Article XXIII: The Nahash

Written by:
Jacob King

Most of us were forced through some sort of religious education at an early age where we learned about cute Bible stories like Noah and all the adorable, fuzzy animals entering into his ark two by two. God, they're cute. And so orderly. 

But once we graduate from this illustrious, pop-up-Bible education, we rarely dive back into those stories, which means most of our understanding of them remains at a tweenage-level (and that is being generous) — and not the tween who sat up front and took studious notes; no I mean the slacker winking at the girls in the back. ‘Sup’. If you need to see what I mean look no further than the interviews of ‘believers’ in Bill Maher’s flick, Religulous. Not a good look, people. 

Going back after all those years into stories like Noah’s, I began to see that the adult realities of these tales are frighteningly different from the sunny versions we were told all those years ago. There are levels. 

I discovered Noah wasn’t just some nice old man looking to Uber some cute animals safely out of a storm, but he was a crazy end-times prepper. Except, somehow, he was the sane one. And that warm, cozy rain he had to endure for 40 days… was a cataclysmic flood, a tumultuous sea that was probably more terrifying for Noah than it was for Jack in Titanic when he realized that Rose had room for two on that door as he sank into the cold sea. The flood was so epic, so incredibly widespread that almost every ancient civilization speaks of it (see Ancient Apocalypse). It ushered in near extinction for our species (brought upon us because of our race’s totally corrupted hearts). And that oh so pretty rainbow at the end… was an outward sign of an inner promise spoken to Noah by God that such a catastrophe wouldn’t hit the planet again – at least in the form of water. So be good, boys and girls, because God didn’t promise he wouldn’t use fire-balls.

Another biblical story that most adults still understand with a tween perspective is the Adam and Eve saga, co-starring the infamous talking snake and the irresistible fruit (que tween interpretation): “Go ahead, upright animal fam, give it a try. C’mon, all the cool sapiens are doing it these days.” 

But just like with Noah, I discovered this story is far different from the family-friendly version. With my journey through the inferno with Fr. Amorth, I discovered the ancient truth about this talking snake, and why the hell it was here in the first place. 

This oversimplified narrative taught while we were children fools our modern scientific minds. It seems like a story for kids; but in reality, it is written in a popular form of ancient storytelling, called the mytho-poetic style. Our ancient family would use these types of stories to convey deep truths with figurative and imaginative language. 

“Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’? (Genesis 3:1)”

Was there literally a tree with some forbidden delicious fruit? ‘You better not touch my apples, or even look at those red deliciouses, or so help me…me… How ‘bout them apples??’ 

Um, not really. Do you think an apple is that freaking delicious? Please, those things never sell out at the grocery store, so no way our ancient parents were willing to lose their souls and flood the earth for them. 

Was there really a talking snake in the ancient world? “Please tell me you don’t believe in some talking snake” were Maher’s viral words in Religulous.

Well… the answer is complicated. Do I believe in a literal talking snake, in a literal garden, filled with literal apple trees we aren’t supposed to eat? No.

But I do believe because of the resurrection evidence, modern miracles, and, thanks to Fr. Amorth, the evidence for Lucifer that there’s more to this story than its now-famous sanitized and unthreatening characters.

In fact, I learned the story is far scarier than our minds can even comprehend. 

When these stories were translated from their original language, we lost some of the implications that would have been picked up on by native speakers. The Hebrew word for “snake” is nahash, which can mean an unimposing garden snake like the one we get in the cartoonish versions of Eden, but it can, and almost certainly does in the sacred book, mean… one… big… scary ass… dragon:

“In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish [...] the fleeing nahash, and he will slay [this] dragon” (Isaiah 27:1).

I found out that, in this ancient story, our ancestors were not trying to tell a cute children’s story about a tiny lil snake who learns an important moral lesson like “sharing is caring”; but instead they were trying to scream to us through the ages to warn future humanity that a huge effing Nahash is here! And they were trying to warn us with an artform they thought had the greatest chance of funneling this scary truth through each generation. There is nothing more powerful and probable to make it to our modern ears than a well told story.

Maybe that is also why so many of the best stories throughout time have involved dragons – which is weird because they’re fictional animals which never existed. Could it be that our imagination is so fixated on dragons because of our early ancestors' attempts to yell about this nahash that their story continues to shape so many of our kick-ass modern stories?

But, nevertheless, these ancients weren’t warning about some earthly flying lizard that somehow made it from the dinosaur age and was now snatching up kids. It was something much worse. I learned, thanks to the Book of Revelation, which is one giant story about the Nahash, that this Nahash wasn’t any giant earthly lizard but the “ancient red dragon” – the bright star of the spiritual realm who corrupted himself into the worst thing imaginable. These poor, just-out-of-the-conscious-womb ancestors quickly realized that a spiritual fire-breather was “prowling” around their realm, angry as all hell, lurking and looking for an opportunity to burn away their connection and trust in the Father – just like he did to a third of the angels:

“Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). 

But unlike the majority of the purely spiritual, brilliantly intellectual creatures who rejected the dragon’s offer, we less intelligent animals took the bait… hook, line, and sinker. 

What exactly was the bait? It was the same idea proposed in the great war that began all wars (if it ain’t broke): the ancient red dragon, there and again in the garden, told those around him, ‘You don’t need God’s mind, or any one else’s mind, to think for you. Become the god you were always capable of being and be the sole ruler of your destiny… at all costs.’ I do only what I want now.

But as with any snake-oil salesman, there’s a trick going on here: while it seems like biting the fruit offers us divine-level freedom, in reality, when one latches on to Lucifer’s mode of thought, you don’t actually become free… but “naked.” 

The original text of the garden story says that the great and terrible spiritual war proposal led to… “death death.” No, that is not a typo. It’s the double-dipped death.

On that spiritual D-Day, something worse than death by a cataclysmic flood or a fireball happened. It was the death of all deaths. These ancients weren’t so concerned about reporting the death of our bodies as they were about warning us that they took this Nahash’s knife and stabbed it deep into the heart of our race’s unity with God…

And like the angels in heaven who shredded and stripped their souls that were once perfectly warmed by God’s wisdom and strength, our early ancestors were left with just their own naked intelligence and willpower – monkey-see-monkey-do – stripped of any connection to the wisdom and love of the realm beyond the wardrobe — all because of that fateful bite into Lucifer’s proposal. 

And here’s where it got really scary for them, and, no doubt, us as well:

Without being clothed with God’s wisdom and power, we became vulnerable to a stronger, more dominant spiritual prey that lurks just outside “the garden” — the garden that was full of the endless “fruit” of the divine. Without access to this bountiful vineyard, we are left with just our own conscious monkey brain’s and the leftover, watered-down soup of conscious willpower and animal instinct… which this beyond-intelligent dragon, no doubt, will and did eat for breakfast.

This once-beautiful and intelligent spiritual being accomplished what it had set out to do: convince, possess, and subjugate that mind that he thought was to be elevated above his… Evil won that day –

“We know that… the whole world is in the power of the Evil One” (1 John 5:19)

And although this ultra intelligent thing knew that he was most dangerous when lurking in the shadows of disbelief, sometimes a narcissist just can’t help himself, even one as intelligent as Lucifer. And through cases of possession, Fr. Amorth showed clear evidence of when this nahash peaked his ugly face through the invisibility cloak and could be clearly seen to exist…

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