Among the essential Christian doctrines that find their start in the first twelve chapters of Genesis is the gospel itself. We start with God as being outside of creation that he is the uncreated creator who speaks the universe into existence. The pinnacle of that creation is man and women who are created in the image of God to work and rule in the good creation. But sin comes slithering in through the tempting words of the serpent. Reading through the third chapter of Genesis can be a bit overwhelming with all the negativity, especially with the curses on our relationships and the ground itself. Like with many other things, all the bad things can seem to block out everything. This happens to us all the time. Perhaps a family member gets sick, and it looks like they are not going to make it. We love our family, and seeing them suffer and potentially die can make it seem like there is no hope. Sickness and death are the results of the fall. They remind us of the sin that has consequences. And yet, there is hope. In the gospel, there is the promise of eternal life through our savior, Jesus Christ. The first mention of this hope comes in the middle of the fall.
The Proto Gospel
In Genesis 3:15, we read this interesting statement during the serpent's 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." You might ask, what is so hopeful about this? If you know the gospel, you already have your answer. Christ is the offspring or seed of the woman that crushes the head of the serpent by his death and resurrection. On the cross, it looks like the serpent, who is Satan, has won. The Son of God is being killed in the most painful and shameful way possible. But this is merely a bruising. Death cannot hold the savior of the world, and on the third day, he is raised from the dead, overcoming death and crushing the power of Satan. Before the death and resurrection of Christ, we were all dead in our trespasses and sins. We were by nature children of wrath and following the prince of the power of the air, who is Satan. But when we come to Christ through faith in the gospel, we are made alive in Christ. This is the best news ever, and it has its first proclamation in Genesis 3. The whole of the Old Testament points toward this climactic point.
Getting into the Details
With the basics laid out, it is time to dig in a little deeper. There is a common misunderstanding that the promise in Genesis 3:15 is a prophetic witness to the virgin birth. And it is, but not directly. The misconception comes from the King James Versions rendering of offspring as seed. It makes it seem like a direct prophecy, but the prophecy is more of an indirect style. Because of this, the English Standard Version translates the Hebrew word zera as offspring. The idea here is not that a virgin will give birth but that the savior from sin, the one who will crush the head of the serpent, will be human. And this is what happens. In the incarnation, Jesus, who is fully God, humbles himself and takes on humanity. He was born as one of the descendants of Adam and Eve. This illustrates something essential for us to remember. In our zeal to find Christ in the Old Testament, we need to be careful not to take it too far. The gospel is indeed revealed here, but the complete revelation of the gospel does not take place until Christ.
Like with any good story, and this is the best of stories because it is God's story, you are introduced to the main characters at the beginning of the telling. In Genesis 1 and 2, we meet God, Adam, Eve, and Satan. We have the protagonist and the antagonist. In Genesis 3 comes the introduction of conflict. Sin has entered into the creation, and everything is looking down. And yet, there is hope. There will be a hero who will come and save the day. He will not only resolve the conflict of sin but will deal with the antagonist and restore the good creation. The foundation is all laid out in the beginning. The whole point of this is to illustrate the importance of the first twelve chapters of Genesis. They are not myths or fantasy but history. It is our history, the history of fall and redemption. In Christ, we see the one who created all things entering his creation that he spoke into being and saving a people for himself. This is need good news.
Soli Deo Gloria