The Enemy’s Subtlety is Being Exposed
Theologians have a law they refer to as the “law of first mention.” This refers to the general rule that the first time a major subject is mentioned in the Bible, significant facts are introduced concerning it that will remain consistent and relevant throughout the scriptures. The “first mention” of the serpent - satan - is in Genesis 3:1:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which
The Lord God had made. And he said to the woman “Indeed, has God
said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’”
It is easy to see this law at work here, as the verse speaks of satan’s subtlety or craftiness. God is informing us of one of the most important facts we must remember about satan: He is far more dangerous to us as the crafty serpent than the roaring lion.
“Crafty” is the Hebrew word aruwm, taken from aram, which means “to be bare or smooth.” We actually use the same concept in our English language - someone who is crafty or wily is often referred to as “slick” or as a “smooth operator.” Such is the case with satan. He is very cunning, and we must be wary of his attacks and deceptions. He always seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (see John 10:10), and does so with great skill.
Adam was not wary enough of the crafty serpent in the garden. He heard and saw him, but was unaware of his plans. Because of this, he failed as the watchman he was called to be. Satan was successful in invading and violating his garden.
This same word, crafty, is used in Joshua 9:4, to describe a plan the Gibeonite people used to deceive Israel: “They also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended” (emphasis added). The Gibeonites were one of the Canaanite tribes Joshua and Israel were supposed to dispossess. This nation, however, deceived the Israelites into believing they were from far away and had made the long journey to form a covenant with them. Joshua and the people neglected to pray about this and were therefore deceived into entering a binding, covenantal agreement with these people.
It must be said that Holy Spirit was attempting to warn Israel. In Exodus 34:12, they were told. “Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going or it will become a snare in your midst” (emphasis added). We can also conclude from the Israelites’ suspicion of the Gibeonites that God was obviously trying to alert them. Joshua 9:7 says, “The men of Israel said to the Hivites [Gibeonites], ‘Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you?’” Rather than heeding this caution, however, they acted on what they saw. The Israelites were not “watching.” We must remember that things are not always as they appear. The following story illustrates this:
A traveler between flights at an airport went to a lounge and bought a small package of cookies, sat down, and began reading a newspaper. Suddenly, she became aware of a rustling noise. From behind her paper, she was flabbergasted to see a neatly dressed man helping himself to her cookies! Not wanting to make a scene, yet wanting to let him know they were hers, she leaned over and took a cookie herself.
A minute or two passed, and then came more rustling. He was helping himself to another cookie! Back and forth this continued. Finally, they came to the end of the package. There was one cookie left. She was so angry she didn’t dare allow herself to say anything. Then, adding insult to injury, the man broke the remaining cookie in two, pushed half across to her, ate the other half, and left.
Still fuming sometime later when her flight was announced, the woman opened her handbag to get her ticket. To her shock and embarrassment, there she found her pack of unopened cookies!
Though Israel “ate the wrong cookies” and was subsequently taken advantage of, there is an incredible and positive ending to the Gibeonite story. God used the craftiness of the Gibeonites to picture satan’s craftiness. He told Joshua to make them “hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord” (Joshua 9:27, emphasis added). The altar of the Lord was where the blood of atonement was shed and, as such, pictured Christ’s Cross. Just as the “crafty” Gibeonites were used to prepare items for the animal sacrifices, God used satan, the “crafty” one, to make preparations for the ultimate sacrifice - Christ’s crucifixion. One can only imagine satan’s excitement as he “hewed the wood” (prepared the Cross) for Christ’s sacrifice. How crafty must he have felt as he orchestrated the weaving of the Crown of Thorns, watched the spikes being driven, and the spear being thrust into Christ. But his joy turned to terror when he learned he was aiding in his own destruction. God had turned the tables on the crafty one!
The outcome of the Gibeonite story is an incredible assurance that God can reverse the subtleties of our adversary, the devil, and use them to bring about good. Through His amazing wisdom, which always supersedes satan’s subtlety, our mistakes can actually become the instruments of God’s redemptive purposes. The Cross is God’s ultimate proof that He can turn your circumstances around and even bring good through evil.
The Lord intends to do this for America. Satan has deceived many in our nation. Some believe we simply don’t need God. The devil has convinced others that there are many gods and/or many ways to God. Others have been deceived into outright rebellion. God, however, is going to save millions of deceived Americans. There is coming a strong revelation of His son, Jesus, and His salvation. The presence of the Lord will be heavy in our land, opening the eyes of many. Do not doubt this. He is coming with a tidal wave of love and mercy to the lost and hurting.
Pray with me:
Father, forgive us for allowing so much ground to be taken by the deceiver in our nation. Forgive us for allowing the crafty one to take over our education system, government, media, and other segments of our culture. Forgive us for allowing him into the church. Forgive us for the division in the church. You have told us the greatest of all spiritual traits is love - not sound doctrine, theology, the gifts of Holy Spirit - but love. And yet, we allow the crafty one to deceive us, causing disunity and strife. This must break Your heart. Please forgive and deliver us from this deception.
In spite of our failures, Lord, we know you are going to reverse the strongholds of darkness over America. You’re going to use satan‘s own plans and strategies against him. Just as his plans did at the Cross, they will backfire today. Therefore, we ask You with faith: Bring it! Turn the tables! Work his evil for our good! We know You can do this, for Yours is still the Kingdom (the rule), and the power, and the glory...forever!!! In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
We decree that the watchmen are arising and taking their places. The plans of the crafty serpent WILL fail.
Portions of today’s post were taken from my book Watchman Prayer.
[Dutch Sheets, Watchman Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2008), pp 57-60.]
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