Hope through the curse


Key verses in Isaiah about Christ

Now admittedly, we have gone through Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12, that great portion of Scripture, because that’s the high point of the Old Testament disclosure of the person of Christ and His work. Everything about Him that’s important is in those verses in Isaiah

In the verses that I want to draw to your attention, 14 and 15, we’re going to see how God reacts to this. This is divine justice rendering a perfect sentence. Obviously there are natural consequences to sin; they’re just built into it.

Whatever a man sows, he reaps. If you lie, there are inevitable consequences to your lying. If God didn’t do anything, there are built-in consequences to telling lies. If you are drunk, if you are inebriated, if you are an alcoholic, there are built-in consequences. God doesn’t have to act; that kind of behaviour has its own consequences. If you take drugs, that kind of behaviour has its own consequences. If you are characterized by hostility and anger, that kind of behaviour has its own consequences. If you engage in homosexuality, sexual sin, if you kill people–whatever it might be, whatever sin, categories of sins–built-in to those sins is the inevitability of cause and effect results.

Ophite cult (Satan worshippers)

And snakes throughout human history have been associated with Satan, haven’t they? In the early days of the Christian church there was a very bizarre sect and they were known as the Ophites (O-p-h-i-t-e-s, the Ophites), not a Christian sect. Orpheus is the Greek word for snake. They were snake worshipers, the Ophites.

The symbol of their sect was a snake, but the god they worshiped was Satan. They were Satan worshipers who chose the snake and the Greek word for snake to define their worship.

In the Druze Mountains of Syria, there are a people called the Yezidi worshipers. They worship the devil and their symbol is a snake. Snakes are still associated with satanic and occult worship. So the snake is cursed and is a symbolic reminder of the degradation of Satan.

The first gospel

But going from the natural serpent, let’s go to the supernatural spirit behind the serpent and the curse of verse 15. This is the important one that I want you to look at. God moves from the animal to the one who came into the animal and spoke through the animal, Satan himself, verse 15. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”

That has been called literally for centuries the protoevangelium. Proto meaning the first or the prototype–the first evangelium, the first gospel. That’s the first gospel.

What I just read you is the only gospel that the ancient world had. They didn’t have anything else. They didn’t have anything but Genesis 3:15. That’s it.

There has to be a deep, deep change in the human heart to turn man back to God. It is so profound that the New Testament speaks of it as the new birth. It is so profound that the prophets, Ezekiel and Jeremiah, speak of it as having a new heart.

So here the gospel, good news, makes its initial entrance into human history, embedded in a curse on Satan. The gospel is first given then not in a promise, but in a curse.

Not in an act of kindness, but in an act of judgement. And as I said earlier, for centuries this was the only gospel, this is the only promise. This was the only promise for centuries of Satan’s defeat–of sinners being transformed to love God and trust God, and hate Satan and distrust him.

The enmity will be Eve’s, and she will hate Satan and love God. The enmity will come through the humanity that proceeds from Adam and Eve; there will be a redeemed humanity who will be hostile toward Satan.

But there will be one Man, “he”–one Man. And here you have this most interesting identification as her seed being “he.” It comes down to “he,” much as the seed of Abraham, Paul says in Galatians, is a seed; not seeds, but a seed. And he points directly to Christ.

God is speaking here of the seed of a woman who will be a Man. This is the only place in the Bible where it talks about a seed of a woman. It talks a lot about seed of men, because seed is in the man; it’s not in the woman.

But there was One born without a human father, and the seed was in the woman.

And that is the virgin-born Christ, the Son of God. He is the only human who was not produced by the seed of a man. The only time a woman had the seed of her own. He is virgin-born. Clearly that is the testimony of the gospel of Matthew. Clearly that is the testimony of Galatians 4:4, “born of a woman,” “born of a woman.” Isaiah 7:14, born of a virgin.

Grace of God abounds

Can you imagine the promise that this was to that early group of people?

Listen, the curse on man hasn’t even been given. It comes down in verses 17 and 19; the curse on woman hasn’t even been given. Before God even lays out the price that men are going to pay and the price that women are going to pay, before God even pronounces judgment on them, hope appears and mercy and grace and salvation, and good news–before God even banishes Adam and Eve from Paradise, before He sends them out of the garden and forbids them to ever come back, before punishment is placed on their backs, hope is placed in their hearts.

God is by nature a gracious, merciful, compassionate, forgiving God, and so He plants hope in the midst of the curse. It’s like Romans 5:20, “Where sin abounded”…What?…“grace abounds even more.”

Satan under our feet

What an incredible place to begin to see the glory of Christ in the Old Testament. He is the seed of the woman, the Man who crushed Satan’s head. And because of that, the end of the book of Romans, Paul says, “Satan has also been placed under your feet.” Because He conquered Him, we in Christ conquer as well.

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