Entry Level Theological Truth [35]

“The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.’” Genesis 3:14

gavelEvil appears to prevail in the modern world. Murders, immorality, cruelty, and greed fill the headlines so frequently that wickedness fails to astonish contemporary people anymore. Since the day sin entered the world through man’s disobedience, it has established a foothold in every corner of the globe. In spite of the apparent hegemony of the current, malevolent “ruler of this world” – as the Lord Jesus dubbed Satan (John 14:30) – evil and the evil one will be banished from the world in a coming day. The scene of the first judgment against human sin is a preview of the more extensive judgment to come against everything ungodly and evil.

 


Condemning Evil At Its Source



 

There is no need for the serpent to have his day in court to present an excuse or a defence: he was patently guilty. In a sweeping judgment that includes the animal agent and the insidious devil working through him, the Lord condemns both Satan and his tool at one stroke. In order for salvation to extend to mankind, evil must be dealt with at its source. As Bonar says: “Grace cannot come forth to the sinner, save in connection with the utter condemnation of the sin. There can be no true love to the sinner, which does not extirpate and utterly make away with the sin. Sin was the real enemy, and love to the sinner must proceed at once against this enemy, not resting till it is utterly destroyed.”1

 


Learning To Crawl



 

The punishment fits the crime: sin’s essence is self-exaltation; therefore, the serpent was cast down to the ground in abasement. In the words of a nineteenth-century commentator: “To lick the dust, is a scripture expression of ignominy and reproach. Psalms 44:25, 72:9, Isaiah 49:23, Lamentations 3:29. Micah 7:17. Pride is supposed to have been the first sin of the fallen angels, and here God lays them low enough.”2

Another concurs by saying: “Prostrate, no longer erect, and feeding on the dust which man shakes off from his foot, the serpent-race typified the insidious character of the power of evil, to which the upright walk of man was the typical contrast.”3 The point is clear: those who raise themselves in defiance against God’s authority will be put down. In Scriptural terms: “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18.)

Of course the humiliation of the terrestrial serpent prefigured the utter defeat of that ancient serpent the Devil (Revelation 12:9.) Observing a serpent crawling reminds one that divine justice is certain and shall prevail. He who humbled the serpent in the dust will eventually cast Satan down to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10.)

A contemporary writer refers to this abiding picture of God’s judgment in this way: “The curse of the snake, then, as a result of his part in the Fall, is to be the perennial reminder of the ultimate defeat of the rebellious ‘seed.’ So strongly was this imagery of the snake’s defeat felt by later biblical writers that in their description of the ultimate victory and reign of the righteous ‘seed,’ when peace and harmony are restored to creation, the serpent remains under the curse: ‘dust will [still] be the serpent’s food’ (Isaiah 65:25).”4

 


“Oh How Vile My Low Estate, Since My Ransom Was So Great”



 

Satan is doomed to fall irrevocably and eternally. God hates sin and will judge it thoroughly and finally. He deplores every atrocity – every infraction large or small – every lustful look and thought; consequently, He will vanquish and judge all evil. Indeed, in the sacrificial death of His Son He has already demonstrated what He thinks of sin: it is so bad that its condemnation produced Christ’s horrible sufferings that wrung out of Him the cry: “My God, my God why have You forsaken Me?” The answer is provided by a later portion of the New Testament: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21.) Sin is so hideous that it necessitated God’s total, unmitigated anger poured out on it at Golgotha. Such is the Lord’s unwavering and righteous hatred against evil. He will banish every trace of it from the universe in the new heavens and earth.

 

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Image from: http://propertydrum.briefyourmarket.com/Images/JD94/JD94_12_B2.gif Accessed on 8/9/12.

1 Horatius Bonar, Earth’s Morning: Or, Thoughts on Genesis, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1875), p. 165.

2 Philip Henry, Exposition of the First Eleven Chapters of Genesis, (London: J. Nisbet and Co., 1839), p. 81.

3 Herbert E. Ryle, The Book of Genesis in the Revised Version With Introduction and Notes, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1921), p. 54.

4 John Sailhamer, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis. electronic ed. (Zondervan.) Emphasis mine.

Quote in the 3rd section header: Robert Cleaver Chapman, “Oh, my Savior crucified”; Spiritual Songs, Hymn #71; accessed on 8/9/12 here: http://www.stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/71

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