There are three levels of enmity in the curse on Satan:
- Enmity between Satan and the woman: Since redemption does not occur immediately, “the woman” likely does not refer specifically to Eve, but generally to womankind (although not necessarily all women).
- Enmity between the seed of Satan and the seed of the woman: The seed of the woman may refer generally to mankind, but in Gen. 4 we see the seed of Satan (Cain) kill the seed of the woman (Abel). In 1 John 3.12, Cain originates from “the evil one.” John the Baptist calls the Pharisees and scribes a “brood of vipers” (Luke 3.7), a reference to their seed relationship to Satan. Jesus refers to his opponents as enjoined to their “father the devil” (John 8.44). So while the seed of Satan could be the angels (though not descended from him, they are associated with him; cf. Matt. 24.41; Rev. 12.7-9), the seed of Satan is likely referring to mankind that is not saved from its depraved condition and thus opposed to the seed of woman, or that portion of humanity that is redeemed.
- Enmity between a masculine singular (“he”) and Satan: The seed of the woman is also singular masculine, so “he” may refer to the same seed, which in the second enmity is understood to refer to a plurality (cf. Rom. 16.20). However, in this third enmity the plurality of the seed of Satan has been narrowed to one – Satan himself. Therefore, it is appropriate to narrow the seed of the woman to one who stands in place of God’s people. This appears to be the view of the translators of the Septuagint. In Greek the word “seed” is neuter, so if “he” stood exactly for the “seed,” the neuter word “it” would have been used. But they purposely used “he,” a masculine pronoun in Greek.
- By the way, curiously the Latin Vulgate uses “she” to uphold the view that Mary would crush the serpent’s head. There’s no support for this.
There is no word of blessing to Satan as there is to the woman and man – he stands condemned under the curse.
The woman is blessed with childrearing – this is not taken away. But not only is her agony multiplied, but she will be at odds with her husband. She shall desire to domineer her husband, just as immediately after sin desires to dominate Cain. In response, her husband will rule over her – while not necessary grammatically, in context it appears that the husband’s response is oppressive.
Man has brought death upon all mankind, but God blesses him with continued life and sustenance. His labor will be fraught with frustration and death looms.
Why do some men receive the gospel while others reject it? We can see that God sets enmity against Satan in the hearts of some, while others remain at enmity to God.
The covenant of creation may be understood in terms of its general (man’s general responsibilities toward God as Creator) and focal (man’s specific responsibilities within the probationary period) aspects.
Man’s general responsibilities:
- The significance of the Sabbath appears not just in God’s ordering of creation, but as well in that he blessed/sanctified the Sabbath. Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2.27); this reflects God’s very purpose in blessing and sanctifying it at Creation.
- Moses commanded the Israelites to remember and keep the Sabbath to reflect God’s work-rest pattern in Creation (Ex. 20.8, 10-11), and this rest was to extend to the beasts of the field (which indicates that the Sabbath provides rest to the whole of creation through man).
- Man is to be refreshed in the creation by refraining from work (Ex. 23.12; 31.17).
- That the Sabbath is a creation ordinance means that man is given rest in order to honor God as Creator. Man is to bring himself and the fruit of his labor to be consecrated before God.
- There were three “Sabbaths” in Israel: the weekly Sabbath, the Sabbath year, and Jubilee.
- The Sabbath year: every seven years, the land was to rest and enjoy a Sabbath to the Lord (Lev. 25.4). This reflects that though man could use the land, it nonetheless belonged to God.
- The Jubilee year was the end of seven groups of seven years, or the 50th year (Lev. 25.8-22). At the sound of the trumpet, liberty was proclaimed throughout the land, and all debts were cancelled. Isaiah used the Jubilee to herald the work of the Messiah (Isa. 61.1-3). Jesus affirmed himself as the messiah in Luke 4.18-19.
- The Sabbath explains God’s covenant dealings with his people. Israel was in captivity in Egypt. God led them through the wilderness in order to give them rest in Canaan. Moses anticipated this rest (Deut. 12.9-10), but even though Joshua did bring Israel into Canaan, this was not the promised rest on account of Israel’s sin in the wilderness (Psa. 95.11). Because Joshua could not give Israel its promised rest, the Sabbath rest yet remained (Heb. 4.8-9). Furthermore, Israel’s sin meant that the land never truly enjoyed its Sabbath while Israel was in Canaan. It was due an accumulation of Sabbaths (Lev. 26.33-35), which it enjoyed during Israel’s exile (2 Chr. 36.21).
- While Exodus tied the Sabbath to creation, Deuteronomy tied it to redemption (Deut. 5.12). The old covenant anticipated the Sabbath as it anticipated redemption, but the new covenant looks back on it. The new covenant believer looks back on the day that God blessed & sanctified his people through Christ. Hence, the Sabbath begins the Christian’s week rather than ending it. Nonetheless, it is not the promised Sabbath, which yet remains for the people of God at their resurrection.
- “One flesh” refers to the abiding condition of union in marriage, not to temporal moments of oneness (i.e. sex).
- Man is unable to keep the covenant alone; hence, God created a helper suitable to him (Gen. 2.18). Paul stated that man was not created for woman, but woman for man (1 Cor. 11.9). Man’s purpose in creation is not defined vis a vis the woman, but woman’s purpose in creation is defined vis a vis the man. (This relates specifically within the context of marriage, not broadly to all male-female relationships.) Nonetheless, they are intertwined, for they cannot accomplish their tasks apart from the other (1 Cor. 11.11-12). Indeed, man owes his very existence to woman.
- Woman’s suitability as a helper (above the rest of the creation) is that she is made in God’s image and likeness, equal to man. Woman’s “help” is specifically with respect to bringing creation to its consummation goal, for in heaven there is no marriage (Matt. 22.30). The woman’s role will no longer be defined vis a vis the man, but she will be complete.
- Given the fall, the marriage covenant is fractured, as is man’s image. In light of the present distress (1 Cor. 7.26), there is no disagreement between Gen. 2.18 (it is not good that man should be alone) and 1 Cor. 7.1 (it is good that a man not marry).
- Polygamy, homosexuality and divorce contradict the creational order of marriage, although divorce is permissible where the union has been irreconcilably broken (Matt. 5.32; cf. 1 Cor. 7.15).
- God does not merely command six days of labor, but labor according to the pattern of creation.
- Made in God’s image, man has a unique responsibility to “subdue” the earth and rule over every living creature (Gen. 1.27-28).
Man’s focal responsibility:
- God specifically commanded man not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2.16-17).
- If man’s focal responsibility is not viewed as an organic unity with his general responsibilities, then we risk separating man’s spiritual identity from his cultural identity.
- This is the error of fundamentalism, which conceives of Christianity specifically with respect to the salvation of the soul rather than seeing salvation as restorative of man’s very purpose in life within the covenant.
- Yet man’s focal responsibility was the test of his general obedience. Pass the test and be assured of the blessing promised him within the covenant of creation.
- Only the Word of God indicated the unique status of the tree. The tree itself was just a tree apart from God’s Word.
- Adam is not a generic figure standing in the place of every man, but a real historic figure whose decision impacted the status of all men.
- Later, Israel would undergo a testing in the wilderness to teach them that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deut. 8.3; cf. Matt. 4.1).
- The role of the tree of life is difficult to determine precisely within the context of Adam’s probation, but since it was denied to him after the fall, it appears to represent the power of God to sustain man in his present condition (Gen. 3.22).
Yes, God intended from eternity to redeem a people to himself. But this is not the same as saying there was a pre-creation covenant between the Father and the Son. God’s eternal counsels are a mystery; labeling them a “covenant” has no Scriptural warrant.
While the pre-fall covenantal relationship between God and man was certainly based on works, and the post-fall covenantal relationship was certainly based on grace, it is not precise to label them a “covenant of works” and a “covenant of grace.”
- Grace was operative in the covenant of works (though not merciful since man had not yet fallen).
- Works are absolutely related to the covenant of grace (the work of Christ; we were created for “good works”; etc.).
- This distinction makes it appear as if man’s sole work was to not eat from the tree, as if God was only concerned with that one aspect.
- A better nomenclature is “covenant of creation” and “covenant of redemption.”
The distinction between the the old and new covenants concerns the incarnation of Christ. “Old” was based on promise, whereas “new” was based on fulfillment. In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul defines secondary distinctions to support (but not replace) this primary distinction:
- First, those under the Old Covenant were indeed saved by faith. There are not two modes of salvation.
- However, Paul draws a distinction between the law-covenant of Moses and the promise-covenant of Abraham. Both were committed to the same end; the law could not stand apart from the promise. This distinction does not set Moses against Abraham, but provides a unity with regard to justification.
The Mosaic and Davidic covenants are grounded in the Abrahamic.
- When Israel cried out to God because of its bondage in Egypt, God heard their groaning and remembered his covenant with Abraham (Exod. 2.24, 6.4-8).
- Scripture repeatedly shows historical anticipation of a covenantal relationship prior to the formalizing ceremony:
- God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees and declared to him the promises of the covenant (Gen. 12.1). But the covenant bond wasn’t formally instituted until Gen. 15.18.
- God designated David as anointed king of Israel (1 Sam. 16.12) prior to his inauguration (2 Sam. 7.1).
- Christ’s incarnation and public ministry preceded the realization of the promise of the new covenant (cf. Luke 22.20).
- Therefore, the Mosaic Covenant formalizes what was promised beforehand, but does not negate it (cf. Gal. 3.17).
- David recognizes the Mosaic foundation for his covenant.
- The God who instituted his covenant with David is the same God who “brought the sons of Israel from Egypt” (2 Sam. 7.6).
- He directed Solomon to keep the law of Moses so that the Lord “may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me” (1 Kings 2.3).
- Moses pleaded for God’s mercy on Israel (in light of the golden calf incident) on account of his promises to Abraham (Exod. 32.13, 14), not merely on account of the covenant at Sinai.
- David localizes worship since the Mosaic law required a centralized sanctuary (Deut. 12.5, 11, 14, 18, etc.).
- Israel’s devastation is understood in light of the Mosaic covenant (2 Kings 17.13), even though the Davidic covenant was already in effect.
God’s covenants are genealogical.
- Deut. 5.2, 3 and 29.14 affirms the eternal nature of the Mosaic covenant. The genealogical emphasis contains the idea of eternal succession (cf. Deut. 7.9; Acts 3.25).
- The “seed” concept appears in Gen. 15.18; Exod. 20.5, 6; Deut. 7.9; and 2 Sam. 7.12.
- David’s son is not simply heir of the Davidic covenant, but the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants as well.
- Eternal succession includes both grafting and pruning of Israel. People of any nation could become Israelites in the fullest sense, just as the people of Israel could be cut off. However, this does not nullify genealogical succession as the ordinary means by which one becomes part of Israel. “The grace of God in salvation is not against creation’s order; it is against sin.” (p. 40)
The new covenant is similar to the Mosaic covenant in substance/essence (the law of God), but different in mode/form (internal vs. external). Ezekiel relates all the covenants by looking forward to a day in which “my servant David will be king over them, and they will have one shepherd (cf. Davidic covenant), and they will walk in my ordinances, and keep my statutes, and observe them (cf. Mosaic covenant). And they shall live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived (cf. Abrahamic covenant) … and I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them (cf. new covenant).” (Ezek. 37.24-26)
In OT history, the provisions and expectations of the new covenant never were realized. Despite small-scale restorations, Israel nonetheless awaited a restoration of the magnitude envisioned by the prophets. The Lord’s Supper (Luke 22.20; cf. 1 Cor. 11.25; Heb. 8.6-13; 10.15-18) is the inauguration ceremony of the new covenant, and the cross is its fulfillment.
The “Immanuel principle” of the divine covenants is that each conveys “God with us.” Note the repetition of the phrase, “I shall be your God, and you shall be My people.”
- Appears explicitly in connection to Abrahamic (Gen. 17.7), Mosaic (Exod. 6.6-7; 19.4-5; Lev. 11.45; Deut. 4.20; 29.13), Davidic (2 Kings 11.17; 2 Chr. 23.16; Ezek. 34.24) and new covenants (Zech. 2.11; 8.8, 16; 2 Cor. 6.16; Heb. 8.10; cf. Eph. 4.25).
- God’s association with his people is related to his presence in the midst of his people. Tabernacle (John 1.14) becomes temple (Eph. 2.21) becomes city of God (Rev. 7.15). Isaiah finds the climax of God’s presence in a single person (Isa. 42.6; cf. Isa. 49.8; 55.3-4). Hence, incarnate Christ becomes the church becomes the glorification of God’s people.