Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4-5

Through all the warm family gatherings, behind the age-old traditions, beyond the cheer of gift giving and even the nostalgia of our own childhoods, there is a longing inside each of us. The Spirit of God moves over His Word in the Old Testament showing us that prophecies were made about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. That same Spirit who recorded those prophecies, which were fulfilled in Jesus, moves over us and whispers to all who will listen, “There is something more . . . ” This Advent season we will explore that something more as we discover the meaning of the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Lord Jesus as interpreted by the New Testament.

We begin with one of the most important and potent verses in all the Bible – the words given by God to the devil, still in the form of a serpent, in the presence of Adam and Eve, sticky juice from the forbidden fruit still on their hands and lips. God had promised that if Adam and Eve would keep His command, they would live; but if they violated His commandment, they would be punished. However, in the midst of pronouncing the punishment, there is a word of hope.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5).

Prophecy – Judgment, and Promise

We hear a lot about dream homes. That usually means a farm or that perfect house with the extra guest room or a cute bungalow with the sunny back porch. But there is another dream home.

It is the dream home Frederick Buechner wrote of in his book The Longing for Home. He asked a question about that dream home on behalf of all of us:

What is the connection between the home we knew and the home we dream? I believe that what we long for most in the home we knew is the peace and charity that, if we were lucky, we first came to experience there, and I believe that it is that same peace and charity we dream of finding once again in the home that the tide of time draws us toward. The first home foreshadows the final home, and the final home hallows and fulfills what was most precious in the first.1

I believe he is right. I meet all kinds of people going every which way, but I think that beneath it all, they are searching – no, longing – for home.

My wife and I once visited the movie and television studios at Universal City. There I saw the house that was the opening shot for the “Leave it to Beaver” television show, only to learn that what you are really seeing on all of those TVLand reruns is a prop, a shell. There is nothing beyond the façade of the house.

That is what many of us settle for – a façade of the home we really want, maybe in a new relationship, maybe a new job in a new city, maybe a new husband, maybe a new religion. Surely, there must be something to help us find the home we really want. Some of us never quite pin down the longing. Some of us have given up on a place called home.

But God has not given up on us. Genesis 3:15 is a prophecy about home. But it is more than a prophecy. It is a judgment on the facades, on the fakes, and on the evil one who leads us to settle for less that what God has given. Then again, Genesis 3:15 is about a promise, or to use the biblical word, a covenant.

It is a judgment that was given to the devil. The message was that the great battle of the cosmos, which he had initiated, would end in his defeat. His rebellion against God, which turned freedom into bondage for the creatures who bore God’s image, would be broken. The reign of evil now begun on earth, the reign which cast the world into frigid darkness for a season, will come to an end. Mysteriously, evil, which seems out of control, is actually, as Luther said, on a leash tethered to the very will of God. And in the greatest irony in the universe, from the seed of the woman who was tempted into sin first, would come a promised judge who would crush the head of the serpent. Though Satan would strike the heel of this victor to come, the venom was not equal to the power of the lifeblood in this covenant Savior. Satan will be crushed and the Redeemer will be victorious.

However, the same words spoken in judgment become, for the woman and the man, words of hope, words of life. The prophecy is a covenant. It is, in fact, the second covenant. The first covenant was that if they kept the word of God perfectly, they would live. It was a covenant of works – keep my commandments and you shall live; violate them and you will suffer the terms of this covenant: death. The sin of Eve and Adam had now broken the covenant and they became subject to the penal terms of that first covenant, which was death. So in the words spoken by God at this tribunal, a second covenant was established. God, through the seed of the woman, would bring forth one who would crush the evil one and become her redeemer.

It was hard to see it all in these few words of Genesis 3:15, but the remainder of the Bible would rest on what had just happened. It will take the calling of a man Abraham to further unveil the power of what was happening at this moment. It will take Moses and David and the prophets, like Isaiah, to finally see the magnificent life that is proleptic in this Promised One. The law of God, which was broken, would have to be kept. Moreover, the punishment would have to be met by God Himself to release Adam and Eve from the bondage they had encountered. We will come to see that in giving a second covenant, a covenant of grace, God would, through this Promised One, do what they could not do for themselves. He would keep the terms of the first covenant for them. He would be tempted and yet not sin. He would suffer for them, and become Himself the substitution for them and their progeny and take the punishment of sin. That is what we are reading about in Galatians. Galatians provides the commentary on this verse. This passage is about Eden, which was lost and which you long for, being restored.

Thus, Genesis 3:15 is a judgment and a promise, and the rest of Scripture unfolds the intention of God in these verses. From that moment on, the darkness, which would spread across the earth, was a tenuous darkness that would await the promised light, and those in bondage had but one hope: trust in the Word of God that hope was coming.

What is revealed in that one verse and unfolds in time affects every human being who has ever lived. Moreover, it affects each one of you today. Beyond the light of the Advent candles and in the words of our familiar carols and behind the calendar which marks something spectacular is the drama of this verse at work in your own soul and mine. It is the greatest drama of the ages. It is the answer to the longing for Eden, the longing for home.

Based on what is revealed in this eternal Word, we come to understand three major truths that put life and eternity into focus so that we can finally find home.

Everyone Has a Longing for Eden

What happened in Genesis 3:15 affects us all. God’s original intention for mankind was Eden, a place to call home forever. However, through the sin of our first parents, we have inherited that sin condition. We, too, live on the outside of the place called home. In a word, we live in exile. Simone Weil says,

To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.2

You say, “I have lived in Chattanooga all of my life. I have never moved, except for that time I went off to college, and then I came back as soon as I could.” But I am not speaking of a home here. Your home here is temporary. The Bible says,

. . . he has put eternity into man’s heart, . . . (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Every man and woman who ever lived intuitively longs for his or her eternal home. You were made for Eden.

We are told that, ironically, the saddest time of the year is Christmas. Why is it that in the presence of such a commercial party, there is sadness? There are many reasons, but deeply rooted in this phenomenon is this longing for home. Not just the home of the “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” song, but also a ticket back to the place where you instinctively were made to be.

Early in our marriage, I was traveling on business. It was Christmas time, and my business obligations took me a long way from home. A severe winter storm in the Midwest threw the airline schedule into havoc, and I was caught it in. One of thousands of travelers on the eve of Christmas Eve, I found myself with an airline traveler’s kit and a voucher for supper, sitting alone in a cheap hotel room, dreaming of home.

That is the sad situation of mankind apart from God, and that is why, at least in part, there is sadness at this time of year. We want to go home, but we cannot get there due to conditions that seem out of our control. The greatest tragedy of life is that so many who long for home never get there.

The First Advent of Jesus Christ fulfills the longing for Eden

Paul wrote to the Galatians and clarified Genesis 3:15 with one sentence about Christmas, the birth of Jesus:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5).

The fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 is the birth of Jesus Christ. Just as promised, He came, from woman to redeem those who are under the curse of the law. Remember, the first covenant is the covenant of works – keep the law and you will live in Eden; violate it and you are banished and face death. Those who are without Christ are under that law. But the covenant of grace says that God will send One who will crush the head of the serpent and redeem those under the law.

Craig Barnes, in his wonderful book Searching for Home, said it very well.

It is only those who know they are lost who are waiting and hoping for a Savior to lead them to the right place. Home.3

In the advent of Jesus, in His keeping of the law, in His substitutionary death on the cross, the curse was broken. The law was kept. The punishment was taken. And Jesus’ last words summed up the cosmic struggle and fulfilled the divine intent:

“It is finished.”4

Jesus is God’s grace to us. Jesus is the way home.

So there is a longing. That is the eternity God has placed in your heart – to be fully restored with God and to be home with Him. However, the longing is confused by sin. We cannot get home, we cannot identify or come to terms with the longing, much less fulfill it ourselves. We must have help to fulfill it. Jesus is the fulfillment. He is our way home.

If this passage has provoked you to come to terms with that ache, that longing inside, we invite you to do what so many others stranded in the winter of life have done – receive this Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Acknowledge the emptiness, reject and repent of the temporal and sometimes even superstitious ways that we seek to fill the longing, and ask Him to come into your heart.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6).

Jesus is your righteousness, and in His righteousness, He has met the terms of the first covenant. Jesus, the Son of God, came through a woman, became sin, though He knew no sin, so that you who were sinful could be set free. This is the covenant of grace. You are free when you receive Him by faith. You are on your way back home.

Yet, I hear the faint cry of a believer, saying, “Yes, but Eden is not here. I still mourn. I know the way and He is the way, but why do I still feel this tinge of sadness?” I hear your voice in my head for I meet you in the nursing homes and have sensed your longing there. I hear you for I cradle you in pastoral arms in the emergency rooms. I hear you for I am one of you.

In my family, just as in your family, this season marks the beginning of family traditions. One of those traditions is watching old classic holiday movies. The night before Thanksgiving, we were watching Going My Way, a great film from 1944 featuring Bing Crosby. Bing Crosby plays the part of a young Catholic priest, Father O’Malley, who is sent by his bishop to revive a dying parish, led by its pastor of forty-five years, the crusty but good-hearted Father Fitzgibbon. After some initial resistance, Bing, gets close to the old priest. He even learns that one of the heartaches of Father Fitzgibbon’s life is that he has not seen his mother, back in Ireland, for forty-five years. As the story proceeds, St. Dominic’s church seems to be going well, financially and otherwise. Even the troubled youth have become a touring boy’s choir under the magical musical spell of Bing Crosby’s Father O’Malley. Various events in the movie lead the viewers to see that the greatest turn around happened in the soften heart of the old priest, and in the hearts of the parishioners of St. Dominic’s. In the closing scene the old priest is in front of the congregation, saying goodbye to Father O’Malley who had been transferred again by the bishop. The boys start singing, “Tur-a-lur-alura-; Tur-a-lur-lai . . . ” At the back of the church a hunched over female figure appears. It is the elderly Irish mother of the old priest. Father O’Malley had raised the money to bring her from Ireland. Her hands outstretched toward her little boy, shaking with palsy, she moves toward the altar. And her boy, the old priest, steps toward her. She holds him without speaking as her little boy, the old priest Father Fitzgibbon, sobs softly. He is home. And the young priest, the Christ figure in the movie, closes the door behind him. Roll credits.

I could not get that scene out of my mind. The next morning, I told my wife and son how it had moved me. I told them that on days like this and in seasons like this, I long to see my Aunt Eva. My son told me, “Dad, don’t cry. Heaven is coming, and what happened to that old priest is going to happen to you. You will see MawMaw Eva again.”

The Second Advent of Jesus Christ Will Restore Eden Finally and Forever

The judgment of the devil and the prophecy of Jesus and redemption in Genesis 3:15 is not only fulfilled in the first coming of Jesus, it is the beginning of a new way of life. It is the beginning of the divine conspiracy in the world. The ascension of our Lord, His Spirit being poured out at Pentecost, supernaturally dispersed the light of the promise to the ends of the earth, and that light is still growing. The darkness that invaded Eden, drove our parents from it, covered this world in idolatry and misery, and sent even the natural order of the world into apparent chaos is being penetrated by the light. No, my beloved, the longing that is still inside the believer is the longing for the second coming of Jesus. In Scripture the second coming, is never intended for speculation and fear but is intended to stir holy anticipation in the way we live our lives and to provide comfort. For so we read,

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The longing inside of you, fulfilled in great part by the coming of Jesus and the salvation of your souls, is going to be completely fulfilled at His second coming. Then shall Genesis 3:15 be realized in full. Then shall all of Eve’s daughters who joined her in trusting in her Redeemer be ushered back to their Eden. Then shall all of Adam’s sons who died in Adam and who lived again in Christ return to their garden. For there shall be a new heaven and a new earth. There shall be Eden regained.


This week I spent several late nights with the Lord as I read from this 1944 edition of C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra, another fantasy about Eden. But my heart was so stirred by the longing that this study of Scripture produced, that I had to go to the end of the book. But there I began to read that Lewis did not call it “the last things,” but through his character, he spoke about what we are studying in Genesis 3:15. I read these words about that time to come:

It is but the wiping out of a false start in order that the world may then begin. As when a man lies down to sleep, if he finds a twisted root under his shoulder he will change his place – and after that his real sleep begins. Or as a man setting foot on an island, may make a false step. He steadies himself and after that his journey begins. You would not call that steadying of himself a last thing? And is the whole story of my race no more than this?5

Yes. That is the story of our race: a covenant of works broken and a curse that followed; a covenant of grace by a God who sent His Son, born of a woman, to redeem those under the curse so that, by faith in Him, we are reborn to a new way of life that will finally lead us to this:

. . . “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

Truly that is not the end. That is the beginning.

That is what we are longing for.


Michael Milton is Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


1. Frederick Buechner, The Longing for Home : Recollections and Reflections, 1st ed. (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996), 3.
2. Simone Weil, The Need for Roots: Prelude to a Declaration of Duties Toward Mankind, trans. Arthur Willis (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1952; reprint, New York, Harper Colophon Books, 1971, 3; as cited in M. Craig Barnes, Searching for Home: Spirituality for Restless Souls (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2003), 67.
3. M. Craig Barnes, Searching for Home : Spirituality for Restless Souls (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos Press, 2003).
4. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (John 19:30).
5. C. S. Lewis, Perelandra (New York, NY: Collier Books in arrangement with The Macmillan company; reprint, 1962).

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