A Promise to Adam - Midweek Advent 1
Genesis And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
The top floor of Children’s Hospital in
Milwaukee is a sad
place to visit. That is the floor where the fetal alcohol babies are treated.
The problem with those babies is they inherited something that was not
originally their personal choice. They inherited an alcohol dependency from
their mothers who drank. As a result, there lives will never be normal.
Our society is a sad place to live in. That’s because every one of us, from the oldest to the youngest, has been born as a “fetal sin” baby.
We can watch Fergusson burning and blame it on racial tensions. We can hear about the crime in
and excuse it because of a high unemployment rate. We can experience conflict
and bickering in our homes and justify it as teen angst or being overworked or
mood swings or stress.
But whatever you see on the news or read about on the internet or experience in your home all has the same root cause … sin. And you and I are just as guilty of contributing to the tension and conflicts and bickering as everybody else. That’s because we are just as infected with the congenital evil virus of sin as they are. We can whine about society or dance around the racial tensions or make excuses for our family’s behavior, but we cannot get rid of the inborn sin that has infected every one of us.
We all come from the same set of first parents, who ate from the forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve plunged paradise into pandemonium. Because of them, now we all live under God’s triple curse of pain, death, and judgment.
Now we commit our favorite sins in private, imagining we can hide from God’s prying eyes. Our more open and public sins cause us to no longer walk with God. So we stay away from His house of worship and stop speaking to Him in prayer.
When our children don’t take responsibility for their actions, that comes from Adam blaming Eve for his actions. When we charge God with wrongdoing for our difficult lives, that, too, comes from Adam. When we are miserable and it is everybody else’s fault but our own, that one comes from Eve.
Bearing children is the greatest joy a mother can have. Yet, when all she can remember is the pain, irritation, and grief her children cause, those are all curses upon Eve and her offspring. When husbands abdicate their role as leaders and become spiritual wimps, or abuse their leadership position by acting like jerks, that is another curse Eve brought into our world.
The thorns and ice, the stress and the sweat, the long hours to provide a living for your family, you can thank Adam for all of that.
Giving in to temptation when we know better, engaging in behavior which promises comfort and pleasure, but only results in pain and loss, now we know what it was like for Adam and Eve to stand beside the tree and listen to the serpent talk to them. His wily whispers are just as effective on us today.
Death was never part of God’s perfect creation. But after the Fall into sin, it became the unnatural order of a fallen creation. Now, some of the last words we hear at the committal at the cemetery remind us God’s curse of death upon humanity, “For dust you are and to dust you will return.”
The devil brought a curse upon humanity. But God was ready with a promise.
Astoundingly, the same God who condemned His children’s rebellion also designed a rescue plan for them.
God spoke to the serpent, but His almighty voice has been heard by all of humanity: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
God’s plan for humanity … it was crafted in the halls of heaven and carried out on the plains of earth. Only holiness could have imagined it. Only divinity could have enacted it. Only righteousness could have endured it.
God planned to use one of the descendants of this woman to save humanity. “I will put hatred between you, Satan, and the woman. There will be constant hostility between your followers and her descendants. One of her descendants will crush your head, you Ancient Serpent. However, you will be allowed to strike His heel.”
Although God announced that a Messiah was coming from the offspring of Eve, He did not announce who or when this would be. That must have driven the devil crazy! “Which newborn will be my nemesis?” he must have hissed for millennia. Though the devil was told that he would get in a snake-like death-strike on the promised offspring, this promised Child would also crush the serpent’s head.
Jesus is the promised Serpent-Crusher. He is the reversal of everything that took place with Adam.
The Bible proclaims, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ [the second Adam] all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians ). Jesus is the second Adam. He did what the first Adam could not do – be perfect. He undid everything the first Adam did. Whereas, the first Adam brought sin and death and damnation into the world, through the second Adam’s death, Jesus brought forgiveness of sin, the conquering of death and eternal salvation to the world. Adam surrendered to the temptations of the serpent in the plush Garden. The second Adam overcame the devil’s temptations in the barren wilderness.
Jesus defeated the devil’s temptations in the desert when He said, “Away from me, Satan” (Matthew )! Eve’s great descendant took on the flesh and blood of a descendant “so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil” (Hebrews ). When God’s promise to Adam was finally fulfilled after millennia, it meant the destruction of “the devil’s work” (1 John ). The Offspring of the Woman lived the perfect life God expected of Adam and Eve and all of their offspring. He took upon Himself generations of sin. He did this so that the generations of believers in the Promise might be redeemed, restored and made righteous. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians ). When Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished!” that was when the serpent struck His perfect heel. But that is also the moment when the Messiah crushed the serpent’s head with that same heel!
Imagine a father watching his daughter playing in the backyard. All of a sudden, he hears his daughter screaming. She has been cornered by a rattlesnake. The father runs into the backyard and attacks the snake with a shovel. The daughter escapes because the father has crushed the snake with that shovel. But after all the excitement is over, the father realizes that he was bitten in the heel by that venomous snake. After some time in the hospital, the father is OK. Though he was injured, everyone is ecstatic that his daughter’s life was spared through his heroic actions.
Jesus Christ love us enough to crush the head of the Ancient Serpent. His heel was bruised so that our eternities have been spared through His heroic actions. And we are ecstatic!
While we may have Adam’s blood running through our veins, infecting us with sin, robbing us of perfection, cursing us with death … that is not all we have in us! We also have the blood of the One who defeated the devil in us, as we come to His Table and eat His body and drink His blood. And we know whose blood is greater! It is the blood of Jesus that washes away all our sin. It is the blood of Jesus that makes us righteous. It is the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross for us, that gives us the victory over the devil and his temptations.
Though the serpent struck Jesus’ heel, while he was down there crawling away, the Serpent-Crusher stepped down hard. The serpent’s head has been crushed! The serpent’s power over us has been broken! The serpent’s silky voice can no longer control us!
Through Christ, now all the curses Adam and Eve have brought upon us have been reversed.
It is reconciliation with God brought about by Christ that will create reconciliation between races. It is His forgiveness won on the tree of the cross that will allow us to forgive the perceived or real injustices committed against us. It is the splash of water and the spoken Word in Holy Baptism that cleanses our souls of the congenital virus of inborn sin.
Because Christ has served us with salvation, now we desire to serve Him. We take seriously our responsibility to raise our children in the Word, in prayer and in church. We enjoy the privilege of living as redeemed and forgiven saints, instead of selfish sinners. We repent of our secret sins. We come to God’s house to confess our open sins. We admit our blame-shifting and acknowledge our complaining.
Christian husbands accept their authority for being the Christ-leader for their wives and children. Christian wives accept their submission for being the Church-helper for their husbands. Christian employees and employers accept that whatever work they do, it is all for the glory of God.
And as Christians who will spend way too much time attending the funerals and committal services of our loved ones, we remember that as we hear the pastor repeat God’s curse, “Dust you and to dust you will return,” he also follows with these words of promise, “May God the Father, who created this body; May God the Son, who by his blood redeemed this body together with the soul; May God the Holy Spirit, who by Holy Baptism sanctified this body to be his temple; keep these remains to the day of the resurrection of all flesh.”
God gave a promise to Adam – a promise in place of punishment.
That promise brightened each day for Adam and Eve for the rest of their lives. By that promise they knew God loved them and would send a Child some time in the future who would undo what they had done. They had brought sin. He would bring salvation. They had ruined their relationship with God. He would bring a reunion with God. They had listened to the serpent. But the serpent’s head would be crushed. That was a promise. A promise to them. A promise to you. A promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Amen.