The day before I flew out of town last December, my little Buddy was in a great deal of pain and had to be rushed to the vet. Above, he is trying to get onto my family member’s lap in the vet’s office. Not only was he in pain, but I was in pain, listening to him squeal whenever we walked near him or tried to pick him up. I just wished he could tell us what was wrong.
Many skip reading the book of Numbers in the Bible as it has a lot of lists and numbering of tribes and persons, etc. which is, honestly, a bit of a snoozer and likely interesting only to archeologists. But there are some story gems sprinkled in the book.
The Jewish people were getting impatient with the journey to the Promised Land. They wanted immediate possession, not wandering about in the wilderness to get there. They didn’t trust God to lead them safely to the land in His timing. Once again they sinned by grumbling against God, displaying no faith in His goodness or willingness to bless them.
“The people spoke against God and Moses, ‘Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.'”–Numbers 21:5
The food being referred to was the manna that God miraculously provided for them. Talk about ingratitude. God didn’t take them directly to the Promised Land because they would’ve immediately encountered hostile tribes before they were properly prepared for warfare. The indirect route was His way of protecting them.
In response to their grumbling, God sent fiery serpents among the people which bit and killed many of them. When the people acknowledged their sin and asked for the serpents to be removed, God commanded Moses to create a bronze serpent set upon a standard. All anyone had to do to be healed of their wound was to look at the serpent. Those with faith in God’s Word through Moses, looked at the bronze serpent and were healed. Those who scoffed and refused to look at the serpent and focused on their wounds instead, died.
Jesus referred to this incident as recorded in the Gospel of John, 3:14-15:
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the serpent image echoes the serpent in the Garden of Eden who led to the downfall of Mankind, causing Adam and Eve to sin, bringing both spiritual and physical death to their offspring. We all have a choice in life: To listen to the devil and focus on our sins, or by faith, look at the Cross of Christ. By simple faith, we can have eternal life by acknowledging our sin and believing in Jesus’ sacrifice to pay for our sins.
But, not only that, every day we all have a choice as Christians: to focus on the wounds the serpent, Satan, inflicts us with and our sinfulness, or look to Jesus for healing of those wounds by accepting His love and forgiveness. We can choose to be miserable, focusing on our hurting wounds and failures, or look to Him Who promises:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 4:8
The choice is yours: focus on Jesus Christ and His might, mercy and love, or wallow in your sin, hurt and guilt.
Not that I am perfect. How often do I agonize over my failures or someone’s bitter behavior toward me till I remember to look to my dear friend and Savior, to finally find peace for my soul.
Make the better choice, my eternal friend in Christ.
By the way, it turned out that Buddy had strained a muscle in his neck. When we walked near him, he was shrieking to warn us to stay away so that we wouldn’t accidentally touch him and injure his neck further. He’s doing great now, after a rather pricey vet bill, but I’m thankful I had the money to pay for it.
Note: All Scripture quotes are from the NASB. And I gratefully acknowledge the great Christian leaders who’ve shared their Biblical knowledge over the years so that I could put this blog together. It is their teaching, distilled today, that I share.