) but he was in error to say that Eve was alone with the serpent when she became a transgressor. Genesis 3:6 says very clearly,
…she took of its fruit [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Adam was with her the entire time. And Paul said that he wasn’t deceived. He watched (and understood) what was happening and did nothing to stop it. He consciously chose the path the Serpent led his deceived wife down…knowing it was wrong! Adam’s sin was a profound lack of leadership (which was Paul’s point to Timothy) that led ultimately to a blatant act of rebellion.
The sin of Eve is a bit more complicated. Being deceived is unfortunate but it is not a sin. She was deceived about God’s motives but not about His prohibition (as mentioned earlier, she repeated it to the Serpent). She transgressed God’s command but there is something else to the story that is implied (and it is my belief that it has a lot to do with Paul’s views on women and marriage).
Eve never once sought out her husband’s guidance despite the fact that he was with her. She didn’t look at him after the Serpent told her she would be like God and say, “What do you say about this?” There was no “Help me out here, please.” Not even a “Should we?” She just dove right in and ate and expected her husband not only to permit it but to join her in it (which he did). We’re not talking about seeking Adam’s advice about routine decisions in life. We’re talking about deciding whether to test the heinous assertion that God is an insecure liar. She never sought her husband’s input on the nature and will of God. And he never offered it. Tragic.
Ironies are replete in the story of mankind’s fall. To begin with, human insecurity worked through both Adam and Eve to undo God’s plan for their lives (and ours). Or, to put it another way, by making decisions as individuals, they actually worked together to ruin their stay in Eden. And yet it was through their failings that it is revealed for the first time just how much God loved them (and us) by His prophetic promise that her offspring (which is actually His Son) would deal decisively with the Serpent.
Another great irony is that the entire plan of salvation is born (figuratively and literally) through the curse on the woman! “[I]n pain you shall bring forth children…” (Genesis 3:16). But what a Child who would ultimately be born of that pain!
…when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman… (Galatians 4:4).
Who but God could weave together a tapestry that none could perceive (not even Satan) out of the material of deception, transgression, rebellion, and hurt that sublimely pictured mercy, grace, forgiveness, and redemption all couched in curses upon the disloyal and disobedient?
Thanks be to God for the unique revelation of His infinite wisdom and love that is revealed in the very first mention of His Son!