Here they were. The Israelites. Wandering around in the desert with new laws, a new leader, strange food and no more access to the comforts that come from a permanent city. They began to complain and grow weary. God was in their very midst and yet they were dissatisfied.
And so, in His love, God sent snakes into the camps.
The last time we read about a snake wandering around people...it was bringing a message of deceit. Pain disguised as wisdom.
But these snakes were messengers of another kind: messengers calling for repentance. Wisdom disguised as pain.
Their turning from God did bring pain. Pain that could be felt but also reflected the inevitable pain that was in their hearts as they walked away from their God. Pain,that in some cases, brought death.
The people spoke against God and 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 loathe this miserable food. The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.”
Sometimes when we go through visible pain we become more aware of God. Sometimes that is what it takes to turn our hearts towards him once again.
“So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people.”
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live. And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.”
When God sent these message bearing snakes, He sent them with a lesson: This turning from God, this grumbling, the dissatisfaction while the wonders and provision of God surround you...these are things of the darkness. They bring pain and they bring death.
There is only one solution. Look up. Look to the cross, and be saved.
And so we, in our pain, our dissatisfaction, our doubt. We in our grumbling and longing for the things of the world. We too can be saved.
All we have to do is to look up. Look at the cross, and be saved.