Previously, I mentioned what theologians call 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?’” (emphasis added)
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 things 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 is always seeking to steal, kill, destroy (see John 10:10) and grab the bigger portions – and he does it 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, 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 journey to form a covenant with them. Joshua and the people neglected to pray about this – always a part of satan’s subtlety – and were therefore deceived into entering a binding, covenantal agreement with these people.
It must be said that the Israelites were not without warning. 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). The Israelites failed in their responsibility to watch, and just as the verse warned, the crafty snare was laid.
We can 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 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. Gradually, 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 that 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! 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!
How disheartening it is to discover the error of wrong assumptions!
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 making 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.
God 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.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (or craftiness) of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11-13 NKJV)
Pray with me:
Father, there is no one in our nation that has not been fooled by the serpent’s craftiness. But I hear Holy Spirit saying You are releasing a spirit of discernment into the church that will cause us to be much more skillful at recognizing satan’s activities, so we ask You for this. Train us to be alert. If we are alert, You are faithful to make us aware of satan’s schemes.
Raise up effective watchmen and women to protect us from satan‘s schemes and plans – at personal, as well as corporate levels. Give us government watchmen. Raise up city watchmen. Give congregations watchmen. And train us to do this for our families and homes.
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, our government, our media, and other segments of our culture. Forgive us for allowing him into the church. Even after this past election, when the church should be rallying together for prayer and strategy to stop the hideous plans of darkness, we find many leaders preferring to fight with other believers. Forgive us. You have told us the greatest of all spiritual traits is love – not sound doctrine, not theology, not the gifts of Holy Spirit – but love. And yet, we allow the crafty one to deceive us into causing disunity and strife. This must break Your heart. Please forgive us and deliver us from this deception.
In spite of this, Lord, You are going to reverse the strongholds of darkness over America. You are going to take the crafty one in his craftiness. You will use satan‘s own plans and strategies against him. Like they did at the Cross, his plans will backfire. Therefore, we ask You with fervent prayer: 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. Amen.
We decree that a higher level of discernment is now being released to the church. The prophetic anointing (that brings this discernment) will not be despised; it will be celebrated.