The Snares of Satan

One of the most effective means of teaching another the inherent power of an object is by means of a demonstration.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to fully comprehend the destructive power of an AK-47 assault rifle by mere verbal description alone.  However, if this weapon were demonstrated for you, then you would not only understand its destructive force, but also would respect its awesome power.

Several years ago I had an opportunity to demonstrate to my children this concept of inherent power with a snapping turtle.  It was a warm spring day when one of my children came running to me from the field in which he was hoeing weeds.  “Quick, Dad, come see the turtle we found.  Can we keep it for a pet?”  Reserving judgment, I ran with him to the back of the field to discover a large female snapping turtle preparing to lay her eggs in the warm soft earth.  “Can we keep it, Dad, can we?”  With a subdued “no” he responded, “why not?”  “Give me your hoe; I’ll show you.”  As the children gathered around, I prodded and poked the turtle.  She opened her mouth and hissed.  Again, I poked.  Then without warning, she snapped at the handle and nearly bit it in two.  The quickness and power of the turtle’s attack was striking, and all thoughts of keeping the turtle for a pet were quickly dismissed and replaced with fear and respect that lasts to this day.  Such is the effective means of a demonstration when it is used to teach the inherent power of an object.

Our Lord Jesus Christ also used the technique of demonstration to teach us the inherent power of the spiritual world.  By His many miracles which we have recorded in Scripture, He teaches us the power of His Lordship over all.  He teaches us that He is Lord of creation when He calmed the seas of Galilee and His disciples responded, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the seas obey Him?”  He teaches us that He has power over Satan and all his host when He cast out devils.  And He teaches us that He even has power on earth to forgive sins when he said to the palsy, “take up your bed and walk.”

The instruction of our Lord in His Word concerning the inherent power of the spiritual world is not limited to the miracles our Savior performed.  Rather His instruction is all comprehensive including the power that sin and death has over all men.  A case in point is the power Satan is given to tempt man that he sin and when sin is finished, death.  To demonstrate how very real Satan’s power is, our Lord uses the example of the hunter’s snare throughout the books of Psalms, Proverbs and other places in Scripture.

Never in the history of mankind has such a hunting devise been conceived as treacherous as the snare.  In fact, many civilized countries today prohibit their use as being inhumane to animals.  Yet, the snare is one of the most effective hunting devices ever designed by man because it uses the animal’s nature against itself for its own destruction.  Not only is the prey lured into the snare by food its nature desires, but once captured the snare tightens it death grip firmer and firmer the more the prey tries to escape.  So, too, Satan sets his snare when he tempts us with the hope of our destruction.

When the Bible speaks of a snare, it does so with two types in mind.  The one is called a fowler’s snare used to capture birds.  The other is called the pit which was used to trap large animals.  They both had one purpose:  the destruction or death of its prey.

Both types of snares have several characteristics they share in common.  Both are camouflaged from the discerning view of the prey.  And both, with careful thought and advance planning of the hunter, are selective in the prey they ensnare.  This is accomplished by placing the snare in the vicinity of the desired prey’s habitat, and by baiting the snare with the type of food the prey desires most.  Thus when the snare is set, the only thing seen of its victim is a few morsels of food which will lead it to its death.

The difference between the fowler’s snare and the pit lies mainly in their design.  The pit is exactly what the word implies.  A skillful hunter would dig a pit with vertical walls to a depth greater than the desired prey would be able to jump out.  Sharp pointed staves would be placed in the floor of the pit pointing upward, so that the animal’s flesh would be pierced when it would fall to the floor.  Entrapped, the animal knows only one thing:  this is the place of pain and agony; it must escape.  And so, it tries by jumping out, only to fall back having its flesh torn and ripped apart.  Again the creature tries, but the pain and suffering increases.  It cries out in its pain and agony for help, but in vain.  The ensnared creature dies an agonizing death.

The fowler’s snare is no less treacherous in its design.  Once the bird becomes ensnared, its instinct is to fly away from the point of danger.  But the snare’s grip only becomes tighter and tighter with every beat of its wings.  Finally the bird, out of exhaustion and shock, dies in the snare’s web of entanglement which was spun out of the bird’s desire for freedom.

Never in the history of man has such a treacherous device been so conceived!  The treachery of the snare lies in the fact that it uses its victim’s nature and instincts against itself for the purpose of its victim’s own death.  The creature’s need for food, freedom and the avoidance of pain is turned against itself and turned into destruction.  That is treachery!  Thus the inherent power of the snare is clearly demonstrated.

In II Timothy 2:26 the power and ability of Satan to tempt us to sin against God is associated with the snare.  There is no other object that was ever created, or device ever made by man that best exemplifies the treacherous means Satan will use to turn us away from our God.  His deeds and his means are without mercy.  They are inhumane.  And he seeks our destruction.  Yet, it is of God’s mercy we are not consumed.  This is why our Lord Jesus Christ uses the example of the snare:  to teach us, to warn us of the power and the vengeance of Satan’s temptation.

Scripture refers to the Christian’s life as a narrow pathway which leads to heaven.  We are in the midst of a dark and sinful world.  But God gives to us His Word which is a light upon our path and a lamp unto our feet.  We are given eyes to see the Light of God’s Word by the power of His Spirit whereby we can see the pathway in the midst of darkness.  It is the Law of God which sets the boundaries of our pathway.  Outside of the edge or boundaries of our pathway to heaven, Satan sets his snares.  When we stray into sin, wander off the pathway of life, we place ourselves in danger, in danger of Satan’s treachery.

Never may it be said that we have wandered off our pathway unto heaven because the Light of God’s Word was not bright enough so that we could not see where the pathway is.  The Light of God is His revealed Holiness unto His people.  It is referred to in Scripture as being brighter than the noonday sun.  It is more intense than the refiner’s fire.  One cannot but think of the time Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the glory of God’s holiness radiating from his face and the children of Israel asked that he would cover his face.  No, when we lose our way it is not the fault of the perfect Light of God’s Word, rather we shield our faces from the Light.  Our sinful nature cannot behold its glory, but being renewed by the Spirit of God we desire and seek after that Light.  And through the work of that Spirit we gradually become more and more accustomed to the Light as one who walks out of a dark room becomes accustomed to the brightly lit room into which he entered.

The Light of God’s Word not only shines upon our pathway and shows us the borders of that path, but also shows to us what lies beyond:  sin and death, and the snares of Satan.  Even though the bounds of Satan’s snares are camouflaged, we are given the Light of the Word to see the bait, those juicy morsels of sin, and the knowledge of the peril we would suffer if we became a victim to his snare.

Make no mistake; Satan is a crafty hunter of men’s souls.  He knows what is the best bait to use.  His temptations are personal in nature and not general.  His snare is always baited with careful thought and preplanning.  And he is selective in his desired prey.  He uses our sinful nature against ourselves to the end that we as God’s people may be destroyed.  Yet knowing this we still wander off our pathway of life to sneak a morsel of Satan’s bait, and then run back to the safety of the path.  We sneak another, and maybe another still.  But where is the edge of the pit?  We don’t know.  We try again, but now he has us.  We are caught.  We begin to suffer pain and anguish of soul.  We try to escape with our own power, only to have Satan’s snare grip tighter to our souls.  The harder we try to escape, the more we suffer.  All human help is vain.

Ensnared, we cry out: “Save us, O Lord, for in Thee do we trust.”  And He delivers us.  He lifts us out of destruction’s pit and sets our feet once again upon the pathway of life.  He binds up our wounds and heals our souls.  But the scars remain with us the rest of our lives.  Not until this corruptible puts on incorruption will we be cleansed from the effects of sin.  So many of God’s people bear the scars of sin to remind them of the time they had foolishly wandered from the path of wisdom’s way.

Faithful ministers and office bearers of God’s Word, and God fearing parents and teachers know of the power and treachery of Satan’s snares.  They know the pain and suffering of soul it inflicts upon its victims and the scars they must bear the rest of their lives.  Therefore, they bring the Light of God’s Word to us, not only to help show us the pathway of life that we may flee from the snare, but they also teach us how to use the Light of the Word for ourselves that we may grow in God’s grace and sanctification.