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A Bruising Blow

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We don’t have to turn in our Bibles beyond its opening chapters before we find an ancient prophecy of the Christ: 

And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, “Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:14–15, ASV).

The setting, of course, is the Garden of Eden. The catastrophic event has just occurred. The curse, the necessary response, is being spoken. But in the curse is a promise. And in the promise is a prophecy. And in the prophecy is a pattern to follow.

In the Garden of our rebellion, God promises that the Tempter—Satan—will someday receive a blow to the head. At the cross of our salvation, Jesus fulfills this prophecy as He delivers this blow. Jesus is “bruised” in the process, but Satan is the recipient of a deadly head shot. 

I’ve always left the interpretation of Genesis 3:15 at the point of promise/prophecy. But perhaps the verse implies something more. I see it as a motivating image for those of us who follow in the steps of the Christ.

I’ve come to have an appreciation for snakes. However, there was a time in life when I felt it was my manly duty to rid such a creature from its slithering presence among us. I quickly discovered that when you step on a snake’s body, all you will do is anger it. The crushing blow to a snake is best applied to the head.

The ancient prophecy tells us that the bruising of a heel occurs in the bruising of a head. What picture does this imply? Imagine a snake has slithered into your peaceful garden. It’s a garden of your own planting, your joy and pride. The snake has not come to merely shelter in your shade. He’s come to usurp and destroy everything you hold dear.

You enter the garden to find that his destructive work has been horrendously effective. The beauty you shaped and celebrated and loved is now marred. Your anger arises—a beautiful, passionate, righteous, justice-bearing anger. You search out your garden for the source of evil. You will not stop until his cowering, coiling body is found. Behind a blighted plant—once so glorious—you find him. He looks up in a mocking glare. You do not hesitate even for a moment. In your holy fury you raise your leg and with every fiber of your adrenalized muscles you bring your foot down on the serpent’s head. His scaly body spasms and contorts. All the weight of your body bears down on its skull. Moments pass. The battle ends. The creature has been crushed. He lies motionless . . . defeated . . . dead. 

Your strike of the serpent has come with such force that you’ve bruised your own heel in the process, but it matters not. You are the victor. The serpent has paid the greater price.

Have you ever bruised your heel? It’s a painful injury, but you won’t die from it. You’ll walk gingerly for some time. It won’t go away quickly. You’ll have frequent reminders of the battle you fought. But if you’ve fought the serpent in the garden, with every grimace you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve won a battle of cosmic significance. You identified the presence of evil. It came to destroy all you cherish, but it was not allowed to rule your garden. You gave it a crushing blow. You paid a price—the pain lingers for a time—but not for a second do you regret it.

When we enter into Christ’s service, we enter into conflict with the enemy. There are times in this conflict that we’ll walk with the limp of a bruised heel as well. But it’s the walk of a victory processional. It’s the strange gait of one who walks in the manner of our Christ.

In his book, Between the Lines, Bob Sorge writes:

Because you walked out the story in righteousness and holiness, eventually you will see that your adversary was much more wounded by your trial than you. One day you will look back on your cross and say, “Wow! That was intense. I really took it in the heel. But my adversary has been bloodied in the head.”

There’s a snake in the garden. He’s already a defeated foe because of Christ’s work on the cross. Satan’s reign of terror is coming to an end soon. We get to team up with Christ in His head-crushing mission. Get your boots on.

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