This is part seven of a series called “The Backstory.” Backstory is a reference to the sequence of events which form the backdrop to “The call of Abram” and the unfolding of God’s mysterious plan of redemption.
Who Named the Snake
In our last study we found the snake was not exactly what he represented himself to be. Today we get a glimpse into how he intends to carry out his hidden agenda.
In the book of Job, the morning stars and the sons of God watched and rejoiced as God was creating the heavens and earth.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? . . . “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding . . . when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:1-7
Let’s establish some pillars of understanding as we go forward.
- Divine beings or the heavenly host are constantly watching and learning about God’s magnificent plan. These divine beings are often referred to as stars and sometimes sons of God in the scriptures. In the passage above, these beings cannot be human as the context is the founding of the world before humans existed. (1 Peter 1:12 describes how angels learn by watching God’s work among humanity)
- Man/mankind was the pinnacle of God’s work as man (male and female) was imprinted with the Creator’s image and likeness. As image-bearer, man would rule the earth as God’s viceroy (Gen. 1:28-30).
- Although man is the pinnacle of creation, we understand from the Psalms that we were made a little lower than the angels (Ps. 8:5) and Hebrews tells us that angels minister to the heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14).
- Finally, we learned in the last post that the snake’s (guardian cherub) heart was filled with his own self-importance because of his wisdom and beauty, so much so that he desired to overthrow the Most High, taking his place.
If unclear on some of these points take needed time to study the topic and return when ready.
Connecting the Dots
With this understanding, let us try to connect the dots. If you listen closely, you can almost hear the guardian cherub’s heart, “This is not right, I deserve to carry the image and rule over the earth, not those humans. Have I not been with Yahweh since the beginning of Creation? He wants a human family; what’s wrong with us? Are we not also ‘sons of God’? And look at me, am I not the most glorious of his divine family? He wants relationship with a human family. No, I will intervene and completely corrupt them! I will rule over them and they will be my slaves -er, sons and daughters. And I will turn them against the Most High as I use them in my rebellion against his rule. Finally, when this war is over, I will rule over all things.”
Since we know the snake’s motive from the last post, we can now unravel his plan. This is where things get interesting! When Adam named the animals, it was set in the context of his needing a life partner. The animals had presented themselves, but a suitable companion was not found. What would a suitable companion be or look like? And why was none found? In the first Creation account, God created everything according to its kind or species and that is how it was to reproduce. Vegetation, plants, and trees all made according to kind; then sea creatures, birds, beasts, and livestock followed the same pattern of life according to kind. When the text says a suitable companion was not found, it is because no animal shared the “likeness” of the Creator as did Adam. They followed a different kind or likeness. If Adam were to join with a member of the animal kingdom, it would have violated God’s boundary of “according to kind/likeness.”
Keeping in mind the cherub’s motive (“I wills” from Isaiah 14), maybe the guardian cherub recognized an opportunity to use Adam to accomplish his coup d’état against the Most High. As an act of subterfuge, he desired to be the man’s companion. But Adam, when naming the animals, possibly perceived the cherub’s wicked heart, understood the mixing of “kinds” and rejected his evil proposal of companionship, naming him “snake.”
Once the snake had been rejected by the man, he certainly couldn’t present himself to Adam again for a second date. Instead, he approached his wife with a seductive plan. Plan B was now on the table – to lure the woman into companionship. I believe his goal was to entice and deceive the woman, thus corrupting her devotion and loyalty so that he could ultimately build a family after his own image and likeness.
The snake, knowing the man and woman’s desire for oneness with each other and God used this desire against her. He corrupted her understanding of the Creator by referring to the God of story one (Elohim), conveniently forgetting about the God of story two (YHVH Elohim). His persuasive argument highlighted the commanding, powerful, boundary setting nature of God in Creation Story One. His final point, to set the hook, was that “you will be like God knowing good and evil.” Well, thought Eve, “Of course I will eat, for this is my greatest desire to be like him and with him always.”
This may sound like a stretch, but consider what Paul says in 2 Cor. 11:1-3.
I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Paul felt the Lord’s jealousy for his bride. Why would God be jealous? He would be jealous if another suitor were to pursue his bride or if his bride were attracted to another suitor. A love triangle begins to develop with two suitors pursuing humanity. This is a major theme in both testaments as God’s people are repeatedly drawn in and out of idolatry. Our pure devotion and loyalty can be as fickle as the weather.
This divine being had a lofty goal as we read in Isaiah 14. Let’s capture the essence of that plan before ending today’s study. Man was God’s representative on earth (our domain). We were to act as his mini creators, caring for the earth as he would. Man was the pinnacle of God’s created order (made in his likeness and image). To overthrow the Most High, the snake must first replace the man or usurp his power and authority, making man subservient to himself. But Adam had rejected this offer of companionship (just as he rejected all other animals), so the snake would approach the woman, presenting himself as her helper. We will explore this next time.