(Picture Courtesy British Museum. The clay impression [my caption Gen. 3.15] is of a 2nd millenium B.C. cylinder seal from the northern fertile crescent. The seal depicts a dominant man trampling a dragon, a subordinant man following, and a woman picking fruit from a tree. This seal, I believe, portrays the prophecy of the Christ given before the foundation of the world.)
Often Christians have heard the term “Protoevangelium” applied to Gen.3.15 which means “First Gospel.” This passage gives the good news about a virgin-born Savior that will crush the serpent’s head while the serpent will bite this Savior inflicting a deadly wound. Notice too that it explicitly says this Seed will crush the serpent’s head not the “seed of the serpent” even though enmity exists between the Savior and those persons as was stated earlier. It is the Old Serpent’s head that will be crushed after the Divine Man conquers death on behalf of humanity. The only way for humankind to escape the sentence of death eternally (spirit death after punishment) is to have a proxy pay the penalty in their stead. God didn’t need rescuing from death but humans did and now the God-man possesses the “keys of death and Hades” (Rev.1.18) by His resurrection to unlock eternal life for all who put their trust in Jesus.
Good News indeed for the Christian believer. But there is more. Gen.3.15 is also the first prophecy given of this truth and forms a strategic view of the whole of redemption. Rev. 19.10d states: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Another translation is: “The spirit of prophecy is to bear witness to Jesus.” This is where all prophecy points and is ultimately about: the redemption of humans and the eventual destruction of our enemy “The Serpent.” Therefore it can be said that Gen. 3.15 is also “Protopropheteas” the “First Prophecy.” While some may say that God’s prohibition to the first couple not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil lest they die was a prophecy, it is better to view this first prohibition as a covenant. The first covenant (of works), which Adam broke as Hosea 6.7: “Like Adam they have broken the covenant.” A last Adam (the perfect God-man Jesus) had to fulfill all righteousness (works) that humans might be redeemed by Christ’s substitution and that humans could now have God’s righteousness placed in their account forensically or in an juridical sense . Also Christ’s fulfillment of the Law (God’s holy, righteous, and good Law) enables these same humans through the indwelling Spirit to display righteousness in an everyday practical sense.
In future posts I will trace this first and overarching prophecy of Gen.3.15 in history with the primary purpose of the call of Abraham and the establishment of the nation of Israel as the source for humanity’s Savior: “The seed of Abraham.”