Worshippers at Jerusalem’s Western Wall were terrified when a large snake emerged through the cracks as they were praying a few months ago. It’s not a good idea to get too close to these reptiles until the time of the Millennial reign of the Prince of Peace when a “young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest” and not be harmed (Isa 11.8f).
Although the snake has the dubious honour of being depicted as Satan in the Bible, its status was somewhat redeemed into a symbol of healing as a result of God’s instruction to Moses when the Israelites were dying of snakebite in the Wilderness. He was told to make a bronze serpent which, if victims focused on, would heal them from the poison (Numbers 21.8f).
Many Israelites had died from snakebite as a result of venomous snakes sent among them by the Lord himself because they were complaining against God and Moses. But they subsequently acknowledged their sin and repented, which caused the Lord to instruct Moses: “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” And that’s just what happened.
This incident clearly foreshadowed what Jesus did for us all on the cross – that all who believe in him, who mark their hearts (or doorposts of their soul) with his atoning blood, will inherit eternal life.
Jesus told the believing Pharisee Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (John 3.14)
As it happens, the Palestine Viper has recently been recognised (by Israel’s Society for the Protection of Nature and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority) as Israel’s national snake, provoking the farcical, though not entirely surprising, response from the Palestinian Authority accusing the Jews of stealing their snake! 1
So now they are fighting over a snake. Someone is sure to get bitten.