If you have been following this series, the Struggle of the Seeds, you know there is a theme that can be traced through the biblical storyline beginning in Genesis 3, wherein the devil and those who belong to him seek to destroy those who belong to the Lord, with the ultimate aim of thwarting redemption in the coming Christ. There is enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, but eventually the seed of the woman prevails.
We have looked at two examples in Genesis (here and here), but by no means have we exhausted the theme there. Our objective is to look at just a few examples throughout the Bible so that as we each read on our own, the theme will become more obvious wherever it is found.
Today, we consider just one picture in Exodus. As you may know, at the end of Genesis, God had given Joseph, and therefore all Israel, favor in Pharaoh’s sight. Yet, in Exodus 1:8 we find a foreboding statement: Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
The Israelites had multiplied like mad—as God told Abraham they would (Gen 15:5)—and the Egyptians were afraid that these people would overwhelm and overthrow them (Exo 1:7-10). So the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites—as God told Abraham they would (Gen 15:13; Exo 1:11). Yet, the more the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites, the more they multiplied (Exo 1:12). In the eyes of Pharaoh, something more drastic had to be done.
It’s no leap to think of Pharaoh as the seed of the serpent. According to historians and archaeologists—and even Hollywood—he wore a serpent on his crown! More importantly, remember that we have defined the seed of the serpent, based upon biblical allusions, as anyone who belongs to the devil, particularly identified by their hatred for the people of God. If there is a biblical figure who qualifies, it would be Pharaoh. His idea of a reasonable solution to the problem before him was infanticide: Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live” (Exo 1:15-16).
The seed of the serpent commanded the murder of the seed of the woman.
But the Hebrew midwives obeyed God rather than men (Exo 1:17; cf Acts 5:29). Not one to give up so easily, Pharaoh turned to his own people, commanding them, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live” (Exo 1:22).
Recall that in Genesis 3:15, it was predicted that the seed of the serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. The text of Exodus does not say, but we can only assume that a great many Hebrew boys were drowned in the Nile. This should call our attention forward to another seed of the serpent, Herod, enacting a similar horror to kill the ultimate seed of the woman, Jesus, by killing all the young boys of Bethlehem, an atrocity recorded in Matthew 2:16 and foreseen by Jeremiah (31:15). However, like God’s providential preservation of his ultimate seed in Matthew, He preserves a seed in Exodus 2 in extraordinary and ironic fashion.
Genesis 3:15 predicts not only the bruising of the heal of the seed of the woman, but the crushing of the head of the serpent. We know that this finally happens when Christ will toss the serpent of old into the lake of fire on the last day (Rev 20:10), but it happens over and over in the biblical storyline in a precursory manner as the seeds of the serpent are crushed by the people of God. We’ll not walk through the whole story here, but in Exodus 2:1-10, we find that one Hebrew baby is not only preserved, but raised under Pharaoh’s nose in Pharaoh’s own household with Pharaoh’s own resources. In a sense, Pharaoh would raise the instrument of his own demise. He sought to subjugate the people of God and kill any chance they might have for freedom. God used Pharaoh’s own home as the incubator for a deliverer who would do precisely what Pharaoh wanted to prevent. Pharaoh wanted to put the seed of the woman at the bottom of the Nile; instead, he raised the man through whom God would put the seed of the serpent at the bottom of the Red Sea.
This is a key element of the theme of the Struggle of the Seeds. God doesn’t simply work around the serpent’s efforts to thwart His plan. So mighty and awesome and wise and terrible is the sovereign power of God that the serpent’s efforts to thwart His plan end up serving that plan. Though a mortal enemy, the serpent is an unwitting and unwilling servant of God.