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Is the Excessive Prevalence of Venomous Snakes in Third World Countries Just Nature or the Judgment of God?

by | May 23, 2024 | News

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I don’t know why, but the various social media networks has decided that I am interested in snakes. No matter what platform I get on, the “For You” reels and “suggested content” are always videos of people messing with snakes. And in these video clips, which, admittedly, I’ve taken the bait and fed into with my interest as of late, I often see people in third-world countries, near a muddy creek or polluted canal, pulling out a huge venomous snake that could kill this person with one bite.

Here’s one example I saw this morning:

So, I don’t know if this is overthinking it, but it did get me thinking: What’s up with all the snakes in third-world countries? As we look at the natural world, especially in many developing countries, we often find ourselves facing landscapes full of dangers and harsh conditions. Venomous snakes slither through thick underbrush, dangerous animals lurk just out of sight, and creeks and rivers run murky and unclean—littered and full of pollution. It’s a far cry from the well-manicured parks and clear water sources that we see in more developed nations. This raises a question: is nature simply doing its thing, or is there something deeper at play here?

In much of the Western world, we see controlled environments—neatly kept parks, wildlife safely managed, and pristine waterways. On the other hand, in many parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, nature seems almost untamed and often downright hostile. Is this just because of environmental and geographical factors, or is there a bigger picture we’re missing? Why do we find these natural hazards predominantly in areas struggling with poverty and underdevelopment?

To those who look deeper, these phenomena aren’t just random occurrences—they hint at a spiritual reality. The Bible gives us a lens to understand this, revealing how the fall of man, the curse of sin, and the history of idolatry play into what we see today. When we encounter venomous snakes, lurking predators, and polluted waters, it’s hard not to think of the curse mentioned in Genesis. Are these hazards mere environmental quirks, or are they echoes of a world still groaning under the weight of sin?

And let’s not ignore the historical context. Many regions with these dangers have long histories of turning away from God, embracing idolatry and practices that defy His commands. Could it be that the spiritual consequences of these actions are still visible in the very ground, air, and water of these places?

It seems more than coincidence that spiritual and environmental distress often go hand in hand.

Genesis 3:17-19 describes the curse pronounced by God: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

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This passage makes it clear that the natural world, which was once perfectly harmonious and life-sustaining, became a place of struggle and hardship as a direct result of human sin. The ground itself was cursed, producing thorns and thistles, making not just agriculture, but simply living a daily life a toilsome endeavor. This fundamental disruption of the natural order set the stage for the existence of such dangerous and inhospitable environments.

Among the most striking examples of this curse are venomous snakes and dangerous animals. The Bible specifically mentions the serpent in the Garden of Eden as a symbol of Satan’s deceit (Genesis 3:1-14). After the fall, enmity was established between the serpent and humanity, which could be interpreted both literally and as a symbolic representation of the ongoing struggle between mankind and the dangers inherent in the natural world.

Venomous snakes, such as the king cobras, black mambas, massive pythons and constrictors, and vipers prevalent in many developing countries, are a literal manifestation of this curse. Their presence serves as a reminder of the sin that introduced death and danger into a previously perfect creation. Dangerous animals, from lions to crocodiles, further exemplify this point. Their predatory nature and the threat they pose to human life are stark reminders of the fall’s repercussions.

The environmental conditions in many developing regions, such as muddy creeks and unclean water sources, also reflect the consequences of the fall. Water, which is essential for life, is often found in a state of pollution and decay in these areas. This is far more than merely a result of inadequate infrastructure or lack of development—it is a symptom of a world marred by sin.

Romans 8:20-22 provides insight into this: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

This passage reveals that all of creation is in a state of frustration and decay, awaiting liberation. Of course, this passage also refers to the spiritual state of the world and the need for spiritual redemption, but dirty water and inhospitable habitats are part of this groaning, a sign of a world awaiting redemption.

In addition to the general effects of the fall, the prevalence of inhospitable conditions in many developing regions can be linked to historical idolatry. Throughout the Bible, we see that turning away from the one true God and engaging in idolatry brings about judgment and calamity. Deuteronomy 11:16-17 warns, “Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you.”

Historically, many regions in the developing world have been centers of idol worship and pagan practices. From ancient civilizations that built temples to false gods to modern-day practices that continue to venerate idols, these regions have long histories of spiritual rebellion. The Bible teaches that such idolatry brings about God’s judgment, which can manifest in various forms, including environmental degradation and natural threats.

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” —Romans 1:21-23

This being said, we can only view this as a dire warning against us in Western nations that, while many of these nations were founded on Christian principles, have largely and collectively abandoned God to embrace idolatrous practices of today. We should not be so presumptuous to think we might escape the judgment of God in America, Europe, or anywhere else.

But while this might seem grim, it also offers hope. The biblical narrative is not one of despair but of redemption. Just as sin brought about the fall and its consequences, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ provide the path to redemption and restoration. As believers, we hold onto the promise that one day, creation will be restored to its original perfection.

In the meantime, the presence of natural evils and struggles in the world serve as reminders of our deep need for repentance and trust in Christ. It is a call to acknowledge the spiritual reality behind the physical world and to seek God’s grace and mercy.

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