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Posts Tagged ‘serpent’

Adam said it was the woman’s fault for giving him the fruit (and maybe a little bit God’s fault for giving the woman in the first place). Eve blamed the Serpent who deceived her. Interesting, though, the Serpent is silent.

Genesis 3:11b-13
Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

I’m assuming the Serpent knew what was up from the beginning. He expected retribution. He had counted the cost. So, however he might have looked in the garden, the Serpent was ever changed, and most interesting, for whatever reason, the relationship between the Serpent and woman would be one of enmity. I find that fascinating. The implication is that the relationship could have been something else had everything gone the other way. But what?

What was the Serpent’s true nature? In the same way that Jesus brought Judas Iscariot into his sphere of influence, so did God bring the Serpent into the garden. There was opportunity for them to choose differently, to want something else, to be reached.

We are quick in this culture to lay blame as well. This week is election week. All media outlets from news programs to Facebook are afire with political mumbo-jumbo. And usually, it’s one side finding fault with the other, somehow thinking if enough aspersions are thrown out there, their own missteps will be ignored.

In reality, we have all eaten the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and as a result, we spend far too much time looking at “not-God” instead of looking for what is good and right. The ancient aphorism speaks well here: Know Thyself. It’s so important to remember that our eyes are corrupted.

Open my eyes to see like you, to understand with Godly wisdom, to bring grace into every situation and conversation, to clearly bring myself to the situation. As a follower of Christ, I bring God to every table, to every discussion, to every contemplation. That’s part of the covenant I made.

I must accept blame for the part I play in my world.

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What do you see?
Woman or a face?

I get a little tired of people treating Eve as though she had a “blonde moment” and impetuously grabbed the fruit from serpent (who was probably a beautiful creature and not some slimy looking snaky thing – I mean really, who would trust a talking snake?). And why is symbolized by an apple? She ate “some of it” … she ate the “fruit thereof,”; it could have been cherries or nuts for all we know.

Genesis 3:6-7a
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened . . .

But here’s my point. The interaction between serpent and Eve could have been over time. She may have even pondered what it would mean to “know good and evil” since all they knew up until then was good. They were, after all, made in the image of God who is all good. So, the draw here was the wisdom, I think, not the temptation to disobey. Personally, I’m a big fan of wisdom. We are even encouraged throughout scripture to desire wisdom and to ask for it. And for me, here’s the real loss. If Eve would have asked the Creator for wisdom to solve this conundrum, she would have received all that she needed.

There is some part of human that is still unsure of our place in the universe. Are we truly beloved of the Creator? I’ve made so many mistakes: is it too late for me. No, no one is unreachable. Even eating the fruit of the tree doesn’t kill, but there are consequences.

Adam and Eve experienced consequences. And so do we, every day.

When they ate of the fruit of the tree (whatever it was that the tree produced freely in the garden), they saw everything differently. Before, they were looking with God’s eyes; perhaps they looked within more readily and saw the beauty of all living things; perhaps they were able to communicate freely with God’s creation. But, upon seeking beyond the boundaries of God’s gifts for that time in their lives (who is to say they wouldn’t have received more and more later?), they saw something they had never seen before: Not God.

Now, as a follower of Christ, I am trying to teach myself how to see the old way, with the eyes of God, to bypass the “not God” parts of humans and focus on spirit within.

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Painted by Hans Baldung Grien
16th Century

In a previous post, I spent some time thinking about the idea of choices and boundaries for human in the Garden of Eden (a decidedly perfect environment) and yet, within that garden stood a tree with forbidden fruit. Human had to choose whether to honor God’s boundary (“do not eat”) or not. Now, it appears another kind of choice was there as well, whether or not to believe the “crafty serpent.”

Genesis 3:1aNow the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman . . .

Another thing occurred to me today. Why are so few people concerned with the concept of a serpent that could a) talk and b) interact with human? Some might reason that this was possible because it was really Satan in the guise of a serpent, but still, a talking critter is talking critter. And apparently, human (Adam or Eve) was not particularly surprised by this talking faculty either. Is it possible then that other animals or creatures in the Garden could communicate? I know, that sounds fantastic. (Is that any more fantastic than the idea of a Garden with only two people who named all the animals and walked around naked?) After all, the Garden is not supposed to be Dr. Doolittle’s domain. And yet, isn’t it fun to consider? Perhaps this ability to communicate with other species was lost to us in the “fall.” In some ways, it makes perfect sense that we make up so many stories about talking animals in our children’s stories, fairy tales, and movies. If only, we think, if only my dog could tell me what he really wants. If only my cat would explain why she is so angry with me. And so on.

A few years ago, Carolyn Parkhurst wrote a novel called The Dogs of Babel, in which a man’s wife dies after falling from a tree and the only witness was their dog. The man, a linguistics professor, is so embroiled in grief that his only hope for recovery is to get the truth about his wife’s death from the dog . . .  by teaching him how to talk. To me, that story captured the longing of inter-species relationships.

But, enough about talking animals. What I really wanted to investigate was the logic of the serpent for challenging humans. I believe he really wanted to undermine God’s authority and the best way to do that was by usurping the human role in Eden. The serpent, as a creature of the Garden, had been placed under the authority of human (see Genesis 1:28) just like all the other animals and creatures. To me, this is the reason the serpent was so crafty. He had a bone to pick with Creator and for this reason, he tricked humans, those most beloved of God. Otherwise, why bother?

This breakdown of the chain of command works in today’s world too. What better way to break things up than to hit the “middle manager.” In this way, the organization (or the church) suffers both up and down the ladder. Those below the middle manager begin to distrust that person’s reliability while the administrator above is seen as a poor leader, unworthy of respect. By encouraging human Adam and human Eve to break the boundaries of the Creator, the serpent broke himself free as well. The serpent’s goal was and still is bigger than human.

Evil has an agenda that is beyond mere “search and destroy” missions of human beings. Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Same for them.

What is my role then today? See the big picture. Believe in the boundaries of God. Believe in the reality of a secret agenda of evil. Trust the sovereignty of God.

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