Snakes and Poison :: By Walter Diepeveen


The Covid vaccine question has come to dominate many of our lives. Several times in the past little while, I have lost sleep over the vaccine debate and the topic of this article. I believe that I was led to Mark Chapter 16 in answer to prayer concerning the Covid vaccines back in September of 2021.

First off, I have to say that Mark did not waste words in his gospel account. Chapter 16 is the last in his relatively short book. Chapter 16 starts with the Resurrection of Yeshua and ends with His Rapture.

9When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:9-19, NIV).

Several of the verses in Chapter 16 are quite well known and often preached on. But this chapter is one of the most maligned and dismissed by so-called ‘scholars.’ It is said that some manuscripts omit the second half of the chapter from verses 9 to 20. So anyone who has trouble with any part of that section is quick to point out that there is doubt as to its validity… they can, in that way, avoid trying to explain it. Possibly it was omitted because the person copying the letter couldn’t accept or handle what was in those verses… and instead added a general closing sentence to replace the difficult yet wonderful dozen verses that many of us have come to know by heart – at least in part. I say ‘in part’ because at the very end, there are a few words that are difficult to understand or accept. They are seldom quoted.

There are 2 halves to the omitted verses. The first half, from verses 9 to 14, details concisely the appearances Yeshua made while still on Earth, after His Resurrection. He was glorified but not yet Raptured.

The second half, verses 15 to 18, tells us the final recorded words of Yeshua to His followers; to the Church. Think about that. They are His final words of instruction and encouragement. His last words must have been important. They can be said to be ‘the last thing we will need to know.’ Surely Yeshua would not end His words down here with something fluffy and trite. Then right after speaking, He was ‘taken up.’ He was Raptured, just as Believers will also be taken up/Raptured. He is our example.

His words do seem to be in a particular order. Please keep that in mind.

His words will be fulfilled, and then the Church will be Raptured.

In verse 15, Yeshua commands His Church to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” This began the gospel mission, but it was not until the last few years that we can actually say this has been accomplished – to the whole world. This verse is often quoted.

He goes on to say what signs will accompany those who believe: “In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues.” This verse is also quoted often and is a little controversial… but it is accepted and embraced by many charismatic Believers as having come to fulfillment only in the last few decades.

Yeshua ends His spoken words with encouragement and comfort to Believers. The very last thing he says is that Believers “will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

Those words are often quoted… but to be very honest, we don’t see much healing and deliverance happening in our day and never really have in any great way – at least not since the Disciples were here. It does happen, but truthfully it is very seldom- like winning the lottery, if you’ll forgive my analogy. YHWH does heal and does answer prayer, but it is not common. That is why we call things’ miracles’ when we see prayer answered.

So, it could be argued then that that final wording (prayer for healing) is not yet fulfilled – at least not fully to the extent and with the surety implied.

And now I come to the point of this article. Obviously, I have skipped what Yeshua said immediately before speaking of the laying on of hands and healing. That same sentence, the very same verse, starts out with more words that are supposed to be comforting. Apparently, Believers “will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all.” These words are almost NEVER quoted. They may also more accurately explain why some copies omit the second half of the chapter. Those words are fantastical and kind of crazy-sounding and, at first glance, don’t seem all that comforting. Who does that? Maybe some extreme cult? Not me, that is for sure. I won’t test YHWH like that by drinking poison. And I hate snakes, as marvelous as they may be.

Think for a quick moment about something else Yeshua said. At the Last Supper, He told His disciples to eat bread – that it was His Body. And He told them next to drink wine – that it was His Blood. Many turned away from following Him when He said that. Yet His words were ‘spirit.’ He went on to explain that to those who bothered to ask Him what He meant. To the few who sought to understand and were not easily offended, they found His words were ‘spirit’ and not literal.

So back to the snakes. The first thing you think of when you hear the word viper is ‘fang’ and ‘poison.’ I contend that Yeshua was giving us an analogy, especially since the people who needed to know this would not need to understand until just before the Rapture. These again are His final words just before He was taken up.

  1. handling snakes/serpents (obviously vipers and not harmless snakes)
  2. drinking poison
  3. laying hands on the sick for healing

I’ll just come right out and say it. The snakes (vipers) are equivalent to our modern-day hypodermic needles. If you understand that the time is at hand for the end of the Church Age and the Rapture, then this message is of comfort for Believers in these Last Days. When Yeshua said this, there was no such thing yet as a needle or a vaccine. How better to say it then?

The most talked about and controversial issue for the past 2 years is, without a doubt, the Covid vaccine. It is dividing families, churches, and even nations. It is very likely to cause long-term injury to many. The virus itself can also cause death, of course. But taking the vaccine is being mandated while getting the virus is not a choice, really. It just happens. Many Christians have been compelled to take the vaccine against their wishes. They have also been made to feel guilty by many pastors and preachers for taking it. Early on, it seemed like a good idea. Maybe it does help reduce hospitalizations. But it is new mRNA technology that truly has the potential for great long-term harm. I think you get my point.

To restate it, I am convinced that just before the Rapture, the Believers who have taken the fang/needle and the poison will, for the most part, survive by the laying on of hands and prayer – frequently, not rarely – though likely very close to the end of the Church Age. Conversely, the non-believers will suffer much greater harm and worse outcomes and carry their trouble into the Tribulation. Yeshua said that Believers will lay hands on those who get sick, and they will recover. This must be as a final sign that He is who He said He is – and that He has the Last Word.

The time is short. Be encouraged and find comfort and hope that we Believers will overcome these trials and be Raptured out of this fallen world… before things get very serious in the Tribulation.

Below are 3 links that are worth watching and reading.

Snake Fangs – Nature’s Hypodermic Needles – YouTube

Snake-fang needle lookalike could inject medicines, vaccines – Scimex

University of Arizona researchers find link between COVID deaths and snake venom –