It was a chilly spring day as Jan and I were hiking in the woods not far from our home in Connecticut. Then we saw it: a blue and black snake in the middle of the trail. It was so cold; the cold-blooded snake was barely moving. Jan stooped down. “Can I touch it?” I wasn’t sure. I had never seen a snake precisely like this one. The diamond head looked like a poisonous rattler, but it had round eyes. The dangerous snakes I had seen had “squinty” eyes. I took my camera out and snapped several pictures; then, I moved close to try for a dramatic close-up. Jan reached out and touched its tail. That’s when I knew it wasn’t a friendly garden snake. As fast as lightning, it struck my lens, and Jan jumped so high the neighboring airport picked her up on radar. Here is my list of the top five snakes in the Bible.
5 – Brood of Vipers (Matthew chapters 3 and 23)
The fifth snake in our top five list isn’t a snake at all. It’s worse! John the Baptist and Jesus shared the same message in their preaching: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” They also loathed hypocrites whom they both called “You brood of vipers.”
4 – The Snake in the Parable (Matthew 7:10)
“Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?” A rock can resemble a biscuit (please, no comments about my baking!), and both fish and snakes have scales. The point Jesus is making is, God is a good Father and gives us good things. The Lord isn’t the source of the bad things in our lives!
3 – The Snake that Bit the Apostle (Acts 28:4)
A poisonous viper latches onto Paul’s hand as he makes a fire for the survivors of a shipwreck (Acts 28:4). Everyone expects him to die, but they have a new respect for him when he doesn’t. “The trouble for biblical interpreters today is, there are no poisonous snakes on Malta. So where did this snake come from, and how did the Maltese know the viper was deadly? According to The Times of Malta (February 19, 2014), the Islanders have several explanations.
One is that Paul’s preaching caused all the venomous creatures on the island to lose their venom. Another theory is the snake was the Leopard snake, Zamenis situla, which is venomous in southern Europe but not on Malta.” A third theory is the poisonous vipers on Malta have since gone extinct. The best explanation is, “The notorious horned viper, Vipera ammodytes is deadly and inhabits southern Europe and Turkey. It has been known to hitch a ride on ships and is an excellent swimmer, or it could have ridden one of the planks from Paul’s ship to shore. The islanders, who often traded with the mainland, would have instantly recognized the viper by its horns and reacted as Luke recorded in Acts.”
2 – Nehustan: The Bronze Serpent
The people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died (Numbers 21:4 – 6).
As a cure, the Lord had Moses make a bronze serpent and lift it up. When people were bitten, they could look to the serpent and be healed. Centuries later, that bronze serpent became an idol and had to be destroyed (2 Kings 18:4).
1 – The Serpent in the Garden
Without a doubt, the most famous serpent of all deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3). It was the devil incarnate.
Our blue snake turned out to be an Eastern Diamond Back, but my advice is still the same. Give serpents – especially talking snakes – a wide berth!