Jeremy Sarber / The Bible Readers Podcast

The prophecy in Genesis 3:15 (a conflict between people and snakes)

During Joy Christian Church’s observance of the Lord’s Supper on March 4, 2018, I spoke the following message concerning the prophecy in Genesis 3:15.

You heard me say that God foretold the inevitable conflict between husbands and wives. In Genesis 3, he also predicted—promised would be a better word—there would be a conflict between Eve’s offspring and the serpent’s offspring. In verse 15, God tells the serpent, “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” (Ge 3:15).

Despite the most common interpretation of this verse, I’m no longer convinced that God was making an explicit reference to Jesus. Ancient Jewish commentaries typically interpret this verse as a description of the ongoing conflict between mankind and, literally, poisonous snakes.

You can imagine the scene where someone steps on a snake, bruising its head before it retaliates by biting the person’s foot. It’s one attack followed by another attack, but you’ll notice the serpent’s attack comes last. Even John Calvin said of this verse, “I interpret this simply to mean that there should always be hostile strife between the human race and serpents; for, by a secret feeling of nature, man abhors them,” that is, snakes or serpents.

Even so, I believe this verse does have spiritual allusions. Namely, God’s people are involved in a perpetual struggle against “the spiritual forces of evil” (Eph 6:12). The KJV refers to them as “spiritual wickedness in high places.” The woman’s offspring represents God’s people while the serpent’s offspring represents evil in whatever form it may come. Paul says, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Having said that, the astute person will ask, “How and when will the conflict end?” I believe Paul answers both parts of that question in Romans 16 when he says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Ro 16:20). The God of peace will bring Satan’s reign to an end. How? He will utterly crush Satan once and for all. Interestingly enough, he will do so under the believers’ feet. Though God himself strikes the fatal blow, we receive the benefits of his victory.

In Luke 10, Jesus tells his disciples:

“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20)

Finally, Revelation 12 says:

The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come.” (Revelation 12:9-10)

John continues by using symbolic language to describe Satan’s last-ditch efforts to deceive and overthrow God’s people, but he can’t win. Ultimately, Jesus destroys the serpent. After all of those years of biting the heels of God’s people, Jesus kills the serpent once and for all.

Perhaps the prophecy in Genesis 3:15 is not a direct reference to Christ, but it’s most certainly an allusion to the spiritual battle between good and evil, a battle which is ultimately won by Christ Jesus our Lord.