Genesis 3:15 is a key pivot point in the storyline of the Bible and human history. Genesis 1-2 are a prologue introducing a perfect created order made by God, and Revelation 21-22 are an epilogue detailing the renovation and renewal and re-creation of a new heaven and new earth. Everything in between details the long war against God, and how the promise of Genesis 3:15 is made, unfolds, is fulfilled, and is consummated.
This verse has been called the protoeuangelion, or “first gospel” announcement. It was spoken to the serpent, when God cursed him after man’s sin, which he instigated by encouraging a distrust of God’s Word and character.
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. (Genesis 3:15 NKJV)
Genesis 3:15 has several themes and concepts that make more sense as the whole story of the Bible unfolds. They center around two key ideas.
AN ONGOING CONFLICT
God promises enmity, or hostility, between the serpent and the woman, and between the serpent’s seed, or offspring, and the woman’s seed. There was not only hostility between the deceiver and Eve, but there would also be hostility between the serpent’s seed and her seed. The hostility was a reality when God spoke the words, and would become an unfolding reality, especially seen in the following chapter with the wicked Cain slaying Abel, who pleased God (cf. 1 John 3:12). Ultimately, this struggle of evil and good comes to a head in the conflict between Satan and Jesus, but it would also be illustrated in the attacks on Christ by wicked religious leaders, whom he called “a generation of vipers” (Matt 23:33).
A PROMISED, SUFFERING, VICTORIOUS, & HUMAN SAVIOR
God promises that the woman’s seed will bruise, or crush, the serpent’s head and that the serpent will bruise his heel. On one level, we get glimpses of the victory to come throughout redemptive history, such as the slaying of the evil Goliath, by David striking his head with a stone and then cutting it off (1 Sam 17). Ultimately, however, we see this promise fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus was the seed of the woman – born of a virgin, and so not the seed of man. Yet, Jesus, though eternally the Son of God, truly became completely human, yet without a sin nature and without committing any sin.
Jesus suffered. The serpent sought to tempt Jesus, attack Jesus, and destroy Jesus. Jesus suffered to the point of death.
Yet, this same Jesus crushed Satan’s head. He won an irreversible victory at the cross, when His death defeated him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb 2:14-15). He triumphed through an apparent defeat, yet it was nothing more than a crushing of His heel, while He conquered the serpent and obtained everlasting victory for all who would trust Him and become children of God.