Chapter 3:1 (ESV) - Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Question to consider: Why did the serpent lie about what God actually said?
If I could break down the first three chapters of Genesis into basic questions that were answered by both Moses and the apostle Paul, they would be:
Chapter 2 ended with the statement, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” This is a preface to the visit from the serpent because Moses was pointing out the fact that they were completely innocent. There was no law dealing with adultery and lust because it would not even have occurred to them to desire another. They were one flesh and desired nothing other than what God had given them. Today, we have people who are not ashamed to walk around naked, but it’s not the same. It is rooted in rebellion against society or perhaps a feeling of power or pride in their boldness. If we are to truly love our neighbor, we do not relish in their weaknesses or act in a way that may tempt them to sin.
The appearance of a talking serpent is what causes many to consider this account as an allegory since this isn’t something anyone else has encountered. We have no idea what kind of relationship Adam had with animals before the fall. The Lord opened the mouth of a donkey in Number 22:28 to talk to Balaam. Perhaps this was the norm before God’s curse upon the earth? In this case, the crafty serpent seemed to be Satan’s mouthpiece. The text doesn’t immediately associate the beast with Satan, but when we encounter something in scripture that is unclear, we try to gain clarity by looking somewhere else in God’s word that may help explain it. One such passage is Ezekiel 28:13-19 where Ezekiel is calling out the King of Tyre as Satan incarnate. Verse 13 says:
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
and crafted in gold were your settings
and your engravings.
I realize I’ve probably opened up a different can of worms with this passage, but the point is that it places Satan in the garden of Eden. I will provide a fuller understanding about the serpent in scripture as we get further along in our study of chapter 3.
The first question asked by the serpent obviously misrepresented God’s prohibition against eating from the tree of knowledge. It’s as if he’s exaggerating God’s one rule to say that without total freedom they had no freedom at all. So by not being able to eat from the one tree, they may as well not be able to eat from any of them. It’s a question that was intended to sow a seed of discontentment. At this point Adam and Eve should have called the serpent out on his lie and kicked him out of the garden. Instead of course, they continued the conversation.
Dear Lord, like Adam and Eve, we have also been deceived by Satan’s lies and disobeyed Your commands. Please forgive us and help us to know Your word and love the things that please You. Transform our way of thinking so that we would desire to focus on heavenly things until we come home to You. Amen.