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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 12

Section 14

The Old Serpent




If he had not made known his purposes none of Adam's descendants could have discovered them. Hence, while ignorant of the word, they are as the serpent, and Scripturally classed with him as his seed or children.

Thus, mankind in whom the truth is not, being the Seed of the Serpent, the flesh of sin, is their natural parent. This is "their father the Devil, whose lusts they do." But when the truth obtains entrance into a serpent-man, or sinner, and makes a lodgment in his understanding and affections, a power gets possession of him, and generates there "a new man," styled also "the inward man;" so that a Christadelphian, or brother of Christ, is not what he appears to be in the eyes of ordinary men. The serpent-world of sinners does not know them. To the eye of sense they appear as serpent-men. Their outward man differs nothing from the seed of the serpent; while their inward man is beyond the range of the perceptions of the serpent-man, or sinner. It is this new man of the heart, within the old man of the flesh, which constitutes an individual a saint, a son of the Deity, and a brother of Christ. Collectively, the saints or brethren of Christ, constitute his woman or spouse; they are, therefore, styled the Seed of the Woman. This arrangement distributes mankind into two unequal and opposite classes - THE SERPENT-WORLD, and the Woman-Seed; the former, being based upon a lie; the latter, upon the truth.

In the beginning, the Serpent-World consisted of no more than two sinners - Adam and his wife; yet small as was its extent, all the evil that has since manifested itself, was latent in them. Their symbol was the Serpent, or Dragon, and represented falsehood, unbelief, and rebellion against the Deity. Wherever these three have been found politically organized, and in conflict with the saints, there is the Serpent which was in the beginning - "the old serpent." Of this serpent-world the Scripture saith, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of the Deity abideth for ever" (1 John 2:15-17).

Now, after Adam had brought sin into being by transgression of the law, the Deity proceeded to organize the "evil" to which man had subjected himself by his rebellion. He had come to know it elohistically, as the serpent had said; but he was not also to be like the Elohim in abiding for ever. He had sinned, and the law he had violated was now to take its course. YAHWEH Elohim therefore proceeded to expound the penalty of the law, and to teach him the practical import of the phrase, "Dying thou shalt die. He began with the instinctive whispering promoter of the mischief, whom having cursed, he addressed as the representative of the disobedient in all future time, and said, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between THY SEED and HER SEED; this shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." To the woman, as first in the transgression, he said, her progeny should be greatly multiplied, her desire should be to her husband, who should rule over her. And to Adam, because he hearkened to his wife instead of to him, he said, "Cursed-is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; ... till thou return to the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for thou art dust, and to dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:15-19). The specifications in these sentences upon the serpent, the woman, and the man form THE CONSTITUTION Of the Serpent-World, or KINGDOM OF SIN; and termed in Scripture "the Kingdom of Men" - dominion hostile to the Divine law administered by the Serpent's Seed. It matters not what form the dominion assumes, whether imperial, regal, republican, or papal, its basis is one and the same; and most appropriately symbolized by the serpent which was in the beginning - ho ophis, ho archaios.

In after times, far distant from the beginning, the serpent-world acquired an immense development. From two persons it had increased to myriads of millions; and without specifying the outlying savages of the dominion, is treated of in Scripture as "the kingdom of Egypt;" which, in the days of Moses, had attained great political proportions - a kingdom of kingdoms. It was "the dragon, the old serpent," of his day -the great enemy and bruiser of the woman's seed, who sought their extirpation from the earth. This was the political relation of things then. The "Woman's Seed" was identified with Israel; the "Serpent's Seed," with all that had enmity against, or oppressed, them; while the "Head of the Serpent," styled in the sentence upon the serpent "thy head," is that chief government of the Gentiles, or nations, which directs, controls, or influences, the policy of the world for the time being.

The Scriptures oftentimes connect the beginning and the end without taking cognizance of the interval of a multitude of generations and ages, or, if at all, only very slightly. Thus, in Psa. 74:12, the Mosaic salvation from Egyptian bondage, and the future Messianic salvation from the down-treading of the mystic Babylon, apocalyptically and "spiritually called Sodom and Egypt" (ch. 11:3), are so connected: as it is written, "My King of old is Elohim, working salvation in the midst of the earth. Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength." Then, predictive of what will assuredly come to pass, and befall the same Serpent-power in its latter-day manifestation, as apocalyptically displayed in the binding of the Dragon, it proceeds in verse 14 to state, "Thou bruisedst the heads of leviathan, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness." LEVIATHAN signifying "a serpent coiling himself in folds," is the Dragon of Apoc. 20:2; and embraces all the intermediate dragonic manifestations of previous ages and generations, which are the folds of his coil. The "heads of leviathan" are those apocalyptically exhibited. "The people inhabiting the wilderness" are the saints, and Israel after the flesh made willingly subject to them. "The wilderness" is "the two wings of the Great Eagle" where the fugitive woman was fed and "nourished for a time, times, and half a time from the face of the serpent," or, for 1260 symbolic days (Apoc. 12:6,14); and where John saw Leviathan as he will be seen by the discerning after the thief-like advent of the Ancient of Days (ch. 17:3).

In the thirteenth verse of the Psalm brief and passing reference is made to the dragon-powers of the interval; as, "Thou breakest the HEADS OF THE DRAGONS upon the waters." In the English Version, "breakest" occurs in relation to the "heads of the dragons" and "the heads of leviathan;" though in the original different words are used. In reference to the dragon-heads the word used is shivbarta; while the other is ritzatva. This verbal difference was doubtless not accidental. The former signifies "to break the power of, destroy;" the latter, "to bruise. " Leviathan is bruised and bound for a thousand years, and at the end thereof revives, and embraces the serpent-world in his coils: but the power of the dragons and their heads in the long interval antecedent to the epoch of the binding, is destroyed.

Now there have been different dragon-manifestations of "the old serpent" in the long interval between the Mosaic salvation of Israel and the Messianic, which is at the door. That contemporary with Moses, and styled "Rahab" in Isa. 51:9, was developed into what Ezekiel describes in ch. 29:3. Here the power of Egypt, called Pharaoh, is thus addressed by the Spirit, "Behold I am against thee, Pharaoh, King of Egypt, THE GREAT DRAGON that lieth in the midst of his rivers" - the mouths of the Nile, representative of the subjects of the power: "which hath said, My river is my own, and I have made it for myself." For this arrogance, and blasphemy against the source of all power, YAHWEH Elohim sentenced it to destruction, so that Egypt should no more exalt itself above the nations to rule over them; and, as Nebuchadnezzar had received no recompense for executing the sentence of Deity against Tyre, therefore YAHWEH Elohim gave the land of Egypt to him for his labor. Thus Egypt became a part of Babylon; the great Egyptian Dragon was abolished; and the power of "the old serpent" thus symbolized, transferred to the FIRST of Daniel's four Mediterranean empires; which under Nebuchadnezzar stood man-like upon its feet, with a lion's head, and the heart of a man (Dan. 7:2,4). Hence, at this epoch, when the Seed of the Woman; of which Daniel, Ezekiel and Jeremiah were constituents, was heelbruised in Babylon, the wing-plucked lion-power was "the Great Dragon, the old serpent, surnamed the Devil and the Satan."

The Head of the old serpent, in this first beast manifestation, was the dynasty represented by Nebuchadnezzar, who had conquered Egypt, and plucked the wings of the Assyrian Lion. This dynasty was "the Head of Gold" - the cockatrice, or adder, which came forth out of the Egypto-Assyrian Serpent's root, whose fruit the world has found to be "a fiery flying serpent" (Isa. 14:29).

The Dragon under this dynastic form continued only seventy years. At the end of this period it was changed; and "Lucifer, son of the morning, who weakened the nations, was cut down;" and made to give way to YAHWEH'S "sanctified ones," the Medes and Persians; who, under the command of Darius and Cyrus, "took the kingdom" (Isa. 14:12; 13:17; Dan. 5:28,31). This was the Medo-Persian dynasty of "the old serpent". It answered to the second of Daniel's four beasts; and is represented in Nebuchadnezzar's Lion-Man image by the breast and arms of silver; and by the two horns of unequal height upon the ram (Dan. 2:32; 8:3).

The old serpent continued under the Bear, or silver, dynastic manifestation some two hundred and six years. Another change was then developed. Power set in from the west, and diffused itself "over the face of the whole earth. " The Medo-Persian Bear, or Ram dynasty was made to give place to Daniel's third dominancy, symbolized by the four-winged and four-headed Leopard, the brass of the image, and the four-homed goat (Dan. 7:6; 2:32; 8:5-8). These symbols represent "the old serpent" in the Era of the Greeks. Dominion was given to this people over the whole Dragon territory, which was enlarged towards the west. But the power of the old serpent was not to remain in the form of the four heads of the leopard, and four horns of the Grecian goat. The Greeks of "the whole earth," the sovereign race, were to yield the dominion given to them, to "A LITTLE HORN," or power; which, in relation to the Lion-Man territory of Daniel's first beast, which included the Holy Land, was to appear in the country of the Northern Horn of the Goat. This is evident from Dan. 8:9. The power, which was new to the Asiatic, came from Europe west of Greece; and planting itself in Syria, north of Palestine, extended its dominion eastward, and southward, until it had absorbed within itself the power of all the Four Horns of the Goat.

The Little Horn power was that of a rude and uncultivated people inhabiting Italy; and known in the history of that country, as Etrurians, Umbrians, Ligurians,Sabines, Veientes, Latins, Aequi, and VoIscians. About five hundred years after the foundation of ROME, Italy was subdued to the authority of this city of the seven mountains; and all these tribes came to bear indiscriminately the name of Romans. After the subjugation of Italy, the Little Roman Horn proceeded to conquer all the nations round the Mediterranean. It subdued Greece about 146 years before Christ. In 67 before Christ, it appeared in Syria; and from thence "waxed exceedingly great, toward the south," and "toward the pleasant land," absorbing Palestine and Egypt; "and toward the east," to the Tigris and lands of Euphrates.

Thus the Little Horn became an exceedingly great power. Its empire, which, seven hundred and thirty years before the birth of Jesus, was confined to the walls of a small city, in the second century of our era, was about two thousand miles in breadth, from the walls of Antonine and the northern limits of Dacia, to Mount Atlas and the tropic of Cancer; it extended in length more than three thousand miles from the Western Ocean to the Euphrates, and was supposed to contain 6,000,000 square miles. The number of subjects, who, either as citizens, provincials, or slaves, observed the rule of Rome, is estimated at 120,000,000.

This Little Horn become so great was now the fourth of Daniel's beast-dominions. It planted itself in Jerusalem B.C. 63; and in A.D. 33, was popularly and pontifically acknowledged as "the King of the Jews" (John 19:12,15). It had acquired identity with "the old serpent" by its incorporation of the Syro-Babylonian, or Northern Horn power (out of which, in relation to the Holy Land, it came forth), into its Italian dominion. It was now "the Dragon, the Old Serpent" - Leviathan, the flying and very tortuous serpent, the dragon that is in the sea (Isa. 27: 1). But when it conquered the Syro-Babylonian Horn, B.C. 67, it did not thereby acquire the apocalyptic "surname" of "the Diabolos and the Satan." It was not until the Little Horn had "magnified itself against the Prince of the Host," or Messiah the Prince; and undertook, as "a roaring lion, prowling about, seeking whom he might devour," to exterminate the saints from among the living; that it acquired the character signified by the terms "fiery red," "diabolos," and "Satan" (Apoc. 12:9).


This crocodile, or Egypto-Romaic Babylonian, embodiment of falsehood and rebellion is styled purros, "fiery red," or red as fire. Daubuz, on the authority of certain heathen writers, says, "the Roman emperors and empresses had fire carried before them; also kings and generals at the head of their armies; it serving instead of trumpets as signs to begin the fight. " This was notably the fact in the aggressions of the Dragon. Fire preceded him when he stood before the woman and her seed. During 280 years he had contended with her in all the fire of his fury, blazing forth against her with all the power of destruction at his command. He became red with rage and slaughter, especially in the period of the fifth seal, in which he vowed the extermination of the very name of christianity, which he likened to a hydra. But the archer of the first seal, who continued his warfare through all the six, was Divinely commissioned to go on conquering until he conquered him "through the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony." The fiery redness of his wrath caused multitudes of the woman's seed lo lie beneath the altar weltering in their blood. But their death availed him nothing in the end. The truth is stronger than human wrath - too mighty for the Dragon though confederate with all the potentates of earth.


I have termed this symbol of fiery destruction, the Egypto-Romaic Babylonian Crocodile. The propriety of this designation will appear from what has been said in this section; and from the fact, that "the Great City" of the Seven Hills, which in John's day, as also in ours, reigns over the kings of the earth," is styled Babylon and Egypt (Apoc. 11:8; 17:5,18). These specifications identify Rome, Babylon, and Egypt, as well as Sodom, with "the Great City;" so that the crocodile, dragon, or serpent, symbolizing the power of which Rome was the capital until ceded to the Beast (ch. 13:2) is properly designated Egypto Romaic Babylonian.




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