Bury St Edmunds
Genesis 3:14-15; Revelation 12: 7 - 9
One of the most distinguishing marks of the Old Testament is that it is full of prophecies that were given centuries ahead of time and were then fulfilled just as the prophets foretold them. This is surely strong evidence to confirm that the Bible truly is the word of God, because only God knows what will take place in the future, only God knows the end from the beginning, only God has the sovereign power to work out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will as stated in Ephesians 1:11.
There are actually many prophecies that were fulfilled when Jesus was born into our world that first Christmas morning. Today, we will look at the very first prophecy given in Scripture: the prophecy of a great battle, which starts in Genesis 3, and is carrying on today and will continue until Revelation 20 is fulfilled and Christ returns.
Imagine a battle taking place far away. You read about it in the paper or on the internet. You hear about it on the radio. You may even see pictures of it on tv, which after all isn’t hard as we look at what is happening in Ukraine and Israel. But now imagine the battle suddenly coming to your town or village: the tanks are rumbling down your street, the bombs are falling on people’s homes in your neighbourhood, the constant gunfire forms a backdrop outside your window. What was once far away and distant is now a part of your daily world.
This is not however a theoretical situation. This is your actual situation when it come to the spiritual battle between Satan and God. There is an ongoing battle between the forces of good and evil, and you, your family, friends, neighbours, and co-workers are caught right in the middle of it.
We live in a fallen world that is besieged by powerful enemies of God who want nothing more than to destroy it and take you with it. This is the world we live in, and it’s the world that Jesus was born into so many years ago in Bethlehem.
So, if you’re feeling tired, if you’re worn out from life, if you’re weary from the struggle and the fight, there’s a reason. You are part of this great battle that was prophesied way back in the book of Genesis and continues even today.
The good news of Christmas, however, is that Jesus was born into our world to bring an end to this fight. The birth of Christ was a ray of light shining into a dark world, like the sun dawning at the break of day. And it was all told in advance in this first great prophecy of Christmas.
We can break this battle down biblically and historically into three main aspects: 1) the battle between Satan and God, 2) the battle between Satan and God’s people, and 3) the battle between Satan and Christ. So, let’s look at this first great prophecy of Christmas together.
Every battle has a beginning. So how did this battle begin, and where did it begin? This great battle begins with the battle between Satan and God, and the Bible tells us it began in heaven.
We read about the vision of a great dragon in Revelation 12:7-9 “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
The great dragon here is Satan. Notice he is also called “that ancient serpent,” identifying him with the tempter in the Garden of Eden.
It wasn’t always like this however, as Satan was originally a beautiful angel. The Bible tells us in Ezekiel 28:11-19 that he was a magnificent being, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty. But Isaiah 14: 12-15, tells us that his heart grew proud, and he tried to take God’s place. He led this rebellion against God, which we read in Revelation 12:7-9 but he and his angels were not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.
That’s when the battlefield shifted – from war in heaven to war on earth. Satan was cast down to earth along with his angels where he has continued his battle against God by leading the whole world astray.
He couldn’t compete with God in heaven, so he took the battle to earth. Satan is cunning, deceptive, a liar and a thief but we must not see him in our own understanding of such words, as he is much, much more than that. We cannot withstand him on our own! Ephesians 6: 12 warns us “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 2Corinthians 4: 3-4 says, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” And in Ephesians 2:2 “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”
And so, the great battle begins with the battle between Satan and God, but it continues with the battle between Satan and God’s people on earth, where he continues to lead the world astray through his schemes or wiles as Ephesians 6:11 puts it, that encompasses every sin, immoral practice, false theology, and false religion. All of which are spread through the evil world system that he rules, and which are carried out by his demon hosts.
And he began with Adam and Eve when he came in the form of the serpent in Genesis 3: 1-7, deceiving the woman and getting both the man and the woman to eat the fruit that God had forbidden, thus causing Adam and Eve and the whole human race to fall into sin.
We read in Genesis 3:14 that after Satan deceived the woman in the form of a serpent, God cursed him for what he had done. “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.”
This casting down of the serpent to the ground surely is symbolic of Satan being cast out of heaven to the earth, cursed and cast down as an enemy of God and God’s people.
All this leads us to our first great prophecy of Christmas in Genesis 3:15, the prophecy of the seed of the woman, as God continues his curse upon the serpent: “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.”
Here we are introduced to the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The seed of the woman refers to her offspring and the seed of the serpent refers to the offspring of Satan.
Now, in one sense the seed of the woman represents the whole human race, that is, all the offspring of Eve. Satan is against God, and so he is against the whole human race because each human being is created in God’s image.
But in a narrower sense, the seed of the woman refers to the godly offspring of Eve, that is, those who believe and follow God. Surely, this makes better sense of the seed of the serpent because Satan doesn’t have any actual offspring like Eve does. And so, the seed of the serpent are the ungodly offspring of Eve, that is, those who are against God just as Satan is against God. Jesus said in John 8: 43 – 44 when he was talking to the pharisees, “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
Notice how the prophecy speaks of enmity or hatred between the two, there will be enmity between the serpent and the woman, and there will be enmity between his offspring and hers. This enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the women represents the forces of evil displayed against the people of God throughout human history. An enduring hostility between Satan and God’s people.
Cain and Abel were the first two offspring born of Eve, and there was already enmity between the two. Cain in Genesis 4:8 murdered his brother Abel, showing he belonged to the ungodly seed of the serpent rather than the godly seed of the woman.
This enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the women goes on to include Ishmael and his brothers in Genesis 16:11-12, Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25:22-23, Haman and the Jews in Esther 7:3-6; and, of course, Satan and believers today.
Going back to the vision of the great dragon in Revelation 12:17, “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
Surely, this is a direct reference to Genesis 3:15 which applies the prophecy specifically to the continuing battle between Satan and believers who are described here as “those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
All this brings us to the third and final aspect of this great battle. Remember, we can interpret that phrase “the seed of the woman” in several ways. In one sense, it refers to all the offspring of Eve. In a narrower sense, it refers to the godly offspring of Eve. But then in the narrowest sense of all, it refers to One specific individual offspring of Eve. Genesis 3:15, tells us that this enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman would eventually result in a specific individual from the woman’s seed who would ultimately defeat Satan and bring this great battle of the ages to a close.
This great battle which began with the battle between Satan and God in heaven. It continues with the battle between Satan and God’s people on earth. But it culminates in the battle between Satan and Christ, and it began long before Christ was born with the attack on Christ’s line.
Think about it from Satan’s point of view. If Satan could destroy the line of Christ before Christ ever came, then he would prevent Christ’s coming and prevent his own prophesied defeat.
And so, we see a long line of attacks on the line of Christ throughout the Old Testament, and we find one of the first attacks on Christ’s line in Genesis 6:1-2 where we read: “When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.”
Now this is a difficult passage to interpret, and I am not about to try either. Some people see this as an example of angelic beings mating with humans and producing monstrous offspring. Others believe the language is symbolic of the godly sons of Eve intermarrying with pagan unbelievers.
But either way this is a direct attack on the line of Christ. Satan wasted no time in trying to interrupt the godly line of Eve which would eventually result in the birth of Christ.
Another example is the incident with King Abimelech and Abraham’s wife, Sarah in Genesis 20:1-3. God had just told Abraham and Sarah back in Genesis 18 that he would fulfill his promise of a son for them within a year’s time. This son is Isaac whose line will lead to the promised Messiah. So, what does Satan do? He tempts Abraham to lie about Sarah, saying that she is his sister, so that the king sends for her and takes her into his dwelling. If Abimelech sleeps with Sarah and she becomes pregnant, then Isaac will not be born which means that Jesus will never be born.
Of course, God counterattacks and comes to warn Abimelech in a dream, telling him in Genesis 20:3 “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” Abimelech does not sleep with Sarah. Abraham and Sarah give birth to Isaac, and the line of Christ goes on.
But then we have Satan attacking Christ’s line through Joseph and the famine in Genesis 45:7, where Satan tried to wipe out the entire Jewish line through a worldwide famine, but in this case, God made a pre-emptive strike by sending Joseph ahead into Egypt in order to preserve a remnant.
Then of course, there was Pharaoh in Egypt who gave the order to throw every Hebrew boy into the Nile River in Exodus 1:22.
And then we read in Daniel 1: 3-6 how the nation of Babylon captured all the royal sons of Judah and tried to turn them from the Jewish faith by indoctrinating them with Babylonian culture and beliefs.
Of course, Satan failed in all his attacks on Christ’s line, and Christ was born as promised in Bethlehem. So, Satan immediately switched tactics. He could no longer attack Christ’s line, so he began his attack on Christ’s life instead.
And he didn’t waste any time, this time either.
Soon after Christ’s birth, King Herod tried to take Christ’s life by killing all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi in Matthew 2:16.
The satanic origin of Herod’s plot is revealed to us in the vision of the great dragon in Revelation 12 where we read in verse 4: “The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.”
God protected Christ from this satanic attack by pre-warning Joseph in a dream so that they could escape to Egypt, and the child was kept safe from Herod and his attack.
This leads us to the final fulfilment of this first great prophecy of Christmas: the prophecy of the crushed head and the bruised heel. This took place at the cross, where Satan bruised Christ’s heel, but Jesus crushed Satan’s head. Jesus defeated Satan once and for all when he died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day as recalled in Colossians 2:15; “when He had nailed it to the cross”… “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” and Hebrews 2:14-15. “That through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and release those who fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Satan is a defeated foe. He continues to fight and lash out because he knows his time is short. But his doom is sure. Revelation 20:10 clearly states that when Christ returns, the devil and his angels will be thrown into the lake of fire and the long battle will finally be over.
So, this is the first great prophecy of Christmas.
As soon as Adam and Eve fell into sin, God immediately gave the prophecy of the seed of the woman which was fulfilled when Christ came into the world at Christmas and later defeated Satan at the cross.
Satan bruised Jesus’ heel, but Jesus crushed Satan’s head.
Satan is a powerful enemy, but he is a defeated enemy.
Christ has come, Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ is coming again.
When Christ returns, the devil’s time will be done, and he will never engage in battle against God and his people again.
Just as the people of the Old Testament waited patiently for Christ to come the first time at Christmas, so we wait for Christ’s return. It’s not easy waiting. We grow weary from the struggle; we get tired of the fight.
But in the midst of the struggle, we have this prophesy as a sure and certain word of hope.
Christmas is, therefore, an annual reminder that this prophesy has been fulfilled as Christ has come, but there is so much more than this because as we walk towards a New Year we can walk in confidence and assurance holding on to that promise of a prophesy that is yet to be fulfilled, because Christ is coming again. And there is going to be a day when this battle will be over, and there will indeed be peace on earth, goodwill towards men without interruption or end, for ever and ever. “When I stand in glory I will see His face, and there I’ll serve my King for ever in that Holy place. Thank You, O my Father, for giving us Your Son, and leaving Your Spirit till the work on earth is done.” This is what Christ has done for us as promised in this the first great prophecy of Christmas.