What did God say about snakes in the Bible?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

In the Bible, God mentions snakes multiple times and provides guidance regarding their significance and how they should be perceived. Let’s explore some of these instances:

1. The Garden of Eden: In the book of Genesis, we learn about the story of Adam and Eve. Satan, disguised as a serpent, tempts Eve to eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. This act leads to the Fall of Man and the introduction of sin into the world. As a consequence, God curses the serpent, saying, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:14). This curse highlights the lowly nature of snakes and their association with deception and evil.

2. The Bronze Snake in the Wilderness: The passage you mentioned occurs in the book of Numbers. The Israelites, while wandering in the wilderness, began to speak out against God and Moses. As a punishment, God sent venomous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. When the people repented and sought God’s forgiveness, He instructed Moses to make a bronze snake and place it on a pole. Those who were bitten could look at the bronze snake and be healed. This event serves as a powerful symbol of faith and obedience to God’s instructions.

3. Jesus’ Teachings: In the New Testament, Jesus referred to snakes on several occasions to convey spiritual lessons. In Matthew 10:16, Jesus tells his disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Here, he encourages them to be shrewd and discerning in their interactions with others, while remaining innocent and pure. Jesus also mentions snakes when explaining the power of faith in Mark 16:18, saying, “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them.”

4. The Symbolism of Satan: In the book of Revelation, Satan is depicted as a great dragon and a serpent. Revelation 12:9 states, “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” This imagery emphasizes the association of snakes with evil and the deceiver.

God’s perspective on snakes in the Bible portrays them as creatures that carry symbolic meaning, often associated with deception, evil, and the consequences of sin. However, God also demonstrates His power to heal and protect through the account of the bronze snake in the wilderness. It is important to understand these references in their context and to seek the broader spiritual lessons conveyed by God through His Word.