What the promise foretold
God gave this judgment to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and it also contains a promise:
“I will put enmity [being enemies] between you and the woman [Eve], and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (1) (Genesis 3:15)
Note that God names four participants in this promise: 1) the serpent, 2) the woman [Eve], 3) the serpent’s offspring and 4) Eve’s offspring. Each of these four participants is a symbol for a great contest that would unfold throughout history.
What do these four participants represent?
The serpent and the serpent’s offspring represent people who think like the serpent, who oppose God.
The woman represents Eve, the “mother of all living” (2) (Genesis 3:20)
The woman’s offspring is a “he”, not a group of people. This man comes from the woman uniquely, because God would be his father. His role was to bruise the serpent’s head. The head is the home of the mind, source of all of our thoughts—including our sinful thoughts and decisions to oppose God’s will and laws. This special man would overcome the serpent in his head—he would not give into the serpent’s way of thinking or commit any sins. But the serpent would also bruise the man’s heel—in his nature the man would have the serpent’s sting, leading to his death (3) (Hebrews 9:26).
Eve’s descendant, the unique man, would defeat sin and he would also die. He would win the contest and have victory over sin. How could Adam and Eve benefit from this man’s victory over sin? How did the man’s victory give them Hope?
God gave Adam and Eve a covering made of animal skins for their sin. The animal was offered as a sacrifice and its blood was shed. Adam and Eve needed to put on the covering of the sacrifice (the skins) to cover their sins.
In the same way—but much greater—Adam and Eve needed to put on the covering provided by the man’s death, which would also to be a sacrifice. If they put on the covering, they would participate in the victory the man’s death provided.
Eve did not die on the day that she sinned, as God had ordered. They were sentenced to death but God gave Adam and Eve a reprieve—He postponed their death—in order that Eve could bear children. One of the lines of her children would lead to the birth of this special man—the offspring of the promise in Genesis 3:15. God made the reprieve possible by giving them the covering from the animal sacrifice to put on.
This special offspring was Jesus the Christ, who offered his life sacrificially once and for all for sin (4) (John 1:29; Hebrews 10:10).
We see another symbol here: if we—any descendant of Adam and Eve—put on the covering God provided in Jesus Christ and the shedding of his blood through his death, we can gain everlasting life (5) (Hebrews 9:12,15).
Read the next section on Baptism to see how we can put on this covering.