Ancient Snake-bite Remedy!
Scripture Reading for February 18: Numbers 21-15
I hate snakes! When I was little, Mom often asked me to take lunch and a drink to my Dad who was working out in the field. This particular day in late June, he was cultivating corn about a half-mile from the house. I was walking along the path, minding my own business, when I almost stepped on a large bull snake! In my fear, I threw the water jar and Dad’s lunch at the snake and took off running for the house. Mom consoled me and then sent me back to retrieve the bottle and lunch. I complained and grumbled. Thankfully, the snake was long gone!
In our reading today, the Israelites were doing what they did best–grumbling! As they grumbled against Moses and God, God sent poisonous snakes which bit the complainers and caused death. (Numbers 21:5) The Israelites then asked Moses to pray for them and confessed their sin. (Numbers 21:7) God answered Moses as he prayed with some strange instructions. He was to make a bronze serpent and place it on a pole in the camp. Anyone who was bitten could look at the bronze snake on the pole and he would be healed! (Numbers 21:8-9)
What can we learn from this ancient story? The first lesson is that sin causes death! God has repeated this over and over but His people seem to forget! Another lesson is that grumbling against leadership isn’t pleasing to God. When we do, we are actually grumbling against God. A third lesson is that when sin’s consequences come, we run to our leaders for help and prayer–and God does answer. We then must have faith to do what God asks in order to be saved or healed! True faith is obedience to God’s revealed truth.
This story is actually a picture of the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. In the Gospel of John, Jesus used this story right before the most famous verse in all of Scripture. The snake that was lifted on the pole is a picture of Jesus Christ crucified. He was made sin, who knew no sin, that we might be healed from the serpent’s poisonous bite. If we will look with faith to His finished work on the cross, we will be saved and healed! God loves His people and wants to save them from the poison of sin’s bite and the consequence of sin–death! (John 3:14-18) If we refuse the remedy provided by God, then we will die and perish because of our refusal! This ancient snake-bite remedy turns out to be the current remedy for all mankind! I am sure grateful that I have looked at Jesus Christ with faith and received the healing from my own sin of grumbling, complaining and rebellion! Have you done the same? (Romans 10:9-10)