This struggle between Satan and God’s beloved Son is evident throughout the life of Jesus. Probably the devil worked upon Joseph at the very beginning to suggest to him that Mary was pregnant by another man, and that he should therefore expose her. However, we are told that Joseph planned instead to put her away privately, but nevertheless to turn away rather than provide the protection that God put Joseph into the story to do. It required an angel to come to Joseph. God intervened so Joseph would take Mary under his wing and protect her from the kind of things that would be said and done if she were exposed in that manner.

What God has said here in Genesis 3 is that he is giving a divinely established struggle between the woman and her descendants and Satan. We are terribly depraved, but we don’t automatically assume that Satan is right. That is a blessing that results from the warfare that goes on. We have a fallen spirit within, and that is why we are in dreadful danger all the time of being drawn after Satan—because that within us inclines in his direction. But, you see, it isn’t wholehearted, and there is a struggle involved even when we sin as sinners. When we sin, we want to be happy in it, but we find that we can’t be. That is because this is still a moral universe, and God has set up the antagonism.

It is not surprising that we find a prophecy of Jesus in the Old Testament. But what is surprising is how gracious this is. Here is God speaking in grace in the context of the judgment, and I want you to remember that about Christmas. Christmas is God’s grace to people who deserve his judgment. Now what this verse speaks of is enmity. And it speaks of this enmity, or warfare, on three levels—between Satan and the woman, and presumably all human beings; between his offspring and hers; and then, finally, a conflict between the woman’s great descendant Jesus Christ and Satan himself.

Our focus this week is on Christmas, and I want to begin by saying that if the birth of Christ is the center of the Word of God, together with his death and resurrection, then we should expect to find it everywhere throughout the Bible. Now we do find it in Revelation 12, but we also find it as early as Genesis 3. As I say, we should expect to find it throughout the Bible. And yet, when we turn to Genesis 3 to find the prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ there, it is, nevertheless, surprising because this is not a pleasant scene.

What are some practical steps we might take to get the Bible into our minds and hearts and begin to make progress in the Christian life? The psalmist seems to be writing primarily to the young in this stanza, so it is not surprising to find him ending with four points of very practical advice, expressed in terms of his own experience. We might call them four exercises designed to help us master Scripture.