by Annie Haroun (guest post:)
I woke up with an awful dream fresh in my mind. Two animals who turned into two people were bitten over and over by venomous snakes. It was horrifying. Yet as I pondered it, I was reminded of the narrative in the Book of Numbers where the children of Israel were grumbling and complaining about so many things even after being rescued from the hands of the Egyptians and slavery. Despite many warnings, they continued their disgruntled attitude towards the Lord and Moses, and consequently, the Lord sent fiery serpents to bite the people. “Then the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit them so that many Israelites died”(Numbers 21:6).
The good news is that God does not send judgment without a provision of mercy.
Moses heard from the Lord, Who told him to place a serpent on a pole, and Moses did so by forming a serpent from bronze. Anyone who would look up at the serpent on the pole would be healed. I had assumed the mention of “serpent” in the Bible always referred to the devil, but here, the serpent on the pole stands for the hideous sin nature, and when we live ruled by this nature, our sin continually bites us. It became clear to me that it was Jesus they were to look up to on the pole for He BECAME that ugly venomous sin nature. The perfect Lamb of God allowed Himself to be killed in our place, and then went to hell FOR us, before rising again to resume His place at the right hand of God the Father.
The Israelites’ sins were a lack of contentment over what God had provided and continual murmurings in their weariness. We can explain these things away as if they aren’t so bad or we can try to justify them, but they are not light matters to God. In fact, the Lord was crucified for these sins and the nature that produces them. They are poisonous and have no place in the life of a believer. In Psalm 141:2, we can see it is okay to pour out our complaint to God, but then we leave it there with Him rather than continue to feed on the dissatisfaction, whether within ourselves or verbally to others.
Do everything without complaining or arguing ; Philippians 2:14
How beautiful though that if we do we fall into bitterness or moaning over our own lot, we can avoid being overcome by the venom! Whether we have already trusted Him as the Savior but feel stuck in our sin, or we have not yet opened our hearts to Him, we only have to turn our gaze from the horizontal and look up at the Cross. Here His mercy heals our deadly “snake bites.” Here, by His grace, our hearts are freed from ourselves to love and obey our Lord, and bask in what His Hand has provided. It just takes a look.