Summary: We must learn to shake off those snakes!
ACTS 28:1Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live." 5But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
Isn’t that just the way it goes? Paul had been arrested, beaten....was being sent to Rome and shipwrecked on the way. You’d think he had enough problems, but now, just when everything was going wrong and he had been rescued, a snake bit him! Paul was a faithful witness to the life-changing power of the Lord Jesus Christ. From the day Paul met Jesus on the Road to Damascus until he gave his life for His Lord in Rome, Paul was a mighty preacher of the Gospel of grace. This passage finds Paul on his way to Rome to stand trial before Caesar. Paul would spend years as a prisoner in Rome, and he would eventually lay down his life as a faithful martyr for the Lord Jesus. Did you ever feel like you went from one problem to the next like that? Snakes biting you?
Paul and his shipmates become marooned on an island named Melita. This little island is located in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Africa. The island is called Malta today. When the survivors land on this island, they are met by some very friendly natives. Verse two tells us that the inhabitants of Melita were quick to offer aid and comfort to Paul and the others, all 276 of them. Paul is helping gather wood for the fire. As he lays his bundle of sticks in the flames, a viper comes out of the wood and bites Paul, hanging onto his hand. Paul shook the snake off and the people waited to see what would happen to him. Did you know that people are watching you, waiting to see what happens whenever your snakes "bite" you?
Paul faced a real trial when he was bitten by a poisonous snake. But, God in His mercy, spared Paul’s life. While that viper was a problem, Paul faced some far more deadly snakes that night, snakes that had the power to ruin his life and end his ministry. He shook off every single one of them. I want to point out the snakes Paul faced on Melita that night is an example of what our behavior should be whenever we are faced with our own snakes. I want to encourage you to recognize the snakes that can latch onto your life. I want to preach about Shaking Off The Snakes. We need to shake off the snakes of CRISES
When Paul was bitten, it was a moment of real crisis. When something happens suddenly, we often feel a jolt and are in shock.That snake was poisonous and could have claimed his life. Of course, we know God took care of the poison, but here’s the problem: the crisis came when Paul was engaged in doing good. After the episode on the ship where he saved everyone’s life, Paul could have demanded special treatment, but he is out there working and serving and still a time of crisis came in his life.
We seem to believe that our faithful service to the Lord is some kind of a shield against trouble in our life. That is just not so. Ask Job, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, Elijah, the disciples, even the Lord Jesus. Troubles are part of everyone’s life, John 16:33. When troubles come, they can derail our faith. We often feel as though God is holding out on us. We feel that we deserve better treatment than we are receiving. We need to do like Paul did, put our faith in the promises of the Lord and believe Him for the help we need. In our times of trouble, we have some very precious promises. SHAKE OFF THE SNAKE OF CRITICISM As soon as Paul is bitten by the snake, the people of the island begin to criticize him. They were a very suspicious people and they assumed the viper bit Paul because of some evil in his life. In their view, he was being punished because he was a wicked man. Neptune, the god of the sea, had not taken him, but Nemesis, the goddess in charge of dispensing justice would!