Our story has brought us to this scene: the garden of Eden, flourishing. Adam and Eve, living together as one, unashamed, in the presence of their Creator. There is no pain here, no fear. God has given everything to this first man and woman that they need…including one instruction: don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Into this moment of time comes another name – into the third chapter of Genesis, a serpent slithers. It comes with a question for Eve…”Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'”
To get a better understanding of this serpent…to get a clearer picture of why it came and questioned her about what God had given to her, I think we need to do a little flash-back and flash-forward. To know the great scope of the Father’s passion to bring us salvation, we have to know from whom and what we are being rescued.
We have an enemy in this world – he was first called Lucifer, the ‘morning star’, but he became ‘satan’…the adversary. Revelation 12:9 shows us satan’s identity in genesis 3, referring to him as “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan.”
Throughout the Bible, we see his work and his presence in the world.The prophets speak of him, Jesus encounters him in the desert, and his fate – total defeat – is revealed to John.
So how DID he end up on the earth, deceiving Eve and Adam? What happened before he spoke on that life-changing day?
The prophet Ezekiel was given words for the King of Tyre, but moves into a passage that describes how Lucifer abandoned the purpose God had given him to go his own way.
We are shown that Lucifer was a beautiful creation of God, an angel who had an important role in the Kingdom of Heaven…there in the original garden of God, he had access to what was likely the very throne-room of the Most High.
The prophet Isaiah goes on to describe how Lucifer moved from reflecting the glory of the Creator to wanting the glory of God for himself…he wanted to be on the throne, exalted and reigning over all.
Revelation shows us that he led a revolt in heaven, trying to force himself into a position of authority that belongs to God alone.
But this war did not end with Lucifer on the throne of heaven. It ended with him – and the angels that followed his lead – being cast out of heaven to earth. Jesus tells His disciples in the book of Luke that He “…saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18)
Then this further message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, sing this funeral song for the king of Tyre. Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord:
“You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty. You were in Eden,the garden of God. Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone— red carnelian, pale-green peridot, white moonstone, blue-green beryl, onyx, green jasper, blue lapis lazuli, turquoise, and emerald—all beautifully crafted for you and set in the finest gold.
They were given to you on the day you were created. I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. Your rich commerce led you to violence, and you sinned.
So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor.”
Isaiah 14: 12-14
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation. On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Once on the earth, we can look into his actions and see his motivation: pride, revenge, anger, greed for authority and glory, corruption of all that God had created.
Jesus tells us plainly in John 10:10 – The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. In 1st Peter, he is called our “great enemy, the devil” and we are warned that “he prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
When it came to that day in the garden, I believe that he saw this man and woman with dominion over the earth and he wanted this kingdom, too, for his own…I believe he saw hearts attuned to the Most High and it was his nature to disrupt their unity, to destroy that holy bond. He had broken his own relationship with God and he set out to break the communion between mankind and God.
We’ll read more about the encounter between the serpent and Eve tomorrow…but since we have this knowledge of an enemy, I want to leave you with the hope of the One who has overcome him. Jesus told us that the enemy would come to destroy, kill, and steal — but He also told us that He Himself had come to give us LIFE – life abundant and full. He always provides the way of life. Humble before God, all we have to do is “Resist the devil”…and we will see him flee from us. (James 4:7) The victory of Jesus, through the power and Word of God over satan, shows us that we have all we need to stand strong and unafraid.