Jesus spoke the above words to Nicodemus, who had come to visit him at night. He was referring to what had happened to the children of Israel as they travelled through the wilderness to the Promised Land. The whole story is written in Numbers 21:4-9. I was challenged as I read part of verse 4: ‘The people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses’. There is another mention of this incident in 1 Corinthians 10:9-10: ‘Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. And don’t grumble as some of them did and then were destroyed by the angel of death.’ Paul went on to explain that these things were written down as examples for us. Challenging words indeed!
However, when the people realised that they had done wrong, they came to Moses and confessed their wrongdoing and asked him to pray to the Lord for them. The Lord heard his prayer and told him to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. He told Moses to tell the people that if they got bitten, they should go and look at the snake on the pole, and then they would live. It must have seemed so strange. Fancy looking at a replica of a snake that had bitten you! I don’t know if all the people who had been bitten did look, but I do know that those who did look did not die.
It might seem strange or foolish to people when we share the Gospel and tell them to look to Jesus, and that He is the only way to God the Father. Some people will listen and will turn to Jesus. Others will refuse to listen, and jeer or insult us. But the fact remains that everyone who believes and looks to Jesus will have eternal life.
But there’s a challenge for us here who are God’s own children, and I point the finger back at me. I sometimes get impatient when things are hard. I don’t usually say anything, but my husband is aware that I am impatient, and more importantly, God can read my heart. I need to receive the exhortation in Hebrews 12:7: ‘It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons (and daughters)’.
Prayer: Father, I want to thank You for Your faithfulness and for Your discipline, even though at times I find it painful. I pray that You will help me, and all those who are reading this, to trust You in these difficult and uncertain times. You alone are our refuge and security. Thank You that we are safe in Your care. Amen.