Notice the key aspects of the promise:
Enmity: even though humanity had fallen into sin, God would implant within us a sense of hostility toward evil, a desire for justice, an inclination to resist evil and long for restoration to our original state of innocence. Compare John 1:9; Romans 7:14-15, 23.
Seed: God will send salvation to the world in the form of a special human Seed (Offspring), in whom the promised enmity will take on full form in a singular and rippling conquest over Satan. Compare John 14:30; Galatians 3:16; Hebrews 1:9; 2:14; 1 John 3:8.
Head: the New International Version is stronger here, saying, “He will crush your head.” The Offspring of the woman will conquer Satan on behalf of humanity. Compare John 12:31-32; Colossians 2:15.
Heel: and yet, in the process of crushing the head Satan, the Savior would be wounded. Compare Isaiah 53:4-6; Matthew 26:38; 27:46. From the initial promise of Genesis 3:15, Scripture proceeds to unfold the Messiah’s character and mission with added detail and deepening insight. Moses foretold that the Promised One would come to the world as a prophet and as a sacrifice for sin (Deuteronomy 18:15; Leviticus 4:32). King David said the Messiah would undergo horrible abuse and abandonment (Psalm 22 and 88). Isaiah portrayed Him as a suffering servant and a non-violent revolutionary who would set in motion an unstoppable movement of justice (Isaiah 42 and 53). Prophet by prophet, vision by vision, symbol by symbol, song by song, the entire Old Testament spoke the mystery of the Promised One who would come to disclose God’s redeeming love to mankind and, in so doing, unmask the devil’s primal lie leveled against God’s character (Genesis 3:1-5).
The Time Foretold
Six hundred years in advance the prophet Daniel foretold the time when the Promised One would appear on the public stage to begin His saving work as the Messiah, as well as when He would be crucified. Read the remarkable prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27.
The angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel and declared, “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.”
Israel is here given a 70-week period of time to fulfill covenant faithfulness with God. In Bible prophecy a day is equal to a year (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34; Mark 1:15), so 70 weeks equates to 490 years. Gabriel then specified the specific historic event that would act as the starting date for the prophecy from which we can count forward to pinpoint the time when Jesus would launch His Messianic career:
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (69 weeks).” The command to restore Jerusalem was issued by the Persian King Artaxerxes in 457 BC (Ezra 7:11-12). Sixty-nine weeks is equivalent in prophetic time to 483 years. Counting forward 483 years from 457 BC we arrive, remarkably, at AD 27, the very year Jesus entered the public eye as the Messiah, a title that means “anointed” of God (Matthew 3:16-17; John 1:29; Acts 10:38). Gabriel continued to unfold the prophecy to Daniel by stating that “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself” and that He “shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” In other words, in the middle of the 70th week—which would be AD 31—the Messiah will be crucified and, thus, bring an end to the symbolic sacrificial system of Israel. Thus, by His perfect self-sacrificing love manifested at the cross, Jesus fulfilled covenant faithfulness to God. Israel as a nation was now granted the opportunity to receive the Messiah and embrace His covenant faithfulness on their behalf. But, tragically, they finalized their rejection of the Messiah by the stoning of Stephen as he preached Christ to them, at which point the 490-year prophecy reached its completion in AD 34 (Acts 7:54-60).