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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snakes In The Grass

We only have three days left to get in on the contest. The top prizes are
$1,500 and $1,000. But this is certainly one contest I'm going to go out of
my
way to avoid, even if the prizes were ten times that.

I'm speaking of the "2013 Python Challenge", an attempt by the Florida Fish
and
Wildlife Conservation Commission to get a handle on the exploding population
of
Burmese pythons in the Everglades. The Everglades, known as "the river of
grass", is not the native habitat of these large snakes. But since 1979
they
have been found there, and it is estimated that there are tens of thousands
that
now call south Florida home.

I've visited Everglades National Park, but didn't see any pythons. The
alligators we spotted on that trip had already convinced me not to do any
solo
hikes there. With the proliferation of these serpents, I'm more resolved
than
ever. The largest one found in Florida, according to a recent CNN article,
was
over 17 feet long and weighed 164 pounds. Talk about a snake in the grass!

The contest opened on January 12 and will end February 10. Only about 50
pythons have been bagged so far. Does that qualify as a dent in the overall
population of these creatures?

One reason many of us feel shivers whenever we merely think of snakes may be
due
to mankind's first encounter with a serpent. There is no record of this
serpent
biting Adam or Eve, but the lie he convinced them to believe was fatal.
Though
God had warned them not to eat the fruit on that one tree, the serpent
(Satan in
disguise) countered by saying, "You will not surely die" (Genesis 3:4).
Soon
after their transgression they were driven from the Garden of Eden and began
to
feel, for the first time, their mortality. What a loss they experienced,
all
due to the deceit of the serpent!

Many generations later the Israelites did suffer from bites from deadly
snakes.
As punishment for their unbelief and blasphemies, "the Lord sent fiery
serpents
among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel
died" (Numbers 21:6). Ironically, God also provided the antidote to the
deadly
venom of these snakes: A bronze serpent was cast and mounted on a pole.
Anyone
who had been bitten had only to look on this serpent to be healed.

Today the serpent of old (see Revelation 12:9) still slithers about, seeking
to
deceive and poison the souls of God's people. If only we would look with
eyes
of faith! We would see that many have been inflicted with his deadly venom.
Without help, they will perish eternally (Romans 6:23).

But help has again been provided. Hear what Jesus said: "And as Moses
lifted up
the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
that
whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John
3:14,15).
Looking to Jesus with faith in His power to heal is vital.

This means, however, heeding everything the Lord has said. Jesus
acknowledge
that the faith of some does not lead them far enough: "But why do you call
Me
'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). A devoted
and
submissive faith must be our objective.

There is a dangerous snake in the grass lurking nearby. But, thank God,
there
is also help for us!

Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in
spirit
and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you'd like to discuss these
ideas further.

Timothy D. Hall

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