It was early in the morning, and the sun was just coming over the horizon; dawn was breaking with all her quiet grace. During the night, the temperature had dropped enough that the grass was covered with tiny beads of moisture. Peering out through the glass patio doors in the dining room, I saw in my back yard something that I would like to share with you.
In the sunlight, I could see that the entire yard (I mean all of it!) was covered with spider webs. Their white strands appeared to form a large, complete net over the whole back yard. Evidently, the webs had caught some of the moisture from the air, for they sparkled, first here, and then there, as the sun was reflected in these drops of moisture. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
As I stood at the patio doors, wondering at the simple beauty of the sight, it dawned on me (no pun intended) that, despite the beauty of the scene, the picture had a sinister element. I had been looking from the viewpoint of a human who could destroy any spider’s web with the most casual movement of limbs. But those webs had not been spun for me; they were created in anticipation of catching some of the numerous small insects that venture out at night and in the early morning hours. From a “bug’s eye view,” these webs, regardless how beautiful they might be to the human eye, represented a danger that could easily be fatal.
A spider is a predator, a very clever one too! He carefully prepares a trap and waits for his prey to become ensnared in the extremely strong, sticky strands of his web. His victims come to him; he does not have to pursue them. When they have fatigued themselves by their struggle to escape the web, which holds them, he quietly kills and devours them. As I thought further about this web, it occurred to me that Satan is quite similar to the spider!
(1) Like the spider, Satan is also a predator; he preys on human beings. The apostle Peter indicated that Satan is a predator when he likened him to a roaring lion, one of the most fear-inspiring predators on earth. The Devil is our adversary, and his object is to “devour us,” to destroy us in an eternal hell. It is for that very reason that Peter also counseled his readers to be vigilant, watchful for the danger that Satan presents (1 Peter 5:8).
(2) Satan lays his snares in much the same fashion as the spider. When the spider spins his web, he frequently places it in such a way as to intercept the natural path of his prey. Of course, his presence is a warning, so he hides himself, or lurks near the edge of the web where he is less evident. Satan has studied his prey and knows the weaknesses common to men. He knows how to lay his snares so that men will encounter them. And, like the spider, he doesn’t advertise his presence so that his victims often do not suspect his work is their demise. Only after they have been enslaved by the sin, which was so tempting, do they realize whose purpose the trap serves. Edward M. Bounds wrote, “The devil’s great device, his masterpiece of temptation is to destroy faith in his own existence.”
Paul described covetousness (greed) as a snare, indicating that it led to destruction (1 Timothy 6:8-10). Satan is a schemer; the traps he uses look so innocent and inviting that he fools many men into thinking they are harmless. The anticipation of pleasure invites men to drink alcohol, take drugs, steal, commit fornication and adultery, etc., – all snares used by Satan. Just like the spider, Satan cannot force his prey into the web of sin, but his victims commit themselves to its traps (James 1:13-15).
(3) Light benefits neither Satan or the spider. It was the rising sun that revealed the spider webs to me. The spider thrives on anonymity. He wishes his web to be invisible to his prey, and so darkness is his intimate friend. Satan also loves darkness. He wishes for men to be ignorant of his machinations so that he may take them captive at his will. If he appears as wholesome, it is a disguise (2 Corinthians 11:14,15). Fortunately, the light of God’s word exposes Satan’s wiles for what they are, and the careful bible student may discern and avoid being ensnared.
One significant difference between the two predators is that when a fly becomes entangled in the spider’s web, he usually does not escape. God offers a way of escape to the man who has been entangled in Satan’s web of sin. It is frequently difficult, once the strands of worldliness tighten around a man, but in Christ there is freedom! Beware of our spiritual predator! – Allen S. Dvorak
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