THE OLD, OLD SERPENT; a Devotion for 24 March 2021 Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord), the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
The Scriptures refer to Satan as a Serpent, or a great Red Dragon (Revelations 12:3); but, in a sense, that would be demeaning to your typical serpent since Satan is more deceptive than even a rattlesnake which warns before he strikes. Satan gives no warning at all but rather entices with charms and soft words. Some of those soft words and charms are even voiced from the pulpits of America every Sunday during worship services.
The history of Satan predates the Creation of the world. In the remote annals of eternity past, Satan was an angelic being who rebelled against God. The Book of Revelations tells us there was war in Heaven, and the devil and his followers (fallen angels) were cast down. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelations 12:7-9) We know this must have occurred prior to Creation since we find Satan already in the Garden contemporaneous with man. His demons (fallen angels) also exist as his vicegerants to accomplish deception and wickedness at the whim of their dark Prince. Coincidentally, God refers to Satan as a great Red Dragon. That is a symbol of the most evil nation in the world today.
God did not create a devil – Satan was lifted up with pride at his own beauty and musical charms and aspired to rise above His Maker. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. 16They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; 17That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?” (Isaiah 14:12-17)
So we first find Satan in the guise of the Serpent in the Tree of the knowledge of God and Evil. You will recall that there were TWO trees in the midst of the Garden – the other was the Tree of Life, symbolic of our Lord Jesus Christ. This Tree was rejected in favor of the one tree from which God had told man not to eat. Once the fruit of this tree was tasted, the law books were opened and all mankind became subject to that law of sin.
Eve had not heard from the mouth of God concerning the prohibition against that tree. She heard it from her husband, Adam, whom God had warned before woman was created. ( see Genesis 2:16-17) Please note the manner in which Satan approached Eve. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Notice that Satan most often begins his deceit by a question; “Hath God said” but note – even his question contains a lie: “Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” God had said no such thing. “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17 This may have confused the woman’s poor understanding of the matter since she was not primary hearer of the prohibition. Satan establishes doubt by questioning God’s Word and then misquoting it. Nevertheless, Eve correctly knew the warning God had given Adam: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 17But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Genesis 3:2-3)
To those who will stop and listen, Satan is unrelenting in pressing his point of deception. He begins with a question, misquotes Scripture, and finally flatly refutes the very Word of God: “Ye shall not surely die!” He then appeals to one’s personal pride to build upon the stone of deceit he has laid in the heart: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) Well, Eve did die, and so did Adam, as a result of their disobedience of the only Commandment God had given them to obey. When Adam fell, his blood was tainted with that sinful nature that is present in the blood of all his progeny (that is you and me.) But God was not surprised at Adam’s fall. He had already prepared a Savior in the Councils of Heaven in Eternity Past – our Lord Jesus Christ.
Since his success in Eden, Satan has sought to destroy the man that God had created along with the beautiful creatures of life. He has many tools at his disposal to accomplish this goal: famine, war, pestilence, disease, immoral living, abortion, homosexuality, etc. God’s first institution was that of Marriage between one woman and one man. His second was represented by the first – the CHURCH.
If sin could run unbrooked upon earth, Satan would accomplish his goal in the death of all life; however, there remains a problem for that old serpent – the Redemption available to the chosen of God in our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ became his paramount concern following the baptism of our Lord in Jordan Waters. During the forty day Wilderness fasting of our Lord, Satan followed Him hard on to find out some means of undermining the righteousness of One who would not fall to his wiles. Nearing the end of the forty days, Satan approached the Lord with temptations of fleshly want, prideful exultation, and outright lies. But Jesus was the Word Incarnate, and He knew Himself and His Word. On each of the three temptations, Jesus responded with “It is written.” (Matthew 4:4) Satan can never stand up to the persistent Word of God. At last, he departed and left his presumed prey in the wilderness. He will do the same for you and I if we speak with believing faith in God’s Word.
All of the tricks and ploys of Satan are at play at all levels of our society today just as surely as in Eden. Unfortunately, he is most successful in getting his message proclaimed from the seat of spiritual power – the pulpit. Many churches today are embracing infant murder and homosexuality as perfectly normal. They first question if God meant what He has said, and then flatly deny His Word. Every imaginable perversion has entered the mainline churches, not just in America, but the world at large. Much evil has found its origins in America from which it is propagated abroad.
God often turns the tables on Satan by means of redirection. Those sinful conjurings of Satan are often deflected to result in a better good for his intended victims. I have experienced the same in my own life experiences. In my attempts to serve the Lord, I have often been persecuted by the very church I hoped to serve in bygone days. But God has turned those afflictions to a greater gain for me, opening doors that could never have been opened had I never been so challenged by the jealousy and pride about me. What had seemed unquestioned defeat was turned to a glorious victory for my labors for Christ.
Satan tried Job with hard affliction, yet Job came shining through with greater joy than at the beginning of his sufferings.
In America, we need spiritual backbone to reject the fruit of the sinful tree and to embrace the Tree of Life. We pray for God to send leaders of character who will not yield to mammon or pride. God sent Cyrus whom He named two hundred years before Cyrus was even born to rebuild His Temple in Jerusalem. At the time, Cyrus had no idea of the Living God, but God called Cyrus, His anointed, out of Elam to accomplish His desire. Perhaps God has called His anointed, and will call His anointed, to restore the walls of America soon.