Posts tagged “false prophet

Genesis 3:1, The Serpent’s Motive

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. (Genesis 3:1)

In my last post I painted “the talking snake” as a soothsayer who purported to know the mind of God, a predecessor of all false prophets.

Now, I identify the motives of false prophets, which also spawned this serpent into action.

According to the Word of God, it’s really no secret what the ultimate goal of any false prophet is. Messiah Yeshua summarized their intentions in one word: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15) It’s fitting that Yeshua compared false prophets to animals, because that’s exactly what this passage in Genesis does as well – it equates false prophets with a serpent.

Yeshua described false prophets as “ravenous” because they are motivated to devour the people for a particular lust, usually for power or wealth (cf. Jer. 5:27, 6:13, 2 Pet 2:3, 15). False prophets steal wealth by offering false promises for payment, and deceive you into offering them prestige.

In the case of the serpent, the text implies its motivation for power.

Genesis 3:1 says “the serpent was more clever than any beast which YHVH Elohim had made.” When the serpent was created with the rest of land animals – which occurred before mankind (cf. Gen. 1:25-26) – it was the ‘wisest of all’ among living creatures.

However, its short reign was interrupted. A ruler appeared having “dominion… over all the earth” (Gen. 1:26). However, like any false prophet, the serpent despised authority. This new arrangement was unacceptable – the serpent desired to be ruler of the world. Thus it despised the favored one, Adam, and the Word of God who gave him authority.

Thus the snake was programed to deceive before its first encounter with mankind. This occurred when Adam “called out names to all animals” while seeking an ezer k’negedo – a “rescue as his opposite” (Gen. 2:18-20).

Both YHVH and Adam envisioned a confidante who would oppose Adam, to challenge and refine him. Since animals were created to be mankind’s servants, by nature none of them could possibly know Adam’s intentions (cf. Yeshua’s words in John 15:15). Therefore, during the “animals on parade” naming convention, I imagine they tried to please Adam, but could not challenge him. They may have been presented as animals that could plow 50 fields, or  pull 500 pounds, but this is a mindset of servitude, not equality.

When a master confides in a servant, that servant ceases serving, and becomes the master’s friend and business partner. Yet Adam and YHVH couldn’t find any animal worthy of such friendship – especially the serpent.

Adam called out the serpent as ‘nachash’, which in Hebrew means both “to hiss” and “to divine.” Obviously, the serpent didn’t yet hiss – it spoke – thus eliminating the possibility it was named on account of its hiss. Therefore, the snake’s name must’ve stemmed from its tendency to use divination, similar to how the serpent evoked “the mind of God” on Eve (i.e. ‘you will not surely die, for God knows’). However, what soothsaying could the serpent offer in the Presence of the One True God? And thus the “nachash” stood no chance; his divination services were rejected with a derogatory name.

Herein lies an important parable. Witch doctors, shaman, and even church-lurking false prophets exist in every culture, but at the end of the day, they can only provide you a service. They may read your palm or your tea leaves, or offer you a prosperity or security gospel, but they are only soothing your itching ears! This “help” they provide is their “sheep’s cloak” of servitude, but eventually, they will devour you like wolves, tricking you into giving them power and money for their “service”. However, these were supposed to be considered as animals – like stinky swine and vomiting dogs! (cf. 2 Pet. 2:22)

Now true prophets are similar to a faithful spouse in many ways. They neged (oppose) your iniquities, and ezer (rescue) your calling, just as YHVH and Adam sought after an ezer k’negedo. Consider Jeremiah’s words in Lamentations 2:14 as he makes a comparison between false and true prophets:

Your prophets have seen for you [i.e. “divined”]
False and deceptive visions;
They have not uncovered your iniquity, [i.e. “opposed you”]
To bring back your captives, [i.e. “to rescue you”]
But have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions. [i.e. “itched your ears”]

May all God’s people value true prophets like a faithful spouse, and cast out false prophets like the mangy dogs they are!

Now after Adam rejected it, the serpent acted predictably. Having failed with Adam, the serpent waited for Eve at a time when YHVH was not present. It then approached her in sheep’s clothing, offering a service disguised as “help”. Specifically, it divined God’s mind, showing her how to become “as one wise.” And the rest is history.

Next I move to what exactly happened at the Tree of Knowledge, and how the serpent convinced mankind to eat it. ♦

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Genesis 3:1, What Was the Talking Serpent?

And [the serpent] said to the woman…. (Genesis 3:1)

Comments about the “talking snake” fill the Internet – at least 60,100 of them according to Google – but most center on disproving, reproving, or excusing the serpent’s existence, which is impossible. However, it’s good to find what God wants us to know from the Bible’s perspective, just not from the viewpoint of several thousand years in the future.

As I’ve written before and once again, you cannot understand the Eden scriptures unless you see yourself as Adam or Eve, or Adam and Eve as you and your spouse, or Adam and Eve as your son or daughter, etc. Unless you believe it truly existed, it will be a meaningless myth to you, even for those who think it a “nice story.” Yes, if you call it a metaphor – you have already missed God. If however you can place yourself in the Garden – before the physical and spiritual rules that preserved life therein vanished forever – you will behold it for what it was, an intersection of truths that remain today that can help shape you, you and your spouse, and your own sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.

So, what of that talking snake?

What We Know

It talks. Scripture doesn’t explicitly reveal that all animals used to talk, but it’s certainly implied. From the talking serpent to Bilaam’s donkey and subtle implications elsewhere, it’s easy to conclude that all animals spoke before “the Curse” (More on that in the future).

It was named. We know “Adam called out names to every animal” (Gen 2:20), which includes the serpent, “nachash” in Hebrew. This literally means ‘to hiss’, but I do not believe this serpent hissed at all– that trait would come later. Even if it could hiss, the animals were competing to be mankind’s number two (2:20); it would make more sense to converse. Adam must’ve then seen something in the serpent’s speech that would make him call out “You nachash!”

You see, nachash also means ‘to divine’, a practice common to sorcery, witchcraft, and necromancy (cf. Lev. 19:26, Deu. 18:10). Based on Genesis 3, this describes the serpent! He represented himself as a diviner, one who purportedly knew the mind of God, offering divinations like: ‘You will not surely die, for God knows…’ This diviner is what Adam saw in the serpent and thus called him out as ‘nachash!’

So originally, the serpent was a type of a soothsayer who deceitfully claimed to know the mind of God. [White Rabbit: Because the serpent was first a diviner, its hiss became associated with divination.]

It was clever. In Genesis 3:1, the serpent was identified as “clever” (arum). The Bible further defines arum as:

  • someone who operates by schemes (Job 5:12)
  • someone who conceals his guilt by his words (Job 15:5)
  • someone who covers his own dishonor by manipulating the simple (Prov. 12:16)
  • someone who doesn’t tell everything he knows (Prov. 12:23)
  • someone who invests in knowledge before acting (Prov. 13:16, 14:18)
  • someone who understands his every step (Prov. 14:8, 15)
  • someone who conceals himself from trouble (Prov. 22:3, 27:12)

This is an exhaustive list; these are all the occurances of arum in the whole Tanakh. We may notice that arum is a characteristic only ascribed to a man; the only place it’s ascribed to anything else is here in Genesis 3:1. In other words, the serpent acted like a clever man before cleverness ever existed in mankind!

The False Prophet

Other things are debatable, but we’ve learned enough about this ancient serpent (as it existed before the Fall) to compare him with the rest of history: the serpent acts like a soothsayer, a false prophet who claims to know what God thinks, is well-versed, and devises schemes for his own gain.

Sound familiar? It should! This serpent represents the false prophet, who in later times would constantly infiltrate Israel and the Kingdom of God! Moshe warned against the nachash “diviner” in Torah, especially Deuteronomy 18, an entire chapter devoted to how the nachash spiritualist will attempt to deceive Israel. Amazingly enough – but not at all coincidence – warnings against such diviners and false prophets surround the most important prophecy of Messiah in all of Scripture. In other words, the layout of the Torah itself prophesies that Messiah Yeshua will be preceded and followed by many false prophets, spiritualists, and false messiahs! Read Deuteronomy 18 for yourself sometime and compare the chapter’s contents to Israel and Messiah’s history.

The Prophets contested false prophets, as many kings filled their courts with prophets of the baals and asherahs.

Then, what was true remained true after Messiah’s advent; He also warned against false prophets (e.g. Matt. 7:15-23, Matt. 24:4). In fact, Messiah’s word in Mark 16:18, “they will take up serpents“- actually means that believers will face false prophets and workers of iniquity head-on!

Thus, Messiah’s apostles did take up scores of false prophets – as one example, almost the entire book of Galatians is devoted to countering the “bewitchings” of the circumcising false prophets who would bind the believers with fear and boast in their flesh.

Lastly, Yochanan (John) wrote of false prophets playing a major role in Revelation and the last gasp of evil.

Therefore, the serpent was a prototype of the false prophet who would repeatedly combat Israel and Messiah’s Kingdom over and over again, never stopping until the end of time.

Whatever the serpent had he ultimately lost in his curse, but not before he manipulated Adam and Eve as the closest thing to a clever, fast-talking false prophet with a well-developed scheme to undermine the Kingdom of God. This is the lesson from history.

Many of you might be thinking, “I thought the serpent was s.a.tan!” Well, the Bible doesn’t say that – ever. However, the same power that fueled the false prophets obviously fueled the serpent, and I’ll provide that evidence, with the serpent’s motive, in the very near future.♦