By L.B.S. (from Canada)
So often, when I went for a walk this past summer and when I would least expect it, a garter snake would writhe out of my way. Last spring, here in Canada, they slithered to the surface of the earth while the snow yet blanketed the ground. Many of them spent the winter in tunnels beneath the earth that the Richardson’s ground squirrels abundantly provided. The snakes would find their way to the surface of the earth and bask in patches of warmth on bright sunny days. When the weather became consistently warmer, they would venture further away from their winter refuges, and I would inevitably find them on paths, in the garden, or snaking their way through the grass.
I know that the garter snake poses little danger to humans, but they inevitably give me a start whenever they unexpectedly cross my path. I neither have much fear nor much affection for those legless reptiles with their red darting split tongue and foul odor, but I have known of friends and family who have such great fear of garter snakes that the sight of one elicits an almost uncontrollable panic response.
I am not sure how I would react to a truly dangerous and poisonous serpent. Would I be afraid of cobras, copperheads, rattlesnakes, water moccasins or coral snakes? Most likely.
The Israelites and Snakes
Lately I have been thinking a lot about the account in the Bible where the Israelites became discouraged when they were traversing through their forty-year stint in the wilderness. They were unthankful for the care that God wrought in their lives, and they focused on the things they did not have instead of all the blessings that God provided. Because of their unthankfulness, the Lord sent poisonous snakes that bit the people and caused their death. When they finally acknowledged their sin, they wanted God to take away the serpents, but God did not do that. Instead, He told Moses to set up a pole and put a brass serpent on it, and the people who had gotten the “sting of death” were to look at it for the venom’s antidote. All a man had to do if he had been bitten by a serpent was to look at that metal snake on a pole and he would live. God provided a simple temporal salvation from certain death, and all it required was obedience to his directive.
The Bible says it so succinctly but with brevity that speaks volumes:
And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. (Numbers 21:4-9)
The Israelites who had been bitten by serpents had the “sting of death,” but all they had to do was look up to a brass serpent on a pole and live! Did all who were bitten do that? Was it hard to look at a harmless brass snake on a pole and ignore all the problems that they had and all the snakes that were slithering all about administering that “sting of death”?
All they had to do was look at the snake on a pole; but in order to look at it, first they would have had to look away from all the real and present danger from all the real and imminently present dangerous snakes that licked the dust and writhed on scaly bellies. They would have to ignore everything around them and direct their gaze to that snake on a pole; but in order to do that, they must believe (have faith) that looking at the snake on a pole would save them.
The Antidote for the Sting of Death
Like the Israelites, we have all been stung with the “sting of death.” The Bible says, “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). It all started with a serpent, that old serpent, the Devil, in the garden of Eden. The poison was in his tongue, and it spewed venomous words. His words, “Yea, hath God said . . .?” (Genesis 3:1), those first subtly deceptive words meant to draw one away from the truth of God’s Word and into disobedience against Him, preceded the events that caused us to all be concluded in sin and destined to die an eternal death—except God Himself provides a worthy Savior who is plainly identified in Luke 2:11: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Oh what joy to us!
The sting of death now has a prescription for an antidote, easily accessed by everyone who seeks it:
But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (Galatians 3:22)
Just like those Israelites, we have a simple directive from God for our salvation. The following passage begins with the reference to Moses and the temporal brass serpent salvation and ends with one of the most famous verses of the Bible—John 3:16—and perfect eternal salvation:
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:14-16)
Today’s “Snakes in the Grass”
When I think about our present times, I think about “snakes in the grass” as being alarming, anxiety-causing distractions. Sometimes all we have to do is think that something is a “snake,” and the fear can be overwhelming. Look at what’s about us right now! We have wars and rumors of wars, we have pestilences, we have famines, and we have all kinds of weather events: droughts, floods, hot summers and lengthy winters, winds, and earthquakes and more; but we have always had those things. Here in Canada, we have troublesome and confusing laws and mandates—many times opposing biblical values— being implemented with alarming rapidity amid seemingly ineffective political opposition. We now also have horrific assaults being implemented upon our children: sometimes permanent bodily changes carried out by our “health care” system, sometimes exposure to things children should never be seeing or experiencing or learning about in our “educational systems” and other venues, and now there are murmurings of proposals that even children can access assisted suicide or be euthanized – possibly with consent as a mature minor or with NO consent to infants 0- 1 year. It reminds me of Isaiah 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
It seems we are dealing with a whole lot of “snakes in the grass” to keep people fearful and on edge. And it also sounds a whole lot like Matthew 24 (Mark 13 and Luke 21 too) with its warning of wars and rumors of wars, pestilences and persecutions, and it says that if God allowed all that to continue, no flesh would be saved.
Something More Important
Granted, all those things are bad, but apparently those things are not the worst things. Jesus prefaces his description of catastrophic occurrences described in Matthew 24 with this, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Why would Jesus precede an inventory of dire events with this warning? Was it more important? As bad as those catastrophic events are, is their real purpose there to distract us from our only true hope of salvation? I would hope that you would read this chapter of apparent doom and gloom carefully and hold it in your heart. Take heed of the warning and look for God’s redemption in it and wholly trust in him.
Many people know of the idea that the earth will have a one-world government possibly set up by a conspiracy of the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, and various globalist factions; and we hear of things like “you will own nothing and be happy” and it strikes fear into many a Christian heart. I cannot help but think that the following passage is a bit of a description of things to come:
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:7-8)
And I hope that I would be able to say like Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him (Job 13:15). And like Job, I must put my confidence in my Redeemer even though it would seem everything around me is crumbling. I hope I would also be able to declare, like Job, this conviction: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth “(Job 19:25).
Indeed, nearly a decade ago, I read a draft copy of local laws that were set to be passed in our area. When I researched them, I followed the authors all the way up to the United Nations and their Agenda 21 guidelines (now updated further). I admit I was incredibly fearful when I realized that the end-time events I had pushed to the back burner of my mind were real and happening. I even went to a municipal meeting and spoke up and told the councilors that these were really bad laws. The laws were mostly attacking property rights and the affordability of property ownership.
I do believe God helped stop those laws at that time, but whoever was behind it will keep trying. I finally realized that I should not be afraid of a godless one-world government. The Bible tells us that that government is going to fail and there will be a successful one-world government (if you will) established, but it will be our Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, who ultimately reigns, and we know that He will love and care for those who put their trust in him.
And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. (Zechariah 14:9)
Yes, we might have hard and trying times, but may the Lord help us to trust Him and endure unto the end. We are warned that we are going to have many and varied distractions and deceptions that try to shake that trust, but I would hope to remember that they are “snakes in the grass” and though they be all around us, our focus must be on trusting our only Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:4-7)
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord. (Psalm 31:24)
Also by L.B.S.
(painting from alamy.com; used with permission)