Who is the Lord talking to?1
So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
- Genesis 3:14-15
Today’s text contains a prophecy called the “protoevangelium,” which means the first gospel or the first anticipation of the gospel. On this side of the victory of Jesus, we look at this text and see our suffering Savior crushing the forces of evil and chaos in the world, crushing the devil, crushing the serpent even at a cost to himself.
We’ll look at this text in more depth tomorrow, but today we want to linger on one salient and easy-to-overlook feature in the passage. Who is the Lord talking to when he speaks the protoevangelium? Do you see it?
Sure, we’re reading this. We can draw comfort from the knowledge that God had Christmas and Easter and Pentecost generations in the making and that Jesus was not a last-ditch effort at salvation. God always knew he would have to roll his sleeves up and get his hands dirty in order to rescue us from our sin. But we weren’t the primary audience of this first gospel proclamation.
Adam and Eve would have heard it. And this would have given them hope. Although the serpent deceived and tempted them, achieved a victory over them, their story had another chapter. Their children could still have a future. They will resist evil and one of them, one day, will win decisively. But they weren’t the primary audience of this first gospel proclamation.
The Lord God was talking directly to the serpent. Stretch your theological muscles. Why might this be important?
Have fun with it. We won’t share our answers here, but will encourage you to run this thought experiment. This is a great way to let your curiosity guide you into the biblical text and to create space for the Lord to speak to you in your study of the Bible.