If you believe that Satan was the serpent in Genesis 3, what arguments can you point to to support this idea?
What Scripture references can you use to support your position?
Main Question for today
How does the Bible describe the serpent of Genesis 3 and how does the Bible describe the creature known as Leviathan, Litan, and Lotan?
If you haven't already, take the time to search the Scriptures for evidence supporting the idea that Satan was the serpent of Genesis 3.
Feel free to pull from both the Old and New Testaments, Philosophy, Moral reasoning, etc.
Remember to back yourself with passages found in the Bible.
Listen in to hear what the class came up with.
As you listen, consider a new perspective on who or what the Bible may refer to when it describes entities such as the "Red Dragon" or that "Ancient Serpent" of Revelation 12 and 20. What about the one who was "in Eden" or the "guardian cherub" described in Ezekiel 28? What do we do with John 8:44 referencing the "father of lies?" and other examples the class came up with.
As you listen, we want you to consider this new perspective by first learning about an entity known as Leviathan. Specifically, how the Old Testament describes Leviathan, how an ancient text known as the Baal Cycle describes Leviathan, and the descriptions laid out in Revelation 12 and 20 share similar descriptors to refer to this agent of watery chaos.
Leviathan in the Old Testament and the Baal Cycle
Leviathan in Hebrew is לתן (equivalent to the English's consonants L T N--> Leviathan, Lotan, Litan) and it is used in Isaiah 27:1; Job 26:12-13, 41:13-21, 27-29; and Psalm 74:13-14
Read Isaiah 27:1
Listen to the phrasing and specific words used as Joshua reads two passages. Both Isaiah and the Baal Cycle share the same phrases such as the "Fleeing serpent," the "Twisting serpent."
Isaiah includes the phrase "The dragon that is in the sea."
The Baal cycle also includes the phrase "The seven-headed monster." Remember these two phrases when we get to Revelation 12 and 20.
Read Job 26: 12-13
Listen to the phrasing again and to the specific words used as we compare Job and the Baal Cycle.
Note that Job uses the phrase "Fleeing serpent" just like Isaiah 27:1
The Baal Cycle passage uses "The Dragon," "Twisting Serpent," and the "the seven-headed monster."
Remember these phrases as we take a look at Revelation 12 and 20
Leviathan in Revelation and Apocalyptic Descriptors
Read Revelation 20:2-3 and 12:3,9
Here in Revelation, there is this dragon, this large chaotic entity that is described as an "ancient serpent" who is the devil, or Satan. Based on its physical descriptions (Large creature that comes from the sea, Chaotic force and strength, Seven-headed monster, 10 horns, 7 crowns), does this sound the serpent of Genesis 3?
Interesting how the Baal Cycle calls the Leviathan a seven-headed monster, and Revelation describes it the very same way.
Read Job 41:13-29
Based on its physical descriptions (having an outer coat of armor; its back lined with rows of shields, snorts that send out flashes of light, eyes like the rays of dawn, flames that pour from its mouth, sparks of fire that shoot out, smoke from its nostrils, immune to damage from swords , spears, darts, javelins, arrows, slingstones, clubs, and lances, stronger than iron and bronze) does this sound like the serpent of Genesis 3?
Read Psalm 74:13-14
Here God crushes the heads (Plural--> Remember the Baal cycle passages?) of the Leviathan. Note this passage describes Leviathan has having several heads-- Re-read Revelation 20:2-3 and 12:3,9 and count if the dragon has just one head or several.
Does the Psalm 74 description of Leviathan sound like the serpent of Genesis 3?
Description of the Serpent of Genesis 3
Read Genesis 3:1
How does the text describe this serpent?
1) It is more crafting than any of the wild animals
2) It is a wild animal
3) It is a creature created by God
4) It can speak (we don't know how or why as the text never tells us--see Numbers 22 for Balaam's talking donkey
If we look at verse 14 it says that
1) The serpent will be cursed above all livestock and all wild animals (indicating that it, again, is itself a wild animal
2) will crawl on its belly and eat dust
Notice how the word "satan" never appears in this passage.
A New Perspective
What if I told you that instead of the Revelation passages referring to the "Ancient Serpent" is not referring to the serpent of Genesis 3?
What if, in fact, there was a more "Ancient Serpent" in the Bible found even early in Genesis?
Turn to Genesis 1:21 and read it through.
Re-read the first sentence again-- "So God created the great creatures of the sea..."
Want to take a guess at what Hebrew word appears? Want to guess which entity is mentioned as the "great creatures of the sea?"
The answer is Leviathan. The Hebrew has לתן here in this passage in a plural form. There is an even more ancient serpent in the Bible than the serpent of Genesis 3. Remember Isaiah 27:1 and Job 26:12-13 all call Leviathan a serpent, a serpent that twists and flees and comes from the sea.
You see, the Leviathan is mentioned in Genesis 1, well before the events of Genesis 3. With all of the other evidence from the Baal cycle, Isaiah, Job, and other passages, we see that this sea creature causes chaos all throughout creation. The passages in Revelation use the same descriptors (seven-headed, chaotic entity that is beyond the scope of human capacity to defeat, a serpent) as the Old Testament references found in Isaiah, Job, Psalms, and others.
This Leviathan, this other "ancient serpent" has caused tremendous trouble for Israel as seen through the time of the Judges and Kings. When Israel fell into Baal worship, they were constantly exposed to this entity, Leviathan, who caused Israel to fall into sin. Yes, the serpent in Genesis 3 caused Eve and Adam to sin, but Leviathan caused the whole nation of Israel to fall into sin for generations.
Does this perspective change anything about our salvation?
Is this an "essential" issue in the church or are we free to talk about and debate and challenge new and different views?
How has this shaped your understanding of the descriptors of Revelation, descriptors in Isaiah, Job, and Psalms, and the descriptions of the serpent in Genesis 3?
Next week we will revisit the other passages that we did not touch on this week. This week we only focused on the Leviathan passages, but next time we will talk about passages such as Ezekiel 28:1-19, Isaiah 14:12-15, John 8:44, re-visit Revelation 12 and 20, as well as touch on some of the moral/philosophical issues of sin and who brought it into the world.
For more information on the theme of watery chaos, God's actions to bring order to creation, and God's plan to eliminate all agents of chaos at the consummation of creation, check out a sermon by Joshua Bush on June 15th of 2022. Click "Media" above and select "Listen to sermons" to get started.