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Sermon No: 40086-The serpent in Eden



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SERMON TOPIC: The serpent in Eden

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 28 July 2018

Topic Groups: SATAN, SPIRIT WORLD, GENESIS

Sermon synopsis: WAS THE SERPENT IN GENESIS 3 A SNAKE THAT COULD SPEAK? Are snakes evil? Christians believe that the serpent in the garden was Satan. But why? Who was the nachash and the serpentine seraph?
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Today we are looking at the topic: WAS THE SERPENT IN GENESIS 3 A SNAKE THAT COULD SPEAK?

WHO WAS THE SERPENT?

Based on chapter 1 of the book

“The Tale of Two Women”

By Gavin Paynter

Gen 2:8-9 (ESV) And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.

The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Gen 2:15-17 (ESV) The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying:

You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

Gen 3:1-24 (ESV) Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman:

Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?

We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’

You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise…

… she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Christians believe that the serpent in the garden was Satan. But why?

In Rev 12, John sees a seven-headed dragon (constrictor serpent) who tries to destroy a woman, who we believe represents Israel.

WHO WAS THE SERPENT?

Later John identifies the dragon as “that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan”.

Rev 12:6-9 (NIV) Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 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.

Likewise, we read later in Rev 20:1-2 that an angel from heaven “seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”

WHO WAS THE SERPENT?

Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews:

“You belong to your father, the devilHe 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.” (John 8:44, NIV)

Speaking of Satan here, Jesus seems to be alluding to the Fall in the Garden of Eden.

The devil “was a murderer from the beginning”: through his deceit in Eden, death came into the world.

“He is a liar and the father of lies”: by twisting God’s words in the garden, “Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning” (2 Cor 11:3).

WHO WAS THE SERPENT?

The GotQuestions.org website says that “Snakes … are almost always pictured as loathsome creatures, associated with poison and craftiness. As amoral creatures, snakes are not “evil” in themselves—but they are a handy metaphor for evil in many passages.”

It is true that besides the Genesis 3 passage, serpents often carry a negative connotation in Scripture e.g. John the Baptist calls the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers” (Matt 3:7).

ARE SNAKES EVIL?

In his denouncement of the scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus said to them, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how

ARE SNAKES EVIL?

will you escape the sentence of hell?” (Matt 23:33, NASB).

Even today when you call someone “a snake”, you’re not likely to be paying them a compliment.

According to the Urban Dictionary “a snake is someone who you think is sincere and really nice, but then turns out to be a backstabber.”

A “snake in the grass” is a devious person who appears harmless or even friendly but is in fact, treacherous. The term “a snake lurks in the grass” was first used by the Roman poet Virgil.

ARE SNAKES EVIL?

The snake was a symbol of false worship. The Israelites were worshipping the bronze serpent until Hezekiah destroyed it (2 Kings 18).

Jesus said his disciples would “pick up serpents” and “it will not hurt them” (Mark 16:18). After surviving a shipwreck and eluding the Roman soldiers who wish to kill the prisoners, Paul was bitten by a viper (Acts 28). Satan was clearly out to get him but miraculously God spared his life yet again.

ARE SNAKES EVIL?

But while the serpent is often assumed to have only negative connotations in Scripture, this is not true. Moses had a staff that was turned into a serpent, which he used as an instrument of God to liberate his people from slavery in Egypt.

ARE SNAKES EVIL?

Likewise, Moses was instructed by God to make a bronze serpent, which was used as the vehicle of deliverance when the Israelites had been bitten by snakes.

Jesus was to use this very incident as an analogy when referring to his atoning sacrifice on the cross.

John 3:14-15 (NASB) “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”

ARE SNAKES EVIL?

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. [Matt 10:16 NASB]

Then when Jesus sends out the Twelve, he instructs them:

ARE SNAKES EVIL?

Thus the serpent, which is after all a creature created by God, is a multi-faceted symbol in Scripture. Just as Satan misused a serpent to achieve his purposes in Eden, so God used a serpent to demonstrate his power over the gods of Egypt, and then again for the healing of his people in the desert.

Now here comes a possible bombshell. Most Christians will recognise the term “seraph” (plural is seraphim) as referring to a class of angelic beings, distinct from the “cherubim” (singular is cherub). But what many are unaware of—and will no doubt be surprised by—is that the word “seraph” is an equivalent of the word “serpent” or the term “fiery serpent” in Hebrew. The identical word “saraph” is rendered as either serpent or seraph in English, depending on the context in the Old Testament.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

The Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon states the following regarding the meaning of the term translated as “seraph”.

saraph: serpent

From H8313; burning, that is, (figuratively) poisonous (serpent); specifically a saraph or symbolical creature (from their copper colour)

KJV Usage: fiery (serpent), seraph

Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions comments on the word “saraph” as follows.

serpent, fiery serpent: poisonous serpent (fiery from burning effect of poison)

seraph, seraphim: majestic beings with 6 wings, human hands or voices in attendance upon God

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

E.g “saraph” and “nachash” used as equivalents:

Num 21:6-9 (ESV) Then the LORD sent fiery serpents [saraph nachash] among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents [nachash] from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent [saraph] and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent [nachash] and set it on a pole. And if a serpent [nachash] bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent [nachash] and live.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Saraph”, “nachash”, “tsepha” and “epheh” used as equivalents:

Deut 8:15 (ESV) who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents [nachash saraph] and scorpions …

Isa 14:29 (ESV) Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you, that the rod that struck you is broken, for from the serpent’s [nachash] root will come forth an adder [tsepha], and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent [saraph].

Isa 30:6 (ESV) … Through a land of trouble and anguish, from where come the lioness and the lion, the adder [epheh] and the flying fiery serpent [saraph] …

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Saraph” used of angelic beings:

Isa 6:1-2 (ESV) In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim [pl. saraph]. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

Isa 6:6 (ESV) Then one of the seraphim [pl. saraph] flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

So the words “seraph” or the plural “seraphim” are used seven times in the Old Testament (Num 21:6-8, Deut 8:15, Isa 6:2-6, 14:29, 30:6). But while in Isaiah 6:1-6 the term is obviously used to describe a type of celestial being or angel, the other five usages refer to actual serpents.

This might come as a shock to those under the mistaken impression that angels are always humanoid with a set of wings, as they are stereotypically portrayed in most medieval (and modern) paintings and iconography.

In contrast to our culture, seraphim were understood by the Hebrews as being similar to shining fiery serpents in appearance.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

The tempter in Eden is referred to as a serpent. In this case, the word used is “nachash”, the more generic Hebrew word for a snake.

But Moses treats the terms “nachash” and “tannin” as equivalents (cf. Ex 4:3 & 7:9). Moses also uses the terms “nachash” and “saraph” interchangeably (Num 21:7-8).

If the Hebrew words “saraph”, “tannin” and “nachash” are all synonyms, it may well be that the Genesis 3 serpent (nachash) is equally well described as a “saraph”. The latter term we have seen is used also of an angelic being.

Could it be that the serpent in Genesis is not referring to a literal snake but to a celestial being that is serpentine in appearance—like the seraphim of Isaiah 6.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Was the serpent of Genesis 3 in reality a seraph?

OR

The Bible is clear that Satan was directly involved in the actions of the Edenic serpent. We have four options:

Satan may have used a serpent (by external suggestion). This would require a very different serpent to what is known today, capable of speech and either of flight or the ability to stand erect.

He could have embodied himself in (i.e. possessed) a serpent.

He might have materialised and assumed the form of a serpent, just as the angels in Gen 19 assumed the form of men.

He may have appeared as himself—a blazing serpentine seraph or “angel of light”.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Isaiah describes the seraphim [pl. of saraph] as follows:

Isa 6:2 (NASB) Seraphim [pl. saraph] stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

Isa 6:6-7 (NASB) Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

The beings Isaiah sees have the same name “saraph” as that of a serpent. Yet they have hands, feet and six wings; and can fly and speak.

This may explain why the serpent in Eden is noted for its intelligence (Gen 3:1) and why Eve doesn’t appear to be overly surprised at its ability to talk, something that would certainly be startling if the creature was a mere animal.

It is true that Satan (who is identified with this Edenic serpent in the Rev 12 passage) may simply be masquerading as an animal, as indeed angels do demonstrate the capability of assuming physical forms in the Bible, though typically as humans (e.g. Gen 19, Heb 13:2).

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Dr. Michael Heiser, who has a doctorate in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages (and who is conservative, not liberal in his overall outlook), points out that:

When “nachash” (the word used in Genesis 3) is used as a NOUN it refers to a serpent.

But the word can also be used as a VERB and it then takes on the meaning of deceiver or diviner, a usage which also fits the Genesis narrative.

When “nachash” is used as a substantivized 1 ADJECTIVE, it means shining one.

1 Substantivized refers to making of a word other than a noun play the grammatical role of a noun in a sentence.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Angelic beings often have the adjective “shining” applied to them and there are numerous Biblical references to angels as stars. E.g. Paul says that Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14), while Isaiah calls him the “morning star” and “son of the dawn”.

The KJV translates the Hebrew term “Helel ben Shachar” in Isaiah 14:12 as “O Lucifer, son of the morning”, based on the Latin Vulgate rendering of the passage. But Lucifer was not intended to be a proper name here, as in the common usage today; rather in Latin “lucifer” is a descriptive adjective meaning “light-bringing” or a noun (“the morning star”).

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Now while the usage of “nachash” in Genesis 3 is most likely that of a noun and “serpent” appears to be the obvious reading, the assignment of these secondary sense meanings to the verb and adjective seem very significant, especially in the context of the Edenic account. In addition, the Bible leaves us in no doubt that the serpent in Eden is an alias for Satan, as well as for the dragon of Revelation.

Furthermore, Paul cautions us against being led astray like Eve, implying that we have a common tempter (the serpent aka Satan).

2 Cor 11:3 (NIV) 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 ANGELIC SERPENT

If the serpent of Eden was a seraph, this does raise the issue that the Bible seems to differentiate between the cherubim and seraphim. In a passage most believe applies to Satan, Ezekiel identifies him as a cherub.

Ezek 28:14 (NIV) You were anointed as a guardian cherub

But cherubim are presented as guardians. They guarded the Garden of Eden after the Fall, and two sculpted cherubim were set as covering guardians on each side of the Ark of the Covenant. Thus cherub may be a job title rather than an angelic class descriptor. If true, that would mean any type of angel could theoretically be a cherub. A seraph, for instance, could be a cherub. Satan may be both a seraph and former cherub (guardian).

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Traditionally the judgement pronounced by God has been seen as applying simply to a serpentine creature that hosted or was embodied by Satan.

Thus, the serpent is presumed to have had legs or wings and the resultant judgement left it being doomed to crawl on the literal dirt.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

In line with this type of interpretation, Mark Dion imagined such a creature in this display (right) at a natural history museum.

The Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 passages are believed to be referring to Satan. Although their primary applications are to the earthly kings of Tyre and Babylon respectively, the downfall described is considered to be pre-Edenic. Heiser’s approach is to make these passages describe the same event we read of in Genesis 3 where Eden is also the meeting place of the Divine Council of angelic beings (we read of in Job) and an equivalent of the “the holy mount of God” (Ezek 28:14), and the “mount of assembly” and “sacred mountain” (Isa 14:13).

Ezek 28:13-14 (NIV) You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you… You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

In the Ezekiel 28 passage that most believe has a secondary application to Satan, he is told “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezek 28:12, NIV).

What is a seal of perfection?

Regarding the term “seal of perfection” (hwtm tknyt), Hebrew language scholar H.J. van Dijk notes that in Semitic languages, occasionally the “m” at the end is silent rendering “hwt(m) tknyt” which would translate as “serpent of perfection”.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Heiser suggests that the “mount of assembly” where the Divine Council met was the garden of Eden.

Ezek 28:13-14 (NIV) You were in Eden, the garden of God… You were on the holy mount of God

Isa 14:12-14 (NIV) How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Heiser believes that rather than possessing some other creature, Satan appeared in the form of a serpentine seraph. In the well-known passage speaking of the serpent’s fate, he considers the judgement of “You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust” (Genesis 3:14, NIV) to be metaphorical and the equivalent of “So I threw you to the earth” (Ezekiel 28:17, NIV). The Hebrew word translated “earth” here is “erets.” Then in Isaiah 14:12, another passage which speaks of Satan, at least in a secondary sense, it says “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth [erets] …” (NIV)

The word “ground” used here is “erets”, which usually means “earth”. In the NASB it is translated “earth” 655 times, “land” (1581), “ground” (119) and “dust” (1).

Then in Isaiah 14:12, another passage which speaks of Satan, at least in a secondary sense, it says “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth (erets)…” (NIV).

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

CROSS REFERENCE

SCRIPTURE

WHO

WHERE

PUNISHMENT

Genesis 2-3

The nachash ≡ saraph/seraph (fiery serpent)

… the LORD God planted a garden in Eden

… you shall eat the dust

Isaiah 14

O morning star, son of the dawn

the mount of assembly, sacred mountain

How you have fallen from heaven…You have been cast down to the earth (erets)

Ezekiel 28

Serpent of perfection, guardian cherub

You were in Eden, the garden of God, the holy mount of God

I have cast you to the earth (erets)

Who is being addressed in this verse?

Gen 3:15 (NIV) “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 common opinion is that Satan is being addressed and that this verse does not have a literal fulfilment. Most consider this as being fulfilled in the events surrounding the crucifixion, where Jesus as the “seed of the woman” (i.e. born of the virgin) is betrayed and killed at the instigation of Satan (cf. Luke 22:3-4, John 13:21-27, 1 Cor 2:7-8). Even those who hold to the most rigid literal interpretation of the events in Eden, do not believe for one moment that the predicted bruising of the heel of the “seed of the woman” by the serpent—refers to a snake biting the foot of one of Eve’s children.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Who is being addressed in the previous verse?

Gen 3:14 (NIV) So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.”

The common opinion is that a literal serpent is being addressed and punished. But if it’s evident to all that Gen 3:15 does not mean that one of Eve’s sons would literally stand on a snake’s head and crush it, why do we assume that the preceding verse refers to a literal snake?

The serpent in verse 15 is identified with Satan but the serpent in verse 14 is considered to be literal. This is an inconsistent method of interpreting the text when it is viewed in context.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

You cannot have it both ways. If you insist that in v. 14 the serpent refers to a literal snake crawling on its belly, then how can the serpent having its head crushed in the next verse refer to Satan?

Furthermore if vs 14 is literal the prophecy was not fulfilled. While serpents do crawl on their bellies, they do not eat dust.

We know from Rev 12 that the serpent in Eden was indeed Satan so it is totally consistent to view the “crawl on your belly” judgement of verse 14 to be metaphoric of Satan’s fall from heaven.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

The presumed allusion in Genesis 3:14 to the ordinary snake’s legless locomotion (“on your belly you shall go”) and diet (“dust you shall eat”) may be read, instead, as a metaphorical description of disgrace and defeat. E.g.

Psalm 72:9 (ESV) May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!

Micah heralds God’s judgment upon the nations and depicts their defeat in similar terms.

Micah 7:16–17 (ESV) The nations … shall lick the dust like a serpent, like the crawling things of the earth; they shall come trembling out of their strongholds; they shall turn in dread to the Lord our God, and they shall be in fear of you.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Thus “you will eat dust all the days of your life” is more likely to refer to the humiliation and subjugation of Satan.

Isa 65:25 (NIV) The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food.

The above passage in Isaiah is regarded by Premillennialists to refer to the 1000-year future Millennial reign of Christ on earth. As Rev 20 literally teaches that Satan will be bound in the Abyss during the period and “dust will be the serpent’s food” is quoted in the context of the Millennial period, it appears to be prophetic of the devil’s fate during the rule of “the seed of the woman”.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Thus Moses’ intent is not to explain why snakes are hated, why they crawl on the ground and why they eat dust (which they don’t) - “rather it is figurative for abject humiliation, especially of [God’s] enemies” – Gordon Wenham.

“The writer clearly intends these two facts [belly and dust] to be expressions of humiliation and subjugation” of the rebellious Serpent – Hamilton.

“… the Serpent…has been made docile (i.e., he is defeated)” – Michael Heiser.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Those who insist that the tempting serpent is an animal, point out that it is referred to as a “beast of the field”.

Gen 3:1 (NASB) Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast (hay-yām; root: chay) of the field which the LORD God had made … [cf. 3:14]

Describing the serpent as wiser than ordinary animals indicates a contrast and need not imply that it belongs to the same class of beings with which it was being compared.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Furthermore the Hebrew word translated “beast” is “chay”, which simply denotes a living being. For example, the same word is rendered as “living thing” in Genesis 1:28.

Gen 1:28 (NASB) God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing (hay-yām) that moves on the earth.”

Eve is called “the mother of all the living (ḥay)” (Gen 3:20) and we read of the “tree of life (ha-ḥay-yîm)” (Gen 3:22), both texts use the same root word “chay”, which is plainly used generically of life and any living creature, rather than being a specific reference to animals.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

When Satan tempts Christ to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple, he reminds him that “it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” (Luke 4:10-11, NIV). Of course, he is quoting from the 91st Psalm.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

But interestingly Satan—the ancient serpent—cuts off his quote at verse 12, leaving out the following verse.

Ps 91:13 (NIV) You will tread on the lion and the cobra [pethen]; you will trample the great lion and the serpent [tannin].

Might Satan have left that verse out because it touched a nerve? Peter tells us that “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion” (1 Pet 5:8, NIV) and God’s promise here is “You will tread on the lion”. Furthermore, Satan was the serpent that Christ—the seed of the woman—would “trample”.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

The Genesis 3:14-15 judgement in its entirety makes more sense if it is applied completely to Satan, not to a snake. Let’s consider it to be totally literal and apply it to a snake alone:

Gen 3:14-15 (NIV) So the Lord God said to the snake, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly (as opposed to walking or flying?) and you will eat dust (which snakes don’t do) all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman (woman will hate snakes), and between your offspring and hers (Cain, Abel, Seth will hate snakes); he will crush your head (Cain, Abel or Seth will stand on a snake’s head?), and you will strike his heel (snakes will bite Cain, Abel or Seth?).”

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Now let’s make it apply figuratively - but totally to Satan.

Gen 3:14-15 (NIV) So the Lord God said to the seraph, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all living things! You will be (expelled from heaven and) cast down to the earth. And I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman (the human race), and between your seed and hers (Jesus); he (Jesus) will crush your head (the resurrection and redemption of sin), and you (Satan) will strike his heel (on the cross).”

The application is not speculation, but based on interpreting Scripture by other Scripture. We know that “saraph” is both a serpent and snake, Isaiah and Ezekiel say Satan was cast down to earth, Paul says the serpent is the tempter of Christians and John (in Rev 12) says the serpent is Satan.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

I believe that Eden was a literal garden, as Moses gives us specific geographic markers on the proximity of four rivers (rendered in the NASB as Pishon, Gihon, Tigris and the Euphrates), which appear to be directing the reader to an earthly location. Furthermore, the rivers are associated with specific countries (Gen 2:10-14) that existed as the time of the composition of Genesis—rendered in the NASB as Havilah, Cush and Assyria—even pointing out the current (at the time of its writing) abundance of mineral resources (gold, aromatic resin and onyx) in Havilah. This makes it difficult to believe that it was intended to be viewed in a totally allegorical sense. But I concede that there is much merit in the notion that in appearance the serpent of Eden was potentially a fiery serpentine angel—the seraph.

THE ANGELIC SERPENT

Gen 3:15 (NIV) “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; (1) he shall bruise your head, and (2) you shall bruise his heel.”

Both aspects of the Gen 3:15 prophecy were fulfilled at the cross.

You shall bruise him on the heel

A bruise on the heel is a relatively minor wound compared to a head injury. The ‘bruise’ that Jesus received was the crucifixion.

BRUISE YOUR HEEL

He shall bruise you on the head.

Now, while a bruise on the heel is a relatively minor wound, a bruise on the head is a fatal wound. Scripture makes it clear that by his bruised heel (i.e. his death on the cross) Jesus defeated the powers of darkness (a fatal blow) and brought about man’s awaited redemption by God.

Col 2:15 (NIV) And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

BRUISE YOUR HEAD

As the Seed of the Woman, Jesus shared in our humanity so that by his death (his heel being bruised) he would inflict a mortal blow to the head of the serpent (the devil) and deliver mankind from the consequences of the Fall (death).

Were it not for sin, death had never had a beginning - and were it not for death, sin would never have had an ending.

Heb 2:14-15 (NIV) Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

BRUISE YOUR HEAD

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http:// www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV: Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.




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