We have just begun the season of Advent, a time when traditionally we prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate the birth of Christ. On each of the four Sundays before Christmas, we light candles in church services, and some light them in their homes as well. Each candle has its own meaning.
· First Sunday: Hope.
· Second Sunday: Peace.
· Third Sunday: Joy.
· Fourth Sunday: Love.
You might be wondering, what does a snake have to do with a season that is supposed to be about hope, joy, peace, or love? I’m glad you asked. In the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God said this to the snake who tempted them.
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
(Gen 3:15 KJV)
When it talks about enmity between women and snakes, I think that is one of the truest statements in the Bible. Every woman I know can’t stand snakes. One time we had a snake get into our house. I think if I had not been able to trap and remove it, my wife would have slept in a hotel room that night. We might have even had to move.
But with regard to Advent, this is the first verse in the bible that foretells the coming of the Messiah.
A Snake and Its Seed
It’s in the curious phrase between thy seed and her seed. In Hebrew, the word translated “seed” is zera`. It can mean seed in a literal sense of seed you plant in order to grow crops, flora and fauna. It rarely refers to the offspring of animals, as in this verse where “thy seed” refers to the offspring of the snake.
When used of people, it can mean the seed of a man that is “planted” in a woman. The word “semen” comes from the Latin for seed, and zera` can mean seed in that sense. Most often it is the product of the seed, meaning children or offspring. The lineage of all human zera` was traced through the fathers. But here God refers to “her seed,” who would also be at enmity with the snake and its seed.
The snake in this story came to represent Satan, sin, and everything that separates us from God. He led the first woman and man into temptation to eat the forbidden fruit. On that day, something was broken in the way they related to God, and we still carry that brokenness today.