The first attack on the human race did not come from outer space. No alien fleet of space ships. No downloaded virus into a vein to ultimately kill, steal and destroy. It was not even a physical attack; no swords, clubs, guns or bombs. But O, the devastation it caused.
For those who know their Bibles, you will know I am referring to the attack on the first parents of mankind in a Garden called Eden, when the serpent attacked Adam and Eve… with a question. That was all it was. A simple question.
Oh it was a loaded question. The question spoke volumes about how God could not be trusted – how His word was not to be believed. It spoke of how God did not really have their best interests at heart – that He was holding out on them – that if God really did love them, then things would be different. Built into the question was an undermining of God, His word and His love; and more than that, an insinuation that God did not want them to achieve the most beautiful thing possible – the ability to be like God.
Think of it from the devil’s perspective (and I mention the devil because there are passages in Scripture which tells us clearly that it was the devil who entered into the serpent in the garden). If you were the devil, how would you tempt a perfect man and woman who were living in a perfect environment?
But before we ask that question, lets see the hostile heart of the adversary. Hating God with a vengeance is a horrible thing. There is no excuse for it. God is perfect and to hate perfection seems illogical in the extreme, but it is borne out by the fact that although he knew of the perfection, he hated everything he knew. Yes, the devil could pass any theological test. He knew of God’s attributes, His omniscience, His omnipotence, and His omnipresence. He knew of God’s Sovereignty, His immutability, His transcendance. On and on we could go, but the point is, the devil knew all that. He did not need more knowledge of God. He already knew far more than any of us know, this side of heaven.
More than that, all demons know a whole lot too. The demons were the first to recognize who Jesus was as He walked the shores of Galilee.
Mark 1:23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”
At one point in his epistle, with sarcasm dripping from the pen, James writes, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19) The demons, like their master, know the truth about God, His existence and His character, and they detest everything they know.
Knowing that, it was hatred which spawned the attack on man. Again, try to think about it from the devil’s vantage point. He could not land a blow on God Himself. He could not raise his fist in defiance of God and personally attack Him.
I once sat opposite a lady on a train. She started talking to me with tears rolling down her face. These were tears from a broken heart; tears of both sadness and hatred; for this was a lady who had been spurned by her lover. She took out the note she had received from her “man,” (informing her that the relationship was now over), and read it one last time before going to her purse and finding a photo of him, and then ripping it up right in front of me. This was her form of revenge. Distant from the man himself, she could not slap him or hurt him, but here on the train, she did the next best thing – she ripped up his image.
In William Congrave’s “The Mourning Bride” (1697) Zara says, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” (Act III, Scene VIII). In our day, these words are usually paraphrased as “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
Scripture reveals that Lucifer, though beautiful in the extreme, allowed pride to raise its ugly head to such an extent that rather than being employed in leading worship to God, he decided that he indeed should be the one to be worshipped. Through five “I will” positive confessions he proclaimed that he would raise himself as a rival to the Most High God.
For this act of treason, God declared that instead of experiencing elevation, he would be brought low and banished from the immediate presence of God. As far as the courts of God were concerned, Lucifier would become merely an unemployed cherub.
Isaiah 14:12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ 15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. 16 Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, 17 who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?’
Ezekiel 28:12 “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.13 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. On the day that you were created they were prepared. 14 You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. 16 In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you…”
In learning his fate, like a lady scorned, hatred filled the heart of the devil. Knowing that a physical attack on God would be futile, he went in for the kill, assumed the body of a serpent, and sought to attack God where it would hurt Him the most, by marring and destroying the ones He loved; man, made in His image and likness.
So back to the garden. How would the devil attack man in order to mar the image of God in man? What would be the methodology? How could he be successful?
The Bible tells us that the serpent was more crafty or cunning than any beast of the field. Such indeed was the case.
How would he bring the human race down? How would he accomplish devastation on a global and even universal scale, so that all creation itself would cry out for liberation and redemption (Romans 8:19-22)?
Its a tough one isn’t it? He could not tempt them with gold or riches. They had access to all the gold they wished for. He could not tempt them with power. They were the most powerful people on the planet. He could not tempt them with anything… except, to draw on the most wonderful thing God put inside them, a desire to be like God Himself, and sadistically twist that desire, so that they would want to be like God (a very good thing) while becoming independent of Him (a very bad thing) – the exact same motivation that caused his own downfall.
And that is indeed what he did. The serpent attacked Adam and Eve with a terrible question. In four short words satan attacked both God and man.
I am more than persuaded that the serpent assaults humanity with these same exact words in every generation. Why would he changed a winning tactic?
Of course, ultimately God is victorious, and even here in this scene of devastation that we find in Genesis 3, the Fall of man, God was ready to provide redemption for the violators and to prophesy the triumph and victory of One who would forever crush the serpent’s head.
Yet even now as I write these words, the serpent’s hostile venom can still be felt in our world. Adam and Eve succumbed to the devil and disobeyed the law of God, plunging mankind into the bitter effects of sin. We are still haunted by the disastrous effects of that day – the day when the serpent’s fangs were masked by means of a subtle, cold, treasonous, cruel, cunning, crafty and brutal attack on God and His dearly loved image bearers. It was the day when the ever first question in the Universe was uttered:
“Did God really say?”