Bitten and Needy
In one of the more intriguing stories of the Old Testament, we hear of how God’s people rebelled and how he provided exactly what they needed, though not in the way they thought. The Israelites were letting their frustrations and general lack of faith be known by criticizing Moses when God sent snakes among them that begin to bite many of them. Many died. And many more got bitten.
In urgency the people went to Moses and confessed that they had sinned by speaking against him and the Lord. They urged him to intercede on their behalf to the Lord to take the snakes away. The interesting thing is that the Lord didn’t take them away. He didn’t answer Moses’ prayer in that way. That was what they wanted, but it wasn’t what the Lord wanted to do.
Look and Live
Instead, the Lord left the snakes among the people and His response was this: make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole, and whoever looks at it will live. Moses did this, and it worked. “It came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.” (Numbers 21:9)
This entire incident foreshadowed Christ as we know from Jesus’ own words in John 3. “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.” (John 3:14-15)
Jesus would be lifted up as the serpent was, except Jesus would be on a cross, not a pole. Those who looked to Him, believed in Him, though bitten and infected by the deadly venom of sin would be spared and healed.
Look. And you’ll live.
Look to Christ and live. It’s too easy. Some were bitten that didn’t look to the uplifted serpent, and many are bitten that don’t look to Christ. They try and try to remedy themselves rather than letting go and trusting in the crazy notion of just looking. But Jesus said that looking leads to life. “Whoever believes will in Him have eternal life,” (John 3:15).
What’s the takeaway?
We are bitten, burdened, bruised, and broken people. And self-help books, medication, easy circumstances, and ear-tickling preachers are not what we need. We need Christ. God’s answer for us often is not to take away that which gives us grief but to provide an opportunity for us to trust Him in the midst of it. And He has promised us that when we look to Him, we will live.