The Review and Herald

214/1902

July 18, 1882

The First Prophecy

EGW

“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.” RH July 18, 1882, par. 1

In this first prophecy contained in the Scriptures is found an intimation of redemption. Though a part of the sentence pronounced upon the serpent, it was uttered in the hearing of our first parents, and hence must be regarded as a promise. While it announces war between Satan and man, it declares that the power of the great adversary will finally be broken. RH July 18, 1882, par. 2

Adam and Eve stood as criminals before their God, awaiting the sentence which transgression had incurred. But before they hear of the thorn and the thistle, the sorrow and anguish which should be their portion, and the dust to which they should return, they listen to words which must have inspired them with hope. Though they must suffer from the power of their adversary, they might look forward to ultimate victory. RH July 18, 1882, par. 3

God declares, “I will put enmity.” This enmity is supernaturally put, and not naturally entertained. When man sinned, his nature became evil, and he was in harmony, and not at variance, with Satan. The lofty usurper, having succeeded in seducing our first parents as he had seduced angels, counted on securing their allegiance and co-operation in all his enterprises against the government of Heaven. There was no enmity between himself and the fallen angels. Whatever discord might exist between them, all were united, as by bands of steel, in their opposition and hatred against God. But when Satan heard that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, he knew that though he had succeeded in depraving human nature, and assimilating it to his own, yet by some mysterious process, God would restore to man his lost power, and enable him to resist and overcome his conqueror. RH July 18, 1882, par. 4

It is the grace that Christ implants in the soul that creates the enmity against Satan. Without this grace, man would continue the captive of Satan, a servant ever ready to do his bidding. The new principle in the soul creates conflict where hitherto had been peace. The power which Christ imparts, enables man to resist the tyrant and usurper. Whenever a man is seen to abhor sin instead of loving it, when he resists and conquers those passions that have held sway within, there is seen the operation of a principle wholly from above. The Holy Spirit must be constantly imparted to man, or he has no disposition to contend against the powers of darkness. RH July 18, 1882, par. 5

The spirit of enmity was most strikingly displayed in the world's reception of Christ. The Son of God came to man with a message of mercy from the Father. He came not to condemn the world—though they were deserving of condemnation, for rebellion was almost universal—but that the world through him might have life. Yet he was despised and hated by the very people he came to bless and save. RH July 18, 1882, par. 6

It was not so much that Christ appeared without worldly wealth, pomp, or grandeur, that the Jews were led to reject him. They saw that he possessed powers which would more than compensate for the lack of these outward advantages. The wonders which he wrought far exceeded the miracles performed by Moses, their great leader. But the purity and holiness of Christ called forth against him the hatred of the ungodly. His life of self-denial and sinless devotion was a perpetual reproof to a proud, sensual people. RH July 18, 1882, par. 7

They could not tolerate the fearless rebukes by which he unmasked hypocrisy and condemned vice. When he exhorted them to put away their iniquities, they turned from him with sneers and execrations. They could not endure the radiance of a sinless character. It too clearly revealed their own defects. As religious teachers, they were envious of his influence with the people, fearing that themselves and their teachings would be overlooked. RH July 18, 1882, par. 8

It was this that evoked enmity against the Son of man. Satan and evil angels join with evil men. All the energies of apostasy conspire against the champion of truth. He was fiercely buffeted by temptations, rent with anguish, lacerated with stripes, pierced by nails, and crowned with thorns. RH July 18, 1882, par. 9

But in all this, Satan gained no real advantage. He could but bruise the heel, while by every act of humiliation or suffering, Christ was bruising the head of his adversary. The anguish that sin has brought was poured into the bosom of the sinless; yet while Christ endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, he was paying the debt for sinful man, and breaking the bondage in which he had been held. Every pang of anguish, every insult, was working out the deliverance of the race. RH July 18, 1882, par. 10

Could Satan have induced Christ to yield to a single temptation, could he have led him by one act or even thought to stain his perfect purity, the prince of darkness would have triumphed over man's surety, and would have gained the whole human family to himself. But while Satan could distress, he could not contaminate. He could cause agony, but not defilement. He made the life of Christ one long scene of conflict and trial, yet with every attack he was losing his hold upon humanity. RH July 18, 1882, par. 11

In the wilderness of temptation, in the garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross, our Saviour measured weapons with the prince of darkness. His wounds became the trophies of his victory in behalf of the race. When Christ hung in agony upon the cross, while evil spirits rejoiced, and evil men reviled, then indeed his heel was bruised by Satan. But that very act was crushing the serpent's head. “Through death He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” This act decided the destiny of the rebel chief, and made forever sure the plan of salvation. In death, he gained the victory over its power; in rising again, he opened the gates of the grave to all his followers. In that last great contest we see fulfilled the prophecy: “It shall bruise thy head; thou shalt bruise his heel.” RH July 18, 1882, par. 12

The same enmity exists between the serpent and Christ's followers, as between him and their Master. He who is under the control of Satan submits willingly to the dominion of evil. But where he has received the grace of Christ, he will see the repulsive character of sin, and in strength from above, will resist the serpent. In the spirit of his Master, the converted man will labor for the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom. With all the power of a renewed nature, he will seek to win souls from the thralldom of sin to the purity and holiness of Christ. In so doing he will assuredly arouse the wrath of Satan and his followers. He will draw upon himself the reproach, dislike, and opposition of a large class of worldly acquaintances, who will ridicule him as narrow, bigoted, and austere. RH July 18, 1882, par. 13

Opposition to religion is not limited to any age or to any country. Hatred of the pure principles of truth, and reproach and persecution of its advocates, will exist so long as sin and sinners remain. The followers of Christ and the servants of Satan cannot harmonize. The offense of the cross has not ceased. “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” No man can serve God and be in union with the world. RH July 18, 1882, par. 14

Evil angels are on the track of every Christian, redoubling their efforts to annoy and distress, as they see the prey escaping from their grasp. Angels of God, also, are watching with deep solicitude each struggling soul, ever seeking to inspire with hope, to comfort and sustain. With what gladness do they bear up to Heaven the tidings of victory. Oh that the curtain which shuts the eternal world from our view might be rolled back! Could we but behold the joy in the heavenly courts at the news that one sinner has repented and turned to God, could we hear the anthems of praise ascend before the throne with the music of the angel harpers, we would not be so listless, so indifferent in the work which God has left for us to do. The event which causes angels to rejoice spreads consternation through the hosts of Satan. Every soul that remains true to Christ is another evidence and reminder of the first prophecy. Satan may bruise the heel, but the faithful believer shall bruise the head of the serpent. RH July 18, 1882, par. 15

From righteous Abel falling under his brother's murderous hand, a long line of martyred prophets and holy men, faithful apostles and unnumbered millions of disciples who loved not their lives unto death, testify that Satan's enmity has not abated with the lapse of ages. As the end draws nigh, his wrath increases, and he renews his efforts to destroy God's chosen. Often his greatest victories are gained, not by open, bold attack, but as at first, by deceptive strategy. RH July 18, 1882, par. 16

At the present day, Satan gains power over God's people, by means of those false brethren who, while at heart friends of the world, exert an influence in the church. These are the most efficient workers that the great deceiver can employ. They are constantly seeking to lessen the enmity between the church of Christ and his deadliest foe. They supply the connecting link whereby he can unite the church and the world. Here lies our present danger,—a danger against which we must constantly guard. While we should make all possible effort to save souls, deeming no self-denial or sacrifice too great to effect this purpose, we must at the same time maintain our allegiance to God. RH July 18, 1882, par. 17

Without supreme love to God, we cannot glorify him. Those who walk in darkness cannot discern the excellence of heavenly things. No man can serve mammon, and yet build up the Redeemer's kingdom. Whatever diverts our affections from God or destroys our confidence in him, thereby becomes an idol. God calls for the whole heart. No reserve must be made. Said our Saviour, “He that is not with me is against me.” We cannot safely disregard one injunction of God's word, to compromise with the enemies of Christ and the truth. RH July 18, 1882, par. 18

Prophets and apostles have clearly set forth the exalted privilege of that people whom the Lord has set apart to himself, and through whom he would communicate to the world: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” RH July 18, 1882, par. 19

A neglect to maintain this position is the reason why there is so little of the power of godliness with us as a people. God has made us the repositories of his law, and has intrusted us with truths in advance of every other people upon the earth; yet we are not obeying the injunction to come out from the world and be separate. We cannot in any degree form a union with the ungodly without becoming contaminated by their unholy customs. “Whosoever will be the friend of the world, is the enemy of God.” The separation must be final, complete, unmistakable. RH July 18, 1882, par. 20

Christ is the head of the church. The members of his body follow the directions of the Head, just as the members of the human body obey the impulses of the mind. RH July 18, 1882, par. 21

He has ever required his people to keep themselves free from every unholy influence. In his infinite love he has provided the unsearchable riches of his grace, that they may be enabled to maintain the warfare against the hosts of sin. Through that grace they may render obedience to every command, and receive the fulfillment of every promise. I speak understandingly when I say that in these days of pride and world-loving it is impossible for us to realize what might have been the character and position of the church, had she been true to her holy calling. RH July 18, 1882, par. 22

As he draws near to God, the Christian gains a clearer knowledge of the divine character and requirements; he attains to a higher degree of holiness, and as a result, the line of distinction between himself and the world is more clearly marked. When the people of God will stand firmly and fearlessly on the holy ground of their solemn faith, not seeking to assimilate to the world, they will enjoy the presence of the Lord as in earlier years. RH July 18, 1882, par. 23

Wherever we turn, we behold sorrowful evidence that the hearts of men are at enmity with God. Behold what moral darkness enshrouds the world, what skepticism, what indifference, what deadly hate, what filthy lusts, what infidelity, what downright atheism! How can we successfully resist the tide of evil? The preaching of the word produces little impression. Unless God's power is sent to our aid, our efforts will be fruitless. RH July 18, 1882, par. 24

Thousands are as unmoved by the warnings of God's word as the tenants of the grave. “Having eyes, they see not, and having ears, they hear not.” The inhabitants of the earth are rushing on in their course of rebellion, as if eager to show defiance of their Maker. We must take hold by living faith upon the promises of God. His Spirit must speak through us, if we would reach the hearts of the people. We have no time to confer with self, no time to be careless or indifferent now. The day of God hasteth greatly; while the world and the popular churches are asleep, those who have received the truth should not yield to slumber. RH July 18, 1882, par. 25

Satan is marshalling his forces for the last great struggle, “to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” If we would be true to God, we cannot escape the conflict. But we are not left in doubt as to the issue. Beyond the smoke and heat of the battle, we behold “them that had gotten the victory” standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb. And still there come to us down through the ages, those words of our Saviour, “In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” RH July 18, 1882, par. 26