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A Liar From the Beginning
In Defense of the Faith
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Wendy Wippel

Mythology represents truth; distorted over millennia until it’s fuzzy. The truth obscured, however, becomes evident when multiple mythologies of disparate cultures reveal a peculiar harmony in the basic details.  Details that routinely echo the Biblical record, affirming that earth history, shared by its first inhabitants is accurately recorded in the pages of Genesis.

Exhibit B: The origin of mortality. (For exhibit A see “Celebrate Discovery”: The presence of an Adam in all ancient cultures, posted December 2, 2014)

We all know from, the pages of Genesis, that Satan (in the form of a serpent) had access to the garden as well as a deep desire to destroy the paradise that man (who God had deemed “good”) enjoyed. And we all know that he succeeded in spoiling things in the garden of Eden.:

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;  but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5 NKJV

We all know that was a lie. A vicious lie that infected humanity with sin that got Adam and Eve kicked out of paradise and doomed all of their descendants.

Satan ruined things for the rest of us by lying. More specifically, by lying as he always does, by stretching the truth just far enough to make it lethal.

But that’s who he is:

You are of your father the devil ... He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

He perverts the truth, as do his followers:

Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? Acts 13:9-10

Perverting the straight ways of the Lord. Skewing God’s words for his own evil purposes. That’s what Satan does.

He tried to fool Eve in the garden:

Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”

That wasn’t what God said.

We even see him trying to fool Jesus in the wilderness:

Then he brought him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, if you are the son of God, throw yourself down from here. For it is written, “He shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you, and “in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. Psalm 91:11-12

Again, truth with a satanic twist. The passage specifies that the verse applies to one who makes his shelter in God (not one that throws God aside for the shallow promises of earthly glory and riches).

Which makes it all the more interesting that, when mythology of ancient cultures is compared, we see a striking similarity between them, starting with the relatively inexplicable unanimity of the stories with respect to the origin of immortality.

Dozens of formerly unreached peoples, when contacted by early explorers, explained to the explorers their understanding of the origin of man and his early history. And interestingly, all of the cultures interviewed shared both an awareness that the immortality intended for man was lost early in our history, and that its loss was instigated by one of God’s lesser creations, an animal. The myths, from century upon century of retelling (and embellishing), are a little fuzzy around the edges, but all contain that same kernel of Biblical truth.

The ancient epic poem, The Epic of Gilgamesh (earliest version from Sumeria), records that man lost their immortality when a serpent stole a magic plant that conferred immortality from the hero of the epic, Gilgamesh.

The magic plant, obviously in this legend a fuzzy reference to the tree of life. Which, by the way also appears in pretty much every ancient culture.

Most of the legends, more incredibly, include the specific detail that the fall of man happened because of a failure of the animal messenger on some level to convey God’s offer of immortality to mankind.

For the Hottentots (bush residents of South Africa) it’s a hare that’s the villain of the story.  God sent the hare to tell men that “they could die and rise to life again.” The hare went to man, but what he told them was that they would die but not rise to life again.  The Hottentots, at the time of these legends were collected, were still so mad at the hare anyone who ate the flesh of the hare was cast out of the tribe.

Among the Kalahari bushmen (a related tribe), the story starts the same. The hare is sent to tell man that they can rise again. In their version, however, one man, whose mother had died refused to believe it, finally having it out with God face to face. God, due to this man’s unbelief, rescinded the offer from all mankind.

The Kalahari version, thereby, intriguingly tying immortality to belief.

For the Nandi of British East Africa, it was a dog who failed to deliver the message accurately; for the Masarwas, in Rhodesia, it was a tortoise that didn’t get the message there fast enough. For the Ekoi in southern Nigeria, God sent a duck, but the duck got distracted by running into humans who offered palm oil to drink, so the duck never made it. 

The natives of the Gold coast in Africa, interestingly enough,  reported  that a goat was sent to mankind with this message:  “There is something called death that will one day come to you, but though you die, you will not perish utterly, but you will come to me here in heaven.” This goat, like the duck, gets distracted by food, so God then sent a sheep.  God then sent a sheep with the same message. The sheep however, ignored the message he was given to deliver, instead telling the people that they would die and when they died they would perish, and have nowhere to go.  The goat finally made it there and delivered the message accurately, but at that point, mankind wouldn’t believe it.

Interestingly, several cultures, including the A-Louyi tribe in upper Zambesi and the Ashantees  in Ghana, also reported, in agreement with the Biblical record, that God walked on the earth before immortality was taken away.

Ultimately, dozens of separate unreached cultures in Africa, Asia, South America and in Alaska were interviewed by early missionaries and explorers, and, though fuzzy around the edges, all confirm the bedrock details related to the fall of man recorded in Genesis. And all, even more incredibly, affirm that immortality was God’s intent for mankind but was lost, and that an animal played a part in humanity’s fall.   Dozens of cultures with the same basic history because the basic history was accurate history. 

One last thing:

The native people of the Gold Coast (on the Gulf of Guinea, while relaying the origin of their mortality to the missionaries that interviewed them, offered a poignant perspective on their situation. The sheep who delivered the perverted message (“ you will die, and when you die you will  perish and have nowhere to go.”) reached their ancestors before the goat that told them of new life. (“There is something called death that will one day come to you, but though you die, you will not perish utterly, but you will come to me here in heaven".)

Before the interview ended, they offered one last lament:

“If only the sheep had made good speed with her message, man would have died but returned after death. But the goat made better speed with the contrary message, so man returns no more.”

Is Satan still quicker with his message than we are with ours? 

I hope that convicts you as much as it does me.

About Wendy Wippel

Last week: Wanna Be a Watchman?

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