"Little children, you are from God and have overcome [the false prophets], for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)
ophidiophobia (n.) - the abnormal fear of snakes
It's all too easy to forget amid the busyness of life that there's a spiritual warfare happening. We are easily distracted by the current events of the day or by our own agendas and itineraries so that we lose sight of the spiritual realm. Even worse, the enemy can use those very distractions as a means to distance our minds from God or, worse yet, doubt in His ability to handle any situation that assails us.
That's why I love the excerpt from John's first epistle above. When we are children of God, we know our Father is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world. And I love the way God promises it throughout His redemptive story: by using the same cunning creature that Satan embodies at the start of human history.
We first encounter Satan through his presence in the Garden manifested as a snake (Genesis 3). Though our enemy isn't called out by name, we see from the last book of Scripture that Satan is indeed "that ancient serpent" (Revelation 20:2) who continues to exercise the same deceitful nature of sin to his own machinations of tearing apart souls from their Maker for eternity (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Despite the threat Satan posed and still poses God's people today, the Almighty repeatedly showed us that Satan's power is limited and that we can overcome him if we are united to God in Christ.
Remember Moses? One of the signs God gave him to convince Pharaoh and the people that the Lord truly sent him was the transforming staff (Exodus 4:1-5). When God first turns Moses's walking tool into a serpent, he flees! But then, God says to catch it by the tail; Moses's obedience proves that God has control and power in the situation, and he has no reason to fear the snake--or the task before him.
Remember the Israelites in the wilderness? They suffered the bite of fiery snakes that inflicted fatal blows on many of the wandering nation (Numbers 21:4-9). However, when the people's repentance and Moses's faith turned their hearts back to God, the serpents' bite had no power over them. They turned from self-focused grumbling to God-focused submission.
Remember the apostles? Among a host of other things, Jesus promised his followers in the first century that they would have nothing to fear from serpents both during (Luke 10:19) and after (Mark 16:17-18) his time on this earth. Paul could attest to the faithfulness of Christ's promise and God's sign through the apostles (Acts 28:1-5)--he was unharmed by a poisonous viper! This was just one of the miraculous signs that God used to confirm the word He delivered through these men (Hebrews 2:3-4).
These examples beg the question: why did God use or specify snakes in these instances? This writer likes to think they are reminders, time and again, that God's faithful children have nothing to fear from the wiles of the devil. Certainly, our adversary is not to be underestimated or trifled with. But we stand in victory as long as we stand with Christ! We, like the apostles in Luke 10 and the Christians in Rome, can tread safely over any trap that Satan may lay for us (Romans 16:20).
What are you afraid of? Failure? Rejection? Poverty? Lonliness?
A little snake?
Remember who your God is: He is greater than our fears, and He is so much greater than he that is in the world!