What Was the Promise That Was Made?

A look back at the first prophecy about Jesus in the book of Genesis and three themes it covered related to Satan, his ultimate judgment & Christ's victory

by David Wright on December 27, 2010; last featured December 10, 2021

How did Jesus Christ fulfill a promise made by God in Genesis?

And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. (Matthew 2:6)

Despite the depth of our sin and separation from God, a promise of redemption awaits for all who believe (Romans 10:9–11). This promise was first given in Genesis 3. If anyone believes Genesis doesn’t matter, then they are basically saying the foundation for defining sin and why we need a Savior is unimportant. If Genesis 1–11 is not literal history, then we run into some major issues when it comes to the promise God made:

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)

In this very first prophecy about Christ, we see three major themes spelled out. First, there will be enmity between Satan and humans, especially believers in the one true God. Second, the Seed will bruise or crush the head of the serpent. Third, the serpent will bruise or strike the heel of the Seed (i.e., Christ).

Satan is the enemy of God, and in his rebellion, he will try to deceive as many people as possible. He is the deceiver of the nations and the accuser of the children of God. Yet if the promise of Christ in Genesis 3:15 is reduced to mere poetry or metaphor, then we lose the foundation for believing that Satan is literally our enemy, and the force of passages like John 8:44 is diminished.

That the Seed would bruise the serpent’s head is the most important part of the promise. This bruising was more than just a simple pool of blood trapped underneath the skin. 1 John 3:8 states that Christ came into the world to destroy the devil’s work. The bruising of the serpent’s head is symbolic of Christ’s victory over Satan.

As the serpent’s head is crushed, he can only strike at the heel of Christ. Christ makes it clear that his church cannot be overcome and that it will prevail over the gates of Hades (Matthew 16:18). The striking of the heel may represent the tempting of Christ, and in a very real sense, it was fulfilled on the Cross. Jesus was arrested, unjustly tried, tortured, and crucified. Perhaps Satan thought he had defeated Christ, but, ironically, this strike at Christ’s heel would result in the death blow to his head—Satan’s fate was sealed.

Christ defeated Satan, and he is our Lord—the Good Shepherd who leads us.

God’s promise means hope and salvation for all who believe.

Thank God for his patience and kindness towards us and for fulfilling his promise.


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