Serpents and Snakes
December 16, 2021
Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? (Matthew 23:33).
Jesus called these Scribes and Pharisees serpents and vipers, a name given to them because of their pretense of being righteous and devoted to God, but in reality were evil. They were nothing more than the serpent Satan used to deceive Eve and destroy humanity (Genesis 3:1-5). They were totally influenced, if not possessed by Satan to destroy Jesus Christ. They were a wicked clergy and spiritually deadly with a corrupt and evil nature. As the bad fruit comes from a corrupt tree, so the words and works of these men came from a satanic source.
Vipers are poisonous snakes. Like rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins in this country, Israel had its vipers as well. These snakes ares mall, 3 feet or less in length and about an inch thick, having a flat head. They have two large fangs through which a deadly poison is injected into the wound made by the bite. Quite often looking like dried twigs, people are bitten when gathering wood for a fire, or they inadvertently step on one thinking it a dried branch or vine. Vipers are the symbol evil and danger. As such, Jesus called the Scribes and Pharisees vipers because it described their true character as priests.
Again, the hypocrisy, and the irony of these priests is seen in the fact that their office was created by God to be a means of intercession - they were to represent God to men and intercede for men before God. However, Jesus said they condemned men and kept them out of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 23:13) by diverting their attention away from God and to themselves and the Law. Because of this, they not only condemn others to hell, they condemn themselves to hell as well.
Years ago, farmers in the Central Valley of California would burn their fields after harvesting barley, wheat, corn, even cotton. Animals in those fields (rabbit, ground squirrels, snakes) would try to escape the fast-moving fire as it consumed the dry stubble. Quite often you could walk through a field and see the burnt carcasses of these animals that failed to escape.
Jesus said these Scribes and Pharisees would never escape God’s judgment of hell upon them. They were perceived as holy and righteous in their own eyes and before men, but they were wicked and evil before God. They thought of themselves, and were thought by others, to be servants of God and sons of heaven, but in truth they were servants of Satan and sons of hell. That’s the hypocrisy and irony of it all.
“Holy Spirit, give us discernment so that we may understand who and what we are in our own heart, mind, and spirit. We are warned of self-deception in Scripture. As Your servant David asked, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting’. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”