Many things puzzle us as we venture through life. I remember getting my first desktop computer. It was a Nashua Elite III with a floppy drive. It is impossible to migrate from a manual typewriter to a computer thinking you will get it right because you can type. The General Secretary of the denomination secured computers for some clergy. We needed to pay it off. The handover fortunately coincided with midyear school holidays which enabled us to visit another province as a family where I spent three days learning how to use a computer. Remember that in those days everything started from dos!
The point is, it was not the computer or the key board or the mouse. It was me. I’m the one who was limited. I did not know how to put information onto the screen and then save it to a file, close the document and then open it again and print it. It took far longer than three days playing around with the computer to get used to it and find my way around the program for documentation.
That’s almost the picture we have with Genesis chapter three. We are so limited and might even feel that the text is limited in information provided about man and his capacity and capability as well as the tempter and his activities and abilities. It’s not the text! The problem is with us understanding the text. Please read:
Ge 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
1) A speaking serpent. He spoke to the woman and she spoke back to him. To understand the serpent who speaks we need to cover a few verses already mentioned.
(i) When Jesus addressed the religious leaders in John chapter 8, He referred to the devil as both a murderer and a liar.
Jn 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
He was a murderer from “the beginning” … refers to his activity in the Garden leading our first parents away from God. They lost spiritual life and would die physically. He did this through speaking. He lied to them. He gave them false information. He would have known God’s Truth yet he lied, twisting Truth as his weapon to destroy. The serpent spoke lies.
(ii) Paul in writing to the Church at Corinth, he says the devil masquerades as an angel of light.
2 Cor 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
He is not. The term “angel of light” would mean an angel from God’s presence who is totally sinless, perfect and righteous. He is not … but this shows you something of his ability of deception.
(iii) John in writing the Revelation refers to the devil as the great dragon, ancient serpent, devil and satan.
Rev 12:9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Rev 20:2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
As we add all this information together and couple it to—
Ge 3:1 Now the serpent … He said to the woman
—we can only deduce that the devil spoke through the serpent, using it as his tool and instrument.
One of my Indian colleagues said that in Hinduism there are more than a million gods. These gods that are worshipped, brought offerings and trusted. They actually represent demons. So here is this Hindu girl, rolling on the floor and frothing at the mouth and speaking with a man’s voice. He spoke of how they prayed over her, read Scripture over her and commanded the demon to leave her. At the same time the demon, using a man’s voice shouted profanity through the girl’s mouth.
It ought not to surprise us that the devil is able to use a serpent … to dwell within the serpent, controlling it for his sinister purposes. At this point, Adam, who in his pre-fall life, ought to have spotted a problem … a speaking creature! He should have known that only he and the woman could speak, for speaking meant communicating with each other and with God. No other creature had this capability. Sadly he did not identify a speaking creature as strange.
2) A crafty serpent.
Ge 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made.
The word “crafty” is also interpreted as “craftiness” and “cunning”.
2 Cor 11:3 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.
The word’s contextual meaning is “false wisdom”. We all know how often what people say sounds so plausible and good. It’s almost as if they are the fountain of knowledge … where they are actually specious … meaning, misleading. We shall get there tomorrow, but notice today that the devil’s target was not the man to whom God gave the Probationary Command. It was the woman. Through the deceitful, misleading of the serpent (devil), the woman was seduced into believing the twisted wisdom … the taking Truth and subtly making it a disguised lie … making it “good wisdom”. Something we must grasp is that wisdom that is not God’s Truth is from the devil:
Ja 3:15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
It is for this reason that although in the context of anger, we must never give the devil a foot into the door of our hearts:
Eph 4:27 Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
As he used the serpent in the Garden to seduce Eve, he could easily and without knowing, seduce you and me. Therefore, we must follow Peter’s advice:
1Pe 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith.
Our Father, too often we are not alert to our enemy’s tactics. Grant us spiritual wisdom and discernment to see the physically and spiritually onslaughts around us, and protect ourselves for the devil’s seduction. Amen.