I’ve always thought it was pretty cool whenever I have seen a snake in the wild. I’ve only seen 2 or 3 different kinds of snakes my whole life so I think it’s the rarity that intrigues me. They are fascinating but of course I know to keep my distance. As cool as I think it is to see them in the wild, that’s exactly where I want them to stay. Snakes belong outside. One time my friend Matt and I were inside at church when suddenly we spotted a snake going by in the hallway. We eventually chased it down and at the risk of it crawling into an air vent and spooking a church member Sunday morning, we cut its head off. This snake had gotten inside on its own but what really doesn’t make any sense to me are people who purposely bring these things into their home as pets.
A friend once told me a story about someone who had a pet snake. Specifically, a python. Pythons are the type of snake that constrict their prey. The story goes that this girl let her pet snake sleep in the same bed with her every night like you might a cat or a dog (normal pets). The snake would cuddle up next to her and so it went night after night. One night the girl woke up to find the snake completely stretched out next to her from head to toe. The girl thought this was odd because usually the snake would be coiled up next to her. So she took the snake to the vet thinking something was wrong. The vet informed her the snake was in fact very healthy and behaving like a normal wild animal. He also told her what the snake was doing.
Essentially, the snake was sizing her up. That’s right, it was trying to determine if it had the ability to devour her.
There is a record in the Old Testament that reminds me of a similar situation. The account goes that Joshua and his men were going through the land God had promised the Israelites and with each city they came to they found victory. When they came to Jericho things became a little more difficult. Hearing about how the Israelite’s had been going through the region, Jericho had a little bit more time to prepare (Joshua 6:1). Nonetheless, by being obedient to God’s specific instructions (Joshua 6:2-5) they were able to overcome Jericho.
However, once in the city, not all of God’s instructions were followed. God had given them a very specific command to not take any of the ‘devoted things’. When one of the Israelite’s, Achan came across these rare objects, he didn’t keep his distance. He became more than fascinated with them and he even went so far as bringing them home with him.
“Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” (Joshua 7:20-21)
He kept them close to him and one day they started to size him up. Not just him but the whole Israelite camp. Prepared to take on the next city on their path, Joshua sends out a couple spies who come back reporting that the next city, Ai, should be fairly simple to overcome. It should have been but it wasn’t. Surprised by the sudden lack of victory, Joshua inquires of God what is going on.
The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.” (Joshua 7:10-12)
As humans with feelings, senses and free will we become fascinated with many things. God has given us specific instructions through His word about how to deal with temptation but sometimes we don’t listen and we end up taking the snake home with us, snuggling with it, making it sacred and something it was never meant to be. Then in our lives we see the result; a lack of victory and made liable to destruction as it sizes us up. True we can ‘do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:13) but so often we don’t do everything through Christ Jesus. Instead we try and do it our own way.
There’s a story I loved when I was a kid about another wild animal you shouldn’t bring home. It was called ‘If you give a moose a muffin’. Why shouldn’t you give a moose a muffin you ask? Because if you give a moose a muffin he’ll invite himself into your home for some jam. Then when you run out of muffins he’ll want you to go to the store to get some more. He’ll demand and demand he’ll want more and more. The Bible says that our enemy ‘prowls like a lion seeking whom he can devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Eventually the sin you welcome into your home and into your life is going to start sizing you up until it devours you. Before Cain murdered his brother the Lord told him that ‘sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you but you must rule over it’. (Genesis 4)
Maybe you’ve brought home a snake from the wild with you and you’ve been hiding it, keeping it secret. Israel couldn’t move forward and neither will you.
It’s time to cut off the snake’s head.
Achan didn’t yet have the blood of Jesus covering his sins but we do. 1 John tells us “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
Don’t give the moose the muffin, don’t bring the snake home. Do all things through Christ who gives you strength. How does He give us strength? By the same power that overcome the grave. If you want to overcome sin, it makes sense to fully trust in the only one who already has.