Enmity, Grace and Anticipation
December 11, 2016
Some would say that there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who really love cats and those who have never owned them. Others would say that there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who hang their toilet paper over the roll and those who hang their toilet paper under the roll. And still others would say that that there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who walk into a room and say “Here I am” and those who walk in and say “There you are.” Whether it’s for a good laugh or an insightful thought, people often enjoy dividing the world in two.
In today’s scripture, we see the beginning of a world that is spiritually divided in two. And it is a serious matter. God declared war on the serpent. And he promised enmity between the serpent and the woman, between the serpent’s offspring and her offspring. There would now be two kinds of people in the world. Two opposing sides. Two loyalties and allegiances. Two kingdoms. And the difference between the two would be profound. The offspring of the serpent would ultimately align themselves with Satan, whereas the offspring of the woman would ultimately align themselves with God. This profound difference would carry with it enmity, hostility and opposition. It was born out of God’s declaration of war against the evil one. And it divided the world in two.
This division played out on the canvas of history. It was immediately seen in the difference between Cain and Abel. Cain’s murder of Abel was not merely a story about sibling rivalry. Rather, it was a fulfillment of God’s word and promise in Genesis 3:15, that there would be enmity between the offspring of the woman and the offspring of the serpent, that there would be hostility between a people who feared God and believed in his promise of salvation and a people who just didn’t.
This division was also seen in the difference between Noah and his neighbors. It was seen in the difference between Babel who looked for an earthly city built on pride and Abraham who looked for a heavenly city built by God. This division was demonstrated one night with the blood of lambs on Israelite doorframes. This division was validated when the Lord’s consuming fire fell on Elijah’s altar. This division was felt by Ruth. This division was tested in Daniel. This division led to Stephen’s death. This division led to the death of Christ. History shows us an enmity and a difference. History shows us that they are, spritually speaking, two kinds of people in the world.
And praise be to God that in his story, there is no enmity or difference between him and us.
Brothers and sisters, when you stop and really think about it, Genesis 3:15 is the opening number of the glorious gospel of God’s grace. Before we get to the prospect of heaven, before we get to the forgiveness of our sins, before we even get to Jesus Christ himself, the curtain of salvation lifts immediately in 3:15 with this stunning development: God did not declare war on Adam and Eve! This is grace. God did not destroy Adam and Eve right there on the spot. That would have been justice. God did not do that. Instead, God made Adam and Eve a wonderful promise - a promise of salvation and victory. This is grace. It is with amazing grace that God turned the table on the serpent and brought the hammer of judgment down upon the evil one first, instead of bringing it down upon Adam and Eve. Yes, it is true that terrible things came upon them in verses 16-19. But God did not fundamentally declare war on Adam and Eve. God declared war on the serpent. Or to be more precise, God declared that a descendant of Adam and Eve would go to war against the serpent. And this offspring would crush the head of the serpent. This offspring would decisively defeat the evil one. This offspring would covenantally succeed where Adam’s failed. Oh what a wonderful gospel! Oh what a good news! Oh what a special person to look forward to!
And oh what a cost he would have to pay for the promise salvation and victory. For although God declared that he would one day crush the head of the serpent, God also declared that his heel would be bruised. This meant that there would be blood.
Today, we know everything about this promised blood. Today, we know that it is the blood of Jesus Christ that saves. Today, we know that in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us…. Today, we know that we have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Today, we know that we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus.
And today, we know that this grand war is now basically over. Genesis 3:15 has been fulfilled. Jesus lived and died and resurrected and ascended. His work of salvation is complete. His destruction of the works of the Devil is finished. His victory is yes and amen. And his glorious return is now just a matter of time.
But even though the war is over, there is still enmity. To be more precise, there is still enmity that comes our way from non-believers. There is opposition and persecution for us. There are people in this world who do not pledge allegiance to God and do not claim citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. And they just don’t agree with us about the big picture. John writes in 1 John 3:13, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” And Jesus himself tells us in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Jesus also tells us in Luke 12:51-53, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Brothers and sisters, the war is indeed over, but there is still enmity.
Yet though we may receive enmity, we do not return the favor. Instead, our strategy is to love our enemies. Our tactic is to turn the other cheek. And our marching orders are to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded us. Hatred will come our way as we wait for the return of Christ. But we are not to show hatred in return. People will fight us. But we don’t fight back. And the reason why is profoundly simple. We don’t fight back because in Christ we already have the kingdom. We don’t fight back because we have alreay won. Thus, opposition doesn’t bother us much. And instead of seeing the world as our enemy, we see them as our field of harvest for potential friends in the new heavens and new earth.
Having said that, please don’t forget that we are different from the world. We are in the world, but we are not of it. We have different hopes. We have different values. We have different destinations. We have different kings. Don’t forget that there are still two kinds of people in this world.
I would like to close now with this encouraging thought. As we wait for the return of Christ, it can sometimes be hard to see God’s goodness unfold and blossom in our lives. Maybe you feel like God has abandoned you. Maybe you wonder if God is going to do things in your life. But consider this. Consider the amount of time between Genesis 3:15 and the death and resurrection of Christ. That’s a lot of time. A lot of history. A lot of ups and downs. Heaven and earth waited for a very long time for the promised offspring of the woman. But the saints of old kept believing in the ancient promise of Genesis 3:15. They continued to have an assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen. As each generation lived and died, as each century came and went, God’s promise may have felt more and more faint, like a distant echo or a candlelight about to be swallowed up in darkness. And in your life, you may feel like God forgot about you. But you’re wrong. God’s word never fails. God’s promises are always yes and amen. And God never forgets about his people. His people always forgets about him like all the time. But God does not forget about you. The Father was thinking about you when he said what he said in Genesis 3:15. The Son was thinking about you when he died at Calvary. The Spirit is thinking about you right now. If you feel like God is not there for you in your life, I encourage you to read the Bible and see how God did his thing throughout the ages. He did it very slowly. It was in his wisdom to do so. Therefore, do not despair if you find it hard to see God’s goodness unfold and blossom in your life. Rather, have eager anticipation of what is to come. Everyone who believed in the gospel of Genesis 3:15 did just that. And, you know what? I think they turned out okay.