Serpent and Satan. Hardly the stuff of Christmas. But the birth of Christ fulfilled a prophecy that leads us into the dark side of Christmas.
A long time ago the Lord God created the first man and first woman. He put them in a paradise–Eden. Filled with every kind of fruit tree imaginable. All for them to enjoy. Except one—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God forbade them to eat from that. (Some have guessed that this test of Adam’s and Eve’s faith and obedience was necessary for them to progress from innocence to moral maturity.)
Edenic bliss was darkened by a sly serpent’s entrance. “No, you won’t die if you eat from the God-forbidden tree. Why, you’ll become like God!” Eve listened and looked at the tree. How desirable! “She took of its fruit and ate (so the Genesis 3 story goes); and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he also ate.”
Their sin spread. It’s infected us. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man (Adam), and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned . . . “ (Romans 5:12). Sin came. Death came. Man must return to the dust.
And, “ . . . the LORD God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall crush your head, and you shall bruise His heel'” (Genesis 3:14,15).
The fantasy-like story takes on deeper reality. It’s not explaining why snakes crawl. But warning that evil power personified exists. To lead us astray. From God.
“ . . .that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray“ (Revelation 12:9).
- Temptation comes like a serpent; like the most subtle beast of the field; like that one creature which is said to exert a fascinating influence on its victims, fastening them with its glittering eye, stealing upon them by its noiseless, low, and unseen approach, perplexing them by its wide circling folds, seeming to come upon them from all sides at once, and armed not like the other beasts with one weapon of offence-horn, or hoof, or teeth–but capable of crushing its victim with every part of its sinuous length.
- Temptation succeeds at first by exciting our curiosity. It is a wise saying that “our great security against sin lies in being shocked at it. Eve gazed and reflected when she should have fled.” The serpent created an interest, excited her curiosity about this forbidden fruit. And as this excited curiosity lies near the beginning of sin in the race, so does it in the individual.
- Through this craving for an enlarged experience unbelief in God’s goodness finds entrance. In the presence of forbidden pleasure we are tempted to feel as if God were grudging us enjoyment. The very arguments of the serpent occur to our mind. No harm will come of our indulging; the prohibition is needless, unreasonable, and unkind; it is not based on any genuine desire for our welfare.
- If we know our own history we cannot be surprised to read that one taste of evil ruined our first parents. It is so always. The one taste alters our attitude towards God and conscience and life. The actual experience of sin is like the one taste of alcohol to a reclaimed drunkard, like the first taste of blood to a young tiger, it calls out the latent devil and creates a new nature within us. (Above four points from The Expositor’s Bible Commentary.)
We are “drawn away by [our] own desires” (James 1:14,15). Yet, “[Our] enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
I am Eve. But with a sin-nature. And, vulnerable to the devil’s guile. He slithers toward me. Intent on enticing me to what God forbids. His power is dark. And pervasive.
Not only toward me. The world. Read the news. Terrorism. City gun violence. Wars. Corruption. Sexual perversion. Domestic abuse.
“ . . . the whole world lies under the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19).
But from that long-ago story, light shines in the darkness. The Lord God cursed the serpent/Satan . . .
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall crush your head. And you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
A woman’s Seed to crush the Serpent’s head. In that battle, the heel of the woman’s Seed would be struck. A fatal blow to the Serpent. A wound from which the Seed would recover.
Through centuries of evil the promise lay dormant. Until He was born.
“Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14,15).
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8b).
“And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:13-15).
The Serpent still seduces. But his doom is sure. God is stronger. And His Son, the Seed of the woman, has come. And conquered.
And, he ” . . . will soon crush Satan under your feet” ( Rom 16:20).