Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. 2 And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4 So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.” 5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.
The background of this scripture should be included. Paul was headed to Rome to appear before Caesar. The ship he was on was destroyed as the men fought many days of a fierce storm before eventually having to swim to this island where they were cold and exhausted. The ship was completely lost; however, no lives were lost. The inhabitants of Malta were kind to them and showed them much care. Now as you read the above scripture you see that as Paul was tending to the fire a viper bit him on the hand and actually fastened himself to Paul. Paul simply shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects of the snake bite. They, the inhabitants of Malta, were expecting Paul to die because of the snake bite. Paul was not expecting to die, and thus had no effects. What I want us to see here is how we are to study the Bible. John 21:25 tells us, "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen." With this understanding, then we must look at the Bible differently. Every letter of every word is with a purpose. We must ask ourselves when we study God's Word what is Jesus trying to tell me? What are you teaching me Jesus? Then ask Jesus through the power of His Spirit to teach you what you need! I will give you an example using this scripture. This scripture could teach us not to speculate and draw conclusions about people based on what you see. When the viper bit Paul the people said, he must be a murderer because although he escaped the storm of the sea he was surely to die by way of the viper. Basically, you get what you deserve was their mindset. However, when Paul showed no effects of the snake bite, the people said he was a god. He went from a murderer deserving death to a god in the matter of 2 verses. A lesson learned by you and I needs to be, let God reveal to us who and what is in front of us. Don't judge the book by the cover and don't make haste in your decisions about someone or something. But hey that is just one lesson. Some may be at a place in there walk with Jesus where they, like Paul, have been bitten by a viper. now maybe that viper is not actually a snake but maybe it is a fiery trial, that Peter speaks about, maybe it is a struggle dealing with sin, or a tragedy that strikes. How are you going to handle the bite? Are you going to come through on the other side strong and mighty? Are people going to be pointed to the powerful hand of Jesus Christ and your souled out walk with Him as the source of your strength and the power that lives within you? You see, as we walk we will be bitten by this world, we will have tribulation, but we can shake the snake off into the fire, we can survive the bite because we belong to Jesus. It may may be difficult and it may be a mountain that has to be climbed daily, but we serve a Lord that we can truly say, greater is He that lives in us than He that is in the world. You can read the Bible and fly right by these lamp stands of knowledge or you can study the Bible and meditate on these truths and be transformed. We must learn to study God's Word on a daily basis to receive that which will empower us to serve others. I hope this makes sense to you! May God Bless you as you travel down your road with Him to the destination He directs.
Reaching for Him,
Brother Big Daddy