There is an easily missed promise in Genesis 3. You will run right over it and never think about it again because it is never specifically mentioned again in scripture. But it is incredibly important.
The scene of course is the garden “after the fall.” God has gathered the man, the woman, and Satan. All stand guilty before Him: Satan for blaspheming God (‘He lies’ Satan said), Eve for wilful disobedience, and Adam for knowing complicity. Creation is ruined. All guilty parties will be punished. Satan will be forced to a humiliating position before God, and the brightest days of humanity (male and female) will always be overshadowed by hard work.
And that’s when the promise occurs. Satan will remain estranged from mankind – a perpetual enemy. But Eve’s offspring will eventually deliver to Satan a mortal blow.
Which offspring? It surely wouldn’t be a “normal” offspring, and not just any offspring.
Eve may have thought it was to be Cain. Her response at Cain’s birth (in Hebrew) is “I have gotten a man, even the Lord.” Surely such a man would be able to be the end of Satan – but Cain was not to be that man.
And there the text lay – at least until about 200 B.C. when the Old Testament was translated into Greek. The translators did a strange thing. The passage reads: “And I [God] will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your seed and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” “Seed” is a neuter collective noun. The text ought to read “it [or they] will crush your head.” But it doesn’t. It very pointedly and ungrammatically reads, “this seed, HE (singular masculine) will crush your head.”
My point is this: here may be the earliest promise of the Messiah in the Bible. Someone is coming, someone who will undo the mess made by Satan. From even the ruined Garden, God had a plan of restoration.
There are a lot of things I do not understand about the snake story in Genesis three. Chief among them is why the woman does not seem to find it incredible that a snake would talk to her. But another is why she carries on a conversation with the serpent in the first place.
But think about it like this: When Moses wrote this book, Israel knew who the devil was, and they already identified him with a serpent. So, perhaps Satan was not a snake when Eve talked with him. Perhaps he appeared to her as a spirit being. After all, it is after this conversation that Satan is condemned to crawling on the ground (vs. 14).
But I digress.
What is important is how Satan distracts Eve. He first misrepresents God. “Did God really say not to eat of any tree in the garden?” He is incredulous, and he wants Eve to question whether she has heard God correctly, thus sowing doubt. Of course, Satan knew God had commanded no such thing. Eve was quick to defend God, as if God was some weakling who needed defending. And as she does, she overstates the case: Not only can’t they eat of the tree in the middle of the garden, but they cannot touch it. If God actually told her that, it’s new to the story because it has not appeared before.
Then, Satan contradicts God, accuses God of duplicity (being deceitful), and promises her quite the opposite of “you will surely die.”
Note the tactic, often used by Satan’s henchmen in the world. They get us to doubt God. Then they get us to defend God. In our zeal, we go further than God goes and because we have stepped beyond what He has actually said, we find ourselves vulnerable to advice contrary to God’s will. The next thing we know, we are trusting our own senses and making our own decisions without consulting God, believing we’ve misheard God and our way must be right because it sounds right. At least to us.
Eve’s problem was that she fell for Satan’s tricks. Adam wasn’t even tricked. He just bit at whatever Eve was offering without due consideration for the consequences. It’s a particularly male weakness that will arise repeatedly throughout the Bible story.