Lighthouse Christian Center
From the Desk of Pastor David
During church prayer this week, I began talking with the Lord about the Great Commission. In Mark 16, Jesus told us to go everywhere and preach the gospel to everyone. He then gave us five signs that would follow those of us who believe. These signs were to accompany the preaching of the gospel to confirm it as God’s Word. As I was discussing these signs with Him, I paused on the third and fourth signs: they shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them. As I pondered those two signs, I considered how they seem to get lost amongst the other three, more talked about signs: taking authority over devils, speaking in other tongues, and laying hands on the sick and they shall recover. I mean, it isn’t every day that a modern Christian has an encounter with snakes or poison.
So I began to wonder about the purpose of these two lesser experienced signs. My first thought was how taking up serpents gives most people the image of a backwoods religious cult in which the pastor has the quickest hands or has the most immunity built up against venom. As far as drinking anything deadly, that hasn’t been a real concern for most people since poison moved down the chart as a preferred murder weapon and water started being purified. Yet, even beyond misinterpretation and current culture, these two signs still have relevance today.
Though the threat of snakes and poison has been greatly reduced today, these two signs, like the other three, are still supernatural. They speak about supernatural protection for believers as we go into the world to complete what Jesus appointed us to do.
Although we have many examples in the Bible of God’s divine protection of His people, the only direct example we have of these two Great Commission signs is when Paul was bitten by a snake. We find this story after God saves Paul’s life from a shipwreck.
“And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land. And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.”
Apparently the snake that fastened itself on Paul’s hand was so poisonous that the islanders stood around waiting for him to swell up and die suddenly. When they saw that it had no effect on Paul, they realized something supernatural happened. Knowing what we do about Paul, he wouldn’t have allowed them to worship him; he would have told them about Jesus. This led them to ask Paul to pray for their sick chief. When that man was healed, other sick people wanted prayer. Paul’s supernatural protection from the poisonous snake led to a revival on that island and favor with the people.
Our supernatural protection is not limited to snakes or poisons. This world can be a dangerous place and life can be very fragile. There are many creatures and substances on this earth that can end a person’s life. In His commission to preach the gospel, Jesus is telling them, He is telling us, that we are supernaturally protected from all of them. So, whether it is a viper or a virus, we have divine protection. If we are going to believe one of the signs, we need to believe them all. Once we grasp that supernatural protection belongs to us, we will realize that there is a two-fold purpose. This is what we learn from Paul’s story. Our lives are spared, and supernatural protection can lead to revival just as quickly as supernatural healing (Acts 3), supernatural speaking in tongues (Acts 2), and supernatural authority over demons (Acts 16).
Mark 16:20 (The Message)
“And the disciples went everywhere preaching, the Master working right with them, validating the Message with indisputable evidence.”