The Promise in the Midst of a Curse 2.0

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“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
The evidence is overwhelming. It’s undeniable. You read it in the pages of history. You see it on the television news. You hear it in the voice of your neighbor.  You feel it in the very fiber of your being. There is something wrong, my friends! There is something wrong with this world! There is something wrong with this nation! There is something wrong with your neighbor! There is something wrong with me! And there is something wrong with you!
That something is sin—an awful, broken condition that goes all the way back to Adam and Eve and their fall into sin in the Garden of Eden. Sin. Not simply a “mistake” or “error.” No, what happened with Adam and Eve was lawlessness, rebellion, outright disobedience to God’s specific command. And their sin had enormous consequences for all of God’s perfect creation.  
That original sin brought misery on the entire human race, for there is no such thing as a “private sin.” Every sin has consequences that are suffered not just by the offender but by many others as well for generations to come. A famous Lutheran theologian (Gerhard, IV, 315) explained, “To be sure, we must not look upon the sin of our first parents and those sins which followed it as if they applied only to those people but affected us not at all, for ‘Adam later begot a son after his own image and likeness’ (Gen. 5:3). He began to beget the sort of children he himself was: stripped of the image of God; destitute of original righteousness; subject to sin, the wrath of God, death and damnation. Adam was, and all were all in him; Adam perished, and we all perished in him.”
And as goes man, the highest of God’s creatures, so goes all of creation, which also groans under the weight of sin’s wages—death, decay, and decadence—all waiting in eager expectation for the day of our redemption.
Our text, Genesis 3:8-15, picks up the account right after that first sin, and it shows us the devastating consequences—both personally and universally—of that first sin. Let’s take a closer look. “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” and the man his wife ran out and said, “Here we are! We’re sorry, God! We blew it! Please forgive us…”
No. That’s not the way it happened. “They hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God…” That’s what you do, too, isn’t it, when you sin? You hide. Don’t be surprised because you haven’t been to church in a while, or that you struggle to get out of bed on Sunday morning to get to worship services, or that other people don’t seem to want to go to church. They’re still hiding! You’re still hiding! We’re all still hiding! Deep down inside, we know of our sin and we don’t want to come to the light where it can be exposed. That feeling is called shame.
A feeling of shame is the first consequence Adam and Eve experience because of their sin. Their eyes are open to see the great evil they have done. They experience a sense of self-consciousness in one another’s presence where there had once been a perfect union and innocence. Seeing each other in a totally new way, they hastily sew together fig leaves to cover their nakedness from one another.
This shame becomes even more obvious when the Lord God comes into the garden looking for them. How do they respond when they heard the sound of His footsteps? “They hid themselves from the presence of God.” Here, surely, are symptoms of a frightfully serious condition: foolishly imagining they can hide their own transgression or protect themselves from punishment of the all-knowing, all-powerful, holy God. For what can be termed more horrible than to flee from God and to desire to be hidden from Him? That would be hell.
“Where are you?” the Lord asks. Of course, He already knows the answer. But His is a call of anxious love. God is moving to restore His fallen children to Himself. He wants Adam and Eve to realize the dangerous situation they have put themselves in. He is really asking, “Do you know where you are? Do you realize what has happened here?” At the same time, God’s words are also a call of stern justice. The Creator is demanding an answer from His rebellious creature. “What have you done that you should be hiding?” God is trying to give His creatures an opportunity to repent. To say, “Here I am. I confess. I blew it. Please forgive me.”
Instead, Adam answers, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” What Adam says is true… so far as it goes. Notice how it is shame at being naked rather than guilt because of his sin that moves Adam to hide. This reveals a consciousness of self as a being separated from God, which is new to the human experience. Adam is seeing God in a way that he has never seen Him before. He’s thinking thoughts he’s never had before. He’s experiencing emotions he’s never felt before. From this time on, fear and suspicion will mark man’s relationship to their Maker, rather than love and trust.
Adam’s response shows the ugly effects of sin. It is evasive and deceptive. It is also foolish! So thoroughly has sin deprived Adam of all discernment and good sense, the man feels it necessary to inform God that he is naked—God, who created him naked. By this, he betrays and condemns himself with his own mouth. This is always the case. Sinners accuse themselves by their excuses and betray themselves by their defense—especially before God.
In the same way the ungodly will condemn themselves at the Last Judgment, when the dark recesses of human hearts will be revealed and, as though in open books, the evil deeds of every single being will be read. All who attempt to cover themselves with their own righteousness will be cast into the fiery lake. Only those who cast themselves at God’s mercy for the sake of Christ will be saved.
Such is the nature of sin: unless God immediately provides a cure and calls the sinner back, he flees endlessly from God. And, by excusing his sin with lies, the sinner heaps sin upon sin until he arrives at blasphemy and despair, until finally the sinful person would rather accuse God than acknowledge his own sin.
But before you point your finger at Adam or wag your tongue at “those sinners out there,” take stock: You do the same thing. So do I. When push comes to shove, every son and daughter of Adam and Eve prefers to accuse God rather than acknowledge his or her sins before Him. And that is a dangerous stance to take. St. John warns: “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” But he adds: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8, 9).
God’s questions become more pointed as He seeks to bring the sin of these two trembling sinners out into the open. “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Obviously, God knows what had happened. But He is giving the man an opportunity to repent.
Adam seeks to shift the blame: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Who says men can’t multi-task? In a single sentence, Adam manages to throw his own wife under the bus and blames God for his sin. Adam wants to still be regarded as pure and innocent. So well does he now know “good and evil,” he even dares to accuse the Lord God of being the sinner. There is no end to sinning once it has turned away from the Word.
Not surprisingly, the Lord sees no need to continue such a fruitless line of conversation. So He confronts Eve: “What is this you have done?” giving her the opportunity to take personal responsibility. But she attempts to shift the blame, too: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” And that’s been a pretty popular excuse ever since the fall: “The devil made me do it.” Of course, the devil never makes us sin; he just displays our options and packages them attractively.  
In Eve’s answer we note something else that must have been distressing to God. Both she and Adam are concentrating on the sinful deed of eating. God is more concerned about the sinful attitude. After all, sin does not begin with the hand but with the heart. Sin did not begin with a bite of forbidden fruit; it began with the desire to have something that God had not given to them.
Let this be a warning. Sin is just as deceptive in your life. You also sense the consequences of your sins more readily than the attitudes that produce the results. From your first parents, you, too, have learned to justify yourself and to blame others, even if that means disagreeing with the faithful God who has come to save you. You also have thought you know better what is good and what is evil for you than the holy Lord God does. You also have desired, perhaps demanded, something that God in His infinite wisdom has not seen fit to give you.
God turns to the serpent, allowing Adam and Eve to listen in. God wants them to hear this judgment and be comforted by the realization that God is the enemy of that being who inflicts so severe a wound on mankind. Here, grace and mercy begin to shine forth from the midst of the wrath which sin and disobedience aroused. Here, in the midst of the most serious threats the Father reveals His heart. Here is a promise in the midst of a curse: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).
These words also show us another consequence of the fall into sin—enmity, the quality or state of being an enemy, a feeling of hostility or ill will. The enmity God speaks about is on three different levels. First, He tells Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman.” There had been friendship between Eve and Satan. She had believed him when he spoke. And if God had not intervened, Eve and all her descendants would have gone to live forever with this “friend” in hell. Fortunately, God promises to send a Savior who will defeat this old evil foe.
The enmity God announces is also going to extend further between Satan’s followers and those of Eve’s descendants who will share her opposition to the evil one and her trust in God’s grace. This hostility exists between God’s children and the unbelieving world down to this day. Perhaps you’ve never thought about it before, but what a blessing it is that you have learned to look upon Satan as your enemy! For though he is a deadly foe, the devil more dangerous as a “friend”!
This enmity will reach its climax in one of Eve’s descendants. God warns Satan: “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” It is at this one descendant of Eve that Satan directs his most vicious enmity, realizing just how much was at stake. Herod seeks to kill the newborn King of the Jews. For forty days in the wilderness Satan tempts Jesus to forget His Father’s plan. And then, on that evil Friday that Christians call “Good,” Satan strikes his enemy’s heel with a ferocity that costs the Savior His life on the cross.
Yet Satan’s enmity will prove futile. Death will not hold this Holy One, the Seed of the woman. In rising again to life, Jesus will forever crush the head of the serpent. Just as it is through the woman that Satan brings sin and death into the world, so it is through the woman’s offspring that God will conquer sin, death, and Satan. St. Paul writes, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
Paradise will be restored in Jesus—the second Adam—who will fully obey the Law of the Creator, the Law the first Adam broke (Romans 5:18-21). Where Adam failed to protect his bride and then sought to shift the blame to her, Christ gives up Himself for His bride, the Church, “that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
God is not a withholder. He gives you His very best. He sends His only begotten Son to redeem you. While you endure the consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve—the shame, blame, and enmity—you can take comfort in the promise of a Savior and rejoice in the knowledge that the Seed of the woman has won God’s victory over sin, death, and the devil for you with His own death.
Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). “Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:4-8).
On the tree of the cross, God gave salvation unto mankind that, whence death arose, then Life might rise again; and he who by a tree one overcame might likewise by a tree be overcome, through Christ, our Lord. There, uplifted high on tree at Calvary, the God-man gives you a promise in the midst of a curse: “It is finished.” You are forgiven for all of your sins.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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