Then the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:14-15 NLT
Genesis 3:15 is known as the protoevangelium — the first gospel. This is where the thread of redemption begins.
These verses introduce two elements previously unknown in the Garden of Eden, elements which are the basis of Christianity—the curse on mankind because of Adam’s sin and God’s provision for a Savior from sin who would take the curse upon Himself.
In verse 14, God is speaking to the serpent, cursing him to grovel in the dust as long as he lives. In verse 15, God switches from condemning the serpent to the one who inhabited it, Satan.
In this moment of confrontation between God and this personification of evil in this form of reptile a snake, He prophesies that these words would come true: He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.
In the midst of the first sin, in the midst of the fall of mankind, God already has a plan for redemption. We see this passage as the first reference to the cross. The serpent is a personification of evil. An offspring of woman, God sent His Son Jesus into the world to destroy the power of evil and death once and for all (he will strike your head), but this wasn’t a clean blow.
It cost Jesus the striking of snake’s teeth in the heel of a man. In order to do this, Jesus had to suffer the death that we deserve. A death that is impossible to describe or fully understand. Jesus not only endured the pain, but the curse of being sub-human. During the times, Roman crucifixion was reserved for those considered sub-human.
There's a passage in the Old Testament that refers to how cursed a person is who hangs on a tree:
“The body must not remain hanging from the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God.” Deuteronomy 21:23 NLT
Jesus carried the curse of God by hanging on a tree.
In Genesis 3:15, God provides this subtle hint, this foreshadowing and an event that happened over 1,500 years later. God is saying in that moment that one day evil be destroyed, but it will cost something from a seed of the woman to crush it.
Side note (this is free):
“And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” Genesis 3:21 NLT
This begins the first animal sacrifice. In the midst of their shame and brokeness, God made them clothes. And with it this theme of life for life and blood for blood begins.
In Exodus, the Jewish people are spared the punishment of the death of the firstborn because they put the blood on the doorpost.
In Leviticus and Deuteronomy, God establishes animal sacrificial system for different sins. But these sacrifices aren't enough. Piles of dead animals can't remove murder, adultery, idolatry, etc.
Throughout scripture there is a constant foreshadowing of a perfect sacrifice. Culminates some 1,500 years after the first words are written, in a different language, in a completely different setting. The most important event in human history takes place when God becomes man, and decides to die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Everything has all been leading up to this moment, when we find ourselves in another garden, after having just celebrated the Passover, when Jesus prays and asks God to NOT die for your sins.
But that’s another blog post. Spoiler alert.