Who was the serpent?
Please see What about evil, Part 1
The last book of the Bible, Revelation, informs us that there was a spirit, a created angel, behind the serpent, ‘The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.’ 1
It is necessary to have some background knowledge about the serpent, called Satan.
- The talking serpent is in reality a rebellious angel (an invisible spirit) who decided to defect from God’s Kingdom. He convinced one third of God’s angles to join him. For his insurrection, he was banished and will never be part of God’s coming Kingdom which will be established on the new earth. He is sore and bitter about it, bitter that humans, made from dust, can inherit the Kingdom. That explains why he constantly questions the Bible. The Bible is the guide for humans to become part of God’s eternal Kingdom.
- Because the Bible is the Key to the Kingdom, Satan leads the whole world astray concerning the Bible. He always questions the Word of God. If he can destroy people’s trust or interest in it, they will follow his way and be excluded from God’s presence in eternity.
- Satan is the ruler of this world. That happened when Adam obeyed him rather than God. God gave Adam the right to rule over the created world, ‘Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ 2 Adam’s right to rule went over to the devil. As leader of this world, he can lead the whole world astray.
- This is just fact, ’We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.’ 3 The devil controls the media, entertainment, education, money, law and whichever systems are at play in the world. So he can influence millions, even billions to reject the Bible.
The change from Genesis 2 to Genesis 4?
Genesis 2 presents a picture of peace, tranquility and harmony. After the devil entered in Genesis 3, the next chapter, Genesis 4, records the first murder in human history. The murderer, Cain, was not interested in God’s advice to avoid wrongdoing. Why? The New Testament answers it, ‘Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.’ 4 Jesus affirmed, ‘And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to….’ 5
What happened when Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?
It became part of man’s constituency to do either good or evil. When the devil entered the garden of Eden, humanity divided into two groups.
- One group does what the devil likes – evil. They resist God’s plan for their lives. The other group trusts in God and wants to do His will.
- Satan wants to divide humanity in two groups as he did with the angels. They were divided into those who follow and obey God and those who follow the devil. The example of Cain and Abel is a ‘blueprint’ of what humanity would be like through the ages: pro or anti-God.
- Compare the attitudes of Cain and Lamech to that of Abel and Seth. In Seth’s time man began to call upon the name of the Lord. 6 Cain’s genealogy stops with Lamech, while the genealogy of Adam through Seth ends with Jesus. 7
- Genesis 6-7 highlight the differences between the two groups among humans after the Garden of Eden episode. It was hundreds years after Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden. There was already a sizable number of people on earth. Yet when God surveyed them, His conclusion was, ‘The Lord saw how great man”s wickedness on earth had become, and that every inclination of his heart was only evil all the time.’ 8 Contrary to that, the Bible records one family that was different, ‘Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of the time, and he walked with God.’ 9
- A few Scriptures to illustrate the two groups:
- 1 John 3:12 calls the devil ‘the evil one.’
- Genesis 2:9 introduced us to the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
- Genesis 4 describes the evil deeds of Cain. 10 Cain belonged to the evil one.
- Matthew 24:35 describes Abel as a righteous man.
- Genesis 6:9 describes Noah as a righteous man. He walked with God, as did Enoch.11 See also Hebrews 11:4-5
- Thus the devil caused this split in the loyalty of mankind, either pro or anti-God. It was the same as with the angels. 12 The difference is clear in Revelation. Many angels serve God. They are with God in the New Jerusalem. The devil and his angels are in the lake of burning sulphur.
When we hear about evil in the world, we have to understand that its origin is the devil. He is the evil one who causes people to commit evil against others made in the image of God. Scripture tells us, ‘He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.’ 13 Understand that the killing, torturing, maiming of people by people, is part of the evil problem and its origin is in the devil.
That leaves us with two important questions we want to discuss:
- Why did God not, in His omnipotence, get rid of the devil? The devil is a created angel, so obviously for the Creator to squash him would have been no big deal.
- What about natural evil or disasters like hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, et cetera? What is their origin and why doesn’t God prevent them? If Jesus could still a storm on the Sea of Galilee, surely God can stop a tsunami or a hurricane.
- Revelation 12:9
- Genesis 1:28
- 1 John 5:19
- 1 John 3:12
- Matthew 24:35
- Genesis 4:26
- Luke 3:23-38
- Genesis 6:5
- Genesis 7:9
- 1 John 3:12
- Genesis 5:22
- Mark 8:38
- 1 John 3:8