THE SERPENT'S HEAD BRUISED"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." Genesis 3:15
We look around us, and we see the world full of sin. We look within us, and we find hearts full of the same sad plague. It is a terrible fact—and we ask with a sigh, how did evil gain this rule? God's word only can give the answer. We there read, that one in the form of a serpent enticed our first parents, and, by prevailing, changed their nature. But who is this serpent? We further learn that it is the devil. He thus disguised himself, that he might deceive. The Bible does not close, until this truth is left beyond a doubt. It is twice written, "that old serpent, who is the Devil and Satan." The moving cause, then, of our being born in sin, and living in sin, stands confessed—it is the Devil.
He obtained his first power over our race by deceiving. He continues that power by deceiving still. His main art is to keep us blind concerning himself, and concerning the great Deliverer. I am sure of this, because I see many who pass all their days without one real thought, that they have a foe always near, plotting their misery. They hear and perhaps speak of him, as though he were an empty name, and not a mighty and most malignant power. Reader! this may be your case. If so, turn not, I humbly implore you, from a few words, which, by God's grace, may be light to your darkness, and life to your captive soul.
Consider the nature of Satan. His titles show it. He is the 'prince of this world'. Therefore his sway is world-wide. All the millions of our race, without one exception, were born his slaves. They entered life with his chains around their hands, and with his throne erected in their hearts. Can they gain freedom for themselves? No. His guards are too many and his fetters too strong. Do they desire it? No. The will, by nature, chooses his service. Jesus warns, "You are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father you will do." He is the god of this world. He sets up the idol of fame, or pleasure, or money; and men fall down and worship it. He opens his churches, and decks them with attractive show, and serves therein a pleasing cup of error, and multitudes go in to learn his creed. He is leader of countless troops.
There is not a spot, not a house, in all the world, which he leaves unoccupied. Do we go forth? we are surrounded. Do we seek solitude? we are followed. In the courts of God—in the place of gathering—his vassals swarm around us. We read of a legion in one person. How vast then must be the collected army! Hence there is a sense in which omnipresence is his; because there is no place, which some of his emissaries do not fill. So, too, omniscience may be claimed for him; because there is nothing, which some ear does not hear for him. Whatever be our acts, he beholds; whatever be our words, he hears. He is a spirit. Therefore he has access to the secret places of the heart. He can plant the seeds of all evil in the mind. If we close the outward gates of sense, he can still come in, and defile the thoughts, and make every imagination as wicked as himself. He entered into Judas Iscariot. He filled the heart of Ananias. Reader! has he not often made lodgment within you? Oh! think, then, why is not your lodgment among his slain ones!
He is as crafty as he is strong. His real design is seldom known, until his bait is taken. His web is not seen, until the victim is entangled. The hidden pit is only discovered by the fall. He has been employed in the same work for nearly six thousand years. Therefore he well understands his tools, and the materials on which he works. He is studying our tempers and characters all the day long. We know little of ourselves—he knows us perfectly. He sees the weak point—the fitting time—and accordingly he lays the snare.
Gehazi little thought that Naaman's visit would be the tempter's trap. Hezekiah as little thought that the embassy from Babylon would unmask his vain-glory. A question from a servant girl in a moment plunges Peter into cowardly guilt. Reader! ever watch, ever pray, if you would escape temptation. This is a dark picture. Who can view it, and not tremble? But, though fearful, it is only a faint outline of the mighty and cruel enemy of souls.
Give ear now to the tidings which I proceed to proclaim. Though he is strong, there is One far stronger. Though he is great, there is One gloriously greater. Though he is mighty, there is one Almighty. Though he is wily, there is One who is All-wisdom. Though he is many, there is one Infinite. Though he is a captivator, he has been taken captive. Though he is an enslaver, he has become a slave. Though he forges chains, he is enchained. Though he has brought low, he lies low. Though he is a conqueror, he has been conquered.
The blessed Jesus comes a Conqueror, a Deliverer, a Redeemer, a Savior. He treads down the devil, and gives deliverance, redemption, salvation to all the children of men, who stand under His banner of victory. Reader! perhaps you are one of anxious spirit, and are not ignorant of many tremblings, lest at last you should perish by the hands of this foe. If so, how eagerly you will say, Give me proof that Jesus crushes this tyrant's power. All praise be to the God of grace! proofs abound. Listen to the voice of the Lord God in Eden. "He," the Seed of the Woman, the Lord Jesus, "shall bruise your head." Did not God know what would happen? He did. Can God speak, and His word not come to pass? Impossible! Then this fact is true—the serpent's head must be bruised by Jesus. Take comfort, then; take courage. Man was scarcely ruined, when he who ruined him, was doomed to ruin. The savage joy of having marred creation's beauty was only felt, to be turned into the writhings of hopeless rage. Success was despair. He removed his foot from the neck of fallen man, and fled from the garden with the undying sound echoing in his ears, "He shall bruise your head." Such was the sure sentence of God.
Now take a case which shows that Satan's power has indeed a power above it. You know the story of Abel. He trod this earth a fallen being, as we are—hated by Satan, as we are—exposed to all his wiles, as we are. But he trusted in the promised seed for escape; Satan could not hold him. His early death, by a murderer's hand, landed him not in the kingdom of hell, but of God. Thus the first soul which left a human body, proved that Jesus could rescue the prey out of the destroyer's jaws.
You know, too, the story of Enoch. He was a man of like nature with us, born in corruption. You cannot doubt that Satan shot his every arrow at him. But his soul received no fatal wound. It was guarded by faith in the coming Savior. By faith in this promise he walked with God. By faith he mounted to heaven—another jewel in the Conqueror's crown. In the same way, all the holy men of the old world found that there was shelter and safety under the wing of the promised Conqueror. One promise convinced them, and gave them life. How many testimonies tell you of this rescue! Oh, let them not teach in vain!
But, in fullness of time, the Conqueror appears in human form. Satan knows Him well. He heard the voice from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." He makes one desperate effort to obtain the mastery. The blessed Jesus meets the conflict. Every advantage of outward circumstance is given to the adversary. He draws from his quiver his often-tried and most successful darts. He musters his strength and all his skill. His empire depends on the outcome. The most that hell can do, is done. But all in vain. Each blow falls harmless before the Word of the Lord. The devil quits the field, baffled and beaten. He finds himself held down by the chain, "He shall bruise your head."
He makes one effort more. He stirs up wicked men to seize and nail the blessed Jesus to the cross. When the Woman's Seed bows His head and dies; the enemy seems to triumph. But the end of the combat shows where the victory is. If Satan is the stronger, let him keep Jesus in the grave; let the prison detain the prisoner. But it does not—it cannot. Jesus bursts the doors—comes again from the dead—shows Himself alive—and ascends in triumph to the heavens. Thus the victory is forever won. The destroyer lies forever destroyed beneath His feet.
And when a few more years are past, the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with power and great glory, and the devil shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever! There is everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. "He shall bruise your head." The point, then, is clear. God is true. Jesus is Conqueror. The Goliath of hell is fallen!
Reader! this battle has been fought, this victory won, that poor sinners may be rescued. May the Holy Spirit help you to behold your high tower of safety, and to flee into it! Satan cannot but hate you—for his name is hatred, as surely as God is love; and he desires to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But if you are found in Jesus, you are high above his reach. He will attack. He will threaten. He will affright. But Jesus will be your shield; and that shield must be shattered before you can be harmed. Study the records of the Word. It is the history of the long war between the children of light and "the power of darkness." You will see that he has tried every weapon in the armory of hell. He has no other in reserve. But all have failed. They cannot rise higher than the heel. The head is safe with Christ in God.
Mark, too, how a mightier hand guides his blows to wound himself. Satan's kingdom is made to totter under Satan's assaults. He brought in sin—and so the door flew open for the Gospel. He persecutes the early converts—and the truth spreads rapidly abroad throughout the world. He casts Paul into the dungeon of Philippi—and the jailor believes with all his house. He sends him a prisoner to Rome—and epistles gain wings to teach and comfort all the ages of the Church.
Fear not, then, believer, the curse is on your foe. Dust is his food. He cannot swallow the jewels of Christ's crown. He may entice you with many things sweet to sense; but look to the Cross, and you see them no more. He may terrify you with roarings, as of a lion; show him the wounds of the Lamb, and he is gone. He may stand as your accuser at the judgment seat; but if you are washed in the blood of Jesus, he can find no mark in you, by which to claim you as his own. Be assured, if you are one with Jesus by faith, His full triumph is yours, "and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly."
If such be your happy case, lift up your head with joy and sing the holy song, "Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in power. Your right hand, O Lord, dashes the enemy to pieces. In the greatness of your majesty, you overthrew those who rose against you. Your anger flashed forth; it consumed them as fire burns straw." Exodus 15:6-7
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