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Harry Potter and the Serpent Crusher

At midnight last Friday a publishing phenomenon 14 years in the making came to its climactic conclusion when the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series went on sale.

JK Rowling has created a world crammed with adventure, mystery, tragedy, romance, and above all magic. At the heart of the story is the struggle between good and evil, compellingly personified in the characters of Harry and Voldemort. Voldemort is one of the most powerful dark wizards there has ever been. All that stands against him is a boy, whose power to destroy the Dark Lord was foretold in prophecy. They both grow in power, building up to the final confrontation.

All tremendously exciting! And escapist nonsense of course – just what we need to while away a few hours over the summer. But what if it were true?

I’m not suggesting that there really is a dark wizard called Voldemort, or that there is a parallel magical world. But it’s interesting how gripped people are by the storyline of the Harry Potter books, without realising that the storyline of the Bible is very similar. I’m not trying to ‘christianise’ the story, but if people think the fictional story of Harry Potter is gripping, then how much more should they be excited about the plot of the Bible.

Here’s another prophecy. A prophecy that goes back to the very dawn of our race; written down in the book of Genesis. It is a prophecy spoken by the voice of God himself in the Garden of Eden: The LORD God said to the serpent, "I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel."

One day a man mysteriously described as “the seed of a woman” will crush the head of the serpent. We usually talk about the seed of the man – but there’s going to be something unusual about this man’s birth. It’s as if a human father won’t feature in his birth, just his mother.

And this man will be given the task of destroying the serpent who tempted the first humans to sin. He will single-handedly put an end to the Prince of Darkness. But did you notice how this will happen? The man will crush the head of the serpent, but in the process he will be terribly, agonisingly wounded. He will stamp on the serpent’s head, but even as he crushes the life out of the serpent, the serpent will strike at the man’s heel and sink its fangs deep into the man’s flesh. The serpent is destroyed, but at a terrible cost to the serpent-crusher.

Voldemort and his Death Eaters try to kill Harry Potter, believing him to be the boy the prophecy refers to. Likewise the serpent knew that this little baby was the one who would crush his head, and so he tried to destroy him first. He sent King Herod to kill all the baby boys born in the Bethlehem area. The serpent did his utmost to destroy the serpent-crusher before he could even grow up.

You’ll have to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to find out how that prophecy is resolved – “Neither can live while the other survives.” Either Voldemort or Harry.

But we already know how the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 was fulfilled. It happened 2000 years ago, in Jerusalem, on a cross. Jesus, the long-awaited serpent crusher defeated the Devil when he was nailed to a cross and died. He suffered excruciating physical agony, but infinitely worse than this was the horror of bearing God’s punishment for the guilt of all the sins of all his people in every age.

JK Rowling has written an exciting story for us. But it’s just a story. The Bible is real and we are characters in its story. We have a far more deadly enemy than Lord Voldemort, but we have an infinitely greater hero than Harry Potter to look to.

(Adapted from an article by Rev. Warren Peel - with permission)