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 —
In one sentence, can you give the message of the Bible?
A few years ago, Dane Ortlund asked this question and received answers from a host of pastors and scholars, but one answer stood out from the rest and has taken on a life of its own. The answer comes from the provocateur, poet, and pastor, Douglas Wilson. He writes,
Scripture tells us the story of how a Garden is transformed into a Garden City, but only after a dragon had turned that Garden into a howling wilderness, a haunt of owls and jackals, which lasted until an appointed warrior came to slay the dragon, giving up his life in the process, but with his blood effecting the transformation of the wilderness into the Garden City.
In short: Kill the Dragon, Get the Girl. Whereby the Dragon is the Twisted Serpent of the Garden, the Girl is the Bride of Christ described as a glorious Garden City in Revelation 21–22, and the Slayer of the Dragon is the Son of God who took on flesh to come and save his damsel in distress by destroying the Dragon by means of his own death and resurrection.
In his recent book, The Serpent and the Serpent Slayer, Andy Naselli recounts the genesis of this pithy way to describe the biblical storyline, which comes from Joe Rigney’s appropriation of Wilson’s explanation of the Bible, which in turn led to the children’s book by the same title: Kill the Dragon, Get the Girl.
All in all, this six-word sentence wonderfully captures the biblical story of redemption. First promised in Genesis 3:15, this message of God’s Son coming to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) comes to fulfillment on the cross, where it is best explained in Revelation 12. In between, as Naselli outlines it, we find the following:
- The story begins with bliss. The damsel enjoys a beautiful garden in a pristine world. (Adam and Eve enjoy the garden of Eden.)
- But the serpent employs the strategy to deceive, tempt, lie, and backstab. (The snake deceives Eve.)
- As the story develops, the serpent craftily alternates between deceiving and devouring. (For example, sometimes Satan attempts to deceive God’s people with false teaching. At other times Satan assaults God’s people with violent persecution.)
- At the climax of the story, the dragon attempts to devour the hero but fails. (The dragon murders Jesus but merely bruises Jesus’s heel while Jesus decisively crushes the serpent’s head.)
- For the rest of the story, the dragon furiously attempts to devour the damsel. (The dragon attempts to deceive and destroy the church.)
- The hero’s mission: kill the dragon, get the girl. He will accomplish that mission. (The Lamb will consummate his kingdom for God’s glory by slaying the dragon and saving the bride.) (pp. 18–19)
As he concludes, this story of God’s Son defeating God’s enemy to save God’s chosen bride “never gets old.” And in fact, it gets better every time we tell it. And that is why this Christmas we are going to tell the old, old story of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem as one that stands in the middle this cosmic story of dragons and dragon-slayers, damsels and warrior-kings who delivered them. Indeed, the Bible is filled with stories like this, and we need to see them to bolster our faith and fulfill our calling to crush the serpent under our feet (see Rom. 16:20).
If you want to know more about this story, pick up a copy of The Serpent and the Serpent Slayer. Or, join us for the next three Sundays as we follow the storyline of Christ from the curse to the cradle to the cross. Indeed, the whole story of the Bible leads to Jesus, centers on Jesus, and proceeds from Jesus. And we look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ by proclaiming that Jesus killed the dragon and got the girl. Hallelujah! And Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Merry Christmas, ds