God is sovereign – his purposes are never frustrated, his plan never fails. That is a truth full of comfort and assurance for his people. It does not always appear, however, that this is the case. At times it seems as if events are out of God’s control. That appears to be the case in Eden. Adam and Eve had every reason to obey God, yet they disobey, and the results are disastrous for the human race. Nevertheless, God remains in control. In The Bible’s Covenant Story, we consider 3. Genesis 3:15 The Covenant of Grace.
1. The entrance of sin
Sin has already reared its head in the angelic world. The serpent (v1) acts as the mouthpiece of Satan (Revelation 12:9). He seeks to draw God’s image-bearer into rebellion similar to his. The heart of his temptation – ‘you will be like God, knowing good and evil’ (v5). Adam is tempted to put himself in the place of God, an act of covenant breaking. Adam and Eve were placed in Eden under the Covenant of Works, with the single prohibition on eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:17). Adam refuses that covenant provision; he eats and becomes a covenant breaker. As a result every relationship of Adam – with God, with his wife and with the earth – is affected. Because Adam represented all mankind, all are constituted sinners and covenant breakers (Romans 5:19) and all die ‘in Adam’.
2. The promise of a Saviour
God is not taken by surprise. At once he acts, revealing the means by which in grace he will deal with sin. The solution is in v15 – the promise of the seed of the woman (NIV ‘offspring’). There will be a God-ordained spiritual battle, culminating between the Seed and the serpent. The Seed will win the victory, at the cost of pain and suffering. Who is the seed? It is Christ, the eternal Son made flesh. This is the first gospel promise of the Messiah’s saving work. His work is covenantal – he is the representative of all those who will trust in him, his elect people. What he does benefits all who are united to him. They will be ‘made righteous’ (Romans 5:19). In Christ a new relationship with God is established. It is rightly called the Covenant of Grace, flowing from God’s love. In Christ God does all that is required for our salvation. A new covenant relationship is established, bringing salvation.
3. The assurance of victory
There is no doubt about the outcome of the battle – ‘he will crush your head’. It is a declaration of the total victory of Christ the Seed. How is that victory to be accomplished? It is our sin that gives Satan his (illegitimate) claim on us. Christ is our representative who takes on himself our liabilities in the broken Covenant of Works: our liability to punishment for sin and our liability to render perfect obedience to God. Christ supplies both of these requirements. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we are told that his righteousness is counted as ours (supplying the obedience we have failed to render to God) and that our sin is counted as his (dealing with our covenant breaking). We enter the Covenant of Grace because Christ fulfilled the Covenant of Works we have broken in Adam. Satan’s claim on us has been destroyed at the cross wand the empty tomb. We will live and reign with Christ eternally.