What’s up with that – A talking serpent?
Who in this room likes animals? Do you have a favorite animal? “Lions, tigers, bears, oh my!” Maybe some reasonable animals like cats? How can you not love a cat like this? Someone apparently likes cats and Pokémon because this kitten is a dead ringer for Pikachu! What about dogs? Any dog lovers here today? Terry and Nina Kletting are the proud owners of a bulldog puppy. His name is Chuck. Isn’t he cute? Truthfully, I mean no disrespect to Chuck, but bulldogs and pugs are just ugly cute! Anyone like ducks? Apparently somebody didn’t like this duck. It’s a sad story to start, but the ending is much better than the beginning. Gayle Weiser saw an emaciated mallard duck pacing the parking lot of a Home Depot in Reynoldsburg back in late January. What she couldn’t believe was someone clamped a zip tie around the duck’s orange bill and unfortunately it had become imbedded! (Duct Tape) Gayle said, “I could tell he was in bad shape. He kind of looked at me like he wanted help.”[i] It took four people to help her capture the duck. They clipped off the zip tie and then Gayl drove the duck to the Ohio Wildlife Center where he began his recuperation. Several weeks later he now weighs seven pounds more than we he arrived. Dr. Donald Burton said, “One thing is clear: someone did it on purpose.” Proverbs 12:10 says: A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. How about snakes? Any snake lovers here today? These ten people are heading to Zimbabwe on May 17. Zimbabwe is the home of 30 different types of snakes.[ii] I emailed Dereck this past week and he said, “Black and Green Mambas! Cobras are the most feared. They are also most common in Zimbabwe, especially my home area due to mountains. Black Mamba is the one that got into my mother's blanket while she was sleeping. Ndara- is the flying snake.” On three previous trips, I’ve not seen one snake. I’m hoping to make it four! Let’s talk snake today! This will be hissterical! Maybe “thee” most famous snake ever! Turn in your Bibles to Genesis 3! Do you need a Bible today? Things are going so good! The world has been made. Creation is on display! God not only made Adam, but gave him Eve. Food abounds and mankind can walk with God literally. And then chapter 3 comes. Let’s start with verse 1 in Genesis 3! “He said to the woman…” Today we begin a seven week series entitled, “What’s up with that?” We will start in Genesis, go into John’s gospel and wind up back in Genesis. For seven weeks I need you to enthusiastically ask, “What’s up with that?” So again let’s read verse 1. Say it church, “What’s up with that?” Does God want me to take his Bible seriously? Do other animals talk in the Bible? A donkey does in Numbers 22. “Greg, what am I supposed to make of a talking serpent? Good question! Let’s think through that by answering this question! What’s unbelievable to you? A half-court shot to win the game? Two #15 seeds beating 2 #2 seeds? Peyton Manning signing with the Browns? How about the E*TRADE baby? (E-Trade Baby CLIP) I love those commercials! Again what’s unbelievable? Japan slowly beginning to recover after last year’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami? Did you see any pictures of the solar storm? Joe Kunches, a scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said: 'It's (the flares are ) hitting us right in the nose' - calling it the sun's version of 'Super Tuesday!’[iii]'
In Genesis 3 we have a talking serpent. (I find two camps of people!) That’s nothing compared to chapters 1 & 2. Here God creates the heavens and the earth. Here God creates light. Here God creates water and land. Here God creates the sun, (the biggest solar flares the earth has seen in five years) the moon and the stars. Here God makes sea creatures, land animals and birds that soar! Here God creates man and woman! Find Genesis 2:24. Tell me, which is harder to believe – a husband and wife living in prefect marital harmony – or a snake that talks? I’m going with the snake! I don’t want to be simplistic here, but accept it. Eve did. Eve is really calm here! I wish Eve would have done what most women do when they see a snake, rat or a spider! Just freak out Eve! Go grab a branch off of any tree except the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil and whack that snake to death! But NO! We can’t fault her either. The earth is sinless, which means there’s no fear or shame that she’s not wearing a stitch of clothing! Do you remember R. Crumb’s artistic expression of Genesis displayed at the Columbus Museum of Art? He drew every scene in Genesis. He depicts the serpent more like a Komodo dragon. This makes sense. Go to Genesis 3:14. Why curse a critter to crawl on his belly for eternity if he’s already crawling on his belly? That seems redundant! Go back to verse 1. Do you know what “serpent” means right here? Snake! Literally this is a snake. This is also Satan. Just as Satan entered Judas, Satan enters this snake. Go to Rev. 12:9. What this serpent says to Eve is of the devil! Notice the snake’s description! This snake is crafty! That doesn’t mean he was good with glue, glitter and scissors. Crafty means subtle, clever or prudent[iv]! Now none of those are wrong! The snake is simply suggesting to Eve that there’s a better source of wisdom!
Here’s what’s unbelievable! It’s not a talking snake. It’s Adam and Eve’s choice to wander off from God. Have you ever thought that someone had it all? When I say to you, they had it all. I’m not exaggerating! They had it all! Things are good. Actually things are great! There’s no fear and no shame! What Adam & Eve do isn’t great wickedness, it’s just plain stupid!
What temptation gets to this couple? Let’s walk through chapter 3. Back to verse 1. (Read 1-5) This snake is implying something. God is holding out on you! There’s knowledge out there that God is preventing you from having! That’s not true. Go to Genesis 1: 26-27. Go back to 3:5! They are already like him! But Eve can’t stop thinking of the fruit! Find verse 6! Jesus was tempted in the same three ways. Continue to 7a. “eyes of both were opened…”
Shouldn’t that be a good thing? Can anyone tell me what this tree’s called again? (2:17) The tree of the knowledge of good and evil! I have a nice juicy apple here. Now I have no idea if Eve bit an apple of not, but I had to pick some kind of fruit! Here’s what I believe happened. Eve takes a bite of the fruit. She closes her eyes. Adam takes a bite of the fruit. He closes his eyes. Then they open their eyes. What were they expecting? Only GOOD stuff! What did they have before they bit the fruit? GOOD STUFF! They walked with God. They were in his presence. The animals got along. The lions and lambs hang out together. The lions didn’t eat the lambs. There’s no bloodshed. No carnivores, just herbivores. No shame. No guilt. No consequences. No disease. Cancer is taking the life of Kathleen Schwartz. God isn’t taking her life! He already holds her in the palm of his hands. His son died for Kathleen. Disease is awful. It didn’t exist in Genesis 3, but it will by Genesis 4. Adam and Eve would never die. When they opened their eyes they were expecting only good, but found evil instead. Maybe God was holding out on them. What does God NOT want us to experience? The horror of evil!
When they opened their eyes – what did they see? They saw each other’s nakedness. That is so embarrassing! They are the world’s first streakers. They are the only two humans but are still embarrassed. They expected good, but received evil instead! That’s where every temptation leads! I thought it was going to be so good, but it was awful! Look at what God does in verse 11! (11-14) Everything goes haywire. The snake goes from crafty to cursed! Eve goes from experiencing no pain to allot of pain. Physical and emotional. Men mess with women’s hearts and women hate that. Adam will go from no sweat to needing deodorant. From enjoying work to hating work! I ask you all the time. Do you want to change the world? Well, this couple did and it’s all bad! Now that’s how I could leave you today! The world’s bad – we’re a mess – going to hell in a hand basket! But here’s what’s unbelievable! Find 3:15 & 21! God killed an animal. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Paul said this in Romans 5:12&19! Can I show you the unbelievable? (TURTLE) This turtle was blocking a 12 in sewer pipe in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. Bob Weston and Dana Zintec thought the problem was clogged leaves so they used a jet spray that delivers 2,000 pounds of pressure to force out whatever is blocking the sewer. Once they pulled the hose back out came Mr. Snapping Turtle. One more picture. (CROSS) God let his own son die so we might have life!
[i] Kathy Lynn Gray, Columbus Dispatch, Duck with zip-tied beak on the mend
[iv] E-sword, Genesis 3:1