17th September 2006
Strange stories part 2
A serpent speaks?
Do you really believe that a serpent spoke to Adam & Eve?
As the background to this account we need to read Ezekiel 28:12-19 where we find the pre-history account of Satan’s fall and exclusion from heaven. There are many questions that are raised from this passage but they are for another study. It is sufficient for us to know what God has revealed through His prophet. It shows us that God’s enemy and the enemy of our souls has been cast down to earth and his purpose is to degrade God’s truth. With this in mind it is much easier to understand what is happening in the account of the fall. We might not understand why God allowed it to be so but in faith we have to accept that certain things about God’s purposes are beyond human understanding.
The works of the evil one:
· The first thing that we observe is that he comes as a deceiver. The scripture tells us that he was craftier than any of the wild animals. Adam had already seen all of the created animal kingdom when God brought them to him to be named. You would have thought that when this serpent came to him and Eve that he would have been at least suspicious. No other animal had spoken to him before and there was none amongst the animals to be found that would be a friend to man. But now this serpent comes and is able to speak. The only communication they had known before was with each other and with God Himself.
Do we believe that a serpent spoke? Many would say that is impossible and we would tend to agree with them but this was no ordinary serpent it was the embodiment of the one thrown out of heaven who was more crafty than any other created being and whose sole purpose is the destruction of God’s friends. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia says that we should beware of the devil who is able to present himself as an angel of light. That is one of God’s special messengers. His purpose is to bring a message contrary to God’s revealed word. The answer to our question is; yes we do believe that this serpent spoke and that he spoke in a way that is consistent with his person.
· The second thing that we observe is the way that he gains a hearing with Eve. He comes with a subtle question. The implication behind the question being that God is overbearing and unfair. He simply asked, “Did God really tell you that you can not eat of any of the fruit of the trees in the Garden of Eden?” We can imagine the emphasis made as he would have pointed to all of the ripe and beautiful fruit on the trees around them, surely a God of love will not let you see this and then prevent you from eating any of it. We of course know the lies that are contained within but it is all moving towards an entry into conversation with Eve. He was putting Eve in the danger zone, we must never forget that Adam was with her but he remained silent. (In effect this made him doubly guilty after all it was he that God had given instruction to as to what tree was unavailable to them for food!!) Eve was brought into conversation with the devil; a very precarious situation. The experts tell us that the life expectancy of a person on the hard shoulder of a British motorway is approximately 10 minutes. Therefore to escape danger get out of the car and take shelter behind the safety barrier! One word with Satan and we are in extreme danger He is so persuasive that we will fall for his charm before we know it. James in the New Testament tells us to resist the devil (not discuss with him) and he will flee. Eve (and Adam) did not resist but they entered into discussion because to them he seemed so rational and nice. We need to be aware that the devil will enter into conversation questioning us through all sorts of people as to the accuracy or fairness of God’s word and if we are not careful we can so easily be beguiled by what seems to be plausible thoughts but are in reality the devil’s lies.
Once engaged in conversation, Eve’s guard was down and the serpent’s subtlety was no longer necessary, he merely needed to give a warped sense of logic. Eve’s answer to him displays her lack of understanding and Adam’s unwillingness to correct her. She was right when she said that they could eat from every tree in the garden bar the tree of knowledge of good and evil but she added to God’s word when she said that they were not to touch it either. It may seem to be a small thing but the uncertainty is there and the devil knows it. He can then continue to “twist the knife” of deception. Eve is listening and is on uncertain ground, her foundation is about to crumble and her husband is of no use. The devil plays his trump card by:
· Telling an awful lie. He in effect tells her that God is a liar and that he has better knowledge and understanding. Do not listen to God’s word listen to me! He points her to the fruit “look at it; it is good to eat. Hold it; see you will not really die.”
· Promising greatness. The devil tells Eve that she will not die but that she would become just like God. You can be important; you will have great knowledge, power and authority. You will instead of being subservient to God will become His equal. You will know all about good and evil. At that point Eve did not have a clue what evil was, she had only experienced the good of God and now she was innocent to the evil that was confronting her. All of these promises sounded good to her and she wanted them. There is only one part of Satan’s terrible promises that came to fruition. They immediately knew all about evil, as they quickly became acquainted with evil, good very quickly became a distant memory. God’s promise was also fulfilled; death entered into their experience.
Eve willingly ate the fruit and gave some to Adam who ate with eager willingness; immediately a new relationship was formed. The God of all creation was divorced from His friends and they became attached to the enemy of God and creation.
So can we believe that a serpent spoke?
The answer clearly is “yes we can;” we must believe that he did because this is the answer to the question that has been asked throughout history; “what on earth is going wrong with this world?”
The devil himself is in actual fact pleased when man pours scorn on this story, he wants mankind to believe it to be a fable because he is using his old tactic of saying that what God has revealed is a lie. Sounds familiar doesn’t it! The devil has no new tricks but it is amazing how readily we fall for the old ones as if we had never heard of them before. The reason that this is so is because a vital change took place on that day. A degenerative condition entered into humanity; SIN; it controls our actions, mind, intellect etc. Sin is fired in our hearts by Satan and his agents; (who we know as the demons,) therefore by birth we are enemies of God. Born in sin and shapen in iniquity.
Because of the enormity of what had just happened God’s first words are of vital importance. Look at verses 14-19. The ultimate promise of death and decay, pain and suffering; problems and difficulties has now been pronounced upon creation with no part of it being exempt from its effect!
· For the woman there would be pain in childbirth and a dependency upon her husband.
· For the man there would be toil and graft as he tries to control the fallen natural world.
· For both of them there would be a permanent separation from fellowship with God. Instead there would be a lonely walk without the constant help and fellowship that they had previously experienced. Spiritual death was immediate with physical death to follow. They now had to live under the fear of inevitable death at some time in the future.
ALL OF THIS BECAUSE THEY LISTENED TO A SNAKE THAT TALKED!
Adam and Eve had learned that the devil is the father of lies and deception; they had listened to him and believed him and now they were reaping the benefit of their unfaithfulness to God. They had broken their trust with Him and also the happy relationship. They had discovered what evil is and that sin is serious, it brought about God’s wrath upon them who had previously been kept for Satan and the other fallen angels.
There was something else that they were about to learn:
· God loves mankind.
· God is full of grace and mercy.
Verse 15 is a gospel verse; it is good news! Here is a promise recorded from God to the devil. There is a day coming when the son of a woman will come and even though he will be damaged by the devil; but that he will defeat the devil! We know from this side of history that this is pointing forward to the Lord Jesus Christ who came and defeated the works of the devil but He also came and redeemed sinners who will trust in Him. He brought about a re-creation. The paradise lost in Eden is restored on the cross. God displayed His grace and mercy on the day of the fall by beginning His revelation of what found complete fulfilment in Jesus Christ. In my bible the account of creation takes just 2.5 pages with the rest of scripture occupying 1383 pages. This tells us that God’s prime purpose is not the mode of creation. (We do not need to get bogged down as so many do on creation issues!) But we need to keep the focus that God has of the mode of re-creation as found in the sacrificial and substitutional death of the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of undeserving but repentant sinners.
Do I believe that a snake spoke?
Yes I do and I believe that the same devil who spoke through that serpent still speaks today through a multiplicity of different media.
I alos believe that our God who condemned the work of the devil on that day and offered a way of restoration still speaks today and is still offering salvation through Christ Jesus. The devil says otherwise but he has always been a liar and God is wholly true.
WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?