(Numbers 21:4-9 NIV)
When we have “issues” in our lives, how we handle them can be extremely important.
We should never go into a serious walk with the Lord with the idea that now our lives are going to be like skipping happily through a beautiful meadow without a care or a problem in the world. Nowhere in the Bible are we promised a life with no difficulties. In fact, it is ridiculous to even consider such an idea. Even though rose gardens produce beautiful flowers – let us not forget that those beautiful flowers do have thorns – thorns that can be problematic. They are hard and rigid, prickly and painful when we come in direct contact with them.
We are told that Satan is like a lion that wanders around trying to find what he can steal, kill and destroy. So where is he going to search for that prey? He is not likely to waste his time going after the non-believers, or even believers that are not walking the path of right living. He already has those people where he wants them; they are no threat to him. But, the path they are on is ultimate destruction – a path that has no good rewards. Therefore, it stands to reason he will seek out those that are doing their best to walk the Christian path. We are the ones that have a life of hope and love and eternal rewards before us. Yes, we will have tests in our lives – we can let them knock us down and defeat us, or we can lean on the strength of our Lord for the ultimate victory.
Consider the story in Numbers 21:4-9 (NIV) – “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 wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!’ Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.”
Here we see the Israelites grumbling and complaining – yet again – against God because things were not exactly as they wanted them to be. They were bitten by snakes and some died before they realized their wrongs and confessed their sins. With God’s resolution, there was still a chance they could get a snake bite, but God gave them an “out” – they could look at that bronze snake on that pole and live.
When I read this story, I wondered what the snakes were representing and why God allowed them to remain, instead, having Moses make the pole with the bronze snake on top of it. The International Bible Commentary says that “looking at the bronze snake was a picture of faith.” So instead of the snakes being totally removed from them, they were a reminder of their sin and they were forced then to rely on faith if they wanted to live.
So once again we see an example of consequences that can be suffered as a result of sin – the snakes remained as their reminder of those sins. They also had a reminder with the bronze snake on a pole of how they needed to take their eyes off of their problems and/or sins and look to their Savior (repentance/forgiveness). We will always have problems to deal with – like those venomous snakes or the thorns on the beautiful roses, but we have a way to be victorious over them. When we face our issues with faith and the strength of the Lord we grow stronger. We also grow wiser so that we know better how to face the life before us and can live victoriously.
By keeping our eyes on God, we have nothing to fear and everything to gain.
Written by Karran Martin – February 2019