My uncle Lloyd and I used to catch snakes together in Illinois when I was growing up. Because my uncle is a sort of amateur herpetologist, his desire to catch snakes never seemed odd to me. When he brought a snake to our boys, though, Melanie had a very different opinion on the matter. In Melanie’s view, snakes and babies don’t go together.
Somehow I had missed the story this summer about a toddler in Tennessee, kept in a cage near a boa constrictor. A news article described the neglect of parents who did not take care of the eighteen month old child. It was frightening to read. The parents are in jail.
John tells us of a serpent who is a great dragon determined to kill a baby. It reminds us of King Herod’s desperate attempt to track down and kill the baby Jesus. After a great war in heaven, the dragon is thrown down to the earth where he cannot harm the baby. The angry dragon, identified with Satan, is called the accuser of the people of God.
Once again in our reading of Revelation, we wonder, did this already happen, is it happening or will it happen in the future? Clearly the Evil one is still alive and well on our planet. He has already been defeated in heaven. Filled with fury, he seeks to steal, kill and destroy because he knows that his time is short.
Missionaries came home on furlough and told about an enormous snake—much longer than a man—which slithered its way right through their front door and into the kitchen of their simple home. Terrified, they ran outside and searched frantically for a local who might know what to do. A machete-wielding neighbor came to the rescue, calmly marching into their house and decapitating the snake with one clean chop. The neighbor reemerged triumphant and assured the missionaries that the reptile had been defeated. But there was a catch, he warned: It was going to take a while for the snake to realize it was dead.
John tells us that the great dragon-serpent Satan has been defeated and is dying. Until the end, though, he has power to wreak havoc. We who serve the Son of God who will rule the nations must be sober and alert, resisting Evil, remaining steadfast. The baby Jesus grew up. God’s Son has come. He will win. We wait for his return.