14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 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.”
16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
17 To Adam He said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. 21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
I want to start out today by asking what I know is a rather silly question: Do you ever feel as though life is a battlefield? Sometimes life is just great, and we really do need to enjoy those times, because as we all know, the good days don’t seem to last long enough.
The Bible tells us something about the inevitability of struggles in this present world and how we are able to face them with strength and hope.
In John 16:33 Jesus tells us that we will have troubles in this life.
It never ceases to amaze me that there are people who will argue that the Bible is no longer relevant in the modern world, because it is through the words of Scripture that we are able to understand what is going on in our world, what we need to do because of it, and where our true hope is found in it.
Of course, there will be many things that we simply cannot find answers to, but the truth is that in the Bible, we have a lot of answers to a lot of questions.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Those words are as valid today as they were when they were written nearly two thousand years ago.
So let’s look at the first battle found in the Bible, and you will see that there is so much we can learn from Genesis 3 on how to face the battlefield of life.
We need to be prepared to face life’s struggles, because whether we like it or not, they’re real and we’re involved.
Today we’re going to look at the source of all our struggles, and the hope that we have in Jesus as we face up to the inevitable hard times.
Adam and Eve had turned away from God. They didn’t trust His goodness or obey Him, and because of this they immediately experienced a spiritual death. When God arrived in the garden that day He came with judgment, but we must never forget that He also came with grace.
Banishing Adam and Eve from the garden was a form of judgment – it was a punishment, but in that judgment, there was grace.
Genesis 3:21-24 – “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (That’s the first act of grace – the first blood sacrifice in the Bible). And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’ So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” That’s the second act of grace.
Had Adam and Eve eaten from the tree of life as well, they would have lived forever, but in their sinful state.
What that means for us is that physical death would be avoided, but the greed, the heartache, the aches and the pains of this sinful world would never end.
We’ve all heard the saying “hell on earth.” By God’s grace, we will never experience hell on earth, although some might dispute that. True hell on earth would be to live with all of the suffering, hurt and tragedies with no end in sight. But God, because of His grace, prevented access to the tree of life in our fallen state.
That is why for the Christian, physical death is a blessing. It is the ultimate healing.
We have all experienced the pain and anguish of losing those we love. Others will know that pain when each of us dies, but as Christians we are able to see death “from the other side” if you like. Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
The Bible teaches that something far better awaits us, but until such time as we enter the glory of God for all eternity, the consequences of the Fall still affect us during our lives on Earth.
Let’s look first at the role of Eve. As Adam’s life partner, Eve’s primary role was to be the nurturer and carer in the family. That role did not change, but the judgment as a result of their sin would now affect even her most important and intimate relationships. Parenthood is such a joy, but as we well know, it can also be full of hurt and heartache.
The other important relationship which has been affected by sin is marriage. Because of the way that sin has infiltrated and twisted God’s design for us, marriage, instead of being a perfect partnership, has been tainted. As with parenting, marriage can be full of joys and blessings, but it can also be the source of some tremendous suffering and heartache.
Even happy marriages have their hiccups. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage.
Because we have lost sight of God’s perfect design for marriage, for centuries husbands have dominated their wives, who get involved in the power struggle and fight back.
We might think the women’s lib uprising in the 1960’s was something new, but its roots can be traced all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
Oppression of women is not a ‘man thing’. It is a sin thing.
Verse 16: “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
Contrary to popular belief, that was not a command. It was a prophecy of what will happen in marriage. Why are all newlyweds told that marriage is hard work? Because it takes hard work to suppress the power struggles we naturally bring into marriage.
Our God-given urge to work and be productive was also affected by the Fall. Adam was told in verses 17 and 18, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.”
For so many of us, work is a curse. In fact, work has been called a 4-letter word…
What we sometimes miss though, is that work was given to us before the Fall, so work in itself was never meant to be a curse.
In other words, work is meant to be a blessing as we co-labour with God, while we utilise our gifts and talents for His glory. We were created to work, and if you think about it, one of the most fulfilling things in life is a career or job where you just love what you do.
But even a so-called dream job has its struggles. No-one can honestly say that every morning they bounce out of bed and just can’t wait to get to the office!
Because of our sin, work has become cursed and can be a struggle at times.
Work has become something we do just to make it to Friday afternoon or to payday, but that was never part of God’s original plan.
So – be prepared for life’s struggles, because they are a reality.
Marriage, family, and our careers. The three most important aspects of our lives were directly affected and tainted the moment sin came into the world. Every time we have a disagreement with our spouse, every time one of our children disappoints us, and every time we’re annoyed by a grumpy boss or a work colleague. Every single struggle, big or small – we can trace the root cause all the way back to what happened in Genesis 3.
However, we are not alone, because as we have already seen, God has never stopped loving us, and His grace has never changed either.
There is always hope.
Verse 15 is significant, because it reminds us that God will never completely abandon us.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers.”
There are two offsprings spoken about here.
“Enmity” is opposition. God is saying that He is going create a people who will stand with Him against satan. In effect, He was announcing that from this point on there would be two streams of humanity.
The first one is the offspring of satan.
I know this might sound disturbing, and it should. This is how Jesus puts it in John 8:43-45 – “Why is my language not clear to you? (Then He answers the question Himself for our benefit.) Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!”
Those who do not yield to the Word of Christ are ultimately the offspring of satan.
The second stream of humanity is the offspring of God’s promise.
Paul wrote in Colossians 1:13–14, “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
God will always have and sustain a people who will stand with Him.
The question is, are you one of those people?
Because you are not born as a person who will stand with Him.
There is no polite or diplomatic way to say this: Until such time as you accept salvation through the blood of Christ, you are and will remain the offspring of satan.
It takes a rebirth from above in order for us to be brought into the Kingdom of God. Jesus said it best to Nicodemus in John 3:3-6. “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, (that’s the first sin-infected stream, the first offspring we are born into), but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (The second offspring, born from above and cleansed by the blood of Jesus.)
This is the gift of salvation that God has so graciously given us. He is the one who has sent a Saviour to crush satan and has made it possible for us to be children of God once more, rather than children of the devil.
Verse 15 – “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.”
Not only would there be enmity or hostility in a broad sense, but God speaks specifically about a single male individual: “He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.”
The one who will crush the head of the serpent is Jesus Christ.
1 John 3:8 says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.”
However, there was an incredible price that Jesus paid for this.
When verse 15 says that satan will strike His heel, God was talking about the suffering that Jesus was to endure on the cross.
In 1968 builders in Jerusalem were digging foundations for a new building when they unexpectedly discovered a tomb.
It was a cemetery used by the Jews during the time of Jesus, and there were several skeletons, including one who had been crucified by the Romans.
This in itself was not unusual, because thousands of Jews were crucified by the Romans. What was remarkable about this Jewish man though, was how he had been crucified.
For centuries we had always thought that when Jesus was crucified His feet were placed one on top of the other, with a single nail driven through the top of his feet.
This man however, had been crucified differently, which has changed the minds of many historians as to exactly how the Romans crucified their victims.
Mainly due to artists’ impressions down the years, we had always assumed that a single nail was used on the victim’s feet.
But in this case, the man’s legs had been positioned so that they straddled the upright beam, and each foot was attached to the cross with a separate nail driven through the heel bone.
There is clear evidence of this because a thick iron nail is still embedded in the heel bone of this man, and it is on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
“He will crush your head, but you will strike His heel.”
So Genesis 3 gives us a clear picture of the coming struggle between the people of satan and the people of God, but despite being wounded, despite His heel being struck, the Saviour will win the battle.
The Bible tells us the decisive battle between God and satan has already been won in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Total and complete victory will come when Jesus returns for the second offspring - His bride, the Church, and satan will be cast into hell forever.
That’s the hope and the promise we have in Jesus.
Until such time, every struggle in this life can be traced back to that day when we chose to ignore God.
Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
But as Jesus said in John 16:33, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The promised ultimate and total victory over satan will be sealed when Jesus returns.
1 Peter 4:12-14 says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
So again, let me ask: Do you ever feel as though life is a battlefield? Of course, the answer is yes. We all struggle and suffer at times. That is the curse which has its roots in the Garden of Eden.
But we also have the promise of the Saviour, the one who bought us back through His blood on the Cross of Calvary.
Have you given control of your life over to Jesus as Lord, trusting Him to save you from your sins as you turn from them? If you haven’t, your life is at stake, and not just the years you have on earth. You were created for eternity and you know that, but you also sense that something is terribly wrong. You feel as if you have a mortal enemy and you feel guilty for the wrong things you’ve done. Jesus came to destroy the works of satan and to free you from the punishment for your sins. We are reluctant participants in the spiritual battle that has been going on since Adam and Eve’s days. But we are participants nonetheless.
We stand at the other end of history from Adam and Eve.
Life in the 21st century is so different to the life our first parents experienced, and yet we still have so much in common with them.
The most important thing we have in common is this: the presence of sin has turned our world into a battlefield in which our only hope of victory and salvation is to receive God’s grace and stand with Him.
Homegroup Study Notes
Read Genesis 3:14-24
This is undoubtedly the darkest episode in human history, as all of our struggles have their roots in the Fall in the Garden of Eden, yet there is still hope and grace to be found in this story. (See verses 15 and 22-24 in particular).
Discuss the grace we find in the prophecies in Genesis 3.
How can banishment from the garden be considered an act of mercy and grace?
Marriage, family and work are the three most important facets of our lives. Each of these were directly affected by what happened in Genesis 3, and there has been a ripple effect of the Fall which we feel even today.
Discuss how the mess and turmoil we see in the world today has been caused by the eroding of marriages, family life and the workplace.
Read John 16:33
Discuss the contrasts of Jesus’ words in this verse, and how our only hope in our spiritual battlefield is to be found in Him.
Make an undertaking to pray for your loved ones who are not Christians every day this week.
Close by thanking God for sending His Son to suffer the consequences of our sin.