A SNAKE KILLER IS COMING
Genesis 3:14-15 NET
14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the wild beasts and all the living creatures of the field! On your belly you will crawl and dust you will eat all the days of your life.
15 And I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; her offspring will attack your head, and you will attack her offspring’s heel.”
Last year during the Advent season, we took some time and focused on the themes of advent that apply to Christ’s first coming and to his next coming.
In 1 Peter 1, the apostle encouraged his readers to set their hope completely on the revelation of Jesus Christ. Christ was revealed to us first as a baby in a manger, but soon he will be revealed again. Christmastime has always been a time to rekindle our hope in Christ.
In Isaiah 9, the prophet predicted that Christ’s coming would bring peace. He did bring peace, but that peace did not happen through warfare. It came in the form of a peaceful child, sleeping in a manger. The peace he offered was peace with God. Christmastime offers us a chance to step back from the troubles and anxiety of life and enjoy a few silent nights.
In John 16, our Savior promised to come again, and it would bring Joy to us — a joy that no one can take away. Christmastime helps us to focus on our joy in Christ by bringing joy into the lives of others — especially the children.
In Revelation 1, the apostle sees Jesus as the coming king. Christmastime is a season to reflect on what it means for Jesus to be the newborn king then, the king who reigns in our hearts now, and the king of kings to whom every knee will soon bow.
In John 12, Jesus tells us that he has come as the light of the world so that everyone who believes in him would not remain in darkness. Christmastime, with its lights and stars, is a time to reflect on how Jesus has lit up our lives and promises to light up the universe when he comes again.
So, again this year, I want to focus on some things that were predicted about Jesus and were partly fulfilled at his first advent. There are some things that Jesus did that only gave us a small taste of what he is going to do when he comes again.
The first prediction about Jesus in the Bible is embedded in today’s text. It is kind of weird that it is there because what the text describes is actually God’s curse on the serpent in Eden. But if we look a little closer, we will discover that God is saying something on a different level.
On the surface level, God describes his punishment of the serpent for his role in the fall.
The creatures that we now know as snakes were an entirely different species before this event. When we were looking at this text in our Sunday evening Bible study a few weeks ago, sister Nancy got us all laughing when she questioned why Eve was so captivated by the serpent. She reckons that it would be more understandable if the creature had been more cuddly, like a Koala bear.
Well, we don’t know much about what the serpent looked like before this event. We do know that it had been described as “more shrewd than any of the wild animals that the LORD God had made” (3:1). It didn’t crawl. It didn’t slither. It didn’t hiss. It didn’t rattle. When people looked at it, they saw something wise, something beautiful — something glorious.
For some reason, this beautiful, glorious creature could also communicate with human beings. Milton suggests that it was Satan who gave this creature the ability to talk so that he could demonstrate how powerful the forbidden fruit was. I don’t know. Maybe the serpent already had the ability to talk. Maybe it was endowed with that gift as part of its status as the highest of all animal life. Maybe all the lions and tigers and Koala bears admired him because of this ability. Maybe the serpent was the hero of the animal kingdom.
But because of his role in the temptation of humanity, the hero has now been turned into a zero. God says to him “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the wild beasts and all the living creatures of the field!” He was immediately transformed from the highest to the lowest.
He went from having conferences with the noble humans to the lowest of creatures, eating the dust all the days of his life. He went from being the friend of humans to being their enemy — and that status would not change. His offspring would remain the creeping, slithering, hissing, rattling lowlifes. And all of Eve’s offspring would remain hostile to his offspring. When the serpents saw humans, they would aim their fangs at their ankles. When the humans saw the snakes, they would aim their feet and rocks and shotguns and other tools at their heads.
Looking beyond the surface level, what God is describing is his condemnation of Satan.
The prophet Ezekiel tells us what that serpent had looked like when it was in Eden.
“You were in Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was your covering, the ruby, topaz, and emerald, the chrysolite, onyx, and jasper, the sapphire, turquoise, and beryl; your settings and mounts were made of gold. On the day you were created they were prepared. I placed you there with an anointed guardian cherub; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked about amidst fiery stones. You were blameless in your behavior from the day you were created, until sin was discovered in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I defiled you and banished you from the mountain of God — the guardian cherub expelled you from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom on account of your splendor. I threw you down to the ground; I placed you before kings, that they might see you. By the multitude of your iniquities, through the sinfulness of your trade, you desecrated your sanctuaries. So I drew fire out from within you; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth before the eyes of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are shocked at you; you have become terrified and will be no more” (Ezekiel 28:13-19 NET).
Ezekiel is describing more than the serpent though. He is also describing that spirit being who possessed the serpent. The book of Revelation makes that clear.
“So that huge dragon — the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world — was thrown down to the earth, and his angels along with him” (Revelation 12:9 net).
“He seized the dragon — the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan” (Revelation 20:2 NET).
Paul told the Roman Christians to persevere in their faith and that the God of peace would soon crush Satan under their feet (Romans 16:20). Paul recognized that the curse upon the serpent was real — but that it also pointed to another curse. The serpent would be cursed by becoming a lowly enemy of human beings. The fallen angel who possessed him would be cursed by becoming a victim of a particular offspring of Eve: the Messiah.
Satan has always known that his fate is to be destroyed by the coming Christ. One day when Jesus was teaching in Capernaum, he entered into a synagogue and found a man possessed by a demon there. The demon knew that Jesus was the Holy One of God. He asked him, “Have you come to destroy us?” (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34).
John tells us that the Son of God was revealed for this purpose “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). That is why that demon was afraid that Jesus had come to destroy him. He knew about the snake killer.
Jesus’ destiny is to destroy the devil and all those who follow him.
The book of Revelation depicts Jesus as sitting on the throne and promising to make all things new (Revelation 21:5). But in order to make all things new, he is going to have to put an end to the devil and all the evil he has caused.
He promised “To the one who is thirsty I will give water free of charge from the spring of the water of life. The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son” (Revelation 21:6-7).
But what about the ones who are not thirsty for the water of life? What about those who do not overcome? What will be their fate?
“But to the cowards, unbelievers, detestable persons, murderers, the sexually immoral, and those who practice magic spells, idol worshipers, and all those who lie, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. That is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
The snake killer is going to kill the snake and all his offspring. Their destiny is permanent destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Malachi says “For indeed the day is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the LORD who rules over all. “It will not leave even a root or branch” (Malachi 4:1 NET).
But we are not there yet. When Christ died on the cross for us, his last words were “it is finished.” What was finished? The atonement was finished. He took our sins on his body and he died for us. That work is finished. Your sins are no longer an obstacle. You have been reconciled to God by the blood of the Lamb.
But there is a part of Christ’s ministry for us that is still unfinished. He is more than the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is more than the prince of peace, sleeping in a manger. He is more than the light of the world, exposing sin and showing us the way back to the Father.
We have seen him as a beacon of hope, but we have not yet seen the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ! When he comes, he will have his snake stomping boots on. A snake killer is coming.
Jesus was an offspring of Eve, and just like Eve, he was tempted. He “has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He was victorious over the serpent. But his victory is still partial.
As Christians, we celebrate that partial victory. But as Advent Christians, we also look forward to the complete victory. When he comes again, our Lord is going to take back all the territory that Satan has stolen. He is going to give life to us — a life that is unlike this temporary life. It will be a permanent life.
But there will be no room in the new universe for that snake and his offspring. His destiny is destruction. Many are following him to their own destruction. But there is still time. We can snatch a few more out of the fire before he comes.
LORD, we thank you that we can look forward to a future with no snake, no Satan, no sin, and no death. Show us how to snatch people out of the fire of Gehenna. Help us to deliver people out of the snake’s kingdom before the snake killer comes.