Genesis 3:15 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
THE SEED OF THE WOMAN
Gen 3:15. I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
THIS was the first promise that was ever given to fallen man. The occasion on which it was given was this: Satan had beguiled our mother Eve, and, through her, had prevailed on Adam to transgress: and he had thereby destroyed both them and all their posterity: for, since they were corrupt, nothing but what was corrupt could proceed from them. But God, in his abundant mercy, interposed for our fallen race, who must without such interposition have been involved in all the misery of the fallen angels. Against Satan he denounced a curse suited to his crime: and at the same time informed him, that, though for the present he had prevailed over the woman, a seed should spring from her who should execute on him the vengeance he deserved, and rescue mankind from the misery he had entailed upon them.
Now, as the oak with all its luxuriant branches is contained in the acorn, so was the whole of salvation, however copiously unfolded in subsequent revelations, comprehended in this one prophecy; which is, in fact, the sum and summary of the whole Bible. And on this promise all the Saints lived, during the space of 2000 years: yes, all from Adam to the time of Abraham were encouraged, comforted, and saved by this promise alone, illustrated as it was by sacrifices appointed by the Lord.
In explaining this prophecy, I shall call your attention to,
The person here predicted—
[It was the Lord Jesus Christ; who was in a peculiar way “the seed of the woman:” for he was formed in the womb simply by the agency of the Holy Ghost, and was born of a pure virgin altogether without the intervention of man. And this was necessary: for, had he been born like other men, he would have been in the loins of Adam, like other men; and therefore would, like them, have been partaker of his guilt and corruption. But, being the sole and immediate workmanship of God, he was absolutely perfect, and therefore capable of sustaining the office of a Saviour for fallen man: whereas, if he had been otherwise formed, he would have needed a Saviour for himself, and been incapable of effecting salvation for others. Thus you see, that when it was impossible for man to restore himself to God, God “laid help for him upon One that was Mighty;” on one who, being God and man in one person, was able to effect for men all that their necessities required. As man, he could atone for sin; and as God, he could render that atonement available for all who should trust in him.]
At the same time that this prophecy announced the Messiah’s advent, it declared,
The conflicts he should sustain—
[Between Satan and him, God put an irreconcilable enmity; which, without a moment’s intermission, has raged, from that very time even to the present hour. Satan, having, thus introduced sin into the world, instigated every child of Adam to the commission of it. And how far he prevailed, may be seen in this, that he induced the very first-born of man to murder his own righteous brother, for no other reason than because he was more righteous than himself. At times he had so entirely reduced the whole race of man to his dominion, that scarcely a righteous man existed upon earth. And, when God sent prophets to reclaim the world, Satan stirred up the people of every age and place to destroy them. At last, when the promised Seed himself came, Satan only exerted himself the more violently against him, if by any means he might prevail to destroy the Saviour himself. No sooner was Jesus born into the world, than Satan stimulated Herod to destroy all the males around Bethlehem from two years old and under, that so it might be impossible for Jesus to escape. And, when Jesus was entering upon his ministry, he urged him to cast himself down from a pinnacle of the temple, if peradventure he might thus induce him, under an idea of trusting in God, to destroy himself. Afterwards he stirred up Peter to dissuade him from executing the work he had undertaken; saying, “Master, spare thyself.” When he could not prevail in any of these ways, he put it into the heart of Judas to betray him, and stirred up all the Priests and Elders to put him to death. In like manner has this wicked adversary still prosecuted his malignant work even to the present hour, blinding the eyes of men, and hardening their hearts, and “leading them captive at his will:” and if any have dared to resist his will, he has stirred up all his own agents, to persecute them, and to put them to death.
On the other hand, Christ has also fought against him from the beginning, rescuing men from his dominion, and “turning millions from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” In the days of his flesh especially he shewed his superiority to Satan, by dismissing him from many whom he had possessed, and constraining him to relinquish the hold which he had gained, both of their bodies and their souls. And though he seemed himself to sink under Satan’s attacks, yet did he, in fact, defeat Satan by the very means which that adversary had used for his destruction: for by death he overcame death, and “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil [Note: Heb 2:14.]:” yes, “on the very cross itself he spoiled all the principalities and powers of hell, triumphing over them openly in it [Note: Col 2:15.].” And in his ascension, “he led captivity itself captive;” and has bound all the hosts of hell, “reserving them in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” In his people, too, he gets the victory from day to day, enabling them to resist him manfully, and to trample both Satan and all his hosts under their feet.
This conflict is still passing from day to day. The God of this world, and the God of heaven, are contending for us, and in us [Note: 2Co 4:4; 2Co 4:6.]: and as long as the world shall stand, will this contest continue.]
But in our text we are informed, that Jesus will prevail, and enjoy at last,
The victory assured to him—
[In the conflict, the Saviour’s “heel is bruised:” but “he bruises the head” of his great adversary, and breaks his power for evermore. Behold the Saviour on his throne of glory, far above all the principalities and powers, whether of heaven or hell! Behold the progress of his Gospel in every age! and see in heaven the multitudes which no man can number, continually increased by fresh accessions from every quarter of the globe, from the most blinded votaries of Satan amongst the Heathen, as well as from his more specious servants amongst ourselves! See the weakest of the children of men enabled to triumph over him, and, though persecuted like their divine Master, “made more than conquerors through him that loved them!” This is going forward amongst ourselves: so that you see the most devoted vassals of Satan casting off his yoke, and “brought into the liberty of the sons of God:” and soon shall you behold those whom once he held in the most miserable bondage, seated upon thrones of glory, and actually sitting in judgment upon the angels, as assessors with their divine Master [Note: 1Co 6:2-3.]. Yes: it is but a little time, and the seed of Christ, as well as Christ himself, will be seated upon thrones of glory; whilst Satan, and his seed, shall be cast into the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Such is the prophecy before us: and in this way is it accomplishing yet daily; and shall be accomplished, till the final destinies of each shall terminate the contest for evermore.]
Behold then, brethren,
How marvellous is the grace of God!
[Think under what circumstances he made this promise to man. He had placed our first parents in Paradise, where there was every thing that could conduce to their happiness; and he himself visited and communed with them, as a friend. Yet did they, on the very first temptation, violate his express command: and then, instead of humbling themselves before him, they fled from him; and, when summoned into his presence, excused themselves, and even cast the blame of their iniquity on him:—“The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat: The woman, whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” What might we expect now that he should do unto them? surely, that he should consign them over to the misery they deserved. But no: unsought and unsolicited, he promised them a Saviour, even his only dear Son, who should rescue both them and all their believing posterity out of the hands of their great adversary. Now then, I ask, If God, unsolicited, bestowed the Saviour himself on these impenitent offenders, will he refuse salvation to any penitent who calls upon him?— — —Let no sinner in the universe despond: but let every one see in this prophecy how abundant and inconceivable is the grace of God — — —]
How complete shall be the victory of all who believe in Christ!
[You appear to be in a hopeless condition, because your corruptions are so great and your enemies so mighty. Go, then, to the cross of Christ, and there see the Saviour himself hanging, an helpless and inanimate corpse! What hope has he of victory? Wait a moment, and you will see. Behold him rising from the grave, ascending to heaven, sending down the Holy Spirit, establishing his kingdom upon earth, surrounded in heaven by myriads of his redeemed, and sealing up his great adversary, with his hosts, in the bottomless abyss of hell! See all this; and then know what shall be the issue of your conflicts. You are fighting with a vanquished enemy: and it is but a little time, and he, your Almighty Saviour, “will bruise Satan under your feet,” and will elevate you to thrones of glory, like unto his own. Only follow him in his conflicts, and you shall be partakers with him in all his victories and triumphs for evermore.]
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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
Charles Simeon (1759 - 1836) was an English evangelical Anglican cleric.
Horae Homileticae reflects the rich source of Biblical understanding of Simeon, a towering figure in the history of evangelical theology.