By Bill Baldwin
Studies in Genesis
Adam names his wife
Ironically, Adam's first act of faith is to speak a word in contrast to the curse God has just pronounced. God says he will die, returning to the dust; and Adam immediately names his wife Eve because she will be the mother of all living. Yet this is no fist-shaking defiance, as of one who swears he'll beat this lousy curse. Rather, it is a statement that he caught the promise buried in that curse - the Seed of the woman shall triumph. Thus, renaming his wife, he confesses his faith; and the Lord accounts it to him as righteousness.
By this renaming, he confesses as well that he is no longer a covenant head capable of leading his posterity into Life. He himself trusts in another, and so must his posterity. Adam's purpose - to be the bringer of life - is redeemed. He lost that purpose in the Fall, but now it is filtered through God's grace and against all hope restored. Adam can no longer lead us into life, but still he is given the privilege of pointing the way. This woman-Seed, who will crush the Serpent's head - he is the source of Adam's hope. And so must he be of ours. Adam failed to defeat the serpent. Now he teaches us what it means to trust in the One who will succeed. Face with cursed labor and certain death, he cries out, "Yet there is One who's labor shall not be in vain. The woman shall bear Him. And all who trust in Him, though they die, yet shall they live."
And the woman, whose childbearing was cursed, will by childbearing save the world. The woman who heeded the serpent will bear a Son who will crush him forever. In great pain and labor she will bring him forth, but she ... will ... bring ... him ... forth.
What mercy! What grace! What an unexpected, undeserved, and unrepayable display of God's infinite kindness. God has come in curse and in the middle of the curse he has smuggled in blessing. And the very agents of that Fall have become the agents by whom his blessing shall spread. May he be praised, honored, and adored forever.
Come, you who have learned from Adam how to sin. Learn from him how to believe. Learn from him to stare the curse and death itself in the face and cry out that this is not the final word. Jesus, your righteousness, has risen from the dead. In him the miseries of this life are vanquished. In him death itself has been rebuked and conquered. Do not believe what your eyes tell you - that labor is futility and all ways end in death. Believe what Adam tells you when he says this woman-Seed will restore it all and more! The Seed has come! Let no one be ashamed who trusts in Him. Let no one be ashamed to suffer the ravages of the curse and the persecution of the world and the stingless assault of death itself. In Him is life and joy and fruitfulness and peace.
Come, you mothers and mothers-to-be, bear your children without fear. Eve bore her children into a world of sin and death. Yet she bore them in hope that through her the Seed would come who would bring righteousness and life. The Seed has come. You and your children will be saved by that childbearing, as Paul says. You do not fear to bring a child into this world as though you bear it into a world of death. You bear the child to life. You bear your children because the Lord seeks a godly offspring and counts your children holy to himself. You bear them that they may hope in that Seed, that they may fill a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells. And so they shall, though you lose them in the womb.
Come, you Fathers, who have passed this Fall and curse on to your children. Because of you, they are sinners. Because of you they suffer and will die. And you cannot by your works set before them an example of the perfection God accepts. The perfection God rewards with eternal life. Yet, like Adam who passed sin and curse to you, you can point to the Seed, to Jesus the Son of God. Your children cannot trust in you; you cannot vouch for them in the terrible Day of God's wrath. But Christ can. Whatever you do, teach your children to trust in Christ. Tell them about him. Point them to him. And let nothing turn you aside from him lest your children be turned aside as well.
Come you barren who cannot bear or have never borne. The One who above all others must be born, he has been born. And he has brought Life. He will wipe away your tears and take away the reproach of the curse and make the barren woman the mother of thousands.
God knows the end from the beginning. And here, at the beginning, he has told us the end. So we grieve over the Fall and the curse, over sin and over death. But we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Christ has already defeated the serpent. At a different tree of judgment he has paid the dreadful curse for our souls. And he has been raised again, the judge of all the earth. The serpent and all the serpent seed will at last be judged. That last great and terrible day of the Lord is coming and the serpent's head will be crushed. Joy shall be restored and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. And death itself shall die.
Be sobered by this curse lest you trust in yourself. But do not be overwhelmed. Trust in Christ, the Seed of the woman, and rejoice in what he has done and in what he is coming to do.