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?And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:But 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. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:(Genesis 3:1-4)
The gospel begins in a God-given garden of delight, with a very simple cast of characters, Adam, Eve, the serpent, and God. The man and woman were given but one negative commandment by God, a prohibition. They were commanded not to eat of one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and of evil. A vast array of other beautiful, fruit bearing trees were theirs to enjoy at will.
We can only know what went wrong with the world, and with the human race, by Divine revelation. God would have to show us what went wrong with the world, and He has. The man and the woman were undermined by the subtlety of the Serpent, they were seduced into repudiating God and siding with the serpent in his primeval rebellion against God.
I believe that an understanding of Genesis three is essential to a proper perspective on all of the rest of the gospel. It is important to see that the same thing that happened in Genesis three is played out on a larger, worldwide scale in the last days leading up to the final judgment of the world and the consummation of the purposes of God. Genesis three is both history and eschatology.
Now the Serpent was subtil…but can a snake be subtil? Isn’t subtlety a feature of intelligence? Subtlety is an attribute that can only be given to a responsible, moral being, therefore the scripture itself is being subtle, for it is implying that something more than a mere reptile is involved in this story.The serpent is the vehicle for another malevolent personality.
We are told without explanation, that the snake spoke to the woman. We remember that to the man, Adam, had been given the task of naming all of the animals. The act of naming the animals carries with it the idea that the one who names, has dominion over the ones named. This is in accord with the original commission given to the man, to rule over creation.
But something is amiss, for in the fact that the serpent spoke to the woman, there is rebellion against the divine order. It is the man’s wife that the serpent addresses, not the man standing there, the one who named the serpent. Obviously there is something very much out-of-order here.
The method of seduction is enlightening. The serpent probes the understanding of the woman, not by proposition but by loaded question;
Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
What a masterpiece of insinuation! He is not saying that God did say that, nor is he denying God said that, he is merely asking a question.
Yet the question itself is slanted- it could be paraphrased, Did God really deny you the freedom to eat of every tree of the garden? The serpent insinuated that God’s sole limit upon the couple was altogether unreasonable, not by stating so, but just by asking the loaded question.
The woman’s response offered the serpent clues to the couple’s inner state, openings to exploit;
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:But 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.
Her answer betrayed a slight hint of dissatisfaction. First, she maximised the prohibition of God, (though not as greatly as the serpent ), by saying that not only were they not to eat of the tree, they weren’t even supposed to touch it! Thus she portrayed her benevolent, Creator in a harsh light, as though he were being unreasonable.
Secondly she minimized the sanction, by saying that God said , lest ye die, when originally God had said, You shall surely die! As if it may or may not be true that those who transgress the word of God are liable to the revealed punishments. Maybe not?
Now the Serpent perceived that the couple, (for Adam had been standing there also ),were ready to hear God’s Word openly denied;
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die…
God had already said that the day you eat of the tree of knowledge , literally, “In dying you shall die”, but the serpent’s new ‘word’ was a direct contradiction of God’s word.
The subtlety of the Serpent is first to make an indirect appeal, not to the man whom God ordained to name and rule, but to the woman who was to be his helpmeet. It is a distortion of the Divine order. The confusion of the God assigned gender roles is a sign of satanic influence.
Secondly the Serpent seeks to call into question the revealed word of God. He ever hisses, Hath God really said…? In the modern age, the faith of millions has been ravaged through the virulent attacks on the veracity of scripture by groups such as the higher critics, and the so-called Jesus seminar.
Liberal theology has made a corpse of the mainstream protestant churches and is now marshalling its troops for an all out infiltration and attack on the evangelical church.
Through his servants, apostate ministers, the serpent currently suggests that the God of the Bible is harsh, ‘fundamentalist’, demanding and unreasonable. Through the new preachers, the serpent offers a new and improved “god” of love and mercy. In fact more than mercy, the new ‘God’ presented by liberal theology and the ’emergent’ stream of the church is indulgent, tolerant of every kind of ‘lifestyle’, for he is a ‘God’ of “unconditional love”.
The serpent also is adamant that no one is “surely going to die”, for the new ‘God’ is too tender to damn anyone to hell. A fiery Hell as a place of punishment for the reprobate, is now seen as a ‘barbaric notion’ held on to by fundamentalists, a holdover from the dark ages. Religion has evolved such a sadistic concept of God.
Finally, when the serpent percieves that we are ready to recieve it, he offers an alternative “Word” in the place of the Word of God. These days there are many “words” from God and many “gospels”. We must be very near the final judgment.
The modern evangelical church has been undergoing this seduction for at least the past fifty years. Steadily the Bible colleges and seminaries have made on accommodation after another to the Spirit of the Age, in its constant question, Hath God really said…? Thousands of sons and daughters of Bible believing christians have been sent to study theology only to lose all faith in God as a result of the experience!
We are finally to the point where it is becoming easier and easier for ministers, theologians, christian musicians and television personalities to openly deny the Word of God. Jesus’ teaching on Creation, marriage, divorce, Heaven, Hell, Judgment, homosexuality, morality, love , the exclusivity of the gospel, all are being attacked and in many cases denied.
If judgment begins in the house of God, what shall become of the ungodly and the sinner?
more to come…