Blessings & Condemnations in Genesis 3 (Part the First)

To welcome myself back to blogging (sorry for the delay!), I thought I’d walk through Genesis 3:14-19, the portion of Scripture within which God lays the proverbial smack down on Satan, Eve, and Adam for their sins. That ordering (Satan, Eve, and Adam) is not an accident — they are addressed by God in the exact order in which they sinned. So first, we find God’s word to “the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan” (Revelation 12:9).

And the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, And dust shall you eat All the days of your life;” Verse 14

While the entire animal kingdom was affected by the fall of man into sin, the serpent’s curse is one of special focus. Because Satan, being in form a serpent, openly rebelled against God and caused Eve to do the same, he was to be cast down, humbled even lower than cattle. Upon his belly he was thrown, where he would lick the dust perpetually. This mark of humiliation can be seen elsewhere in Scripture as well (i.e., Micah 7:17).

What an amazing thought to think that so early on in history, Satan has already been debased below all the cattle of the field. How pitiful is a kingdom whose ruler is of less worth than swine!

Or perhaps you think that verse 14 refers only to the serpent as an animal and not to Satan himself. Please, read on.

“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.” Verse 15

In the midst of mankind’s darkest hour — Adam & Eve had sinned against God, hidden themselves from Him, and were about to have their sentences read — God decrees blessing. In the middle of the curse upon Satan, God proclaims grace for the seed of the woman.

First, I hope that you’ll see here that verse 14 was referring to Satan. The seed of Satan has been warring with the seed of the woman throughout all time, with Jesus declaring that certain scribes & Pharisees were of their father the devil (John 8:44).

This enmity between the seed of the woman (God’s people) and the seed of the serpent is kindled by God Himself. What a curse it is to Satan that God’s people should be set against his people. The struggle finds its climax in the promised “He” that shall “bruise [Satan] on the head.” We find that promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who though He was bruised on the heel by Satan, smote Satan in the head, mortally wounding that old serpent.

We also find in this verse an explanation for the massacres of the Old Testament. Salvation for God’s people is always accompanied by and even requires the destruction of their enemies. That is why the imprecatory Psalms exist. That is why the Israelites were commanded to eradicate other peoples. They were the seed of the serpent — dead in their sins and never having belonged to God. For the Christian, the precise identification of the serpent’s seed is a bit more difficult to ascertain. All we know for sure is that those who die having never accepted Christ belong to the accursed seed. We can pray along with David in those Psalms when deliverance from enemies via their destruction is prayed for. We can relate with the Israelites in our struggle against the serpent’s seed. And we can rejoice that one day, total deliverance will come for God’s people, all his enemies — including the Adversary himself — will be cast down, vanquished forever and ever.

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” Verse 16

The previous verse’s mention of the woman’s seed serves as a segue from God’s addressing of the serpent to His addressing of Eve. Here, our first mother faces the consequences of her sin, of her willful disobedience of God in eating of the forbidden fruit.

God first tells Eve that He will “greatly increase” the pain which she will endure in childbirth. Prior to this, giving birth would have been a simple matter of joy & obedience to the command to be fruitful and multiply. Now, the Lord curses childbirth, not by striking Eve barren, but by telling her that “in pain you shall bring forth children.” This curse has been suffered by women ever since, and it will be faced by women for ages to come, unless the Lord comes.

Note the dichotomy of blessing & curse here, though. Yes, women will be cursed with much pain during childbirth, but it is the seed of the woman through which salvation was to come! It is the seed of the woman which is set at enmity with the serpent’s seed. What a glorious privilege for Eve to, despite the curse, still mother the chosen line. How great, her merciful is God!

The verse also tells us that Eve’s desire will be toward her husband. There are two possible interpretations of this. Perhaps the most common is that the woman would be cursed with excessive dependence upon the husband so that the woman would live her life in a manner “excessively directed toward her husband” (Robertson, O. Palmer, The Christ of the Covenants).

The second interpretation, according to Robertson, is that which is warranted when parallel phraseology from Genesis 4:7 is considered. That verse says that “sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

In other words, sin lies in wait for us, seeking to dominate us, but we must instead master sin so that it cannot ensnare us.

Back to Genesis 3, then, we see that it might be that the curse upon the woman is that she will desire her husband, “not in the sense of excessive dependence, but in the sense of excessive determination to dominate … Her longing shall be to posses him, to control him, to dominate him” (Ibid).

The reaction from man to this domineering attitude of the woman, then, is to rule over her. In sinning in Eden, the woman usurped “her husband’s prerogative” (Ibid), and this marital imbalance was devised by God as a curse for her. Although, it would be a gross omission to not say that this particular curse affects the man as well.

Okay, I’m going to go ahead and post this. I’ve worked on it off-and-on for about two weeks, and I still have verses 17-19 to go through. As always, your feedback is welcome.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen it yet, Transformers is an excellent movie; you can read my review if you wish.

All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.

4 thoughts on “Blessings & Condemnations in Genesis 3 (Part the First)”

  1. I really should not post here as it is not good for my disposition but…

    “First, I hope that you’ll see here that verse 14 was referring to Satan.”

    Well no.. Your reasoning for linking the serpent to Satan is practically non-existent here and is entirely missing from Genesis (as far as i can see though I have just skimmed it again. You must have more reasons for making the link if so what is it? I have often wondered why fundies put so much emphasis on Satan with so little biblical evidence and was hoping you were going to give us that evidence..

    look forward to hearing more.

  2. Andy, your curiosity is appreciated, and I don’t think being openly inquisitive about the beliefs of others is bad for your disposition. After all, isn’t being open-minded a good thing? :)

    Whether or not Adam & Eve had the understanding that the serpent was Satan, I cannot say. I doubt they did simply because they knew him only as the serpent.

    Whether Moses himself had that understanding, I have no idea.

    And while I realize this may be casted as a myth formulating over time, it also fits perfectly well with a progression in revelation from Genesis to Revelation over time. By the time John wrote Revelation, it was clear that Satan was “that old serpent” as was quoted above.

    It is also clear that the serpent’s seed and the woman’s seed warred throughout the Old Testament, and that these two warring groups were either of God the Father or “of their father the devil.”

    I also believe that the serpent is Satan as opposed to a common, ordinary snake because the serpent spoke — ordinary snakes do not do that, and there is no mention in the curse upon the snake that the ability to speak would be taken away.

    Lastly, I believe that the serpent is Satan because of the role it played — that of adversary against God. The name “Satan” literally means “adversary,” and so that the name is ascribed to the serpent later may indicate that the serpent had no name until ascribed one — much as all the animals had no names until Adam gave them one.

    Not quite “air tight,” you may so, and perhaps you’re right. I do not claim to be a rock-solid exegete by any means, and I’m sure there are more in-depth analyses out there.

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