Why I Don’t Like Snakes

I have a vegan friend who is a true animal lover. She has rescued many of God’s creatures. This woman dares to go where no sane person (speaking completely for myself) has gone before. She has rescued dogs, cats, a serval, owls, turtles, a pelican, and….wait for it…snakes.

Why did it have to be snakes?

She keeps a chicken enclosure in her large back yard, and she loves and protects her chickens from all manners of evil. One morning at feeding time she realized that a snake, attracted by their eggs, had entrapped itself in the protective fence. Now any sane person would have called the local “Critter Gitter” (we have one on the Outer Banks) to remove said snake, or would have killed it and disentangled its lifeless body. Not this girl. She worked for an hour to slowly untangle it, and then she set it free.

My dislike of snakes is Biblical. I contend that after what happened in the Garden of Eden, we are all predisposed to not like snakes. Prove me wrong!

Genesis 3 (The Common English Bible)

During that day’s cool evening breeze, they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden; and the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God in the middle of the garden’s trees. The Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

We have to stop there to observe a few things. First, how lovely that must have been! The evening offered a cool breeze, God was present, the man and the woman stood among the garden’s beautiful trees….and then came the question. “Where are you?” God inquires.

How many times has God asked you that? In the middle of some place where you should not have been, engaging in some activity you should not have participated in, have you not also heard God asking, “Where are you?” Of course it probably didn’t sound as much like God’s voice as it did your own, coming from somewhere in the back of your mind…which is much easier to ignore. God speaks to us through our conscience. When we rationalize and justify our sinful behavior, we are ignoring the voice of God.

Having been caught with their pants down (as it were), the man and the woman started the blame-casting:

10 The man replied, “I heard your sound in the garden; I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree, which I commanded you not to eat?”

12 The man said, “The woman you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.”

13 The Lord God said to the woman, “What have you done?!”

And the woman said, “The snake tricked me, and I ate.”

It’s God’s fault for giving the woman to the man. It’s the woman’s fault for giving the fruit to man. It’s the snake’s fault for tricking the woman….oy vey. Notice that neither the man nor the woman takes responsibility for having eaten the fruit.

One thing is certain: we haven’t evolved much since the Garden, have we? All you have to do is turn on the news and you’ll see a lot of finger-pointing that dominates the air time. Rarely do we see people taking responsibility for their own behavior.

14 The Lord God said to the snake,

“Because you did this,
    you are the one cursed
        out of all the farm animals,
        out of all the wild animals.
    On your belly you will crawl,
        and dust you will eat
        every day of your life.

15 I will put contempt between you and the woman,
    between your offspring and hers.
They will strike your head,
        but you will strike at their heels.”

So the snake takes the first fall, and humanity falls next. The concept of “original sin” points to the innate tendency we all have to sin, and traces back to Adam and Eve’s first sin and subsequent dismissal from the garden.

We also are asked, “Where are YOU?” God calls us to take responsibility for our actions and sinful behavior, and to stop trying to blame people or circumstances for our decisions. And when we do, the offer of absolution of our guilt is always there in the presence of Jesus. When you own up to your sins and ask for forgiveness, you are GUARANTEED to receive it.

Don’t let sin entrap you for one more day. Untangle yourself from its grip and let God set you free.

Snake Handlin’ by Wende Pritchard

Whatcha Lookin’ At?

If this were a Bible class and you were reading from the Bible in your hands, I would have you take out a highlighter and highlight every time the word “see” or “saw” appears in this passage. Since you are reading it online, use your imaginary highlighter instead!

Genesis 3 (The Message)

3 The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal God had made. He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”

2-3 The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’”

4-5 The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”

When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.

Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.

See/saw/sinned/sewed. It was a quick downhill slide! And that LYING snake, twisting God’s words for the first of many, many times. But I want us to focus on how “seeing” is the first step in the downhill slide of sinning.

When the Woman SAW that the tree LOOKED like good eating….it started with that. Eve looked at something she was told to pass by, but instead she stopped to contemplate it. Every sin we willingly participate in begins the same way. Adultery, lust, coveting, greed, stealing, killing, etc. all begins with looking at something we can’t have, and taking it anyway.

When the forbidden fruit was consumed, the two of them did “SEE what’s really going on-SAW themselves naked! So once the covenant with God was broken, the cover-up began. The lies took over, the shame took hold, and the trust was fractured. Sin replaced love as they tried to hide from the Father. Aren’t we just like that? When the threat of exposure of our sins takes hold, we lie through our teeth to try to prevent everyone knowing what we’ve done and who we truly are.

So the question for us this Lent morning is, what are you looking at? What’s in your hand? What temptation has Satan put in your view that is calling you to sin against God?

Look away. You can avoid the whole downward spiral right now by looking away, walking away, and telling Satan to beat it.

Tempting Apples by Becca Ziegler