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THE CRAFTY SERPENT - Genesis 3:1 – Part 1
I want to start by saying that I know some people trip on ya talking about the devil. They say things like: “Saying the name of the devil gives him power.” Let me be blunt. There’s only ONE name that has power, and that name is JESUS CHRIST!! With that being said...
Ah, the “Crafty Serpent!” Yet another critical doctrine of Genesis, it’s the foundation of everything that comes after it. Without this, little else in scripture would make sense.
Genesis 3 explains the conditions of the universe and the state of humanity. It explains why the world has so many problems. It explains the human dilemma. It explains why we need a Savior. And it explains what God is doing in history.
In other words, the truth revealed in Genesis 3 is the necessary foundation for a true and accurate world-view. Every world view that lacks this foundation is utterly and hopelessly wrong. And we wonder why so many try to deny its validity or try to say it’s not historical fact, or only certain parts of it are true.
But I want to begin with an important question, a question which deals with how we interpret the Bible, our presuppositions of certain passages, and how this leads to either good or bad theology. How it can lead to either good hermeneutics or heresy.
The question is: “With an unbiased and clear reading of this passage, how do we come up with the notion we have that the “serpent” mentioned in this passage is the devil or Satan?” After all, it says absolutely nothing about it. It simply states that it was a “Crafty Serpent.”
As a matter of fact, Satan isn’t even mentioned in the book of Genesis, and isn’t brought up at all until 1 Chronicles 21:1, or chronologically in Job which was written much earlier. So, if a person, like myself, was reading the bible for the very first time, how do you come up with the serpent being anything other than a serpent? If someone asked you this question today: How do you come up with the idea that the serpent mentioned in Gen. 3 is the devil, what would you say? Hopefully after this message you will have an answer to that question?
We recognize, of course, that while scripture is a whole it records an increasing revelation as time passes. But it all forms a unit and while we have increasing revelation, we do NOT have contradictory revelation. One of the lies of Satan, by the way, is his attempt to convince us to follow modern liberal thought in breaking the Bible into pieces and destroying its unity.
Interestingly enough, it's often toward the end of the Bible that clear explanations of earlier parts are given. By the time we study through the full circle of the whole book, we have what explanations we need. So, let’s dig in.
Having said all the above, we CAN come to the conclusion who this serpent was (or rather, who was controlling and speaking through the serpent), from other passages of scripture, and from the context of Gen. 3 itself.
Let’s look at Ezekiel 28:13 - “You were in Eden, the Garden of God...” This states that the being addressed was listed as being in Eden, the Garden of God. IF this passage is talking about Satan, then there is a clear reference to Satan being in the Garden of Eden.
Since Satan was a created being, and since Eden was guarded by Cherubim after the Fall, he must have been in Eden between his creation and the fall of man. Most Bible scholars believe, based on Job 38:7, that all the angels, including lucifer, were created on or before day 4 of the creation week along with the sun, moon, and stars, only 2 days before the creation of Adam and Eve.
Secondly, Satan is called “a serpent,” not once but three times in the book of Revelation. (Rev. 12:9, 12:15, 20:2. Let’s read those: Rev. 12:9 - “The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world (remember, Adam and Eve were the “whole world” of humanity at the time of the fall), astray. He was hurled to the earth (punished, cast out), and his angels with him.”
Rev. 12:15 - “Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent.”
Rev. 20:2 - “He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”
When these are combined with Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 11:3, the identification of the serpent in Gen. 3 with Satan is unmistakable. - “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
So, we see an obvious parallel here with Gen. 3. And in Gen. 3:14-15 we read of God’s curse upon the serpent and the promise of a Savior from the seed of the woman: “So the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers’ He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.”
The prediction of enmity (hatred and warfare) between the seeds (in some sense offspring or descendant) of the woman and of the serpent make no sense if the serpent was merely a physical animal. The seed of the woman is a future male child. If only serpents and natural human descendants are talked about here, then that means that serpents are doomed to go around biting us in the heels and then getting their heads crushed. Given the verses in Revelation and in 2 Corinthians, it becomes obvious that this is not the intent of the prophecy.
In part 2 next week we will talk a little about just WHO Satan is. Ya’ll have a blessed week.