Scripture reading for February 17th: Numbers 21-25
Complaining can be deadly! The Bible teaches that there is power in our words and what comes out of our mouth has roots in our heart. (Matthew 12:34-35) Faith is something that we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth. The object of true biblical faith must be God and His word, not our fears or a lie. The Israelites had a lot to learn.
“They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”” (Numbers 21:4-5)
Sin is deeply ingrained in our hearts. Even this group of people who had seen many miracles and daily experienced the miraculous supply of manna still had sin in their hearts. The cloud of Glory and Fire of God at night did not keep them from complaining. The earth opening and swallowing some who complained alive did not seem to have an effect. They wanted what they wanted, when they wanted it, and would not be happy until they got it!
God did answer their complaints about Him and Moses by sending some poisonous snakes to bite them. When the complainers began to die because of the bites, they cried out to Moses for help. It is interesting that leaders are blamed for perceived troubles, but when the consequences of sin do begin to come, then the same complainers want prayer and begin to confess sin. (Numbers 21:6-7)
Moses was given a strange remedy for the snake bites by God. (Numbers 21:8-9) He was to make a bronze snake and put it on top of a pole for the people to look at. Anyone who was bitten could look with faith and live! Jesus Christ used this verse from Scripture to describe His own death on the cross for the whole world. “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-16)