The Child and the Seed
A look at the cosmic battle Satan is waging against God—and God’s Protoevangelium
It has been said the key to all Messianic prophecy hangs at the Bible’s front door and was given by God to that “old serpent, the Devil.”1 Strange though it may seem, Satan was the first one to learn of a Deliverer who would effectuate his demise. “To him [Satan],” wrote Bible commentator Herbert Lockyer, “was given the initial promise and prophecy of redemption from the sin he had brought into God’s fair universe.”2
The prophecy is Genesis 3:15—the first in a chain of prophecies tracing the Seed of the woman through the Bible to its ultimate fulfillment in the Messiah of Israel. The Messiah’s victory over Satan shines like a beacon in the book of Revelation where, among other things, He is the “male Child” in Revelation 12:
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne (vv. 1–2, 4–5).
The woman is Israel; the dragon is Satan; and the Child is Jesus, divinely named Yeshua (salvation) in Hebrew, “for He will save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21).
But the history of humanity doesn’t begin in Revelation. It begins in Genesis, when God created Adam and Eve in His image and gave Adam dominion over the earth to rule it for His glory (1:26–28).
Satan, whom God created sometime before Adam, saw Adam as a rival. Speaking through the serpent, he deceived Eve into rebelling against God by eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden. She gave the fruit to Adam, the federal head of humanity, who then ate it willingly. Adam’s sinful disobedience brought spiritual and physical death to himself and all mankind, and Satan became “the ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31) and “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).
From that time forward, everyone has been born a sinner into a world system dominated by the Devil, whom Jesus called “a liar and the father of it” (Jn. 8:44). It is only when we repent and turn to Israel’s Messiah that we are delivered “from the power of darkness” and conveyed “into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). Faith in the Deliverer saves us.
With Genesis 3:15, the battle lines were drawn; and Satan would do everything in his power to “devour” the Child (Rev. 12:4).
The Four-Pronged Protoevangelium
Genesis 3:15 is called the protoevangelium (first gospel) because in it God revealed His redemptive plan for humankind and creation. He told Satan the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” This prophecy has four aspects:
1. THE COSMIC BATTLE. The word enmity (hostility) expresses an ongoing hatred. Satan will never stop warring against the woman (Israel, Rev. 12:1–2) because of her redemptive role in birthing the Messiah, the Savior of the world. This satanic hatred has undergirded all forms of antisemitism for thousands of years, including the modern version: anti-Zionism.
The word seed usually speaks of human, physical progeny. But in Scripture, it also identifies people morally and spiritually. The serpent’s seed refers to Satan’s kingdom of demonic forces and unbelieving, wicked people who pattern their lives after the Evil One. They hate God, His program, the Messiah, and all believers in Jesus. They are children of the Devil (cf. Jn. 8:44).
2. THE DIVINE BIRTH. The “Seed” of “the woman” refers to the Messiah, who would be supernaturally conceived by an Israelite virgin (Isa. 7:14; cf. Rev. 12:2, 5). Scripture traces the Seed’s bloodline through His mother: “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi . . .” (Lk. 3:23–24, ESV). Explained Bible scholar Dr. Charles Ryrie,
Luke affirms the Virgin Birth by the phrase being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli. Joseph was Jacob’s son by birth (Matt. 1:16) and Heli’s son by marriage. This is apparently the genealogy of Jesus through His mother, Mary.3
This historical record runs contrary to all other genealogies in Scripture, which trace descendants through the male seed.
3. THE BRUISED HEEL. Satan “shall bruise His [Messiah’s] heel” (Gen. 3:15). The Messiah would suffer immensely, culminating with His crucifixion on a Roman cross. This was God’s plan. Jesus was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8) as the final sacrifice for mankind’s sin. As the writer of Hebrews said, “Now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (9:26). Three days later, Jesus arose from the grave and will one day return in glory to restore the Kingdom of David.
Although a bruised heel is painful, it is not fatal.
4. THE FINAL BLOW. Satan, however, will be destroyed. The Messiah will “bruise” his head, dealing him a lethal blow (Gen. 3:15). His ultimate destiny is the Lake of Fire, where he will be “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).
Jesus came to Earth to free us from bondage to Satan. His death and resurrection broke the Devil’s power over death and guaranteed his eternal damnation. Today, “the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan” (v. 2), presides over a doomed domain. But the “male Child” will return as King of kings and Lord of lords “to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (12:5). As Isaiah prophesied,
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. . . . Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever (Isa. 9:6–7).
- Herbert Lockyer, All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1973), 59.
- Charles C. Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible, ESV (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2011), 1,242–43, n Luke 3:23.