I’m not a fan of snakes. At the zoo I usually shy away from their exhibit. I do love the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Probably had my sense of direction! Whenever they hit a rough spot, they grumple and gripe, forgetting about how faithful the Lord has been to them. Such short memories.
Reading in the book of Numbers, God’s people rag on Him once again. ‘… they spoke against God and against Moses…no bread…no water! And we detest this miserable food!'(Numbers 21: 4-5). What a bunch of ingrates! God allows snakes to do what snakes do best. In effect, He pulls back His protection. The venom of their words against the Lord and Moses came back to bite them with dire consequences.
People rush to Moses, the one they spoke against, asking his help. Moses comes to the Lord. Only God can help. What does the Lord tell Moses to do? Kind of strange. He tells Moses to make a bronze figure of a snake, and put it on top of a tall pole. When God’s people look up at the snake, healing will come. They will survive.
What’s the point of looking up at a snake? The snake was made of bronze/copper, the same material used for ancient mirrors. Looking to the snake would be like looking at yourself. Honestly owning up to who you are. Admitting that we are far from the character of holy God. That’s part of what this story is about.
Something else. Those bitten were told to do something, to look up at the serpent. They had to be willing to look up at what God says will save them. It happened– if you looked up. But you had to believe in what the Lord had said, to follow His way. Like going to your doctor when you’re deathly ill. He says you’ll be fine– take the prescribed medicine. Two days later, you’re worse. You call his office and complain that the doctor doesn’t care that you feel like you’re at death’s door. The doctor is puzzled. The medicine should have worked. Give it another couple days. More days pass and you almost pass out. You feel even worse, if it’s possible. Barely able to speak, you complain to whom you now think is a quack. Scratching his head, the doctor asks if you have taken the medicine. ‘Have you?’ ‘No, I haven’t, but why don’t I get better? Don’t you care, Doctor?’ ‘Take the medicine!’
God has provided all anyone would ever need for salvation and forgiveness and eternal life. It’s Jesus. Plain and simple. Jesus. He’s the medicine… take it! Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Deadly venom becomes eternal victory in Jesus!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for allowing us to look to you for help with all our needs. In Jesus’ name. Amen.