God's Faithfulness is My Protection
Looking back historically we understand the rise and fall of
civilizations wrapped up in the thoughts and desires of humanity.
There is an unalterable law of the universe set forth in creation—we
reap what we sow. Wheat seeds produce wheat, the seed of a human
produces another human—even a thought planted in the mind brings
forth after its kind. A thought has the potential to germinate into
a strong desire, bud and spring into full bloom bearing fruit
affecting our lives—yea, our entire world.
The fall of Genesis reveals the potential destructiveness of the
subtlest misguided desire planted in the heart when allowed to run
its course. Adam and Eve lived in a pristine world. No thorns. No
thistles. No weeds. No clothes. No hostility. No enemies. No
sickness. No curse. No death. Suddenly the world changes in one
regretful decision. One can only imagine how scary it must have been
to have their eyes opened as they hid from God. Imagine traveling
from innocence to wearing fig leaves to cover your nakedness. It was
traumatic. Every pristine blessing is now accompanied with a curse.
Imagine watching that innocent animal slaughtered and the skin
ripped off to cover your nakedness. Try to imagine the shock of
standing over the first grave—the grave of your son—knowing you as a
parent are responsible for his death. I can’t imagine the
impenetrable foreboding shadow being cast over their future—the
future of our world—as they stood by that graveside. Imagine Adam
living 930 years observing the devastation brought upon an innocent
world. He felt the impact of God’s statement, “The day you eat, you
shall surely die.” Imagine the death of the entire planet as we know
it is wrapped up in a simple misguided thought.
The Curse of Evil
Contrary to popular belief the curse in Eden is not the curse of
God. It is the curse of evil. It is the same curse inherent in every
evil thought. Evil seeks to master us through the earthshaking
curse. “Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your
face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?
But if you do not do what is right, sin [evil] is crouching at your
door; it desires to have you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:6-7
Evil would bring a curse even if there were no God. In fact, evil
rules God out—when God is ruled out evil reigns through its
enslaving curse. I can’t imagine the terror of evil reigning in
eternity. How horrible will an eternity without God be where evil’s
curse will reign unrestrained? The inborn deathly destruction and
devastation evil brings should be a deterrent in restraining evil
The main thrust of salvation and redemption must be understood in
light of God salvaging creation from the curse of evil. His goal is
to bring his entire creation back to his original plan and purpose.
The first promise of God’s deliverance from evil was given in the
So the LORD God said to the serpent,
"Because you have done this,
"Cursed are you above all the
and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 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." NIV
God promises to bring the full curse of evil back upon the one who
brought the curse into the world. God’s salvation would rise from
the offspring of woman to crush evil forever destroying the curse. .
He reaps what he has sown. He would be cursed above all those he
brought the curse upon In God’s promise to bring evil back upon
evil’s head is God’s plan of deliverance to humanity through the
seed of woman.
There is absolutely no way of understanding the Bible without
understanding this one basic principle. Everything written is
directly connected to this promise in Genesis 3:15 and its
fulfillment. The biblical narrative is God’s unfolding story of
deliverance for humanity through the seed of woman. The biblical
narrative begins with Eden lost and ends in Revelation with Eden
restored. It begins with the curse Satan brings into this world; it
ends with the destruction of Satan and everything that is evil. It
ends with Eden restored.
And the devil, who deceived them,
was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the
false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night
for ever and ever. NIV
The biblical narratives concentrate on the promised deliverance and
its fulfillment. To understand the full extent of what is being said
here we must connect Genesis 3:15 to the following verses:
Galatians 4: 4-5
But when the time had fully come,
God sent his Son, [Jesus Christ] born of a woman, born under law, to
redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of
These verses in the book of Galatians reveal the fulfillment of the
promise made in Genesis 3:15. God sent his Son, born of a woman,
born under the curse to redeem those cursed. He came to restore the
full rights we had in creation as the children of God.
Salvation through Abram’s Seed
The Old Testament reads like a mystery holding out seemingly vague
promises which only leave the reader wondering how it all will work
out in the end. In Genesis chapter twelve God begins to unfold his
mysterious plan to redeem his creation through Abram’s descendants.
. The first vague promise of redemption in Genesis 3:15 is
mysterious. God makes another seemingly vague promise that he would
bless all the peoples on earth through Abram’s descendants.
12:1 The LORD had said to Abram,
"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go
to the land I will show you.
2 "I will make you into a great
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you." NIV
The promise to Abram was mysteriously vague as he peered into the
future. However, the promise becomes clear to us through
retrospection. Retrospection is always enlightening. Looking back on
my life there are some things very obvious to me that I should have
done differently. Retrospection makes clear what was unclear at the
time the decisions were made. We call it 20/20 hindsight. Likewise,
today we can better understand biblical history in retrospect.
Paul tells us the mystery has been revealed in the gospel of Christ
The New Testament traces God’s history backward through the
righteous seed of Abraham. Matthew writes his gospel for the Jews as
he traces the descendants of Jesus back through the Jewish
genealogical record to Abraham. He seeks to show that Christ is the
fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham (Matthew 1:1ff). Christ is
the seed of Abraham through whom all the peoples of the earth shall
be blessed. Christ is the one who crushes Satan’s head, while only
Christ heal is bruised (Genesis 3:15).
Today we have a clearer picture of the promise God made to Abraham
and his descendants because we are heirs according of the promise.
Paul writes, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves
with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male
nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to
Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
promise” (Galatians 3:26-29 NIV). Abraham’s descendants simply
relied upon God’s promise. Today we have inherited the promise
through Jesus Christ. The New Testament reveals that we are the
recipients of those promises. In retrospect we are the heirs of what
Abraham could only hope to come to pass.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope
believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had
been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." NIV
Deliverance from the Curse
God’s promise to Abram isn’t simply futuristic. Surely, it holds out
hope for the future. Yet, it was a promise to guard and protect
Abram from an evil. God says, “I will bless those that bless you. I
will curse those who curse you.” The story of the Old Testament is
about how God’s people lived while holding onto his promises.
The amazing thing about God’s promise to Abraham is how God
personally reveals himself to Abraham as he struggles to believe and
obey God’s promises. It gives a believer an appreciation of what God
is doing in the life of every believer seeking to obey.
Time passes after God’s initial promise to Abram. Abram begins to
question God’s promise.
15:1 After this, the word of the
LORD came to Abram in a vision:
"Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward."
2 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD,
what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will
inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "You
have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my
4 Then the word of the LORD came to
him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own
body will be your heir." 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at
the heavens and count the stars — if indeed you can count them."
Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
6 Abram believed the LORD, and he
credited it to him as righteousness.
7 He also said to him, "I am the
LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this
land to take possession of it."
8 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD,
how can I know that I will gain possession of it?" NIV
We are so much like Abram. We question God as seek to walk by faith
in the unseen. God promises to be Abram’s shield [protector] and his
very great reward. Hope seems so mysteriously vague. God renews his
promise to Abram. Still, Abram persist asking, “How can I know . .
.?” How can he know God’s promises are true? How can we know his
promises are true?
God speaks to Abram saying, "You can be sure that your
descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, and they will be
oppressed as slaves for four hundred years. But I will punish the
nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with
great wealth. (But you will die in peace, at a ripe old age.) After
four generations your descendants will return here to this land,
when the sin of the Amorites has run its course" (Genesis
Prophetic statements such as this one are often disconcerting. We
may question God. We ask ourselves, “Why would God do this to
Abraham’s offspring.” God says, “You can be sure that your
descendants will be strangers in a foreign land . . . oppressed . .
. enslaved . . .” Initially, it seems as though God is bringing a
curse upon Abraham and his descendants.
God knew Abram’s descendants would be living among those who were
allowing the destructive course of evil to run its course. He knew
the precise hardships they would face as they sought to live in an
evil world. It is not the curse of God but evil’s curse bringing
this to Abram’s descendants. He knew the curse would seem
overpowering and debilitating as they lived as strangers in this
foreign land. This is a promise of deliverance despite the evil
forces. It is a promise of his ultimate protection. It was a renewal
of the promise made to Abram in Genesis 12:1-4—God would bless those
who blessed Abram and curse those who sought to curse him.
The value of the biblical stories is that they are filled with
examples of warning and encouragement as we struggle to follow
Christ. The Bible reveals that we can’t hide from the curse or
isolate ourselves from its affects, but we can trust in God for
deliverance. God sees the end from the beginning. He sees what sin
is going to do. He sees the fruit it bears before it begins to
germinate in hearts. God knows the outcome of every evil action.
God has already made a way of escape.
1 Corinthians 10:11-13
11 These things happened to them as
examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the
fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are
standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13 No temptation has
seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he
will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you
are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up
under it. NIV
God continues to bless those who bless his children and curse those
who curse his children as he provides a way of escape for his
children. It is God’s way of reminding us he is in control, even
when it doesn’t seem like it. He wants us to be able to focus on
what he is asking rather than fighting the curse of evil.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for
evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If
it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with
everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for
God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will
repay," says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something
In doing this, you will heap burning
coals on his head."
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but
overcome evil with good. NIV
In the previous chapter of Genesis, Abram fights with the kings of
the plains of Sodom as he sought to rescue his nephew Lot. God gave
him victory, but his victory didn’t leave him feeling confident. He
knows aggression breeds aggression. Others would perceive him as a
very real threat to be defeated. God steps in and reveals his plan
for the deliverance of Abram and his descendants. God reveals the
future of Abraham’s descendants for the next four hundred years,
then God makes a personal promise to Abraham, “Your people will
return to inherit this land . . . you will die in peace, at a ripe
old age” (Genesis 15:13-16).
God’s salvation and deliverance in the ancient world was all
inclusive. It went beyond forgiveness as a merciful God interceded
in the affairs of their world. It was a promise to sustain and
protect them as they trusted God to work out his plan for their
lives. They weren’t trusting God to do the miraculous. They trusted
him daily for the ordinary things of life.
Salvation history reveals evil running its destructive course. About
five hundred years after Abram God judged the Amorites and gave
their land to Abram’s descendants as he led them through the Red
Sea. When sin ran its course God exterminated the inhabitants of the
land of Canaan.
Personal Scope of the Promise
The story of Abraham is about God seeking Abraham.
8 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD,
how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"
9 So the LORD said to him, "Bring me
a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove
and a young pigeon."
10 Abram brought all these to him,
cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the
birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came
down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. NIV
What is about to happen was common to the ancients. “Ancient Near
Eastern texts reveal that these procedures were used by men making
compacts or covenants. Ordinarily, both parties to the covenant
agreement passed between the halves of the split animals and thus
signified their solemn intention to abide by the agreement, under
penalty of experiencing the same end as the sacrificial victims if
they failed to keep the covenant” (Jeremiah 34: 18-19). (Clyde
Woods, Genesis-Exodus, The living Way Commentary on the Old
Testament, 1972, Clyde Woods.)
Jeremiah gives us a clearer picture of the meaning of what every
animal sacrifice in the Old Testament symbolized.
18 The men who have violated my
covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made
before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then
walked between its pieces. NIV
God condescends to give assurance to Abram as he literally cuts a
deal with him.
17 When the sun had set and darkness
had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and
passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant
with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the
river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates — 19 the land of
the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites,
Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites." NIV
Making an animal sacrifice was like saying, “May God treat me like I
have treated the sacrifices I walk between, if I fail to live up to
my promise.” However, here in Genesis 15 we find God entering the
covenant. It is God making the promise. Abram merely prepares the
sacrifice for God to pass between. It is God who descends to
accommodate himself to something tangible for Abram’s sake. It is
God who is saying may I be treated like these sacrifices, if I fail
to live up to the covenant I have made with you.
13 When God made his promise to
Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he
swore by himself, 14 saying, "I will surely bless you and give you
many descendants." 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham
received what was promised. NIV
The New Testament reveals to us the fulfillment of all the promises
of God to Abraham. They come to us through Jesus Christ. God
continues to protect and salvage those who call upon his name.
After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers
began their trek up a
a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird
literally petrified in the ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground
at the base of a tree.
Intrigued by the sight, he touched the bird gently with a stick.
When he did, three tiny chicks scurried from under the dead mother’s
wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had
carried her offspring to the base of the tree and gathered them
under her wings.
She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her
babies. She was willing to die, so those under the cover of her
wings would live.
As we read the Bible we understand God’s unwillingness to abandon us
to the curse and shame of evil.
He who dwells in the shelter of the
will rest in the shadow of the
2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my
and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
3 Surely he will save you from the
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his
and under his wings you will find
his faithfulness will be your shield
and rampart. NIV