By Michael E. Brooks
“So 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 bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel'” (Genesis 3:14-15 NKJV).
As we drove towards Khulna from the Khulna Bible College campus we saw a very large snake crossing the road ahead of us. It was unusual in both size and coloration, well over six feet long and very thick, with alternating black and bright yellow stripes. I have often wished I had asked our driver to stop and let us take a closer look, and maybe some pictures. Its unusual and beautiful appearance gave it much appeal.
The Bible’s introduction to mankind’s great enemy, Satan, presents him in exactly the same manner as this snake.
First, he was himself in the form of a serpent, though the text suggests that snakes before this time may have been somewhat different in physical nature.
Second, Satan (the serpent) presented temptation to humans in its most appealing and beautiful form. The forbidden fruit was made to appear to Eve to be beautiful, delicious and desirable for what it could do for her. Not surprisingly Eve succumbed to its allure.
God’s words to the serpent seem to have double meaning. It is difficult to avoid applying them to the almost universal fear and revulsion that humans express towards snakes. Though there are some who have overcome this feeling, most people seem to continue to consider all snakes dangerous, and to have an almost inexplicable fear of them. It is certainly true that there has been “enmity” between reptiles and man throughout our known history.
A thoughtful reading of these verses, comparing them to later revelations in the Bible, makes it clear that God is not speaking only to the natural serpent, but also to the one who was usurping his form, Satan. The seed of woman is ultimately revealed to be Jesus, the Son of Man and of God. Satan bruised his heel on the cross. Jesus bruised Satan’s head through the resurrection (Hebrews 2:14).
Satan’s defeat and ultimate destruction are certain; this does not mean, however, that he is not still active in the present time. He continues to threaten God’s creation and is described as a roaring lion, seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). John called him, “the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan” (Revelation 20:2). He may not take on the physical appearance of snakes today, but still has his same character, purpose and power.
Sadly there are those who react to Satan in much the way I was tempted to act towards the snake I saw in Bangladesh. He may reveal himself in very appealing ways, causing us to want to come closer, even dangerously close. He offers us what appears to be rare pleasure. He presents beautiful pictures. But he is deadly. His tempting appearance is deceptive. All he actually offers is pain, suffering and death. Let us recognize him for who and what he really is. The Holy Spirit teaches us, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
By Michael E. Brooks