When You See a Snake in Your Garden . . .

Genesis 3:1 (NIV)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”


How it started:  “In the beginning . . .” Genesis 1:1

How it’s going:  “Now the serpent . . .” Genesis 3:1

And that, my friends, is how life goes. No matter how beautiful, how orderly, how flourishing your garden is, sooner or later, you will see a snake. You know what else you will see? Weeds! You don’t even have to plant them. More on that later. 

Yes, you’ve already noticed, God made the snake. “So does this make God the author of evil,” some will ask? No, it makes God the maker of snakes. And apparently snakes, like everything else in this world, have some modicum of free agency to do as they will. So how do we deal with talking snakes? First answer: Don’t talk back. Okay, I know some of you struggle with the idea of a talking serpent. Some can’t get past it and dismiss the Bible altogether as a book of old wives tales (whatever those are).

What do I think? Thanks for asking. My starting point is this fact of history: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God from where he reigns as the Lord of heaven and earth. Given that, anything is possible. Do I believe snakes can talk? Not generally, but if the Bible, the revealed Word of God, says it—I am willing to suspend my experience, reasoning, tradition, convention, and opinion and lean in with truth-seeking faith. Is the point here about talking snakes or is it about the nature of deception? 

Notice the strategy of the serpent is to question the Word of God. Did you catch those four words: “Did God really say?” Now notice the subtle deception and gross misstatement of God’s Word: ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 

Let’s go to the replay booth for the actual word from God. 

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; (Genesis 2:16)

Apparently, he must have mansplained the whole thing to the woman. Look at her response to the snake:

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” (Genesis 3:2–3)

So back to the replay booth. What did God actually say?

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16–17)

We are barely three chapters in and the Word of God is being misstated, distorted, and otherwise abandoned. Nothing there about death by touching trees—just eating the fruit. And last time I checked, there were two trees in the middle of the garden. Because the woman mentions only one, does it stand to reason she (or perhaps they) did not eat the fruit from the other—the Tree of Life? Speculating now, but what if their failure to eat the fruit from the Tree of Life—per the prescription—explains their proclivity to eat the fruit from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil—per the prohibition. 

And what if, my friends, just what if, the Tree of Life bore the Fruit of the Spirit? And what if the Fruit of the Spirit in turn bore the seeds of the Word of God. It sounds like a salvation-garden to me. 

Not speculating here: Only the true seed of the pure Word of God will bear the fruit of the Spirit. 

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (James 1:21 The Message)

And what should you do when you see a snake in your garden? Answer: Don’t wait around to see if it talks. Run! 

Wake up sleeper! The Word of God is landscaping the garden of your life. 


Farmer God, thank you for your Word who is the Tree of Life. How we long for the fruit of the Spirit from the Tree of Life. Sow the Word in our deepest hearts. Teach us to delight in your Word such that we hunger for more and let us thirst for your Spirit. We want our lives to become your salvation-garden, for our good, for others gain, for your glory. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.


What do you see going on in Genesis 3? How do you see this kind of thing still going on? Notice how this all cuts to the very source and heart of the matter from the beginning with respect to the Word of God. Implications? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

4 Responses

  1. Later on it is revealed that the snake form of the reptile species isn’t the actual villain here, but Satan, the “ Father of all liars” is. His tactics have never changed. Jesus said that when Satan lies, he’s speaking his native language. Satan’s tactic is to state something with an element of truth and mix it with a falsehood in an attempt to deceive. He’s very clever and cunning and knows our weaknesses very well. Only by becoming knowledgeable about the Scriptures and relying on wise commentary and the divine leading of the Holy Spirit do we have any chance of avoiding Satan’s lies. Those of us who’ve been gifted with divine wisdom have the responsibility to help those who are less mature to grow in their faith and understanding. In other words, true disciples should eventually mature into disciple makers.

  2. Snaky thinking says:
    “If it looks tasty, try it,”
    And asks us the question,
    “Did God really say not to eat it?”
    But choice without conscience
    (God’s truth in our heart),
    And self-steps without obedience
    (Based solely on own
    Desires, feelings, and knowledge)
    Open our free will
    To the deceptive appeal
    Of the evil influence
    Of the slivering snake
    That prowls around
    In the garden of our mind
    To paint ball God’s inner image
    With the despairing colors
    Of death and distortion
    That separate us
    From the Source real life.

  3. There is so much in Genesis 3 that explains the plight of humanity today. The serpent was humanity’s first encounter with spiritual evil; Satanic possession. Sounds crazy? As the man in the tombs? As for the Tree of Life, God’s grace saved us even in the garden when He placed cherubim with a flame sword to keep them from eating from it. Could you imagine living in this world forever and not going to heaven? Shudder.
    How did Satan get access to the garden? I speculate he was already here.
    Genesis 1:2, Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
    Formless, empty, and dark. Sounds like the perfect “casting out of heaven place.”
    Otherwise, God would have given Satan free reign in the spiritual world. Then again, could of the fall of man give Satan more free reign? He did visit God in heaven when he wanted to accuse Job, and Scripture says He accuses us before God day and night(Rev, 12-10)
    I love reading the Bible better.
    Lord, keep me centered on the truth in your Word!
    Learning to become like the One.

  4. You wrote “…what if, the Tree of Life bore the Fruit of the Spirit? And what if the Fruit of the Spirit in turn bore the seeds of the Word of God.. ” I humbly suggest you consider this; what if the Tree of Life bore the fruit of matter and eating it awakened a mortal dream of us being made of matter, not spirit, and closed us off to God’s true idea of us ‘made in His image and likeness.” The awakening from this tree is the awakening of an idea that we could be separated from God, and that we could die. This is the origination of duality. Jesus’ coming, and his awakening, expose the error of duality. God made all. God is good. Evil is not good. If God made all that there is, then evil is not real. What’s real is our perception of evil, and all the personality and power we give it as we dream we are made of matter not spirit because we’ve given power and meaning to a tree of life. Trees don’t give life. God gives Life. Take away duality, and you can heal like Jesus did because you will only see the face of God.

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