And give no opportunity to the devil.
– Ephesians 4:27 (ESV)
There are only two kinds of snakes in our yard: One-rock and Two-rock.
The big ones take two rocks.
That’s been my credo for years, much to the chagrin of my reptile-loving nephew. I always figured snakes have the whole river valley near my home to hang out in. If they wander onto my turf, they’re on their own.
That’s not fair, though. They are part of God’s creation, too, and they’re just being what God made them to be. They can’t help it if they scare me to death. Though we don’t kill the nonpoisonous snakes what wander onto our property, I will always have a big aversion to snakes of any kind. I never could understand the passage in Genesis 3:1-5 where Eve falls for the wiles of a serpent. I’d be too busy throwing rocks to listen.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?
The woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden, we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’
The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
– Genesis 3:1-5
Because Adam and Eve listened to the serpent, God cursed it with these words: “Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:14)
These passages bothered me for a long time, for the following reasons:
(1) Why is a snake talking?
(2) Why doesn’t it bother the woman that a snake is talking?
(3) Why would Satan appear as a snake when it would be much more impressive to show up as the angel he was?
(4) Isn’t taking the legs off snakes an odd way to punish Satan?
(5) Since acquired characteristics can’t be inherited, why don’t the rest of the snakes since Eden still have legs?
I take the Bible literally, but I also know certain passages of Scriptures (especially those having to do with future events) are couched in parables and symbolic language. These Scriptures can be interpreted with other verses in the Bible.
Revelation 12:9 gives us an important key to Genesis 3:
“And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Revelation 12:9)
That answers a lot of questions. The “serpent of old” wasn’t a literal snake, any more than he is a literal dragon. It was Satan. Next week we’ll explore who Satan really is.