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Jesus spoke these words in Luke 10:19 following the return of the seventy-two disciples whom He had sent out to the various towns that He Himself would later visit, in order to prepare them for His arrival. (He later essentially repeated the same words just prior to His ascension, as indicated in Mark 16:18, in speaking of the evangelizing that His followers would do following His departure.) Jesus was saying that poisonous snakes and scorpions that His followers might encounter in the normal course of their travels would not be able to harm the disciples through their bites or stings. (Paul later demonstrated this in Acts 28:1-6.) However, I would say that, in my opinion, these words and events were meant for a specific missionary purpose at that time, and were not intended as a license for people (even down to the present day) to deliberately "put God to the test" through the intentional (but unnecessary) handling of poisonous creatures, in the expectation of God's protection.
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