GENESIS 3:15

Brother Beebe: - Please give your views on Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heal."

Pleasant Cox
Hancock County, Illinois
January 29,1864

Freely confessing our utter inability to comprehend, much less to elucidate the subject proposed, in all its ramifications, we will only attempt to give such views as we have, and in as intelligible a manner as we may be enabled to do, and leave brother Cox, and all others who may feel interested, to examine and compare our views with the Scriptures, which we regard as our only safe and infallible directory and guide, and we feel most sensibly that even the Scriptures can afford no clear light to our dark understanding any farther than it shall please God to open them to us by his Holy Spirit.

The Scriptures present two grand, sublime and, to finite minds, incomprehensible mysteries. The one is called "the mystery of godliness," and, without controversy, it is very great. The other is of an opposite character, and is called "the mystery of iniquity," which now worketh, long has worked, and shall continue to work, until the mystery of God shall be finished, in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, as God hath declared to his servants, the prophets. (Rev. 10:7) These are both called mysteries, because they are too profound for the limited understanding of the sons of men; they baffle the wisdom of the wise and confound the understanding of the great, the learned and the prudent. These two mysteries were launched upon the world in the beginning, in the morning of the creation, and destined to run their parallel, yet opposite courses, both under the direct supreme power and government of him who reigns God over all, and blessed forevermore. To ask of us to solve these mysteries, to lift the impenetrable veil which God has thrown over them, and so simplify and explain them as to make them clear and plain to the understanding of men, would be to ask of a finite being that which none but God himself has power to do; but this our brother has not asked, he calls only for our views, and, feeble though they are, we attempt to give them.

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman." These words are preceded by a dreadful and irrevocable curse, pronounced upon the serpent, and may be regarded, so far as the serpent is involved, as a part of the curse: "Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field: upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman," etc. The two characters named (the serpent and the woman) were, literally, present before the Lord, to hear from his mouth their respective judgments. Whatever may be said of the serpent, as a beast of the field, and included among the cattle which God had made, or whatever questions may arise as to his form, motive, power, food, etc., we must leave to the speculative mind of the curious, as we have no opinion to offer beyond what is written. It is, however, plainly stated that he was a serpent, having among the creatures of God, a corporeal body, of material substance, which, being made of the dust of the ground, could be sustained and fed upon the same, even of the dust in its crude or unvegetated state. The sustenance of all earthly creatures is by vegetation, and animal life from the dust, every green herb and every tree yielding fruit to be his meat or food, but the serpent is doomed to eat dust itself, all of which, to our mind, has an important significance of which we may speak hereafter. The serpent is repeatedly mentioned in the Scriptures, and among the creatures of God, and from this serpent in the garden, we presume, all that species of reptiles which still infest the earth have emanated. But it is not, in our understanding of the subject, as a mere animal that the serpent is here presented, but as possessing more subtilety than any of the beasts of the field which the Lord God had made; that subtile, unholy, delusive and beguiling spirit which the serpent possessed to a greater extent than any other of the beasts of the field, is what characterizes him as the father of lies and king over all the children of pride. In his mystical character and career, then, we may consider him as the spirit that works in the children of disobedience, as beguiling unstable souls, as going about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. In this character he is called the devil, and Satan that deceiveth. (Rev. 12:9) This certainly is the serpent which deceived Eve, and, through her, the whole world of mankind. And again, he is still more fully identified as "the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan." (Rev. 20:2) We have no account of any older serpent than that serpent which deceived Eve, and, through her, the whole world, and who still is deceiving the whole world. Many names are applied to him in the Scriptures, as the dragon, leviathan, Apollyon, murderer, father of lies, adversary, etc.

Having thus far identified the serpent on whom the curse was pronounced, we will offer a few thoughts in regard to the woman with whom he is brought into collision by the curse and her seed. The woman is easily identified as the only woman then brought into existence or manifestation, the wife of Adam, bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and called woman because she was taken out of man. And Adam called her name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. The apostle Paul informs us that the man was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression, and in Eph. 5:22-33, he transfers the figure to Christ and the church. "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." The woman literally considered, is a part of Adam, and the mother of all his posterity. Beguiled by the serpent, she is in the transgression, betrayed, ensnared, guilty of disobedience to God, naked, ruined and condemned to die, without the least particle of power or ability to avert the ruin in which she was involved' and all her posterity included in her guilt shame. But as the emblematic bride of the Lamb of God we find in her person, her names, her circumstances and in all particulars a typical personification of the bride and wife of the second Adam, which is the Lord from heaven. We are expressly told (Romans 5:14) that Adam is the figure of him that was to come. A figure is a type, an emblem, an image, a representation. We are not told that Adam was the figure, but he is, still continues to be, the image of him that was (not is) to come. In I Cor. 15:45-49, the same apostle says, "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."

It is interesting and comforting, as well as instructive to the children of God, to trace the numerous points of analogy between the woman as the type, or figure, and the church of God, to whom those resemblances point, but in this article we must restrict our remarks to only a few of them. The woman was created in the earthy Adam; the church of God is created in the second, or antitypical Adam. The woman was preserved in Adam, and so the election of grace is sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Christ Jesus and called. Adam said of his wife, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." Christ, by the mouth and pen of his inspired apostle, said to the church, "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." (Eph. 5:30) The life of Adam was the life of Eve, before as well as after she was formed and brought into manifestation, and she never had any vitality independent of him. Even so the church of God existed in Christ, a participant of his immortality, before the world began. Her life was with the Father, and was given to her in the Son, and is hid with Christ in God, and she has not one particle or pulsation of spiritual, immortal and eternal life independent of him. One striking point of analogy appears in the response of Adam to the summons of his creator, which, to our mind, is full of thrilling interest: "The woman whom thou gayest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." (Gen. 3:12) This was not, as we conceive, to throw the blame on the woman, nor on God, nor to exculpate himself, but the words were inspired and prophetic; she was identified with him. If God had not given her to him he had no power to possess her, and if she had not been given to be with him the world could not have been peopled, nor could the designs of God to develop his purpose and grace in the salvation of millions of mankind been accomplished. But mark the figurative import of his words, as coming from the lips of Christ: "Thine they were, and thou gayest them me." "This is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day." "She gave me of the tree, and I did eat." "Adam was not deceived; but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression." How stood the case? The woman was in the transgression, and must surely die; she could not come back to Adam. Was it the design that they should be forever separated, that Eve should die and Adam live? How could that be when their life was identical? What then was the alternative? Au, there was a purpose of God involved that could not be thwarted. She was given to be with him, and although she had no power to return to him, he had power and love and inclination to go to her, to follow her into the transgression, and so she gave to him of the tree, and he did eat. So the church, given to Christ in irrevocable covenant, was designed to be with him, and she shall ultimately reign with him in unfading glory and immortality. But in order to secure this glorious ultimatum, when she, beguiled, betrayed and ensnared by the subtilety of the devil, was in the transgression, condemned by the holy law of God, condemned and under wrath, without the power to return, ultimately without strength even then, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, did not forget the object and immutable purpose of the gift, and although he was not, could not be deceived, he received from her of the tree (which was a figure of the law), and he did eat. For in being made of a woman, he was made under the law, and subject to its demands. Thus at her hand he received of the tree and did eat. He was legally numbered with the tranagressors, and bare the sins of many. Though he knew no sin, yet he was made sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. The earthy Adam had no power to take his life again, for, lest he should put forth his hand and eat and live forever, he was sent forth, driven out, and cherubims and this flaming sword Jesus, our second Adam, encountered, and received the dreadful stroke. It smote the Man that was God's fellow, and was bathed in his atoning blood. But having laid down his life he was able to take it again, and, diffusing that resurrection life through all the members of his body, his bride, he bore her with him to the heavenly places, to live and reign with him in immortal glory.

Having devoted as much space as we can afford to the consideration of the serpent, we will offer a few remarks on their respective seed, and first, the seed of the serpent. The serpent, as a mere animal of corporeal form and animal life, is the progenitor of all the reptiles on the earth or in the sea known as serpents, vipers, dragons, leviathans, etc., and in this sense the serpent's seed is as distinct from the human family as any other classification of the beasts of the field, fowls of the air or monsters of the deep waters. When men are spoken of as serpents, vipers and children of their father the devil, it is not that they are so by natural generation, or corporeal substance, but in their being in possession of the spirit, subtilety, guile and wickedness of Satan. For example, we are told of Cain that he was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. (I John 3:12) There is a sense in which Cain, and many others of the human family, are of that wicked one, but it is not as creatures, for the devil has no creative power, and we have already proved that God is the sole Creator of all mankind; neither is it by natural generation, for God has made all men of one blood. Now Cain, although he was of that wicked one, yet he was begotten of the same father, and conceived and born of the same mother that Abel and Seth were. We are expressly told that Cain was begotten by Adam and born of Eve, and hence was a brother of Abel, whom he slew, but religiously Cain was of that wicked one, and had no affinity or fellowship with the spirit and faith of Abel. As a religionist Cain was a type of all false and ungodly religionists, of whom an inspired apostle says, "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gain-saying of Core." (Jude 11) Those scribes and Pharisees whom John refused to baptize were called a generation of vipers, although they had Abraham to their father, according to the flesh. Others were denounced by our Savior as serpents, vipers, and even children of the devil. "They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man," etc. Jesus said to them, "I know that ye are Abraham's seed: but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye can not hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:33-a) Here we have what we regard as a clear illustration of what is meant by their being children of the devil; not in their human organization, or natural generation, but the spirit which was in them was of the devil. As men he knew they were the seed of Abraham, but in their spirit, or religion, they were not Abraham's children, they had not the faith of Abraham, and were not born of the Spirit which distinguished Abraham, or they would do the works of Abraham. The truth is, the children of the devil are those who have and are governed by the spirit of the devil. The devil himself is a wicked spirit, and cannot beget matter or material substance, nor can that spirit beget any quality that it does not itself possess. Such are the laws of generation. Adam begat a son in his own likeness. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh [it is not spirit] and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit [it is not flesh]." As Satan is a wicked spirit, so he is the father of all wicked spirits. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God," and as many as are led by the spirit of the devil, are children of the devil. Neither their being born of God, nor of Satan, changes their relation to the earthy Adam, for all are alike in that relation. The evidence of sonship, on the one hand, is, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God;" that Spirit of which they are born again bears witness with their spirit that they are the sons, or children, of God; they bear his image, not in the flesh, but in the spirit of their mind, wherewith they serve the law of God. While, on the other hand, the evidence of being children of the devil is, that his children have his spirit. He was a murderer from the beginning, and their feet are swift to shed blood. Misery and destruction are in all their ways, and there is no fear of God before their eyes, and their murderous, destructive, heaven-daring, God-defying, truth-hating and grace-despising propensities clearly show who is the father of the spirit and religion they possess. "I know," said Jesus, "that ye are Abraham's seed: but ye seek to kill me." Enemies of Jesus, enemies of his cause, of his truth, of his word, of his people, yea, enemies of God by wicked works. That Satan does beget his spirit in his children, and that his spirit conforms them to his image and makes them like him, and subjects them to his final and everlasting doom, we think will not be disputed by any who are governed by the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. All the righteous blood of the prophets and saints shall be required of that generation of vipers, who are of their father, the devil, and who do the works of their father. It was this spirit in Cain which moved him to kill Abel, and this same spirit, in the same family, is at this day drenching the earth in human gore and filling our land with widows and orphans, with lamentation, mourning and woe. It is this spirit of devils through which the smoke and venom of hell is belched forth like the flaming vomitings of Vesuvius, in opposing the people of God and the principles of holiness, which devils hate and in which saints delight. O may we try the spirits, whether they be of God, and beware what manner of spirit we are of.

Elder Gilbert Beebe

Republished: The Remnant
Volume 3, No. 5 – September – October, 1989