The Agora
The Serpent and the Woman's Seed (Gen 3:15)

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The Letters (Part 3)

Hebrews 2:14,15

"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
Jesus resisted the "devil" in the wilderness, but he destroyed the "devil" when he was crucified! It was necessary, Paul says, that Jesus partake of the same nature as other men, so that he might die. And why was it necessary for him to die? Because only through death could he destroy the devil.

The "serpent" in human nature, otherwise called "sin in the flesh" (Rom 8:3), could not simply be frustrated, time after time, ad infinitum, by Jesus. He must finally be annihilated -- so that his power to cause sin and death would be absolutely overcome. This was accomplished by Jesus in his death: the source of ungodly desires, the flesh itself, had to be destroyed. The "serpent" had to be bruised in the head (Gen 3:15).

An appreciation of the power of analogy in Scripture clears up the "difficulty" of a "personal" devil in Heb 2:14,15. The "devil" Paul had in mind was personal! The "devil" was the serpent of Eden (or should we say, the serpent was the devil?): an individual, intelligent being. The "devil" was also the giant Goliath -- a veritable personification of "sin in the flesh": "him that had the power of death" over the cowering Israelites, until David the antitype of Jesus bruised him in the head! When these Old Testament stories, with their tangible figures, are seen as the allegories and types of our Lord's own conquest of sin -- and when we appreciate how concrete is the imagery of the Bible -- then any question about a "personal" devil should be easily explained!

Hebrews 4:11-13

In these three short verses there is a wealth of allusion to the fall of Eden:

James 1:13-15

Again, the parallels with Gen 3 are remarkable. Eve, drawn away of her own lust, is enticed from her steadfastness by the fruit of the tree. She in turn entices Adam (v 13). Lust conceives and brings forth a son: Cain, made in the (now-fallen) image of his father, and consequently a man of sin (v 14). When Cain grows to maturity, he murders his brother Abel -- the antitypical "seed of the woman" (Gen 3:15). Thus "sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:15).

Lust, sin, and death: three generations of the "seed of the serpent", vividly patterned in the early history of mankind. But there is a second "family" of mankind, "the seed of the woman"! This "seed" (plural) are begotten by God's will, with the word of truth (v 18). This "seed of the woman" are those believers who endure temptation joyfully (v 12), lay aside all filthiness (v 21), and become doers of the word and not hearers only (v 22).

2 Peter 1:3,4

God through His divine power...

"... hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
First among the "exceeding great and precious promises" is surely Gen 3:15. By that promise especially we are told that our Saviour has destroyed the "serpent" -- the lust that corrupts the world, both morally and physically. By that promise we are also told that we may become partakers of the divine nature. To be made like the Elohim! That for which Eve grasped wrongfully, which has been denied her and her posterity through long ages, will yet be ours!

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1Jo 3:1,2).

2 Peter 2:10-12,18,19

Again, with the background of this study, the allusions are so obvious as almost to need no comment:

"But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government (or 'dominion' -- margin; the dominion God alone can rightfully exercise over His creatures)... Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities ('Hath God said?'). Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption... For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty (to be like the 'Elohim'!), they themselves are the servants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage."

This will be the fortieth reference in our survey. Forty being a significant number, this seems like as good a place as any to stop. Forty is symbolic of trial, probation, and wilderness temptation. The seed of the woman in the singular has been perfected through trial and temptation. The plural seed of the woman, drawn out of the serpent's seed, where it belongs by nature, will be at last made perfect as was their forerunner. "Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life" (Jam 1:12, RSV). "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God" (Rev 2:7).

This last quotation is but one among many in the Apocalypse which draw together and "wrap up" the Biblical record. Genesis and Revelation become the two columns from which the bridge of Scripture is suspended: the "Alpha and Omega", the beginning and the end of God's word.

There is a correspondence between Genesis (especially the early chapters) and Revelation which proves that the Bible is a completed record. Neither of the two books can be adequately understood without the other. Together, they explain one another, and the rest of the Bible besides! What is man? How did he come to be in this fallen condition? Read Genesis and find out! What will happen to man? Is there any hope in this dark world? Read Revelation for the answer!

Notice the similarities between Genesis and Revelation. In both we have new beginnings, new "creations", trees of life, pure rivers, the bride and her husband in a lovely garden.

Notice also the contrasts:

Paradise lost (3:23).
Paradise regained (21:25).
Curse imposed (3:17).
Curse removed (22:3).
Sorrow and death imposed (3:16-19).
Sorrow and death "no more" (21:4).
Man's dominion (1:28) broken (3:19).
Man's dominion restored (22:5).
Serpent triumphant (3:13).
Serpent bound (20:2,3), then destroyed (20:10).

* * *

"And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof... And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Rev 21:23,25-27).
The serpent, a liar from the beginning, and all his brood will be excluded from that beautiful "city" which is Eden restored. Who are "the seed of the serpent"? Those who "make lies"! Not just those who lie outright, but also those who make "lies" out of their lives. Those who profess love for Christ on Sunday, but show during the rest of the week that they are hypocrites, that their true love all along has been "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life". "Depart from me," he will say, "I never knew you."

But for those who prove themselves truly "the seed of the woman", and thus brethren of Christ... what for them? Why, more than mind and heart can conceive -- a never-ending reality of fellowship with God. And newer and higher faculties... minds unlocked to truths and beauties never before dreamed of. "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away" (Song 2:10). What will it mean to live forever in a new world with our Lord and Master? Even the Apocalypse cannot describe such a thing in terms which our limited minds can fully grasp. All it can do is speak in superlatives: of a "city" in which the height is fully equal to the length and the breadth, of a song which no man can sing now, try as he might, and of a new name not to be disclosed until the day when Christ bestows it.

"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Rev 22:14).
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