Are Snakes Evil?
In The Beginning...
Let’s start off by reading Genesis 1:24-25. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good." This is an account of the creation of all the land dwelling creatures (with the exception of man) and God looked upon it as being good. Then, after God created man (verses 26,27), He looked upon His Creation once again and "found" that it was good. “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Verse 31). The very in verse 31, means greatly or exceedingly; so God saw that all He had made was exceedingly good.
Enter, The Serpent...
The Scripture which causes some to believe that snakes are evil begins in the first verse of chapter three..."Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made..." and continues through to verse 16. I have read all sorts of commentaries about what took place in the garden on that day. Some believe that Satan possessed a snake; some believe that a snake made a pact with Satan (I really have a problem with that one); some believe that Satan just manifested himself in the form of a snake. One commentary said that it may have possibly been an ape and not a snake at all. Well, I have my on theory about what might have taken place but I don’t really feel that it is necessary to examine it here since it is just a theory.
However, what I would like to point out is that the Bible says, “the serpent.” And in Revelations 20:2 “the serpent” is identified as Satan. Over and over again through the Bible we see that Satan is our enemy. Certainly snakes aren’t particularly favored in some of the scripture verses, but they are not our adversary, the devil or Satan, that God warns us about (Matthew 13:38-39, Ephesians 6:11-12, 1 Peter 5:8). In fact, in some scriptures snakes are mentioned in a somewhat positive way. For example:
*In Exodus 7:9-12, God worked a miracle by turning Aaron’s staff into a serpent. When Pharoah’s magicians imitated this with their magic, Aaron’s staff (serpent) swallowed theirs.
*In Proverb’s 30:18 and 19 Solomon speaks of the wonderful way that serpents move.
*James 3:7,8 mentions serpents along with other animals that have been tamed. “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” This verse indicates first hand that serpents (snakes) aren't evil...but people are. The tongue is the instrument through which a persons "venom" is so often released (see Matthew 12:34-37 for an interesting parallel).
*Numbers 21:6, Jeremiah 8:17, Amos 9:3 are scriptures that speak of serpents being used by God to carry out His judgement.
*In Matthew 10:16, Jesus tells His disciples to be “wise as serpents.”
*And in Acts 6-9, God tells Peter that all things are clean to eat, abolishing the dietary laws of the Old Covenant (See Leviticus 11:42) which would have included snakes.
None of these verses above are talking about Satan, the serpent; they are talking about various types of snakes.
Snakes Among Us...
I believe that snakes are wildlife, and whether a snake was used by Satan or not, that they are no more evil than any other animal. Snakes do not have the potential to be morally good or evil since they cannot choose between right and wrong. As animals they do not have a spirit and are therefore incapable of knowing their Creator. Some snakes are poisonous and can be dangerous, but that doesn't make them evil. There are many other venomous creatures besides snakes, and there are also plenty of creatures (both wild and domestic) that can kill, and have killed, without venom. The truth is that most kinds of snakes, especially in the United States, couldn’t seriously hurt you if they wanted to.
Snakes are a part of God’s creation and at one time were pronounced to be good with the rest of His creation. And there will come a time when all creation, including snakes, will once again get along with man as was intended in the beginning. The Bible says that “the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; their young will lie down together; and the lion will eat straw like the ox. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den” Isaiah 11:6-8.
Satan, the serpent of old, who is the real enemy of God and man, will not share in this peace; God has other plans for him. He will be headed to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
Snakes are not our enemies but...as is the case with most wildlife...they will try to protect themselves if they feel threatened.
In the future when you see a snake crawling in the wild, rather than killing it, leave it alone; but let it serve as a reminder of what took place in Eden many years ago. The Serpent (Satan) tempted the woman and she disobeyed God; as she shared the fruit with her husband, he partook of it and disobeyed God as well. The events that unfolded that day have affected us all; sin has been passed on to all mankind, and we are all in need of a savior (Romans 5:12). But the good news is that Jesus Christ is The Savior; He has defeated Satan (1 John 3:8, Hebrews 2:14) and is "The Cure" for our sin.
Back to: Serpents and Snakes.