Deception works two ways. Sometimes things look harmless when they’re not, and other times things appear harmful when they’re not.
North America has several species of horned lizards (often mistakenly called “horned toads”). The horns of these short-tailed, fat-bodied reptiles vary in size and number, but no matter how many or how prominent the horns on their heads and on their bodies, horned lizards are extremely unappealing to their enemies. Their ugliness protects them. For further protection, the horned lizard stands completely still and flattens out its body to become nearly invisible as it blends in with its surroundings. The lizards can also quickly bury itself in sand. If something does pick up a horned lizard, the reptile can inflate its body by gulping air, jab with its horns, and even spurt blood from a small opening at the base of its third eyelid.
The thorny devil of Australia is even uglier than its American relatives. For one thing, it has a long tail–and thus more surface area to cover with projections. It has even brighter colors, with war-paint-like black, reddish-brown, and yellow markings. But most frightening of all is the fact that huge thorns cover the lizard from its nose to the tip of its tail. When approached by a potential predator, all the thorny devil has to do is tuck its head between its front legs and arch its back to form a tiny mound of unappetizing spikes.
Horned lizards–including thorny devils–are not the monsters that they appear to be. Their looks are deceptive. They appear fierce and aggressive, but actually they are shy, and would rather escape than defend themselves.
Deception had it beginning in the Garden of Eden. Satan is the arch-deceiver. But he does not present himself as a thorny devil–ugly, with horns, a long tail, and a pitchfork. That would immediately put us on our guard. Inspiration warns us that in the last days Satan will appear as an angel of light accompanied by false prophets as he attempts to “deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). Only by really knowing Jesus can we avoid being tricked by Satan’s appearances and recognize him as the real “thorny devil.”
For such are false apostles… transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 1:13, 14
From “Nature Quest”, by James and Priscilla Tucker
Pictures are from Google Images.