Redemption as victory, from first to last

Genesis 3.15 is often called the proto-gospel, the first mention of redemption in the Bible. In this verse, God speaks to the serpent, the first judgment oracle after the Fall. Shortly afterwards, he speaks to the woman and to Adam.

After the curse of verse 14 upon the serpent, comes the prophecy of verse 15:

And I will put hostility between you and the woman
and between your offspring and her offspring;
her offspring will attack your head,
and you will attack her offspring’s heel.

The “offspring” is literally “seed,” referring to semen as that which produces an offspring. That offspring will be Jesus.

By attacking the head is meant a destructive blow. Jesus would deal Satan the final, definitive defeat. The head blow means death.

The heel attack is but a wound, not deathly. Satan would hurt man’s offspring, but not destroy him. Just so, Jesus died but rose again.

This verse, early on, depicts the nature of God’s redemptive act as victory in the midst of hostility. Its message is the same as the last book of the Bible: God wins, and those on his side win.

There are not two equal but opposing forces in the world. There are only two forces, good and evil, God and Satan. But they are not equal. God is far superior in every way. And God will prevail.

The language of victory runs throughout the Bible. The Lord Jesus used it as well. For example, to his followers he said,

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.
John 16.33

Here, the world represents humanity in opposition to God, under the control of the evil one. Trouble and suffering that the disciples encounter should not be taken as a sign that the victory is not assured.

The victory of Christ did not come through physical battles or wars with enemies, nor does it today. Jesus won by submitting to the will of God and to the suffering caused by men. His battle and ours is spiritual.

This word of Jesus’, in John 16, is the very last word he speaks in his farewell discourse before his betrayal and suffering. He leaves it for last in order to emphasize it. Next comes his prayer to the Father, John 17.

Whatever happens, the victory is guaranteed. However bleak circumstances appear, there can be no doubt about the outcome. Suffering itself, as submission to the will of God, is a part of that victory.

Victory is not to be associated with any country’s political or social program nor with any international struggle or conflict. The kingdom of God is no longer identified with a nation or ethnic group, as under the Mosaic covenant, during the time of the people of Israel, who were descendants of Abraham.

Victory is now the state of God’s church. It comes to men and women everywhere through the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

This victory is so complete that Paul says we are “more than conquerers.” “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” Romans 8.37 ESV, NRSV. The NLT calls it “overwhelming victory;” the CEB, a “sweeping victory.”

Paul describes the spiritual nature of this victory this way:

For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards, for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.
2 Corinthians 10.3-5 NET

The war of God is engaged in the heart and mind. There is no manipulation or lying, but a simple presentation of the true message of Christ. This message is powerful and able, both in its capacity to save, James 1.21, and in its judgment and condemnation, Hebrews 4.12.

God gave man free choice, and he still does today. Adam and Eve chose rebellion. Mankind chooses to live in hostility toward God. When we hear the message of Christ, we may chose differently. God can and will save us. When we trust in him and obey his commandments, we have chosen the overwhelming victory that no opposition or suffering can overturn.

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J. Randal Matheny

Servant of the Lord at GoSpeak
Randal and his wife have lived and worked in Brazil since 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. Randal's a lefty, a chocolate lover, an author and a poet.

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