In the third chapter of Genesis another character shows up in the Garden of Eden. He is called “serpent” and the Bible says he is one crafty customer.
Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the Lord God had made. “Really?” he asked the woman. “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat it,” the woman told him. “It’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die.”
“You won’t die!” the serpent hissed. “God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil.”
There are some questions that need answering. Who is this serpent? What did he look like? How did he get into the garden? And finally, what’s he up to?
A Liar in the Garden of Eden
Until now, in the time/space dimension (the Garden of Eden), there are only two intelligent creatures that are capable of having a reasoned conversation, Adam and Eve. Yet, here is this being called “the serpent” hanging out in the garden, in the midst of it, actually. The New Living Translation embellishes the dialogue with some snaky qualities, he “hisses.” But hold on a minute. This isn’t your garden-variety snake. I’ve never known a snake to say anything intelligent or even act as though it was interested in conversation. This one is different. Indeed, there is a positive identification of this being in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. In Revelation 12:9 the serpent is identified as Satan, the Devil.
And who, or more appropriately, what might he be? Here’s what the scholars think: he is one of those eternal ones. He is one of the “hosts” mentioned in Genesis 2, a being created for the eternal dimension. Powerful and, Genesis says, more subtle and shrewd, than any other creature—certainly than any of the animals—in time or eternity. He was outright sneaky and a bald-faced liar. Notice how deftly he steered the conversation toward the one thing in all the Garden of Eden that the Creator had forbidden people to eat, and then how he accuses God of having hidden motives because of it. Clearly, the serpent is not on God’s side.
Not only that, the Bible holds evidence that the eternal ones were already in the heavenly places before the time of the Garden of Eden. Let’s briefly visit the book of Job in the Bible. We’ll be revisiting this interesting book later, but for now, let’s look at Job 38, verses four through seven. Here God is talking to Job, who as you may recall, was a good man that had come upon what appeared to be some incredibly bad luck: financial setbacks, multiple deaths in the family, and health totally gone to pot. To make matters worse, he had some friends who came over to visit him
in his misfortune who were a real pain. Eventually, Job just loses it and starts to complain about God, the universe and his circumstances in general. That’s when God loses patience and has a few things of his own to say to Job. As he does, we learn something about the order of the universe. Listen:
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Do you know how its dimensions were determined and who did the surveying? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
Did you catch that? Who was there singing and shouting? Eternal beings. Morning stars (that’s a Bible code phrase for eternal beings) and angels—already there before the Creator was finished creating!
Intrigued? Read more in Sword of Submission – Reclaiming the Power of Being Human.