Tag Archives: Genesis 3:15

Genesis 12: God’s Plan to Flood the Earth with His Blessing

Genesis 12:1-3

1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

There’s a great irony as we move into Genesis 12:  the very thing the Tower builders sought for themselves apart from God (“a name” for themselves-11:4), the Lord promises to Abram:  “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (12:2).  Indeed, the Lord’s promise far exceeds the builders’ ambition.  He will make Abram’s the greatest of all names on the earth because it will be the name through which all the families of the earth will be blessed!

Something much greater than God’s covenant with Noah is here.  The Lord announces something far greater than the global stability & preservation guaranteed by His covenant with Noah. Rather than protecting the world from another flood of judgment, through Abraham & his seed, the Lord announces His intention to flood the world once again, not in judgment but with blessing!

The Lord’s covenant with Noah is a Self-imposed gracious restraint upon His prerogatives as the Righteous Judge of the world.  This promised stability preserves conditions so that the Triumphant Seed of Genesis 3:15 can emerge, but does not change those conditions, and leaves open questions concerning how God will advance His purposes.

In the Lord’s covenant with Abraham, the invasion of God’s redemptive grace into the world begins in earnest, with 12:3’s explicit promise that He intends to do far more than preserve the status quo, but to affirmatively bless all the families of the earth, a purpose which harkens back to the Lord’s design in 1:26—28!   If the Lord had destroyed all the earth and all men (including Noah & his family), then His original design would have been abandoned.  Instead, He demonstrates His supremacy by overcoming, triumphing over sin & all its consequences.

God’s purpose has not changed!  Just as in Genesis 1:26–28, He still intends to bless the entire earth.  As in Genesis 3:15, He will raise a seed of the woman, who we now know will be a son of Abraham, to bring His blessing to the 4 corners of the globe!  The relationship between God and all the families of the earth will now depend on Abraham & his seed mediating the blessings of the covenant to all.  Likewise, the relationship between the families of the earth and the Lord will depend upon their relationship to Abraham & his Seed (12:3).

I’m grateful for the following insight from Bruce Waltke in his wonderful commentary on Genesis:

“The expansion of the promise of 12:1—3 from individual to national to universal salvation is the essential movement of Scripture.  The Bible is a missionary guide:  concerned with bringing salvation to all the families of the earth.  Abraham as a blessing bearer of salvation is an anticipation of the blessing-bearing Christ.  When Christ ascends into heaven, He extends His pierced hands, hands that blessed infants and gave sight to the blind, to bless His church (Luke 24:50—53).”  Waltke 209

SDG

 

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Genesis 8-9: The Persevering & Preserving Grace of God

Genesis 8-9 are stunning demonstrations of the grace of God in the face of man’s sin.

Preservation.  The Lord promises stability (e.g. 8:22; 9:8-17) for a world that hasn’t earned it, thus providing an opportunity for His redemptive purposes to reach full flower, to ripen.  Man’s sin will not defeat the promise of a Redeemer in Genesis 3:15.

Incompleteness.  God’s promise of stability for the world is in the face of, but not a remedy for, man’s sinfulness.  The Lord’s covenant through Noah does not solve the problem of man’s sin.   In fact, the Lord’s perspective on human sin is the same before & after the Flood.  The central problem of history remains the same:  the heart of man.

Before the Flood (Genesis 6:5).   “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the                 thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

After the Flood (Genesis 8:21).  “The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.”

What makes 8:21 even more compelling is that, although 6:5 is a statement about the entire earth, 8:21—coming as it does right after the flood—is not predictive, but, by definition, descriptive only of Noah & his family!  Noah and his family still carry the legacy of Adam.  That cursed chain hasn’t yet been broken.

Weakness & failure of the Mediator—Noah.  Noah’s weakness is depicted even more graphically in 9:20—22, immediately after the covenant.  Noah does not, cannot, live up to the promise of his name (5:29—rest from the curse).  Noah’s sin demonstrates that he is not the promised Seed of Genesis 3:15.  In Noah, the seed of the woman is preserved through God’s judgment, but, despite all his promise & his vital role, he proves that he himself is not that Redeemer.  One greater than Noah must come!

Questions Raised by Noah’s Story

What must God be like to make such a covenant—benefiting all of creation—unilaterally, in full view of man’s sin-ravaged nature (so ravaged & corrupt that even living through the Flood—watching God’s judgment through the window—isn’t enough to reform man’s heart—Noah and Ham)?!

How patient must He be?  How slow to angerHow merciful must He be?  How faithful to His promises must He be?  How broad & wide must the intention of His saving grace be that He would preserve the entire earth?  How eager must He be to show His love to sinners that He would preserve a remnant out of His just judgment? The answers to each of these questions is found in Jesus Christ.

Answers Given Through Jesus Christ, the Promised Seed of Genesis 3:15.

In Jesus Christ, God gives the world a Mediator greater than Noah.  In Jesus, God gives the world a judgment-bearing Mediator who is righteous.  The rest does not come in Noah, but through  him (cf. Luke 3:36).  We need a mediator who would survive God’s judgment against sin, not by escaping it while others perish under it, but by bearing, absorbing, and exhausting it—by becoming that sin—so that others would be spared.

How gracious is this God?  How patient?  How loving toward sinners, those who’ve set themselves against Him?  Look to the Cross!  He gave His Son, to stand in our place, for our sakes, to be the lightning rod for His judgment, to open the floodgates, and to empty the heavens of every last trace—down to the final drop—of His wrath against the sins of His people.  He gave His Son!

We live in the age of opportunity–Matthew 13:24—30. The Lord’s parable of the tares among the wheat resembles His covenant with Noah.  In the parable, the Landowner is fully aware of the tares (vv. 28—30), and that they represent/embody enmity to his purposes, that they constitute violent personal opposition to him.  Yet, what does he do with this accurate knowledge (cf. Genesis 6:5, 8:21)?  He suspends execution of his final judgment for a season so that the wheat may grow and reach maturity (v.29).  In other words, his highest governing value is to create a context of stability for growth in which as much wheat as possible can come to full maturity.

His gracious patience—even though it creates an ambiguous overlap—nonetheless preserves the opportunity for the “sons of the kingdom” to multiply.

 

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Genesis 4-6: Poison & Hope in the Line

There’s an ironic juxtaposition of two themes binding these 3 chapters together:  the simultaneous presence of poison and hope in the line of descendants from Adam & Eve after the events of Genesis 3.

Genesis 4.

1.     Hope in the Line.  Genesis 4 opens with the announcement of Eve’s first pregnancy and the birth of the first child of the earth:  Cain, the first “seed” of the woman (cf. 3:15).  Interestingly, verse 1 incorporates a direct quote from Eve to help us understand her perspective on Cain’s birth:  “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.”

This is interesting to me, especially when I consider the proximity of Cain’s birth to the Lord’s promise in 3:15.  Think about what Eve knows at this point in the narrative.  She has heard the Lord’s promise of a conquering seed in 3:15, who will be “her offspring.”  Now, in 4:1, she is pregnant with her first offspring.  After this promise and after her daily-increasing awareness of the consequences of sin after her expulsion from the Garden, wouldn’t her most logical deduction, her most natural hope, be that this first seed that opens her womb would prove to be the promised conquering seed?  I think this hope–that her firstborn, Cain, will fulfill the Lord’s promise of a Deliverer–is precisely what she expresses in 4:1.  Tragically, events soon demonstrate otherwise.

2.     Poison in the Line.  Eve’s understandable hopes notwithstanding, Cain’s story is not the story of the Redeemer’s appearance, but of the need for that Redeemer.  Cain’s premeditated murder of his brother, Abel, demonstrates that the consequences of Adam’s sin are more complex and more serious than we might have thought at first:  the 1st seed reveals that there is a dark and indelible poison in the line.  The tension in the story is now drawn very starkly:  how it will be that a seed of the woman could ever be our Deliverer, if her very first seed was so wicked?  God will have to act to enter and disrupt the “natural” development of the woman’s line.

Genesis 5

1.     Poison in the Line.  Genesis 5, “the book of the generations of Adam” (5:1), is one body-blow after another.  The text gives us accounts of 9 of Adam’s descendants, and 8 of these accounts end with the same refrain:  “and he died.”  The only exception is Enoch (5:21-24), whom the Lord “took” (5:24) because he “walked with God” (5:22).  But, apart from Enoch, the rule is unmistakably death.  The poison in the line is not only unmistakable, but unstoppable:  sin’s onslaught continues to spread unchecked across generations and millennia.  But, as the end of the chapter shows us, sin isn’t the only storyline.

2.     Hope in the Line.  Verse 28 describes Noah’s birth.  Just like Eve’s comment at Cain’s birth in 4:1, Noah’s birth is reported through the use of a direct quote from his father, Lamech:  “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands” (5:29).  Lamech is looking to his son, Noah (whose name means “rest”), to undo the curses of the Fall (“our work and…the painful toil of our hands”–cf. 3:17-19); he is hoping, in other words, that Noah will prove to be the promised seed of Genesis 3:15, the Redeemer who will at last provide the promised and longed for rest.  Which brings us to Chapter 6….

Genesis 6

1.     Poison in the Line.  Chapter 6 chronicles the poison’s reach both extensively and intensively.  Extensively:  “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (6:11-12).  Intensively:  “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (6:5).  (Note that this is God’s evaluation of man, not man’s evaluation of man, what He thinks of our sin, not what we think of our sin).  In a tragically ironic reversal of the Lord’s design for His image bearers in 1:28, the sin in the Garden has metastasized:  it has been bitterly fruitful and multiplied to fill, subdue, and rule man’s life on the earth.  This is no ordinary poison.  And thus, the Lord’s announcement of the Flood to Noah.

2.      Hope.  In the midst of Chapter 6’s darkness, Noah’s faithfulness stands out as a ray of hope, a remnant the Lord resolves to preserve through the coming Flood, in many ways like a new Adam.  Yet, as coming events will demonstrate, Noah, while he represents the promise of hope in the Line, is not himself the fulfillment of that promise from 3:15.  As we will see, he points, not toward himself, but forward away from himself and toward the promised Rest-Giver, Jesus Christ:  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

May each of us come to Him and find in Him the promised Rest today.  SDG.

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Genesis 3:15 & the Virgin Birth

When I was preparing to preach on the virgin birth of Christ during Advent last month, I returned to reflect on Genesis 3:15, the text known as the protoeuangelion or “first gospel” in the Scriptures.  It is the second of two verses in which the Lord pronounces His curse upon the serpent:

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.

Over the years, I have taught on and from this verse more times than I can count.  But, as I considered it last month in light of the virgin birth, one particular aspect of it suddenly jumped off the page at me, something about the promise that I hadn’t seen until I had looked at it through the lens of the virgin birth:  its exclusive focus on the woman, or mother of the promised offspring (lit. ‘seed’).

God promises a Redeemer who will be the woman’s (“her”) offspring, but He makes no mention of Adam or any other man as the father of that offspring, does He?  This omission of any reference either to Adam or any father in the promise is unexpected.  Adam was standing right there with Eve when the Lord pronounced this curse.  So, why would the promise of the serpent’s overthrow be couched in exclusively matrilineal terms like this, especially in light of the consistent Old Testament patrilineal preference?

I can think of only one explanation for this:  the same God who made the promise of Genesis 3:15 had already determined that this promised conquering seed would enter the field of His conflict through a virgin birth.  Not until the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary in Nazareth (Luke 1:26—38), can we fully understand the Reason for the surprising omission in Genesis 3:15.

As I considered this last month, I was once again deeply encouraged by the coherence and consistency of Scripture.  I’ve been studying the Bible for 30 years now, and the more I do, the more I am able to see its coherence, and this greatly strengthens my confidence that it is in fact the Word of God.  SDG

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