|*All illustrations in this post by Gustave Dore.|
This is mere speculation -- mere momentary agendizing... I feel propelled to believe that the world as we see it now, hasn't always been like this. Though it may smell the same, tomorrow is not the same... surely Solomon is right when he stated, "There's nothing new under the sun..." also right are Peter's words in his second letter (3:3-7):
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
In the manner that God was later to create human beings and all of the universe, he created the angels and the angelic realm. His motive in creating can not be broached as far as to even speculate, besides stating that this is a means by which God is glorified. Any further postulating on this would lead to vain preposterousness.
In a given place in space-time, God made known his plan of earthly creation. One angel, chief above all, whom we will refer to as the Serpent, disagreed intensely with this plan. We do not know his argument for dissension, beyond that it was a matter of pride. I propose here; the Serpent's aim was (perhaps remains) to show God that he was in error for creating man as his creation, chief above all others; that man is a useless vessel from which to receive glory. The Serpent's insurrection led to his position being ripped away, his and the third of the angelic rank that chose to follow him.
Man, along with all creation, was created. Man was indeed given the highest rank, with a stipulation that he was not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This, of course, would sound quite queer to any reader present had we not all been inundated with the story of Adam and Eve. But chief among these trees was the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life was not illegal for the creation to eat of, yet we see in Genesis 3:23, God says to himself (already God being three persons): "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever..." For it was in the Garden of Eden that these trees really did to their eater what they were made to do. There was, in that place, many giving trees. Perhaps there were more trees of substance than merely the two already stated. Perhaps there was a tree for speaking, a tree for sleeping, a tree for flying... perhaps.
Of course, as now seems inevitable, the Serpent came and seduced Eve with his reasoning to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam did so as well. Thusly, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent are cursed, leaving the Man and Woman banished from the Garden, left to live out the remainder of their earthly days east of Eden. Left to guard anyone from eating of the Tree of Life was a Cherubim angel (Gen 3:24), and to remind the world that Eden is a physical place (see Gen 2:10-11 for a physical description/approximation). Let us remember, a real-life angel stood surrounding the Tree of Life holding a flaming sword. The world was different in those days.
Let us further speculate on the Serpent's curse. In the midst of God's words to the beast, He states, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed..." (Gen 3:15a). Many-a-sermon has taught me that the seed of the woman is Jesus. So the question remains -- who is the Serpent's seed? --
Here's where today's speculation can perchance edge into the realm of controversy. This Serpent becomes the prince of the air (Eph. 2:2) and apparently later in history has the power to give Jesus power over all the cities of the world... this dude left Eden, worked havoc, and accumulated power. How?
We don't know what the rulebook is between Heaven and Earth; we don't know what the Serpent is allowed to do (or has the power to do) and what he doesn't. Nevertheless, where God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, the Serpent is not. In this then, there was sure to be a scheme, as all who are fighting with limited resources must scheme.
My extrapolation here is largely borrowed from a thought of G.K. Chesterton, in which he made the case that (and this argument comes through the historic lens of Chesterton examining the Punic Wars) the world needed first be saved from worship of demons, for a lighter paganism before Jesus could appear on the stage. What if this first age after Adam, and indeed, for the vast majority of human history, the Serpent and his legions have roamed about the Earth devouring men by establishing themselves as gods?
Cain spoke to God, and God to him. In those early days perhaps too the nemesis spoke. Sin became common place and demons became gods. Indeed, in those days God spoke to man in an intimate manner that is rare to hear in our modern world (Gen 5:22-24, Enoch walking with God). Aside from Enoch and a few others, the world was not well. It was quickly being overran by mischief.
The Bible is cloaked in mystery around this era, when the strange "Nephilim" peruse the Earth (Gen 6). The Semitic root for Nephilim likely comes from the word "to fall" and here we will, for the sake of argument make the giant leap that Nephilim are a sub-species, taken as the offspring of demon and woman. Genesis 6:1-4 talks of "Sons of God" mating with the "Daughters of Men". This commingling seems to produce the "mighty men who were of old, men of renown." (Gen 6:4). The word Nephilim shows up again when in the book of Numbers 12 spies of the Israelites visit the land of the Canaanites, only to spot giants in the land aka Nephilim. The famous warrior Goliath, or Canaanite lineage, was said to be nine and a half feet tall when David slayed him. Perhaps he was an ancestor of these Nephilim.
This phrase "Sons of God" is given some context when we match it up to Job 1:6, "Now there was a day when the Sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them." If we match "Sons of God' with the demons, then a ghastly picture is filled into what is occurring on Earth in the antediluvian era.
The Serpent left the Garden, inclined to conquer the world by force. He and his army make themselves vessels to be worshiped and sacrificed unto. Many greats 'gods' are made in their image. Perhaps chief among them is Baal, a ravenous god who was worship by various Semitic peoples. The worship of Baal included the sacrificing, through fire, of one's first born son at the rip age of nine. This name, or a version of it, Beelzebub (Beel being an aramaic version of Baal), is linked with the Serpent by Jesus himself. Matthew 12:24-28,
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you
So perhaps it was in those days, that the Serpent took these various positions, and in relations with women, certain demons were indeed able to create an offspring, or rather 'seed', which would populate the Earth as giants. This was the scheme in those days of the enemy to destroy humanity.
But God is not mocked. It would appear that at the right time, God limited the power of the Serpent and his tribe. Jude recites the story that is further documented in the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch, saying in verses 5-7:
Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.Now then there was punishment for those haughty Serpent followers who bent the rules of the game, playing out of position.
It would seem then that the Serpent nearly won the day, for Noah and his family alone survived the flood and lived to carry on mankind.
What then did the Serpent do? At halftime did he change his gameplan? I know not... but it would yet appear that God would be the first to make a game-changing play. At the right time, God calls one of his faithful, Abraham, to go and sacrifice his son. Abraham had had a son out of wedlock, Ishmael, but it was his son Isaac who was to exude the fulfillment of God's promise to the elderly Abe and Sarah.
Abe probably thought God was calling him to burn his son in the way that the demons of the day were asking of their servants. But then, at the climactic moment wherein Old Abe has his dagger raised above his head, a thrust away from plunging into the blood and guts of his young son, God sends a messenger to stop him. Game Changer.
That moment, and Abraham's life in general, was the tipping point of the twist in game play. With the non-sacrifice, God was foreshadowing the game winning score in his sacrifice of Jesus, his only begotten son, whilst simultaneously mocking the cruel modus operandi of the Serpent's method, AND moving the first pawn that was to be Israel.
So then, Israel.
Israel was to be the people through whom God would make himself known to the world. The Serpent knows this. He surely was aware of the plan. Why else would he try to steal Moses' bones away?
But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Now then we see the rise of the nations. Cities amass wealth, gates, technology, and kings. I do not know how either the Serpent or God Himself has chosen to interact with those early peoples who did not come in contact with Israel, but there does appear instances of people from far off places that somehow knew God.
I also do not know if the Serpent took kings and nations for himself as to raise enemies against Israel... but this very well might have been the case. As the Serpent works to destroy God's pride and glory, God uses that to show that He is made strong in the weakness of man. He is glorified by man in ways the Serpent can't comprehend. It is this confusion on the face of the Serpent that leads him to commit evil and yet good comes forth from it. Example one is Job. Example two is straight out of 1 Kings 22:19-23
Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. The Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ The Lord said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’ Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you.”
Perhaps it is also in this stage of history, wherein the eyes of the Serpent positioned himself on the rulers and strongmen of the nations. And as these demons once worshiped begin in some cultures to fall into old traditions, "Lenin went underground." The Serpent and his legion, rather than being an outside entity, becomes a possessor of men and women. By Jesus' time, the Serpent's tactic seems to be about physically possessing people. Demons run amok when Jesus is begotten unto birth. Every other door holds a demon controlled person.
And then Jesus. Mark 5:5-13,
Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.” Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.Those demons never had a chance.
We see that the stakes are high as the devil himself comes to dissuade Jesus from fighting the good fight. He fails at this miserably. And then, at the end of his worldly mission, Jesus breaks the bank. He finishes the opponent off. Game Over.
On that day the bet ended. There was no more to do. From that day forth the Serpent had nothing left to win. He's bankrupt.
But despite the fact that the game's over, history rolls on. The Serpent, in those first few years after Jesus' resurrection, probably tried desperately to assassinate the first century Christians. If he can annihilate all those who knew/met/touched Jesus, then perhaps he thought he could squish the consequences of his losing the game. So he raised Herod, Nero, Trajan and others to murder and uproot the Christian movement. He failed at this.
Roughly three hundred years later, the Serpent sipped the drink of, "If you can't beat him, join him." Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire. What surely seemed like an advancement for the Christian brothers and sisters living under persecution for generations, the Serpent used to bring about a connection between religion and cruel power. The possessions of the Western world went into recession as a thousand years of power hungry priests and robbers grew up within the shadow of their ever towering cathedrals.
Fast forward another three hundred years to the 600s. Among the Arabic people, a sour perversion arises. The Serpent takes Abraham, the father of blessing, and the vessel through which God chose to foreshadow Christ, and pervert the thoughts and minds of generations. The Serpent raises Mohammad in his name. And through the teaching of Islam, men, women, and children are taught that it was not Isaac who God spared on that mount of sacrifice, but Abraham's other son, Ishmael, the child born out of wedlock and out of faithlessness. Could there be a more ironic sign that Islam is not of God, then to have it birthed from the fruits of lawless faithlessness?
The Serpent has twisted his tactics over the years to that of isms and mammon, rather than the old brutish carved images... be he remained unrepentant in his desire for destruction all through the middle ages.
The story continues onward, and there is much more that history has to share, but for now I stop.