By GF Herrin
As part of my 2016 reading plan, Monday is my day to read from the Book of Genesis. I am amazed at how many key Bible verses come at the beginning of the book. The concept of sacrificial atonement in particular is actually presented early in the book. Thus, the foreshadowing of the coming of the Messiah and God-Man, Jesus Christ begins early in the book.
In chapter 3, Adam and Eve commit the Original Sin by choosing to eat fruit from the forbidden tree (Gen. 3:6). Now, you may ask, “Why was eating fruit from the tree such a big deal?” Well, this act was a willful decision by Adam and Eve to not believe that God knew what was best for their lives. Instead, they believed that they knew what was best for them and acted on that thought accordingly. Humankind has been making similar decisions ever since.
After Adam and Eve sin, they try to hide their nakedness by wearing coverings made of fig leaves (Gen. 3:7). God in turn provides them clothes made of tunics of skin (Gen. 3:21) sewn from animal sacrifices made to atone for their sins.
In chapter 4, Cain and Abel bring sin offerings to the Lord. Cain offers crops grown in the fields which are refused (Gen. 4:3). Abel offers animal sacrifices (Gen. 4:4) which are accepted. The idea, then, is presented early on in the Old Testament narrative that sin causes death (spiritual – see Gen. 2:17) and physical (animals must be killed to make a blood offering to atone for the sin committed). So begins a very important typology which ultimately points to the coming of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who came to die for mankind’s sins (John 1:35-36).
We also see in chapter 3 the earliest messianic prophecy in the Bible, which foretells of this ultimate sacrifice for sins that Jesus made for us on the cross and the strife and animosity that will be present between God’s children and the Enemy, the Devil: “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15).
Ultimately, Jesus’ sacrifice for sins on the cross and victory over death crushed the head of the enemy even though he had attempted to bruise his heel in crucifixion. Barton Payne writes, “Christ rendered Satan powerless, broke the fear of death in which he held mankind (Heb. 2:14-15), and by His passion and particularly at His ascension, cast him down from Heaven (John 12:31;Rev. 12:9-10); (in this age), the church crushes him under foot (Rom. 16:20); in the millennium , Satan will be bound (Rev. 20:1-3); and after its expiration, he will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10)” (J. Barton Payne, The Encyclopedia of Biblical prophecy, 158).