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Bible verses about Serpent as Metaphor
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 3:14

Fossils tell us plainly that before this time snakes looked as they do now, so God did not strip the serpent of legs and/or wings at this time, as some suppose in reading this verse literally. [In the same way, God did not suddenly create rainbows in Noah's day, but gave them new significance (Genesis 9:8-17).] God's words fit the facts better when taken figuratively.

His curse on serpents covers what they symbolize to men, which we can see when the verse is correctly translated. "More than" in Genesis 3:14 has the sense of "apart from," meaning that God sets the snake apart from other cattle or beasts to represent the Devil, the ultimate cause and originator of sin.

Thus, that the snake would crawl on its belly and eat dust is not literal but symbolic. Both of these figures, written in parallel clauses, signify humiliation. Snakes symbolize abasement or ignominy because of sin. Why? God wanted the snake to be a constant reminder, not only to humanity but to Satan as well, that the Devil's ultimate fate will be the humiliation of his gargantuan pride. He will cower on his belly before God and eat dust!

Isaiah uses a different figure, but the result is the same: "Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit" (Isaiah 14:15). Since, as far as we know, Satan cannot be destroyed, he must be humiliated and imprisoned. During the Millennium, God will do this by locking him in the Bottomless Pit (Revelation 20:1-3), and after he is released "for a little while" at its end, God will then cast him into the Lake of Fire (verses 7-10).

Ezekiel also brings out this humiliating end:

Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you. You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; therefore I brought fire from your midst; it devoured you, and I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, and shall be no more forever. (Ezekiel 28:17-19)

The Bible, from beginning to end, repeats the certainty of Satan's ultimate humiliation and punishment. In Genesis 3, God makes sure Adam and Eve know that they had chosen the losing side!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part One)


 

Genesis 3:15

The King James and New King James versions translate the "bruising" clauses word for word without making the sense obvious. Other translations render the verb as "wound," "crush," "strike," or "attack." The New International version provides a more descriptive translation: "He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." The difference is in degree of wounding: Crushing a snake's head destroys it, rendering him powerless, if not dead (see Hebrews 2:14); a snake's strike on the heel, though painful, is minor by comparison.

Another way to look at the comparison focuses on the site of the wounding, the head as compared to the heel. The serpent's wound affects the seat of his intellect and control of his powers, whereas the Seed's wound merely impairs His flesh for a short while - three days and three nights, to be exact.

These bruisings also carry on the theme of humiliation expressed in the preceding verse. The crushing of the serpent's head is understood to be by the heel of the Seed ("He will bruise and tread your head underfoot" - Amplified Bible), so the figure of being "under the heel" of the Messiah is present. This is a common biblical illustration of subservience, submission, and mortification (I Kings 5:3; Lamentations 3:34; Malachi 4:3; Romans 16:20; I Corinthians 15:25; etc.)

Like the symbol of the "Seed," the wounding of the Messiah is another theme that crops up frequently in Scripture. In Numbers 21:8-9, God commands Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so "that everyone who is bitten [by the fiery serpents], when he looks at it, shall live." Later, Jesus points to this as a type of His crucifixion, by which He spiritually heals our "serpent bites" (John 3:14-15).

In the Psalms, David writes of the Messiah's wounding: "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10). Psalm 22 prophesies of Christ's reviling, scourging, and death, showing that, rather than being an end, the Seed's wounding extends God's purpose to every generation! Many other Psalms repeat this theme (Psalm 31:5; 34:20; 41:9-12; 49:15; 69:7-9, 19-21; 109:1-5; etc.).

Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12, the well-known "Suffering Servant" section, contains the very detailed prophecy of Christ's suffering and death. It explains that He, though sinless Himself, endured these ignominious afflictions as a result of our sins. In His wounding, Christ pays the penalty for all sin and qualifies to replace the serpent as ruler over the earth. This, of course, becomes the central theme of the entire New Testament, repeated in some form by nearly every writer.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part One)


 

Genesis 49:17

God Himself told Ephraim to mark their way so that they could return one day to the Promised Land: "Set up signposts, make landmarks; set your heart toward the highway, the way in which you went. Turn back, O virgin of Israel, turn back to these your cities" (Jeremiah 31:21). How were they to do this?

One of the main ways involves the prophecy of Jacob about the tribe of Dan. "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path" (Genesis 49:17). A serpent or snake leaves a mark behind it as it moves over the earth; some snakes, like rattlesnakes, leave very distinctive trails. So does the tribe of Dan.

Though Joshua had allotted land to Dan in Canaan, the Danites found it to be difficult to hold and settle because of its proximity to the Philistines. They began to look elsewhere for living space.

And six hundred men of the family of the Danites went from there, from Zorah and Eshtaol, armed with weapons of war. Then they went up and encamped in Kirjath Jearim in Judah. (Therefore they call that place Mahaneh Dan [Camp of Dan] to this day. There it is, west of Kirjath Jearim.) (Judges 18:11-12)

Finally, they came to the city of Laish, in the far northern reaches of Israel, and they took it. "And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel. However the name of the city was formerly Laish" (verse 29).

And thus they have been naming places after their ancestor ever since! A good map of Europe will show dozens of place names carrying the name of Dan within them. The Don, Dnieper, Dniester and Danube rivers all flow into the Black Sea. The Romans knew the Rhine and Rhone rivers as the Eridanus and the Rhodanus. Denmark (literally, "Dan's Land") and Sweden are both northwestern European countries. The English escaped from Dunkirk (literally, "Dan's Church") during WWII. One can find similar place names sprinkled heavily throughout England, Scotland, and especially Ireland, where dun means "judge," just as dan does in Hebrew!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Israel: Present


 

1 Peter 5:8

Christ is also symbolized as a lion, but not as a lion seeking to devour. Lion for Christ is used in the sense of "controlled, majestic power," but for Satan it is the symbol for one who is ruthless, stealthy, powerfully aggressive, bent on defending its turf, and destruction, often working from ambush. There are many similarities with the attributes of the "serpent."

A pride of lions will stalk and attack animals that are larger than they are—including wildebeest and water buffalo weighing thousands of pounds. It is a beautiful, deadly sight to watch lions working together as a team to bring a water buffalo down.

When lions attack, they do so through multiple attacks from every side. Eventually, one lion gets a grip on the throat of the water buffalo and kills it by strangulation. It is a slow and painful death. The water buffalo goes down, and the lions begin eating it before it is dead.

Satan is a lion, roaring, looking for and stalking whom he may devour. Male lions will even eat the young of their own pride to establish their dominance. It does not matter that they are related. If they are hungry, and a little kitten is around . . . one bite and it is gone.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Revelation 12:9

This verse brings Jude 6 around full-circle. We know the demons left their first estate on earth and were cast right back to it—the earth. Now they are here, and they are desperately trying to hang on to it, fighting against us and deceiving everyone on earth (Revelation 12:9)—the primary characteristic, the very thing God warns us about at the beginning of the book: The Serpent is the most cunning of all creatures (Genesis 3:1).

John W. Ritenbaugh
What I Believe About Conspiracy Theories


 

 




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