“THEY SHALL TAKE UP SERPENTS”
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
There are some Pentecostals who believe that Mark 16:18 gives them a mandate to “handle snakes”. These SNAKE-HANDLERS keep poisonous reptiles in cages and bring them out during their worship services and hold them aloft or drape them around their bodies in what they consider to be a manifestation of their faith.
What they are woefully ignorant of is that Jesus was not commanding his followers to “handle” snakes; rather, he was telling us that we should “take them up” and REMOVE THEM or DESTROY THEM. In the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul demonstrated this very clearly in the only place where the New Testament records a specific instance of interaction between a “believer” and a serpent.
3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
Why did the Lord single out the SERPENT when he listed the signs that would follow them that believe?
There are many hundreds and thousands of creatures that God created, yet this one creature stands out from all the rest as a SYMBOL of EVIL, and we are commanded by the Word of God to REMOVE and DESTROY it.
All throughout the scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, the SERPENT is connected with Satan and Evil.
In the Garden of Eden, Satan transformed himself into an “angel of light” and appeared to Eve in the form of a SERPENT.
2 Corinthians 11
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Several things should be noted here….
1. The SERPENT was chosen by SATAN to be his ANGEL OF LIGHT and use subtlety to deceive Eve.
2. Because of this, the SERPENT was specifically eternally cursed by God.
3. As a result of this DIVINE CURSE on the SERPENT, there is a perpetual ENMITY or STATE OF HOSTILITY between the children of the WOMAN and the offspring of the SERPENT.
Twice in the book of Revelation the Devil is called the SERPENT.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years….
God-fearing people should not keep snakes for pets, nor should they handle them during worship to show their faith. The SERPENT is shown throughout scripture to be a symbol of EVIL and TROUBLE and is always associated with Satan. God has forever cursed the SERPENT because of its deceptive nature in its role in the Fall of Man.
It should come as no surprise to learn that SNAKE WORSHIP has developed throughout the world because of man’s fascination with the SERPENT. The worship of serpent deities is present in several ancient cultures, particularly in religion and mythology, where snakes were seen as entities of strength and renewal.
[ see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_worship ]
Neither give place to the devil.
When you keep a snake for a pet or handle one in a religious service you are unwittingly opening a spiritual door for the devil to have access into your life. And you are “playing with” and “enjoying” something that God has cursed and intends for you to REMOVE and DESTROY.
Surely such behavior cannot be pleasing to God!
Pastor Tim Cormier
Apostolic Faith Tabernacle