Bronze Snake – Numbers 21:4-9
4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea,[a] to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. 5 The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” 6 Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And theLord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
What does the passage say?
V. 4 God is detouring the Israelites because of their disobedience. We read from Numbers 13-14, how God sent 12 spies to explore the promise land. 10 out of the 12 came back and reported negative about the land God promised Abraham. We remember only two, Joshua and Caleb, held onto the promise of God. God tells the people they will have to wander in the wilderness for the next 40 years, one year * 40 days spying, and the are heading back to where they came out of: Red Sea.
V. 5-6 It is understandable that the condition of the people was pressing. However, God wanted them to know how to be obedient to God’s lead. Sometimes, God delays God’s work, so we grow in patience. Romans 5 says, “…knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4 NASV). God is changing the identity of the people, to see hope only in God. The tribulations escalate when God sends venomous snakes.
V. 7-9 Moses pleas on behalf of the people and God tells Moses to make a snake of bronze and set it on a pole. Whoever bitten by the snakes, came to that pole, and as they fixed their eyes on the poles, they were healed.
Jesus says in John 3:14-15, right before the famous John 3:16, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14-15 NIV)
What does this mean to me/us
The world that we live does resemble the wilderness. It has no place to quench our spiritual thirst. Although the world says it can, it never works.
As we walk this journey of life, it is natural for us to be irritated, because of the dire situation. However, it is hard because we fix our eyes onto the surroundings, instead of God’s lead.
God is slowly shifting the perspective of God’s people. Instead of seeing what the world doesn’t give, God is asking God’s people only to focus on God.
God does push the people to their edges. When they are at that stage, there was nothing else to do, but to fix their eyes on the Lord.
Doesn’t mean that we need to go there. However, we do need to see the disparity of our life, without the guidance from our Lord. We do need to see how God wants obedience in our lives, offered to Him.
And when we see God, himself, lifted on high, through the sacrifice on the cross, we then truly see the hope that only comes from our Lord.
What does this mean to you?
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