This time of year, many believers will embark on a new Bible reading journey. Most likely everyone who has completed a Bible reading plan has also abandoned one. It can be a daunting undertaking. Among the factors causing some to lose interest or traction is the conception of the Bible as a collection of somewhat unrelated material. Of course, we may have been taught that the whole Bible has a Christological focus, but when it comes to tracing anything like a common theme through the whole canon, we are unable to do it.
This series of articles will briefly detail one such motif that serves as a framework for understanding the grand storyline of the Bible. We might call this theme, the Struggle of the Seeds. My hope is that after seeing it in various places, you’ll be able to identify it as you read the Bible throughout the year. The greatest benefit will not simply be a better understanding of the Word, but a greater awe of our God and deeper affection for His Christ.
This theme appears in the very earliest part of the Bible. Just after the man and woman gave into the temptation to eat from the forbidden tree in the garden of Eden, God spoke judgment against all three of the participants—the serpent, the man, and the woman (Gen 3). The serpent was cursed first, but in that judgment the LORD laced a word of mercy:
14 The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
V15 would prove to be a curse both to the serpent and to mankind. God put enmity, constant conflict, between the offspring, or seed, of the woman and the seed of the serpent. “Seed” can and does refer to both individuals and groups. This conflict began at that moment and still influences the affairs of the world. The seed of the woman are all those who belong to the Lord (Rom 9:8). The seed of the serpent are all those who reject the Lord, or we could say, who belong to the devil (John 8:44; 2 Tim 2:26; 1 John 5:19).
As v15 indicates, the seed of the serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. So we see throughout the storyline of the Bible individual ungodly people antagonizing and persecuting individuals who belong to the Lord. Likewise, we also see collective ungodly people (families, nations, etc) antagonizing and persecuting the collective people of God (Israel/the church).
Yet, this judgment includes a promise of victory and salvation. The seed of the woman will inflict a more severe blow to the seed of the serpent—it will crush the head of the serpent. Therefore, throughout the storyline of Scripture, the godly—collective and individual—are shown to triumph over the serpent.
The ultimate manifestation of the seed of the woman is Jesus Christ who came to destroy the devil and free the people of God from slavery to sin and death (Heb 2:14; 1 John 3:8). Jesus is the final seed who brings true salvation; He is the demise of the serpent. Therefore, in the storyline of Scripture, woven through the instances of the seed of the serpent antagonizing the seed of the woman, the motive of the serpent is to prevent the coming of the Ultimate Seed. Yet, his every effort not only fails, but fully backfires, actually serving the purpose of the Sovereign Creator to bring salvation to men. This is part of the judgment of the serpent: everything he does to prevent his own demise only brings it closer. The book of Genesis alone is filled with this theme: Cain vs Abel, Pharaoh vs Abraham, Ishmael vs Isaac, Abimelech vs Abraham, Abimelech vs Isaac, Esau vs Jacob, and the brothers vs Joseph. It is like a line that can be traced through to the final book of the Bible.
In this series, we will point some of these stories out, highlighting the magnificent character of God. First, God is both just and merciful. He cannot abide sin, AND He is faithful to His undeserved promise to man to bring salvation from sin. Second, His sovereign rule is unquestionable. No one can thwart His plan to bring both judgment and salvation. If these themes become hardwired into our minds and hearts, we will not only see them throughout the Bible, but in the world around us and in our own individual circumstances—all for His glory and our good.