That Old Serpent

My brother, Richie, and his family have been renting an older house for about a year or so. Last summer he killed a huge blacksnake on the wooden deck of the place. A few days ago he looked out and saw what he said must have been that snake’s mate lying on the deck. He would have killed it too, but he is in the process of moving into a new home and didn’t have a hoe or shovel handy. He had to settle for scaring the thing off the deck. And, no, the blacksnakes aren’t the reason he is moving. If it was me in that house, though, it would be!    

When I saw Richie this past Thursday he showed me a cell-phone picture he had taken of the one that got away. We estimated the snake to be over six feet long. For some reason, the creature made me think of Satan, the one the Bible calls “the serpent of old” (Revelation 20:2). It was Satan who entered into the body of the garden of Eden’s serpent and tempted Eve (Genesis 3:1-5). If you don’t believe that a fallen angel (a demon) can enter into the body of a serpent, you had best read the story of how Jesus allowed a group of demons to enter into a herd of swine (Matthew 8:28-32; Mark 5:1-14; Luke 8:26-33). Certainly if those demons could have entered into those swine, Satan could have entered into that serpent.  

Count me among those who believe that the incident in Eden explains why snakes crawl on their bellies. God did say to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all livestock and every beast of the field. On your belly you shall go” (Genesis 3:14). That wouldn’t have been much of a punishment if the serpent had always slithered along on the ground. Evidently, the creature originally stood erect somehow.

But why did God punish that poor serpent? Wasn’t it just a pawn in the hands of a mighty fallen angel? What purpose is served by having a world full of snakes going around on their bellies rather than walking upright? Dare I say that God meant for every snake to be a constant reminder of what happened back in Eden. He doesn’t want us to ever forget that Satan deceived Eve, a deception which led to the fall of the human race.

Isaiah 14:3-23 and Ezekiel 28:1-19 are two of the more fascinating passages concerning Satan. In them we find him indelibly intertwined with the earthly kings of Babylon and Tyre. In each passage, much of the language fits Satan better than the earthly ruler. For example, Ezekiel 28:15 says, “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.” Also, Ezekiel 28:13 says, “You were in Eden, the garden of God.”

Some translations of Isaiah 14:12 even use the word “Lucifer,” which means “shining one” or “morning star.” Obviously, the point that Isaiah and Ezekiel are making is that Satan was the real power behind the thrones of Babylon and Tyre. Some parts of the passages apply to the earthly kings while other parts apply to Satan. It is as if God keeps crossing back and forth between the story of the two kings and the story of Satan.

This means that we can use these passages to glean several truths about Satan. When we do this, we come up with seven of them:

#1: God created Satan as perfect (Ezekiel 28:12,15).

#2: Satan was bright, shining, and indescribably beautiful (Ezekiel 28:12-13,17).

#3: Satan was a cherub angel (Ezekiel 28:14).

#4: Satan had a high rank in the angelic order, possibly even the highest (Ezekiel 28:14). 

#5: Satan became sinfully vain and proud of his beauty and rank (Isaiah 14:13-14, Ezekiel 28:16-18).

#6: Satan fell from heaven (Isaiah 14:12, Ezekiel 28:16).

#7: Satan has even more judgment in his future (Isaiah 14:16-17, Ezekiel 28:19).

Whereas the Isaiah and Ezekiel prophecies only hint at Satan’s future judgment, other passages paint in the full picture. The judgment’s order is as follows: 

-At the midway point of the coming seven-year Tribulation period, Satan and the other fallen angels (Revelation 12:3-4 indicates that one-third of all the angels fell with him) will make a second attempt at overthrowing God in heaven (Revelation 12:7). Again, though, they will lose and be cast out of God’s presence (Revelation 12:8-12).  

-At Christ’s Second Coming, Satan and the other fallen angels will be chained up and cast into that place described as “the bottomless pit” (Revelation 20:1-2; Matthew 8:28-29; Luke 8:26-31; Isaiah 24:21-22). They will remain incarcerated there for the one thousand years of Christ’s Millennial reign upon the earth (Revelation 20:2-3).

-Following that reign, Satan and the other fallen angels will be released to mount one last rebellion against the Lord (Revelation 20:7-9). God the Father will personally cast fire down from heaven to put an end to that rebellion (Revelation 20:9).

-Satan and the other fallen angels will then be banished to the lake of fire where they will spend eternity suffering in torment (Revelation 20:10, Matthew 25:41).     

And so, you see, unlike Richie’s blacksnake, Satan isn’t going to get away. His days are numbered. Surely he knows this, and this is why he works so diligently to get his desires done. But take heart, Christian. God is still on the throne and Satan must answer to Him. We want God to hurry up and deal with him, but God is always working from a predetermined plan. What we must do is trust Him and patiently await Satan’s demise. Oh, and in the meantime, let’s keep on the lookout for what Satan and his angels are up to in our lives. Let’s put on “the whole armor of God” so that we can “stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-20). And, as for me, I’m watching out for blacksnakes too!

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