Thursday, February 15, 2007

Know Your Enemy

Satan, a mythical creature standing tall on hoofed feet with a bottle of wine in one hand and the world's riches in the other, or is he the little red nymph who runs around waiting to unleash his pranks on unsuspecting humans? Before we can fight the enemy, we must study his personality. When we learn to discern the attacks of evil, we can then counter-attack using God's weapons.

The Torah names Satan, Azazel, which means Accuser and we see a product of his accusations in the Book of Job both in the Torah and the Old Testament. "The LORD said to Satan, "Whence have you come?" Satan answered the LORD, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?" Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nought? Hast thou not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse thee to thy face." Job 1: 7-11 RSV
Christians call him Lucifer, the bearer of light. According to tradition, Lucifer was created by God as his light bearer, and as God's wisdom is frequently referred to as 'light', then we can see that Lucifer probably held a high office in God's kingdom; but Lucifer wanted more. Which was his first sin - lust or envy? Only God can know for sure, however, we do know that Lucifer lusted for more power and envied the power of God. Then, in his own pride, he incited other angels to follow him into a revolt against God. So we see 'the creation' fighting against the Creator for the Kingdom. Lucifer and his minions lost and were cast from heaven to the earth.
Lucifer makes his next appearance in the Garden of Eden. "Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:1-5 RSV
We see in this passage that Satan is subtle; covert in his temptations. This subtly displays intelligence and planning in his temptation strategy. He will weave one tiny untruth in a whole field of truth, but that one untruth will be the key to our downfall. He is also described as a wild creature. At first glance, this may be interpreted to mean that the character outlined in Genesis is not Satan, but in fact an actual serpent or snake, but let us remember that Satan is a creature; that is, he was created. To describe him as 'wild' highlights his previous rebellion.
To validate his subtlety, Satan approaches Eve with a rhetorical, but leading question. "Did God say you shall not eat of any tree in the Garden?" In choosing a question instead of a statement, Satan is fomenting doubt in the mind of Eve. He hopes that this doubt will lead to her confusion. Once he creates doubt and confusion, he can easily lead into his temptation. So, though his device was confusion, his temptation to Eve was the promise of power.
Not only did Lucifer's temptation create doubt in Eve's mind about what God had commanded, but he also created doubt about her own value and worth in God's eyes. Lucifer implied that Eve was not complete as a final product of God's creation, and the implication was that Eve needed something more . By eating the fruit, she would be more knowledgeable - more worthy. Doesn't Satan still use this ploy on today's Christians?
As we move through Genesis, we find the need for spiritual warfare. " I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Genesis 3:15 RSV This statement made by God is a declaration of the war that exists between man and Satan.

No comments: