The winged serpent’s eschatological significance brings us full circle to the final book of the New Testament:
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. (Revelation 12:3)
Notice that this ultimate Great Red Dragon has seven heads, just like the Leviathan of the Canaanites. However, the same text sheds light on several mysteries. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9). The importance of what is stated in that verse often escapes readers not familiar with the entire Bible. In one fell swoop, John has connected the dragon to the Nachash, “the shining one” who deceived Eve in the garden, to Diablos, “the slanderer,” to Satan, “the adversary,” and identifies the sum total as one being consigned to terrorize the earth during the Great Tribulation.
As we argued earlier in this series, the most consistent view with the whole counsel of God is that the angelic war culminating in Satan’s demotion to earth is a future event. We suggest that consistent exegesis demands a futurist interpretation, as uncomfortable as it might be for our readers with unbelieving friends and family, considering that if we are indeed correct, it means the day “the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath” (Revelation 12:12) actually looms near. But we are greatly encouraged because the revelation of Yahweh, from the protoevangelium—the first gospel in Genesis 3:15—to the final battle of the Apocalypse (20:9), centers on this eschatological solution to the “problem of evil” inaugurating a golden age. Coming full circle, Satan portrayed as a seven-headed dragon is reminiscent of Leviathan, who is similarly judged (Isaiah 27:1).
The Leviathan-Behemoth tradition, discussed previously (Enoch 60:7–8), also informs the symbols for the Antichrist as the first beast that “rose out of the Sea” (13:1) and the False Prophet as “another beast coming up out of the earth” (13:11). While the two humans are defeated and thrown into the Lake of Fire, according to another ancient tradition, Leviathan and Behemoth are barbecued and served:
And it shall come to pass when all is accomplished that was to come to pass in those parts, that the Messiah shall then begin to be revealed. And Behemoth shall be revealed from his place and Leviathan shall ascend from the sea, those two great monsters which I created on the fifth day of creation, and shall have kept until that time; and then they shall be for food for all that are left. (2 Baruch 28:7).[i]
While we acknowledge that the book of Revelation defines many of its symbols, a few readers probably think we are taking apocalyptic literature too literally. However, it’s not that we insist on a particular literal interpretation as much as it is that we reject demythologization and antisupernaturalism. In fact, we commend the antecedents, remythologization and supernaturalism, albeit we sincerely believe that many mythical entities are more than mere symbols. The universality of belief in serpentine deities and reptilian humanoids demands more than a simple hand wave. Charles Gould writes in the classic reference Mythical Monsters:
Stories of divine progenitors, demigods, heroes, mighty hunters, slayers of monsters, giants, dwarfs, gigantic serpents, dragons, frightful beasts of prey, supernatural beings, and myths of all kinds, appear to have been carried into all corners of the world with as much fidelity as the sacred Ark of the Israelites, acquiring a moulding—graceful, weird or uncouth—according to the genius of the people or their capacity for superstitious belief; and these would appear to have been materially affected by the varied nature of their respective countries.[ii]
Because the God of the Bible is the creator God of the universe, His Word stands in judgment of all other world religions. Isaiah described good and evil Seraphim in the eighth century BC. The plumed-serpent-worshipping Mesoamerican religions—associated with ritual human sacrifice—most likely entail the worship of real fallen Seraphim or similar divine beings. Since the winged reptilian was not known to exist in nature, the universality of its worship demands an explanation.
Scholars typically default to an evolutionary process known as diffusion. In this case, diffusion entails the idea that plumed-serpent belief was carried from culture to culture. However, the winged serpent’s appearance in antiquity is nearly simultaneous from the Americas to the Far East.[iii] Anthropologist David Jones shows that even the Eskimos believed in a dragon called Kikituk, even though they had never seen an actual reptile.[iv] In order for the diffusion hypothesis to gain any traction, the creators of the symbol must have exercised global influence whether by conquest, trade, or exploration. But it was globally represented before traditional history allows for such rapid proliferation. Accordingly, the diffusion argument is found wanting.
Another proposal is that such myths might be motivated by primitive discoveries of dinosaur fossils. However, there are widespread shared traits like feathered wings, human features, and high intelligence that are not obtained from fossilized remains. In An Instinct for Dragons, Jones argues that dragon belief is instinctual. He suggests that over millions of years, humans evolved an instinctive fear of predators, which emerged in the artistic creation of the dragon and other kinds of hybrid monsters. However, that idea also falls short, because there is a little evidence for such specificity and detail in instinctual memory.
Naturalistic explanations also fail to explain the worldwide belief in reptilian winged-serpent deities. In The Supernatural Worldview, a convincing case was made that although naturalism still rules academia, the evidence against it is formidable and mounting. In regard to dragons and plumed serpents, an explanation that makes sense of all the evidence is that ancient peoples were actually worshipping fallen Seraphim, “flying fiery serpents,” or their cousins, but, in this case, representing the Great Red Dragon as the seed of the Nachash.
Occult Portals for a Luciferian New Age
As detailed in The Supernatural Worldview, pantheistic monism has eclipsed the Christian consensus. As academics increasingly declared the Bible false, people were left with hopeless secularism. When secular humanism crumbled, a new paganism rose to prominence by offering people the significance of a religion without the moral restrictions that a personal God places upon their behavior. Theologian John Frame wrote:
Secular humanism, once the movement most feared by Christians, has been replaced by the rise of religious paganism. The hope of some that secularism would bring an end to religion has proved forlorn: this is the most religious age ever. But the religion of this age is as much opposed to biblical Christianity as secular humanism ever was, and as determined to destroy faith in the God of Scripture. And, as an ancient and widespread movement, it has far deeper roots in our cultural consciousness than secular humanism could ever hope to achieve. Indeed, one may look at secular humanism as a form of religious paganism, which has, after a fleeting prominence, yielded to forms of a more profound kind.[v]
While Bible-believing academics were debating atheist philosophers, the general public was at home watching Oprah. America became spiritually pagan, elevating created things over the creator (Romans 1:25). The ideas were not new—a westernized blend of Hinduism and Buddhism positing that “all is one” (oneism) that was wrapped up to look new, but behind the dressing offered no essential differences.
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Government authority and moral law originally grounded in biblical principles have been secularized, made arbitrary, and given over to the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19). Like a frog in a kettle slowly heating to boil, the consequences of abandoning traditional values are seldom considered. Ideas do have consequences.
Appearing as an “angel of light,” the devil exercises subtle influence under the guise of tolerance and religious pluralism. As a result, the new paganism has drastically transformed American culture. An absurd law like California’s Assembly Bill 1266 gives students in public K–12 schools the right “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on their self-perception, regardless of their actual gender. This means a male high school student who says he feels like a female can use the female bathroom and locker rooms in the California public schools. We believe this social issue and others of a similar immoral nature are directly connected to the increased access the new paganism affords the armies of darkness. We can learn much from the past and nonwesternized world.
Lynne Hume is an anthropologist and retired professor in religious studies in at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Her book, Portals: Opening Doorways to Other Realities through the Senses (2007), is the definitive academic volume on the subject of spirit portals. Hume writes:
In my research into altered states of consciousness over several years, I have found not only that the notion of moving through some sort of portal or doorway to access another type of reality is widespread, but that there are certain techniques employed to do so. These techniques are used universally by shamans, monks, religious specialists and lay people, and involve different physical senses.[vi]
Hume’s analysis reveals universal elements within the methods used by shamans, sorcerers, monks, witches, and lay people all over the world. Psychedelics are definitely the portal of choice for shamans and sorcerers, but the same sort of effects are achieved by meditation, music, physical pain, chanting, drumming, dancing, and binaural beat brain entrainment. More and more people are becoming aware that not only is the spirit realm real, but it plays an interactive role in their personal lives as they move from ordinary reality into alternate realities.
The Internet has made once hard-to-find occult volumes explaining such techniques easily accessible. As a result, the number of people experimenting with the occult continually increases as knowledge proliferates across the World Wide Web. Dabbling in the New Age, mediumship, or Wicca opens a portal into one’s life. Using props like the Ouija board or crystal ball can open doors that are better left closed. Walter Martin wrote, “If you turn the handle of the unopened door of a forbidden dimension, what will come through is satanic power of enormous proportions.”[vii] As access increases, the powers and principalities are afforded new areas of influence, and that satanic power is exacting a spiritually destructive toll. While it is beyond our scope to address all of the potential doorways, one particular example designed to transform society was the “Babalon Working.”
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[i]Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, ed. Robert Henry Charles (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2004) 2:497.
[ii] Charles Gould, Mythical Monsters, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/40972/40972-h/40972-h.htm#Page_22.
[iii] Howard Giskin and Bettye S. Walsh, eds., “Chinese Dragon Worship Began as Early as the Fifth Millennium BC,” ,An Introduction to Chinese Culture through the Family (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001) 126.
[iv]David E. Jones, An Instinct for Dragons (New York: Routledge, 2002) 19.
[v] John Frame, “Forward,” On Global Wizardry: Techniques of Pagan Spirituality and a Christian Response (Kindle Locations 32–33).
[vi]Lynne Hume, Portals: Opening Doorways to Other Realities through the Senses (Oxford, UK: Berg, 2007) 1.
[vii] Walter Martin, Jill Rische, Kevin Rische, The Kingdom of the Occult (Nashville: Thomas Nelson. 2008) 222.