In my last post on this blog I wrote about the protection of The Lord. As Christians we are protected in many different ways, both physically protected and spiritually protected.
We do have a responsibility to not put ourselves into situations where we are in danger if we can, but that is not always possible. Often danger comes to us. Sometimes while we are among people or in unfamiliar places we may not be aware that danger is nearby.
This was the situation Paul found himself in after the ship he was travelling on was shipwrecked on the island of Malta. He was unaware that while doing the innocuous task of collecting firewood that a deadly viper, one of the most poisonous snakes in the world, would bite him and attach itself to his hand. What happened after this though is nothing short of miraculous for he did not die. And there is also another lesson we can take from this regarding other “snakes.”
In Paul’s case I am sure the bite from the snake was painful. But Paul simply shook off the snake into the fire and it was killed so that it could harm no one ever again.
The locals, and particularly those who did not speak Greek thought that Paul must have been a particularly evil person and that God was punishing him even though he had escaped the shipwreck. They expected Paul to suddenly swell up and die. But when nothing untoward happened after some time they then changed their opinion and thought he must have been a God.
Paul however relied upon the protection of The Lord for his safety and well being. He was no doubt aware of the words of The Lord Jesus Christ who said the following in Mark 16:17-18 as He ascended from the earth to heaven.
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
One of the signs that Jesus said would accompany those who believe was that if they picked up a serpent, as Paul had done accidentally while collecting firewood, that it would not harm them. Yes he was bitten, but not poisoned and so suffered no more than the sting of the puncture wounds from the snakes fangs.
As a side note I know of another christian who was similarly saved from a snake bite by the power and protection of The Lord. We were travelling together in the south west of Western Australia and this person was bitten on the leg by a highly venomous dugite snake. However they suffered no harm other than the two puncture wounds on the leg for the snake did not inject any venom when it bit.
So the protection of The Lord that occurred in Paul’s situation and the promise of The Lord concerning accidental danger is still working today.
Putting The Lord To The Test
One point that must be mentioned here is that although The Lord has promised these protections, we do NOT and must not put The Lord to the test.
It was written into the laws in the Books of Moses that we must not put God to the test, and even though we are set free from the law in Jesus Christ and the saving power of the grace of God through faith, we do not ignore the law. We may not be held under the law, but it still contains wisdom and is the minimum standard set by which God will judge the world.
Thus, you don’t go out looking for snakes and pick them up if you don’t know how to handle them. You don’t go and drink poisonous substances deliberately and expect The Lord to save you from poisoning.
There is a promise of His protection but we do not abuse the promise by putting God to the test.
The Great Serpent
Now another aspect of this we can consider is that the viper Paul threw into to the fire and defeated by the power and protection of The Lord can also be an analogy for the spiritual battle we fight.
When satan appeared to Eve in the garden of Eden, he came in the form of a serpent. He slithered up to a Eve and used his cunning to cause her along with Adam, to commit the first sin and so doom mankind to death.
That ancient serpent still plagues mankind today and it is his venom that defiles the world and the peoples of the world.
But like the serpent from which Paul was protected by The Lord, when we look to The Lord we are protected from the serpent named Satan. When we use the power of The Lord and are fully clothed in the armour of God we are able to stand and fight and be protected by the power of God to have victory over that ancient serpent.
As the scripture tells us in James 4:7-8,
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Why does the devil flee from us? Is it through anything that we can say or do that he flees? No. It is because he cannot stand to be in the presence of God and it is through drawing near to God that he flees. As we draw closer and closer to The Lord we are more and more protected by Him to be able to stand in the victory that Jesus Christ wrought in His sacrifice for our sins and the salvation He brought forth through by grace and through faith.
So the protection of The Lord is given even in spiritual matters which we do not and cannot see with our eyes. The protection of The Lord covers all aspects of our lives, whether physical or spiritual, and through the protection of The Lord we have the victory over satan, over sin and over the flesh.
Indeed like a physical snake bite from a venomous viper or any other venomous snake, which leads to either severe illness or death, Jesus saves us from the spiritual bite of the power of satan so that we do not suffer. The protection of The Lord is complete and total covering all aspects of our lives.
Learn it. Trust in The Lord to protect you and do not fear the slings and arrows of the evil one for The Lord knows those who are his and he will save them from all things.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng provided by Haakon Birkeland)
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