'Did God actually say...?' Gen 3:1
He never came the way they would have anticipated. The enemy arrived in the garden not looking like a fearsome, clearly evil, horror movie moment. Rather he came pictured as the very thing that man was to lead, over whom man had full authority, with whom man was spending his every day. His deception had to be subtle, sensual and sly.
Most theologians would agree that our foe was a high end angel whose pride led to his downfall. In Isaiah 14, we get a glimpse of his shift from primary worship catalyzer to setting his own stage of adoring worship. I am not sure that his origin should be our over preoccupation. Living comfortably with the notion of "presuppositional apologetics," namely that we have to live comfortably with what the bible chooses to say little of, we simply see the great deceiver slide into the story with nudgings of doubt and uncertainty. Faith had left the garden.
If an intelligence officer were to study the first three chapters of Genesis, he would have a very clear picture of how his enemy acted. He could then easily project future behavior with some accuracy. He may draw these conclusions about his enemy:
- His objective was to gain authority over project planet earth by getting man and woman to give it to him — that simple. Authority would bring about worship and he wanted that at all costs.
- His disguise was subtle, he came in the form of a creature that man and woman dealt with daily. He did not come in his true colors, nor did he come in a form that they were not used to.
- He engaged Eve in conversation. Now that is a very interesting piece. When Peter said that the woman is the "weaker vessel," what was he saying? I know many remarkable women who are amazingly strong, competent, able, tenacious, achieving women. Therefore to simply take a blanket statement that all women are weak is foolishness. Roger Foster suggests that women are 'weaker' when they gestate, lactate, and menstruate. For me the moment reflects an issue of authority. I am persuaded that God gave man the responsibility to carry primary and final authority, but not exclusive authority, in the home. The true tragedy here is not Eve's conversation but Adam's passive, disengaged, bystander presence.
- He created doubt. Wherever God dwells, faith reigns supreme. But Satan is a faith killer. That which brings God much joy, Satan is committed to killing at all costs — faith. He did this to engage in combat but not through a full frontal faith assault. He simply probed the cerebral process with a sleight of hand. That dear friends is why we must ensure our congregations have a substantial theological foundation to stand on. God encounters are not enough. Adam and Eve met the Father daily, and they still faltered.
- He shrunk the expanse. God made creation about 'increase, multiply, fill the earth, rule over...' Gen 1:28. Satan made it about a tree and piece of fruit. Satan's focus is always to shrink us through sin. We miss the mark by getting preoccupied with the little and the pedantic. God work of grace is to empower us to the big and the eternal.