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.
Now that is puzzling, isn’t it? Here we’re talking about something gracious, and yet even as God describes it, he describes it in the context of conflict. And we look at that, and we say, “How can that be wonderful?” We think of the absence of conflict as being wonderful. Certainly, the best possible thing that we could have at Christmastime is peace, and we rightly pray for peace. And yet, here in the context of a gracious promise, God is speaking of warfare. So we need to think it through. Why does God say it, and why does he say it that way?
The first level is this warfare between Satan and the woman, and, presumably, the woman’s offspring. Why is that gracious? Well, Satan had rebelled against God earlier. We don’t have the details of that in Genesis 1-3, but it is presumed. Here you have an evil being. We call him Satan or the devil. The devil means “the disrupter,” one who is always throwing a monkey wrench into things. And that is what Satan had been doing. And he came to the garden to do that. Now what was his objective? Well, here God had created this race of beings. The first thing Satan wanted to do was to draw them away from God. He wanted them to rebel against God in the same way he had rebelled. And then, secondly, he must have had another objective because what he wanted to do was not only to turn them away from God, but to turn them to himself. Instead of having them worship God, he wanted them to worship him.
Now what we find in the story is that he was successful in his first objective, but he was a failure in the second. He got Adam and Eve to rebel against God. We are all in rebellion against God today, except when the grace of God works in our hearts. But Satan failed in the second objective because when they turned from God, they didn’t turn automatically to worship him. Rather—we would put it this way—they began to worship themselves. They said, “I want to do it my way. I want to be the center of the universe.” You see, sin always works that way. That is what that word, devil, means. I’ve explained it. It means “to disrupt.” Satan can always disrupt. Harmony comes from God, and sin always disrupts. And so Satan succeeded in disrupting the relationship between our first parents and God, but he didn’t succeed in drawing them to himself.
Now what if he had been successful in that? Well, if he had been successful in that, we would have begun to think like Satan. Satan has everything inverted. Satan says the good is evil and the evil is good, and we would have begun to think that way. Everything right we would have considered wrong; everything wrong we would have considered right. Everything holy we would have considered sinful; everything sinful we would have considered holy. In the first chapter of Romans you find the Apostle Paul talking about the decline of the race. What Paul says there is that such decline is the end product of a culture or a life lived in rebellion against God. If you won’t have God, you fall farther and farther down the scale of moral values until, at the end, you end up saying what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right. But we don’t get there automatically or all at once. And the reason we don’t is the existence of this enmity.