Forests are places of transformation; you cannot leave unchanged. An innocent girl may emerge a valiant warrior, and a vicious wolf may depart as a fur coat. Journey into the woods with Red as she rises from the ashes of ignorance and victimhood to become a cunning adversary against the enemy. What does Red's story have to do with spiritual warfare? You'll just have to listen to find out.
**PG for brief thematic discussion**
Healing Through Communion
A Brief History of Velvet
Rise Above This: Episode 1
“Little Red Riding Hood”: I Know Things Now
Welcome to Lost in the Woods Fairy Tales ™. I’m your host, Autumn Woods, and I’m so excited you’re here. If you’re just joining us, this podcast is about uplifting women through fairy tales and scripture. The two may not seem connected, but stories have always been an effective tool in ministry. Jesus spoke in parables constantly to make the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven relatable to people on earth. He designed the stories so that those that have ears to hear would hear. I believe that we have continued to do the same, and that these fairy tales from childhood contain so many symbolic messages for God’s children, who are seeking to find their place in this world, struggling to understand their relationships with others, and boldly overcoming obstacles in it. If you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia, you’re my people! You understand that there are eternal truths in stories and archetypes that keep us coming back to them for reference and comfort well into adulthood. And that’s what this podcast is here to celebrate: the fact that we can see God’s true love for us and reflections of our Christian walk in fairy tales.
In each episode, I read a favorite fairy tale from my childhood that explores these ideas and then provide an analysis of the things that the story reveals to us from a Christian perspective. For the last two seasons, we’ve discussed what our role as ezer kenegdo looks like in marriage and community. We are fashioned by God to be complementing opposites to men, as in left and right shoes, and to be strong rescuers and warriors like our Heavenly Father, watching the backs of those in our charge and doing battle in the unseen realms. But what happens when you’re the one who needs an ezer? What happens when you can’t save yourself because you’ve never been equipped to handle a particularly monstrous situation, and you need help?
I’m all about empowering women to live their lives as God intended, and will never tell you that you need to wait on a man for permission to survive and thrive. Consequently, there is a slew of fairy tale lore that I have avoided analyzing with you until now. Until I had a better understanding of what those stories really had to say.
And then it dawned on me—what if some of the princes and woodsmen in these stories who help the heroines aren’t just human men, but types and shadows of God Almighty, the ultimate ezer for Whom we are named? What if these fairy tale rescues are a beautiful picture of Him saving His Beloved from sin and death; strengthening her so that she can find the courage to stand? Now that’s a theory I can get behind!
Our current season is called Rise Above This. Think of it as Lost and Found Revisited. In it, we’ll be covering stories of women who seem to be swallowed up by life, unable to rescue themselves from circumstances beyond their control, until they are given the chance to learn from their mistakes and find the courage to rise above the past, seizing new life with both hands.
Our first story this season is “Little Red Riding Hood,” by the Brothers Grimm. We’re taken on the journey with Red as she rises from the ashes of ignorance and victimhood to become a cunning adversary against the enemy.
So, let’s get lost, as we read the story of (Little Red Riding Hood).
Once upon a time there was a dear little girl who was loved by every one who looked at her, but most of all by her grandmother, and there was nothing that she would not have given to the child. Once she gave her a little cap of red velvet, which suited her so well that she would never wear anything else. So she was always called Little Red Riding Hood.
One day her mother said to her, "Come, Little Red Riding Hood, here is a piece of cake and a bottle of wine. Take them to your grandmother, she is ill and weak, and they will do her good. Set out before it gets hot, and when you are going, walk nicely and quietly and do not run off the path, or you may fall and break the bottle, and then your grandmother will get nothing. And when you go into her room, don't forget to say, good-morning, and don't peep into every corner before you do it."
I will take great care, said Little Red Riding Hood to her mother, and gave her hand on it.
The grandmother lived out in the wood, half a league from the village, and just as Little Red Riding Hood entered the wood, a wolf met her. Little Red Riding Hood did not know what a wicked creature he was, and was not at all afraid of him.
"Good-day, Little Red Riding Hood," said he.
"Thank you kindly, wolf."
"Whither away so early, Little Red Riding Hood?"
"To my grandmother's."
"What have you got in your apron?"
"Cake and wine. Yesterday was baking-day, so poor sick grandmother is to have something good, to make her stronger."
"Where does your grandmother live, Little Red Riding Hood?"
"A good quarter of a league farther on in the wood. Her house stands under the three large oak-trees, the nut-trees are just below. You surely must know it," replied Little Red Riding Hood.
The wolf thought to himself, "What a tender young creature. What a nice plump mouthful, she will be better to eat than the old woman. I must act craftily, so as to catch both." So he walked for a short time by the side of Little Red Riding Hood, and then he said, "see Little Red Riding Hood, how pretty the flowers are about here. Why do you not look round. I believe, too, that you do not hear how sweetly the little birds are singing. You walk gravely along as if you were going to school, while everything else out here in the wood is merry."
Little Red Riding Hood raised her eyes, and when she saw the sunbeams dancing here and there through the trees, and pretty flowers growing everywhere, she thought, suppose I take grandmother a fresh nosegay. That would please her too. It is so early in the day that I shall still get there in good time. And so she ran from the path into the wood to look for flowers. And whenever she had picked one, she fancied that she saw a still prettier one farther on, and ran after it, and so got deeper and deeper into the wood.
Meanwhile the wolf ran straight to the grandmother's house and knocked at the door.
"Who is there?"
"Little Red Riding Hood," replied the wolf. "She is bringing cake and wine. Open the door."
"Lift the latch," called out the grandmother, "I am too weak, and cannot get up."
The wolf lifted the latch, the door sprang open, and without saying a word he went straight to the grandmother's bed, and devoured her. Then he put on her clothes, dressed himself in her cap, laid himself in bed and drew the curtains.
Little Red Riding Hood, however, had been running about picking flowers, and when she had gathered so many that she could carry no more, she remembered her grandmother, and set out on the way to her.
She was surprised to find the cottage-door standing open, and when she went into the room, she had such a strange feeling that she said to herself, oh dear, how uneasy I feel to-day, and at other times I like being with grandmother so much.
She called out, "Good morning," but received no answer. So she went to the bed and drew back the curtains. There lay her grandmother with her cap pulled far over her face, and looking very strange.
"Oh, grandmother," she said, "what big ears you have."
"The better to hear you with, my child," was the reply.
"But, grandmother, what big eyes you have," she said.
"The better to see you with, my dear."
"But, grandmother, what large hands you have."
"The better to hug you with."
"Oh, but, grandmother, what a terrible big mouth you have."
"The better to eat you with."
And scarcely had the wolf said this, than with one bound he was out of bed and swallowed up Little Red Riding Hood.
When the wolf had appeased his appetite, he lay down again in the bed, fell asleep and began to snore very loud. The huntsman was just passing the house, and thought to himself, how the old woman is snoring. I must just see if she wants anything.
So he went into the room, and when he came to the bed, he saw that the wolf was lying in it. "Do I find you here, you old sinner," said he. "I have long sought you."
Then just as he was going to fire at him, it occurred to him that the wolf might have devoured the grandmother, and that she might still be saved, so he did not fire, but took a pair of scissors, and began to cut open the stomach of the sleeping wolf.
When he had made two snips, he saw the Little Red Riding Hood shining, and then he made two snips more, and the little girl sprang out, crying, "Ah, how frightened I have been. How dark it was inside the wolf."
And after that the aged grandmother came out alive also, but scarcely able to breathe. Little Red Riding Hood, however, quickly fetched great stones with which they filled the wolf's belly, and when he awoke, he wanted to run away, but the stones were so heavy that he collapsed at once, and fell dead.
Then all three were delighted. The huntsman drew off the wolf's skin and went home with it. The grandmother ate the cake and drank the wine which Little Red Riding Hood had brought, and revived, but Little Red Riding Hood thought to herself, as long as I live, I will never by myself leave the path, to run into the wood, when my mother has forbidden me to do so.
It is also related that once when Little Red Riding Hood was again taking cakes to the old grandmother, another wolf spoke to her, and tried to entice her from the path. Little Red Riding Hood, however, was on her guard, and went straight forward on her way, and told her grandmother that she had met the wolf, and that he had said good-morning to her, but with such a wicked look in his eyes, that if they had not been on the public road she was certain he would have eaten her up. "Well," said the grandmother, "we will shut the door, that he may not come in."
Soon afterwards the wolf knocked, and cried, "open the door, grandmother, I am Little Red Riding Hood, and am bringing you some cakes."
But they did not speak, or open the door, so the grey-beard stole twice or thrice round the house, and at last jumped on the roof, intending to wait until Little Red Riding Hood went home in the evening, and then to steal after her and devour her in the darkness. But the grandmother saw what was in his thoughts. In front of the house was a great stone trough, so she said to the child, take the pail, Little Red Riding Hood. I made some sausages yesterday, so carry the water in which I boiled them to the trough. Little Red Riding Hood carried until the great trough was quite full. Then the smell of the sausages reached the wolf, and he sniffed and peeped down, and at last stretched out his neck so far that he could no longer keep his footing and began to slip, and slipped down from the roof straight into the great trough, and was drowned. But Little Red Riding Hood went joyously home, and no one ever did anything to harm her again.
Take a minute to get all of the Sondheim songs out of your system and let’s get ready for the analysis. Don’t wander away from the campfire. We’re about to shed some light on the incredible treasure hidden in this story.
We begin with the heroine. She lives a beautiful but sheltered life. Everyone who sees her loves her, meaning that she has not been presented with the challenges of anyone despising her or wishing to do her harm. She is untested in the ways of the world. In early childhood, many of us have a phase like this, where we know we are loved and adored and delighted in. It doesn’t occur to us that our destruction could bring anyone happiness. The same can be true in our spiritual walks. We can be so enamored with God and thrilled that He loves us that we don’t always stop to consider the enemy lurking around every corner, waiting for an opportune time to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10).
To show her affection for the girl, Grandmother gives her a beautiful red velvet cloak which suits her so well that it becomes part of her identity. What her name was when the story began, we will never know, because from this moment on, the young woman is given a new name: Little Red Riding Hood. A name change signals an entrance into covenant with God, as seen through the lives of Abraham, Sarah, and Israel. The girl has been inwardly and outwardly marked as His through the acceptance of salvation. Red symbolizes passion, love, blood, anger, the covering of the Blood of Jesus, danger, warning, and the transition from child to woman. All of these are pertinent to the story. Red Riding Hood is growing up girl in a loving environment meant to protect her from danger. But no one can smother the transition from girl to woman under a blanket of good intentions. Recognizing this, Grandmother presents her with the red cloak as a sign of goodwill, generously welcoming Red into this new phase of life. She does not shame her granddaughter or try to compete with her, like the evil queen in Snow White. Instead, she gives her a gift meant to celebrate Red’s first steps into the country of womanhood.
The shedding of childhood is one of the trickiest times in a woman’s life because of the vulnerabilities brought on by changes in the mind, body and heart. Our inner life becomes divided into shouldn’ts and shoulds. To some extent, this is a result of sifting, putting “the good into the pot, the bad into the crop,” as we use our discernment and limited experience to make choices about how we will and will not live. Much of it, however, results from the need of people who are fearful of and threatened by us to have a measure of control over the wildness and untapped potential radiating from our very presence. Women are told—sometimes in the same breath—that not only are we uncontrollably dangerous; we are also subject to uncontrollable dangers. Because of incorrect teaching, the underlying message we receive is that we are a natural stumbling block for men and that these same men cannot help taking advantage of us. Lies! These messages demonize and divide men and women, and underestimate the transformative power of God’s love in our lives.
I’ll set the record straight right here. You are dangerous—to the enemy of your soul. You, as a daughter of God, have been given authority to trample serpents and scorpions, cast out demons, overcome all the power of the enemy, and lay hands on the sick and watch them recover (Matthew 10:1; Luke 10:19). Your choice to pledge your allegiance to God through Jesus Christ is the ultimate act of rebellion against the kingdom of darkness. It is your once and future destiny to overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of your testimony (Revelation 12:11). And while the search for truth and stability during your physical and spiritual development can make you vulnerable to enemy attacks, “greater is He that is in [you] than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). “In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer, [Jesus has] overcome the world” (John 16:33). No matter what the enemy throws at us, we are destined to triumph as long as we cling to Jesus, the Living Word of God, our best offense and defense in battle. When we talk to each other and the ones coming up behind us about our lives as women and the dangers our tender hearts will face in this world, we need to make it a spiritual conversation first. More on that later.
Back to the red cape. Grandmother’s gift of a beautiful garment marks our heroine as favored and destined for an early trial of her faith. As mentioned in “Thousandfurs,” both Joseph and Tamar each received a costly outer garment, a ketonet passim, from their parents as symbols of favor, authority, and purity before undergoing the most difficult seasons of their lives. These coats would have been expensive to make because of all of the dyes and embroidery involved, not to mention the extra fabric needed for their longer sleeves. Until the 18th century, only the wealthy had access to velvet. Although technological innovations made the creation and possession of the fabric more widely available by the time the Brothers Grimm collected this story, velvet still carried an air of prestige because of the amount of piled silk used to craft it (A Brief History of Velvet). Whether she made or purchased the cloak, it would have cost Grandmother dearly to produce a garment long enough to cover her granddaughter head to toe. Similarly, our freedom in Christ was paid for dearly with His life. We are covered head to toe in the spirit by the blood of the last Passover lamb. Like Little Red Riding hood’s cloak, this coverage serves as both a warning and a challenge to the kingdom of darkness.
Unfortunately, Little Red Riding Hood has not developed the discernment she needs in order to survive in her new stage of life. Her recent salvation and maturation are being boldly advertised by her red mantle, but she does not know how to properly defend herself and exercise her authority when challenges and temptations arrive as a result of these declarations. It seems that no one has taught her much beyond how to be polite and pleasing. To be fair, up till now, she’s only known love and confidence. There hasn’t been much need for alertness and tactical training against the enemy. When Red’s mother tells her to bring Grandmother cake and wine to help her recuperate from illness, she gives her instructions about how to walk and behave on her trip, and while informative, her commands are incomplete. From a surface level, her mother is admonishing her not to be rowdy or rude and risk ruining the meal or offending Grandmother. She focuses more on the importance of being a good girl than on preparing her daughter for the possible perils of the forest.
Conversely, simply warning Little Red Riding Hood against talking to strangers in case they mean her harm, as Perrault does in his version, is not enough either. The fact is that at some point, everyone has to talk to a stranger. Many people in my generation struggle to have interactions with strangers face to face and over the phone because we were not taught that there is an art to doing it safely. It’s a little friendly politeness and confidence mixed with a whole lot of discernment. We are meant to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). Red needs to know the truth and have practical strategies in place to cope with potential disasters. She needs to understand that while not everyone is out to get her, not everyone means her well, either. Like all children of God, she has an enemy. And he’ll use anyone who makes themself available for his destructive purposes. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). If her mother had taught her these things, she would not be so helpless. She would be careful where she puts her trust while not allowing the fear of the unknown stop her from living her life.
On a deeper level, the mother’s instructions do speak to the spiritual aspect of Red’s mission, but again, they are incomplete. The cake and wine in her apron represent communion, the symbolic body and blood of Christ given for us and poured out for the forgiveness of our sins (Luke 22:19-20). Communion is referred to as the “meal that heals.” We take it as a reminder that Jesus’ suffering and death exchanges our sickness for His “wholeness, because all [our] diseases were placed on Him. He paid the price for [our] wholeness” and we no longer have to be sick (Linda Josef, “Healing Through Communion”). The specific elements do not matter—water, grape juice, bread, crackers—it’s your faith as you meditate on the reality of what Jesus did for you as you take the elements that makes you well. Red’s mother has faith that Grandmother will regain her health and strength by partaking of the bread and wine in Red’s apron. By the end of the story, we see that this is true.
The path Little Red Riding Hood must take to her grandmother’s house represents her walk as a believer. She is meant to stay on the straight and narrow way so that she does not fall and break the wine bottle, ruining her witness with reckless disobedience. Her mother tells her to walk nicely and quietly on her way. As one of my good friends says, niceness is not a fruit of the spirit. But let’s look at the word quiet. Remember that, as we discussed in “Katherine Crackernuts,” the word quiet doesn’t always mean never voicing your opinion or speaking up for yourself. In many instances, as in 1 Peter 3:4, having a “quiet spirit,” hesuchios, refers to being still and settled, with a divine calm, and having no need to stir up trouble (HELPS Word-studies). Looking at it this way, Red’s mother is encouraging her to not be covetous for anything that would deter her from the path and her mission. There is no need to go looking for trouble. The best thing she can do is go straight to Grandmother’s house and minister to her, greeting her to let her know that someone trustworthy who loves her has come to take care of her.
All of this is right and crucial, but there is still something missing. Little Red Riding Hood has been instructed on how to govern herself without being given the full reason why, and is unprepared for the possibility of enemy ambush. Ill-informed and only slightly armored, she gravely promises to obey her mother, and sets off for the dark forest.
A strange phenomenon has been occurring in the church. Many Christians are not being made aware of the reality of the spiritual realm, and consequently, the importance of spiritual warfare. Parts of the body of Christ are asleep, numbed to the threats surrounding us by the steady normalization of the occult in our day to day lives. We’ve even begun to make friends with these dangerous materials and theories, and encourage our children to enjoy the deception with us. There are franchises, philosophies, songs, and games that seem innocuous to us, but in reality, their roots lie in the occult. They are open doors for the enemy—and we are the ones who have unwittingly propped them open.
If you ask Him, the Holy Spirit will gently convict you of anything you’ve allowed to come between the two of you. I’ve had it happen a few times this year myself. The reason that these occult materials are so perilous, is that by allowing them in your home, heart, and mind, you are giving the enemy permission to come have a say in your life. Whether you realize it or not, you are partnering with him.
That’s why we’re told, “above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). What has our heart has us. We are meant to love the Lord our God with all our hearts. If you’ve promised Him your heart, don’t share it with His enemy. 1 John 4:1-3 says,
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God… By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.”
One of the most important skills we can develop and sharpen in ourselves and other believers is discernment. It helps keep us safe and alert; ready to receive instruction from the Lord and equipped to know how to thwart or take down an enemy threat. Snug in her loving, safe environment, Little Red Riding Hood has been allowed to remain ignorant. She has not grown up with this kind of training, and will have to learn it the hard way. A little danger is needed to bring out the best in us, and sometimes it begins by showcasing us at our worst. Forests are places of transformation, and Red cannot be allowed to leave the same as she was when she entered.
As soon as she crosses the threshold into the woods, she encounters a wolf. Like Eve when she met Satan masquerading as a snake, Red doesn’t know to be wary of the wolf. She isn’t surprised that he knows her name and even exchanges pleasantries with him, innocently giving him personal information as if they are old friends. We are told that the wolf meets her as soon as she enters the forest. That implies that he has been waiting, lurking, seeking some unsuspecting creature to devour. I’m using this language intentionally to reinforce the idea that the wolves in this story represent Satan and his demons. We are all aware of the sexual implications of this tale, especially as indicated by the Charles Perrault version and it’s ancestor, “The False Grandmother.” This is not what we’re discussing. My goal is not to demonize and divide men and women, but to remind us who are true enemies are: the evil ones who inspire depraved acts and paralyzing fear in the hearts of men and women. Rape is demonic. Paralyzing fear is demonic. This is why I say that the perils of growing up girl need to be discussed from a spiritual aspect first. We pray for persecutors, captors, attackers, and abusers, because they are lost people whose hearts God longs to restore. But we come out guns blazing against the kingdom of darkness.
There is an entire chapter in Ephesians devoted to describing the enemy’s key players and instructing us on how to arm and defend ourselves against them. Paul says in chapter 6 verse 12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” How do we combat these unseen foes? By “[being] strong in the Lord and in the power of His might; [putting] on… the whole armor of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (v. 11; 13). We are meant to protect our vulnerable places with the belt of truth, our hearts with the breastplate of righteousness, our feet with the sandals of the preparation of the gospel of peace, our minds with the helmet of salvation, and our entire selves and those around us with faith, prayer, and the awesome Word of God (v. 14-18). The war is already won. That alone should give us the godly confidence to never shrink away from battle.
By the end of the story, Red will have learned some of this, but let’s go back to where she is now, smiling innocently into the face of the villainous wolf. She freely tells him that she is visiting her sick grandmother and bringing her cake and wine. She even gives the wolf directions to Grandmother’s house. I will say, however, that her description of the trees around Grandmother’s house is particularly interesting. We know that the nut trees are likely hazelnut trees, indicating wisdom. The three large oaks towering over them remind us again of the Trinity and the unbending strength of our God. These symbols indicate that Grandmother is a believer. The enemy’s goal is to wear believers out until we are useless, and then pounce. Grandmother’s misery and dulled senses will render her less alert to danger lurking outside her door. This sick, weak woman is easy prey for the wolf.
That is, as long as Red doesn’t arrive in time to revive her with encouragement and strength. Greedily, the wolf ponders how to lure Little Red Riding Hood off the path long enough to let him catch Granny while tricking the girl into becoming his next meal. If you’ve ever been around someone thoroughly in league with the kingdom of darkness, you will notice that they are excellent cold readers and manipulators. The devil is not a creative person. He’ll use the same tricks again and again to twist people into giving him what he wants. Here, we see the wolf using a variant of the Eden formula to distract Red from her purpose, leaving Granny unprotected and letting down her own guard. Walking beside the girl, the wolf takes one look at the contrast between Red’s careful, purposeful stride and her exuberant face encased in her flaming red cloak, and knows just what button to push.
Bypassing the “Did God really say…” portion of the trap, he instead jumps straight to creating the illusion of lack and deprivation, the idea that Red’s powerful, wild nature is being cheated by the limitations of her obedience. He points out the beauty of more that the young woman has been ignoring as she steadfastly remains on the path. In so many words, he accuses her of snubbing the abundant beauty of nature around her and denying her own wild nature. It’s all right here for her to enjoy—the birds, flowers, trees and sunshine—but she is too serious and dedicated to stop and appreciate them. “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of [the fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” hisses the accuser to Eve in Genesis 3:4-5. In two simple sentences, the enemy implied to the crown of creation that she was less than, that God was lying and holding out on her, and that she had the power to take hold of all that was being denied to her and come out god-like. You’ve heard me say this before and I’ll say it again—she was already like God! She and Adam had the honor of being the first creatures in the garden made in God’s image. Satan was trying to sell her what she already had; to create a need where there had been none before so that she would gratefully snatch up his offer, unwittingly forfeiting her freedom, giving him dominion over the earth, and wounding the heart of God. Similarly, the wolf knows that if he can trick Red into hunting for missing beauty and rejuvenation—which she already had in her heart and her apron pockets—she will forget her mission and give him the opportunity to destroy her and her family.
Flowers, birds, and trees are not bad things. They are here for us to enjoy. But in this case, they are being used as a tool of manipulation. Our heroine could have stopped to admire these things after visiting her grandmother. It’s the forest. The trees and flowers aren’t going to run away. But, like Eve, she begins to rationalize the wolf’s implication and justify disobeying her mother. Surely Grandmother could benefit from her selfishness, too. Fresh flowers are great for cheering people up. Forbidden fruit is pleasing to the eye and looks perfectly edible from this side of the tree. Don’t think I’m bashing them. I’ve been right where they are. And chances are, you have too. It’s frighteningly effortless to listen to the enemy’s lie, internalize it as truth, and run with it as if it was our own idea. While Red wanders through the woods gathering flowers, the wolf dashes off to complete phase one of his wicked plan.
As expected, in her weakened state, Grandmother is fooled by the wolf’s imitation of her granddaughter, lets him in the house, and is swiftly devoured. Then, the wolf dons Grandmother’s clothes, climbs into bed, and lies in wait for Little Red Riding Hood. You’ve heard of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and that Satan masquerades as an angel of light, only to reveal his true nature later (2 Corinthians 11:14). The wolf has already pretended to be a concerned friend to destroy what Red holds dear. Now, he disguises himself as what she holds dear to destroy her.
At last, Little Red Riding Hood remembers why she came to the woods in the first place, and hurries to her grandmother’s house. When she arrives, the door is wide open. A prickly feeling surges through her skin. Something is wrong. Not only would Grandmother never leave the door ajar like that; the very atmosphere of the room has changed. It’s dark and eerie. Death and destruction are curled up in the bed. This is usually a happy place for her. Now, she wants to turn and run. Her discernment is tremulously testing its legs for the first time, wobbling as it tries to reconcile itself to the concept of planting its feet on solid ground. Red says good morning, but no one answers. She pulls back the bed curtains and is startled by the strangeness of the figure inside shrouded in Grandmother’s clothes.
Recalling the truths she knows about Grandmother’s appearance, she tests the person in the bed, remarking on all of the things that don’t match up. The cunning wolf has a pert and ready answer for each one, even when she hits the nail on the head and mentions his big, terrible mouth. By then, it’s too late. She has entertained the wolf rather than trying to evict him, kill him, or run and call for backup. Unable to escape, she, too, is swallowed by the wolf. The demonic will prey on families, resulting in what many of us call a generational curse. If one generation was too weak to fight against a demonic stronghold, chances are they didn’t teach their children or grandchildren to overcome it either. As a result, the newer generations suffer the consequences of pet sins and unhealed hurts. Look at all the ups and downs in Kings and Chronicles for further proof. No one taught Red to be wise and cunning when dealing with people she doesn’t know, or how to defend herself when trouble comes. It’s a fair guess then, that neither her mother nor her grandmother have been able to get a handle on these lessons for themselves.
God is relational. He loves families and that’s why the devil delights in destroying them. But often, a curse breaker will rise up. Someone who refuses to entertain the snares that have plagued his or her family. They clean house and destroy the ties to false gods, rededicating themselves and their environment to the Great I AM. And nobody did that better than God Himself, through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus. He smashed the shackles of sin and death, giving prodigal humanity the chance to repent and come back to our Father’s arms. In our story, the Christ figure and redeemer is the huntsman. As he passes by Grandmother’s house, he hears terrible snoring and decides to come check on the old woman. Inside, he finds the engorged wolf sprawled in Granny’s bed. We learn that the huntsman has been hunting the “old sinner” a long time and is eager to be rid of him at last. But he puts down his gun when he realizes that in order to take possession of the house, the wolf must have eaten Grandmother.
Determined to set her free, the huntsman snatches a pair of scissors and snips four deft cuts into the wolf’s stomach. Four is a number of government and order. The huntsman is taking back the authority stolen by the enemy and restoring it to its rightful owner. By being born in human form under the devil’s dominion, becoming a sinless living sacrifice to God, passing every test that we failed in the garden, and bearing our transgressions into death, Jesus restored to mankind the authority we lost in Eden. “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18-19).
The blood of Jesus marks us as participants in and recipients of the new covenant. It reminds the Lord that we are His. When we stumble, there is grace. And as long as we belong to Him, He will rescue us. The red cloak bursting forth from the wolf’s body after two snips alerts the huntsman to Little Red Riding Hood’s predicament. Two more snips, and Red leaps out of her dark prison, Grandmother following close behind. Remember that two is the number of judgement and discernment. Two cuts have been made for each woman to secure their liberation from darkness, fear, and death. While Grandmother regains her bearings, Little Red Riding Hood dashes out of the house, returning with several heavy stones, which they all shove into the wolf’s stomach before sewing him up. When he wakes up and tries to run away, the stones slam him down to the floor, killing him instantly.
You’ll remember that this is the fate of the wolf in “The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids” as well, and for exactly the same reasons. Jesus says in Luke 17:2, “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin." Like the enemy, the wolf deceived Little Red Riding Hood, luring her away from the narrow path. The law was written in stone in the Old Testament, and for committing a capital crime like cold-blooded murder, a person would be stoned to death (Leviticus 24:17). The charge had to be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses before the sentence could be carried out. As there are three people in the house, no further evidence is needed. Because the wolf is unrepentant, he is judged under the old covenant of the law. No mercy, grace or second chances. The same is true for the devil. God will punish the him at the end of all things, casting him into the lake of fire to be tormented forever for his crimes against heaven and earth (Revelation 20:10).
Stones were also used as markers of covenants and miraculous encounters with God. They were altars to Him and His glory. By zealously piling the stones inside the wolf, Red rejects the agreements she has made with darkness and marks the day of her merciful rescue by the huntsman. From now on, she will exercise good judgement. She is resolved to remain on the path and never leave it by herself because she now understands the dire consequences she and those closest to her may face.
Everyone joyfully walks away with a trophy from this experience. The huntsman takes the wolf’s pelt as a testament to his prowess and a warning to any other vicious creature intent on harming those in his charge. Grandmother takes the bread and wine and receives her healing. And Red gains wisdom and discernment. She knows things now. Many valuable things. The huntsman’s rescue has given her a second chance at life and proof that the enemy can be defeated. The next time danger crosses her path, it had better watch out for her.
Both Little Red Riding Hood and Grandmother are given an opportunity to put their new skills into practice. Soon after this, a second wicked wolf stops the young woman on her way to Grandmother’s house and brazenly tempts her to leave the path. Wisely, she refuses to speak to him and keeps on walking. When she arrives at Grandmother’s house, she bolts the door behind her and tells her what happened. Together, the women agree to keep the wolf out of the house and concoct a plan to dispatch him once and for all. Sure enough, the wolf knocks at the door and imitates Red’s voice, trying to deceive Grandmother into opening the door. But she’s not falling for it. Foiled, the wolf stalks around the house, looking for another entrance. Finding none, he leaps onto the roof, planning to follow our heroine home and “devour her in the darkness.” But Grandmother “[sees] what [is] in his thoughts.” Immediately, she instructs Red to fill the large trough standing in front of the house with water from the sausages she made the day before. Red fills it to the brim and slips back into the house to wait. As intended, the wolf is drawn to the edge of the roof by the smell of the sausage until he loses his balance and tumbles into the trough, where he drowns.
The prayers of a righteous person avail much, so if you can get another believer to be in agreement with you that’s even better (James 5:16).
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven… if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:18-20).
You should always be able to do spiritual warfare on your own, but having a partner means that someone is watching your back. Each person brings their own knowledge and experience to the table. What you miss, your partner will catch, and vice versa. Red and Grandmother are in agreement that evil cannot enter the house, nor will it be permitted to come after them or thrive in the area under their charge. Water represents spirit, and meat, the deep wisdom that comes from both understanding and experiencing the Word of God (Hebrews 5:12). Evil cannot stand the full power of the Holy Spirit and the Word spoken in faith. It must be quenched, like fiery darts coming into contact with a shield soaked in water. In effect, the sausage water that drowns the wolf is symbolic of the women praying against the enemy, dismantling his wicked schemes through faith and rejecting any opportunity for evil to gain a foothold over their lives. The generational curse is broken. They have learned from their mistakes, accepted their freedom, and are free indeed.
I love the final line of this translation: “But Little Red Riding Hood went joyously home, and no one ever did anything to harm her again.” Most versions say that she never did anything to harm anyone again, but that’s not as powerful to me. If no one is able to harm her again, that means she continues to grow wiser and stronger, becoming a bigger threat to the enemy as she joyfully matures into the woman God made her to be. Let’s live out that ending together, learning from our mistakes, handling life better the next time around, and accepting our freedom. Because the Son has set us free, we are free indeed. Rise above the ashes of your past, and step forward into God’s perfect love, fearlessly living out the destiny of who He has called you to be.
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