God Responds to Our Sin (Gen. 3:15, 22–24)
How does verse 15 offer hope to sinful humanity? What is the significance of the expulsion of the man and the woman from the garden?
verse 15: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
The curse on the serpent is in Verses 14–15. This means more than a perpetual struggle of humans and snakes. The serpent represents the tempter. The struggle is between the serpent’s seed and the seed of the woman. The word seed at times refers to many seeds, but here it is singular. In other words, the hope of humanity of victory over the tempter is not in humanity as a whole but in one person. Many Christians believe that this is the first Bible promise of the victory over Satan, sin, and death by Jesus Christ. This is a note of hope in a passage pronouncing judgment.
There are some other signs of hope in the chapter. As already noted, verse 9 pictures God seeking sinners. This is a basic theme of the Bible. God’s provision of clothing for the guilty couple is another (v. 21). But verse 15 is the strongest note of hope at the time. This is sometimes called the Protevangelium, the first gospel.
The long conflict of God and His people with Satan would result in the Devil’s wounding the heel of the seed of the woman, but it would also lead to a fatal blow to the serpent’s head. The same Hebrew word is used of both blows—the blow to the serpent’s head and the blow to the seed’s heel. The King James Version uses the word bruise for both blows. The difference between the two blows is the difference between heel and head. “He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel”.
The New Testament declares the gospel of salvation based on the death and resurrection of Jesus. Many words are used for salvation, and one of these is victory over Satan and his allies sin and death. Christ delivered a mortal wound to the Devil. The Devil still goes about like a wounded lion, but the final victory is sure. We do not know how much of this was clear to the sinful pair. Perhaps Eve’s exclamation when her first son was born implies some hope that this child—the seed of a woman—was the fulfillment of the promise in verse 15. She said, “I have had a male child with the LORD’s help” (4:1). But the actual fulfillment was centuries away.
Verses 22–24: And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
The chapter closes on a darker picture. Part of God’s response to their sin was to exclude Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden and from the tree of life. Verse 22 has God again using the plural us. The same interpretations of this plural in 1:26 are possible here. He acknowledged that the man was able to know good and evil. The sinful pair had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They might decide to eat fruit from the tree of life. In their sinful condition this would have doomed them to a godless eternity, which is how the Bible describes hell.
God also expelled them because sin cannot be in the presence of God. “It was impossible for man to remain in the garden, and in a state of fellowship with God. Sin and paradise were incompatible, and so the Lord sent them forth, driving them out, and placing the guard with the sword that turned every way. Mark the significance of this phrase. There was no possibility of a return to the old life. Paradise was lost, and by no human effort could it ever be regained.”
This is the second reason why sin separates from God. verse 9 illustrates the first: By its very nature sin is turning away from God into our own ways. When God seeks us, we run and try to hide from Him.
Exclusion from the tree of life meant that humans became subject to physical death. The first couple died and death was their legacy for later generations. Paul wrote, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Rom. 5:12). Sin always hurts other people, and Adam’s sin hurt all later generations.
Man cannot restore paradise, but God is at work to reverse the consequence of sin and to restore paradise. The Bible tells how He is seeking to do this, and Revelation 22:1–5 shows that He will succeed. Our need is to make sure that we belong to Him.
What are the lasting truths in Genesis 3:15, 22–24?
God pronounces judgment.
2. God offers hope of victory over evil.
3. Sin and God are incompatible.
4. Death is the legacy of the fall.