A Brief Examination of the Impact of Eden
Robert Wurtz II
Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:4-6)
Just like the Wilderness Tabernacle was a metaphor for the Temple in heaven, God used the serpent (viper) as a metaphor for Satan. Whether this was His original intention, we cannot tell. What is certain is that the earthly serpent (viper) was created and declared by God to be good. Satan, also known as Lucifer, was created good by God as well. This means that both the deadly serpent (viper) and Satan were essential contributions to God’s creation at the beginning of their existence and designed to be a source of blessing to Him and His Creation.
We learn from Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 that Lucifer (Satan), the Anointed Cherub, became exalted in pride because of his beauty. Apparently, he was one of the Burning Ones who walked up and down among the coals of fire near the heavenly throne of God. Whereas he once burned for God only, he began to burn for himself. Iniquity was found in him. He became a vile distortion of his original self–characterized in scripture as the father of murder and lies. Again, he was a burning one; a flame of fire who ministered to the Lord. When his fiery love for God was corrupted into fiery hate, he was cast out of Heaven. God rejected him and his fire and would later reject Nadab and Abihu and their fire (Lev. 10:1-3).
New Covenant Revelations of Satan
The Lord revealed to the people of the first century the very nature of their spiritual father, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44 NKJV) These characteristics were the consequence of his self-corruption. His lies are designed to murder, that is, to cause death to the relationship between angels and God and people and God.
In Acts 8, Paul confronts Elymas the sorcerer who was seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Paul rebuked him saying, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10 NKJV) The Greek word for straight is the same that is used to describe John’s the Baptist’s ministry of repentance and the place where Saul was when he was fasting food and water for three days breaking of his own bonds of wickedness in repentance (Isaiah 58:5). Elymas, a child of Satan, used deceit and fraud to prevent people from repenting and turning to God. He was of his father the Devil (Satan, the Serpent, Lucifer, etc.). These passages are insightful because they help us understand the fallen nature of Satan, that old Serpent.
Seeking to Serve Satan
The children of Israel complained against God in the Wilderness. It was neutral territory where they experienced neither the blessings of God nor the comforts of sin. God had set joy before them in the Promised Land, with the brutality of slavery behind them. When put to the test they whined and behaved treacherously as if they didn’t want God. They preferred the short-term pleasures of sin for being in a relationship with God. That can only mean one thing. They preferred the Devil to God.
So God gave them what they thought they wanted and the consequences along with it. Understand that when God brought judgments to Pharaoh, they were all little foretastes of Hell. The darkness, the frogs, the locusts, are all pictures of Hell as we find in the book of Revelation. When Satan fell from Heaven, God prepared a place for him and his angels as a fiery quarantine. Hell is filled with all kinds of fearful creatures and punishments. Consider all of the vile and diabolical creatures that ascend from Hell in the book of Revelation. From time to time God has caused people to experience a foretaste of Hell in order to change their minds.
Pharaoh, who was behind the pleasures of sin in Egypt, was a representative of Satan. Egypt was a type of this present world. The serpent on Pharoah’s head was key to understanding whom he represented (see the forehead in the picture above). The meeting between God’s representative Moses and Satan’s representative Pharaoh became a showdown. God demonstrated His power by showing Pharaoh that He could easily make sticks into serpents in the same sense that he could have made of stones children unto Abraham. The children of Israel knew all of this, and yet they moaned and complained in the wilderness. When they murmured as if Satan was to be preferred to God, He sent them Satan as he indeed is — a biting venomous serpent who has come to steal, kill, and destroy.
A Picture of Satan
So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:4-6)
The serpent (viper) was the wisest of all God’s earthly creation apart from man. He had a unique ability to manufacture a substance (venom) in himself and deliver it to other creatures through something similar to hypodermic needles (see the image above). This substance is comprised of some 20 different compounds, mostly proteins, and polypeptides. Keep in mind that God had called all of His creations good in the beginning. It is only rational that the serpent (viper) was created good, and the venom that his body manufactured was good as well. The whole delivery system and substance from the beginning were designed for good. We cannot now speak in detail of what the purpose would have been, but we know it was good.
God used the Fiery Serpent in Numbers 21:4-6 as a picture of what happened to Adam and the human race when Adam sinned. He was, in effect, snake bit. In the same sense that the Israelites felt the fiery venom coursing through their veins bringing death, Sin entered Adam through the Serpent and Sin and Death has flowed through mankind ever since. When Satan took the form of the Serpent, it was the perfect physical representation of himself. Satan is “serpent-like” in that he could communicate what was in himself to other spirits and people. We do not understand these things, but we know they are somehow true. God intended for Satan to be a creature of blessing. When he corrupted himself through pride, the good that was once in him became iniquity. His very nature is what we now know as Sin.
When the serpents bit the people, they felt something like FIRE enter their bodies. This is figurative though it was literal for those who experienced it. The spirit of the fallen burning one entered humankind just like the fiery venom from the fiery serpent entered the people. It was deadly. Adam and Eve found that it caused them and their children to become what Satan is. God’s fire went out and the glory departed. Sin entered and a death-dealing spirit followed with it.
For the children of Israel, they were dying by the thousands. God commanded Moses to make a brazen serpent, raise it in the air, and have those who were bitten to look upon it. If they turned and looked, no matter how far away or how directly turned away, they would be healed of the fiery snake bite. This was a clear picture of what God planned to do in Christ through the cross. He was going to heal mankind of his mortal wound. For those who will turn to the Cross God will heal their Sin and rebellion. He will forgive their sin and give them His Holy Spirit. The fire of hate, lies, and murder can be replaced with a burning fire of love for both God and man.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:14–16 NKJV)