In the Bible we read that a serpent tempted Eve to commit sin.17(Gen. 3:4-5)RS|KJ|NI What does the serpent symbolize? Let us investigate the true identity of the serpent, based on the Genesis account.
The serpent described in the Bible was able to converse with people. It caused the Fall of humans, who are spiritual beings. Furthermore, the serpent knew the Will of God, which strictly forbade human beings to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is compelling evidence that the being which the serpent symbolizes was a spiritual being.
It is written:
The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth.
This ancient serpent is the very serpent which tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. Having lived in heaven before it was thrown down, this Devil or Satan must be a spiritual being. In fact, ever since the time of the human Fall, Satan has been continually turning the hearts of people toward evil. Since Satan is a spiritual being, the serpent which symbolizes him must also represent a spiritual being. These strands of biblical evidence confirm that the serpent who tempted Eve was not an animal but a symbol for a spiritual being.
The question arises whether the spiritual being symbolized by the serpent existed before the creation of the universe or was created as a part of the universe. If this being existed before the creation of the universe and had a purpose contrary to that of God, then the conflict between good and evil in the universe would be unavoidable and perpetual. God's providence of restoration, then, would be in vain. Moreover, monotheism, which holds that everything in the universe was created by one God, would be unfounded. We are left with the conclusion that the spiritual being represented by the serpent was originally created with a good purpose, but later fell and became Satan.
What kind of spiritual being in God's creation could have conversed with people, understood the Will of God, and lived in heaven? What kind of being, even after it had fallen and become degraded to an evil being, could transcend time and space to dominate the human soul? There are no beings endowed with such characteristics other than angels. The verse "God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom"18(II Pet. 2:4)RS|KJ|NIsupports the conclusion that the serpent, which tempted human beings and sinned, is an angel.
A serpent has a forked tongue. It depicts someone who utters contradictory things with one tongue and lives a two-faced life with one heart. A serpent twists its body around its prey before devouring it, a metaphor for someone who ensnares others for his own benefit. For these reasons, the Bible likened the angel who tempted human beings to a serpent.
Exposition of the Divine Principle
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